Make your command words have meaning. Dogs have the ability to learn a lot of language. It is important to know that when you begin your obedience program you save certain command words to be used only when the dog is on leash and when you are planning on backing up the command should it fail. The reason being is that you want these words to have a lot of meaning to your dog. If you tell your dog to come while they are off-leash somewhere (before they have been off-leash trained) and they do not come you have just destroyed the meaning of that word to your dog because they know you cannot catch them. You can of course use these command words off-leash after you have completed the obedience program and have a dog that is off-leash trained. But when your dog is just now learning the words they have to have a serious meaning to them.
Bottom line is that if you want your dog to listen to that command you would have had to very consistently made that command have meaning. In order for that command to have meaning you begin to use that word only when they are on-leash and you are doing a training session and teaching them in that moment. Use another word to call your dog to you should you find yourself in the early stages of training and your dog is off-leash but not yet trained well. For example, say something like: "hey pup" to get your dog to come rather then use the word "come" because we are saving that word for use only when we have our dog on-leash to back up the word should they not come. That way, whenever they hear the word "come" they know that that is a serious word that they ALWAYS have to come for, no exceptions.
When we use our command words only for the times that we are going to make sure that command is completed then we have now made those words have a lot of meaning to our dogs.
Commands where you say dogs name first. You always want to say your dogs name to gain their attention onto you before saying the following Commands: (because here you are asking them to do something so you want to gain their attention and keep their name positive)
2. "Down" (this is for laying down, not for jumping on you)
For example if your dogs name is Fido, you would say, "Fido, Sit".
Commands you do not say the dogs name first DO NOT say the dogs name when disciplining or trying to stop a behavior because you do not want the dog to associate their name in a negative way:
5. For example...say "Quiet!" When trying to stop barking but do not say name first.
6. Say "Off"! When dog is jumping on you.
7. "Leave it"- use this command for things you NEVER want your dog to take in its mouth.
Adding words to the "No" command.
It is a good idea to add words to your 'no' commands so that you are not only saying the word no. Examples: "No Bite" "No Chew" "No Sniff"
"Give"- say this command when you want your dog to drop something from their mouth and give to you.
"Release"- this command is used when you are telling your dog it is ok to end their obedience and they can be free until you ask them for something again. This is a very important command because it distinguishes between when they are to be serious and listening to your commands and when the lesson has ended. (I have a whole article on this for you to read on my website: http://www.webdogtrainer.com/)
Dogs can learn many words so keep them challenged by adding more and more. You can give all your dogs' toys, balls, bones, etc. names. When giving your dog the item, make sure you use a name to describe it every time so they can learn it. For example: "Find your chew bone!" "Go get your duck". "Get your ball". "Find your Kong".
Have fun with your dog and teach them lots of language!
Julie Bjelland Lokhandwala is founder of webDogTrainer, LLC. and has created the interactive Online Dog Training Guide and Consultation http://www.webdogtrainer.com/