Proper Dog Training Starts with Building Lesson Plans

Let’s call your new Pup Max and he is a German Shepherd. Everything you do from day one in teaching Max commands starts from teaching him to sit. No problem- after all, everyone knows that with a little upward pressure on your leash. And a little downward pressure on Max’s rear we can instill in him the idea that we want him to sit. Even if it takes all night! You are in a standing position and Max can be in any position he likes if he ends up sitting with his hind legs squarely under him. Max must be wearing his training collar if just to let him know that it is just that… training time, class is in session. It also goes without saying that you are on Max’s right side. When Max sits praise him but don’t over-do it. After all, this is but step one in our bag of building blocks.

When Max has mastered the sit, put your right hand up in front of his head and command him to “Stay!” Think of your right hand as a stop sign – he is to go no further unless instructed. While letting the leash hang slack from Max, back a few steps away from him, repeating “Stay” as many times as it takes to make him do just that. When you are about ten yards from Max – stop! That’s plenty for a first time. As lessons go on you can widen the distance between you and your pet. If Max “breaks” from his sit-stay bring him back to the exact spot where you had him sit to begin the exercise. These early exercises are important because they establish that the pack leader is you. Never give an inch or Max will soon be taking a mile.

In your lesson plan, you may have established that thirty seconds is a long enough time for Max to sit quietly for starters. Once he has reached that point, call him to you with both voice and body language. “Come” being the correct command and extend your right arm outward and bend it at the elbow to your chest. This is the proper AKC command. Max, at this point, should trot on a straight line to you and sit in front of you within arm’s reach. If this is the case, praise the heck out him. You have just taught Max the sit, The sit-stay, and the recall. Look back and you will see how each command was a “building block” for the next- Sit to sit, stay, sit stay to come.  Lesson accomplished.

Looking just a little further ahead and you can see how, once trained correctly, lying down can be a building block for the next logical command, “down-stay.” When I teach dog-owners the way to give these commands I do it using rules of the American Kennel Club just in case they would like to enter some of the fun matches that the AKC sponsors. You may say “fat chance” at this time, but you may change your mind later and then, not understanding what the proper command is for a recall can be embarrassing. Some of the things to remember are:

Be realistic about the goals you’ve set for each lesson. You will soon learn your dog’s capabilities by observation. Go by them. Don’t be afraid that you are going too slow or not making enough headway. You’ve got all the time in the world. Also, keep in mind that your pup may not learn as well or as quickly, or at all from some members of your family “pack”. Most often, those members will be children. Some dogs, because of the sheer size difference between them and your 8-year-old nephew, may not look upon themselves as subordinates on the alpha ladder to a child. To me, this is natural. It is best to stay with the same trainer/owner or trainer and the owner, but not to involve too many people at the early staged of the training process.

Provided by John Armata. You can visit his website at

Famous Dog Superstitions

Dogs have frequently been credited with the power of sensing supernatural influences, and seeing ghosts, spirits, faeries, or deities which are invisible to human eyes. In Wales only dogs could see the death-bringing hounds of Annwn. In ancient Greece the dogs were aware when Hecate was at a crossroads foretelling a death. Dogs are believed to be aware of the presence of ghosts, and their barking, whimpering, or howling is often the first warning of supernatural occurrences.

Greeks thought dogs could foresee evil.

If you have your new-born baby licked by a dog, your baby will be a quick healer.

A dog eating grass, means it will rain.

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