There are three concepts that your dog should absolutely know, and will someday save your butt — and hers. Stay where you are, come to me, and stop doing that. Naturally, these can be trained various ways, but above all other skills, these are worth spending time perfecting.
An example. The other day, we were working in the garden, and Doodlebug was basking in the sunshine, gnawing on a raw bone. The gate was open, because we were moving lawn bags from the back yard to the front. Ordinarily, this is not a problem — the dogs would rather be in the yard with us than anywhere else, so they aren’t typically tempted by an open gate.
That is, unless a cat runs by, or a person walking a small, energetic dog.
In this case, it was a person with two small dogs, yipping and running on retractable leashes. From across the yard, I saw Doodlebug perk up, lock his gaze, and start sprinting toward the open gate. Without even thinking (this is another benefit of much practice– you become well-versed in What To Do), I yelled “Doodlebug, TOO BAD!” This is our phrase for stop doing that. Doodlebug stopped on a dime and looked at me. “Doodlebug, COME! Goodboygoodboygoodboygoodboy!” Doodlebug galloped happily over to me and sat at my feet, wagging his tail, yippy dogs on long leashes forgotten. We ran inside together, me yipping and praising and offering him a big handful of treats. Doodlebug LOVES these commands, because in practice, each is a fun game. So whatever naughty business he might be up to, he assumes that whatever I’ve got is even better.
Teaching your dog “stop doing that” is so useful for interrupting a behavior that may be just annoying or against the rules, or may be immoral or illegal (picking up a huge hunk of chocolate, chewing on the furniture, putting another dog in her mouth). Teaching your dog “come to me” is critical for self-explanatory reasons. And teaching “stay where you are” — though less obvious on its face, is equally important (Why did the puppy-dog cross the road? It doesn’t really matter, but I hope he stays put until I can get there to clip on his leash and escort him back to safety!)
It’s National Train Your Dog Month for another week and change. Do yourself — and your dog — a favor and find a fun way to brush up on your safety commands. You won’t be sorry.