We’re continuing to celebrate National Train Your Dog Month by featuring these extraordinarily important tricks!
1) Sit: This may seem unnecessary to include for many dog owners, but some doggy parents really struggle with this basic command. Whether it be because you’ve rescued a dog with an unknown history, or you just weren’t sure how to go about training your pup when you first got him or her, know that it is never too late to teach your dog new tricks. The “Sit” command is important for a variety of reasons. “Sit” means that your dog is not running around, pulling on the leash, or getting into trouble. Your dog’s attention should be on you whenever in the “sit” position.
2) Sit Before Crossing The Street: When you approach the curb on your street where the sidewalk ends, have your canine sit and reward him or her for doing so with praise [and a treat if your pup is highly food motivated]. Hopefully, this will become an automatic behavior. This trick can truly be lifesaving as it lessens the chances that your pup will waltz out into the street [and into oncoming traffic] regardless of the circumstances.
3) Come: Having a strong “come” or recall command is vital to your dog’s safety. If your dog ever gets out of the yard or into trouble at the park, having the recall command down pat could save your dog’s life. This command will take a lot of time and effort to perfect, so don’t give up. Start with your pup on a leash, bend down to his or her eye level and state your dog’s name and the “come” command. Gently tug on the leash and encourage them to come to you. Reward with lots of praise and treats if needed. Over time, you can increase the distance by using longer leashes or by using large but fully enclosed areas.
4) Stay: Prevent your dog from getting into trouble with this command. Whether it’s because another dog is walking by or because there’s a lot of traffic on the street, this command will allow you to load something into the car or briefly walk away and know your canine will not get injured or lost due to wandering around. This command will also take a lot of work and should be practiced strictly in enclosed areas until you’re sure your pet has mastered it. You will also want to include distractions in the environment while learning “stay” to teach your dog to remain in the “stay” position even if there are other dogs, loud noises, and other distractions.
5) Leave It: This command works for a wide variety of purposes. Don’t want your dog to eat the chocolate chip cookie your niece dropped on the floor? “Leave it.” Don’t want your dog to eat that potentially poisonous plant while out on your walk in the park? “Leave it.” Your dog is interested in another dog, but you don’t want them to interact? “Leave it.” This command can keep your pet out of altercations as well as out of dangerous food groups. Definitely one to learn this year!
6) Drop It: Just in case you didn’t say “Leave it” in time, use this command to get your pup to drop whatever is in their mouth immediately. This trick is most easily achieved if you have something in your hands that is even better than what the dog already has in his or her mouth. Once again, this trick can be life saving as it may prevent your pet from ingesting poisonous foods or swallowing toy parts.
7) Heel: This trick may just seem like proper manners for your pet and not so “life saving,” but let us assure you how important this behavior is. If your dog is walking immediately next to you, he or she is not pulling, tugging, wandering off, bolting into the street, etc. It encourages you knowing where your dog is throughout the entire duration of your walk, which in turn means safety for you and your canine companion. This trick may also take a lot of work [especially for restless young dogs who want to investigate everything they see], but the rewards of mastering the “heel” command far outweigh the costs.
8) Don’t Take Food From Strangers: This trick is very important if you have a dog with food allergies or worry that a cruel person would try to poison your beloved pup. This is the most difficult to teach out of all of the tricks that we’ve listed, but could be well worth the time and energy.
Do you have any life saving tricks you feel we should add to this list? Let us know in the comments below!