What do you teach first?

This is a place to gain some understanding of dog behavior and to assist people in training their dogs and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. This can cover the spectrum from non-aversive to traditional methods of dog training. There are many ways to train a dog. Please avoid aggressive responses, and counter ideas and opinions with which you don't agree with friendly and helpful advice. Please refrain from submitting posts that promote off-topic discussions. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!

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Always my angel.
Barked: Fri Feb 22, '13 4:09pm PST 
Let's say you've got a new dog coming in with absolutely no training. Maybe an adult rescue, maybe a puppy, but definitely a dog who knows NOTHING formal. Where would you start? Which commands/cues should come first?

I would probably start with:
- Sit
- Leave it
- Beginning recall

I've never formally trained a dog to respond to its name - I just generally use the name often enough that they start to pick it up. But I guess you want to start that one early, too.

The why behind my choices: to me, "leave it" is crucial in order to protect my stuff (ha!) and also keep the dog safe, of course. "Sit" is incredibly versatile and helpful to build from, and of course a good recall can be a safety issue. Typically recall takes a long time to build, at least in my experience, so it's also good to start on it right away.

What is/would be your plan, Dogsters? Personally every dog I've trained/owned in my adult life has come with some baseline obedience in place, however shaky, and that's likely to continue with the next. I do find this an interesting question, though, as it speaks to priorities and all that.
Sawyer- *ADOPTED*

Shy Boy
Barked: Fri Feb 22, '13 5:54pm PST 
I have done just this with my fosters. Both of them seemed to have some basic understanding of sitting on cue but nothing really well-polished. In order to live comfortably in a home with people I usually teach:

Loose-leash walking
Leave it
Wait (food bowl manners, waiting at doors)
Handler focus/eye contact

I will also take the time to work with that specific dog on trouble spots. Like Jagger with his lack of self-control and mouthing and Sawyer with his fear of being touched/picked up. I also make sure to work on some fun things like "101 Things with a box," the agility tunnel, the wobble board, and anything else fun I can think of.

This is pretty much how I would start out a performance dog as well, not just a family pet. But with much more emphasis on a formal heel not just a LLW and a LOT of focus on focus!

Edited by author Fri Feb 22, '13 5:55pm PST


Barked: Fri Feb 22, '13 6:45pm PST 
Name/Recall was our first with Rigby (formerly Jorja).

Now our situation may be a bit different, when I lived with my parents, the yard was not fenced and the majority of our walks were off-leash in the woods. Come when called was a little more important to us than sit at that point.

Of course we were loaded with treats and "Rigby come" meant the jackpot.

I think the top 3 for me as well are:
- Recall
- Sit/Stay (cheating with 2 commands in 1)
- Leave it

Loose leash walking is also a priority. However miraculously with Rigby, that has never been an issue. She naturally walks slack-leaded.

I do however, WISH that I worked more focus with Rigby in the beginning. She's doing well at building up focus, but think of where we could be by now had I only knew to start with it


14- Years- Young!
Barked: Fri Feb 22, '13 8:15pm PST 
For me it’s :

Name recognition
Target training

Pretty much everything else I can build off those three things. For example name recognition is the foundation for focus/recall, sit is the beginning of stay/down/and a release, and target training I use pretty extensively for agility foundation work, everything from contacts to beginning distance work.

Although I suppose I should also add leash training and crate training to the list, even if they aren’t ‘formal’ cues.
Maggie,- Tika, &- Porter

Aussie-tastic- Trio
Barked: Fri Feb 22, '13 9:15pm PST 
Hand target/recall

Everything else is extra lol! For me I use a hand target in part of my recall as it gets a dog used to touching me and coming into my space so it sets up a great foundation to a recall. I also use the name as a recall...but usually a dog that comes to me doesn't have a name for about a week so that isn't a high priority.

I personally prefer "downs" to "sits" for a default position. Sits are harder to maintain than downs it seems and once again it is my preference.

"Wait" is practically essential - but I don't teach it formally as it is all done through daily life...I really am not sure I could describe the steps to doing it as it just kind of evolves from nothing to having a very clear meaning. I reinforce the maintaining of a "wait" - but I don't set out to actually train it...most dogs figure out the basicness of it within a month and then I can start testing it out in more distraction based/higher stimulation situations.

This is pretty much how I deal with all foster dogs as it gives me ability to have control without getting too heavily into bonding with the dogs. Of course there is nice leash walking and crate training...but both of those things are worked on with with the others.

I love sitting- in laps
Barked: Sat Feb 23, '13 12:29pm PST 
When I got Moose I didn't know where to start so I worked on his name first. Over and over I'd say his name, he'd look at me, click, treat. Him knowing his name was my first training goal.
Then I worked on "sit" and "leave it". "Leave it" seemed a very important command to know because of the potential for puppies to put everything in their mouth.

Those were the three I really worked on for the first few weeks.
Dr. Watson

Not a wiener- dawg!
Barked: Sat Feb 23, '13 1:14pm PST 
Name, if this is even a problem.
House training
Leave it or drop it (drop it was great to train with a golden puppy)
Recall through building on the pup's need to be with you if a pup
I haven't done it, but I have heard and read that offleash training is better than llw if that is what you aspire to.
Ava & Nix

Suburban Farm- Dogs
Barked: Sat Feb 23, '13 3:40pm PST 
"Wait" is a big one for me, and it means lots of things (wait before you eat your food, wait to jump out of the car when I open the door, wait for me, etc.) which both Ava and Nix quickly learned. smile

So, other than their names, I guess "Wait" "Sit" and recall are the first things I teach, more or less in that order too.

It ain't over- till the fat- kitty sings
Barked: Sat Feb 23, '13 4:17pm PST 
Just basic basic commands that I feel are most important-I'm too lazy to teach much else...
Coming to their name
Wait-at street crossings etc
Leave it-actually I just have to say their name with the right inflection and they know to look at me and stop whatever they're considering...

Mischief is my- middle name
Barked: Sat Feb 23, '13 4:44pm PST 
Maybe it's my ickiness tolerance, but housetraining comes first. We don't have a doggie door, and even though Ace pretty much knew she was supposed to "go" outdoors, she didn't always at first. I had to take care of that first.
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