Step 1: Practise in your home at first
Hence, first of all practise “here” in your home, ideally connecting this to your dog's meal time. It is helpful for someone else to hold your dog back whilst you prepare their food. Make sure this is visible to your pooch. As soon as you call out “here”, your dog should be let free. If they come to you, praise them effusively and place their food bowl on the floor. The following times when your dog comes to you immediately when calling out "here", reward them with a tasty treat and show your appreciation.
Step 2: Practise during walks
Only when your dog reliably comes to you on your signal can you take them on a walk off its lead and practise the exercise. Ideally, at first choose a solitary spot where if possible you won't encounter any other dogs that could distract them. Alternatively, you can carry out this exercise very early in the morning or very late in the evening when there aren't many people around. Only give your dog the “here” command if you are sure that they will obey. If you see other dogs, put your dog's lead back on and only carry out the exercise when the other dog is out of sight.
It's also advisable to practise the “here” command using your dog's name as that's usually what owners call out in stressful situations.
Outside, there are many situations which require your dog to stay close. This can be heavy traffic or busy pedestrian zones. In these cases, the "heel" command comes in handy. It should ensure that your companion stays close to you when walking or even standing still. Traditionally dogs are led on the left side, but you can get them used to walking on your right if you prefer. The important thing is to stick to the chosen side. Begin the exercise by showing your dog where “heel” is using a tasty treat. As soon as they have assumed the correct position, say “heel”.
Repetition and tasty treats are key
Hold the treat in your hand and let your dog lick it whilst you set off. As an additional visual signal, you should occasionally clap your thigh with the same hand. After a few metres, say “sit” and reward your dog. Make the exercise more difficult by building in more and more challenges such as changing in direction. Gradually, you should also lead the treat away from your dog's snout. For instance, hide the treat in your pocket and continue to practise the “heel” command. Go slower, faster, left, right, forwards, backwards and occasionally repeat “heel”, along with the corresponding visual signal. You can only practice the exercise off the lead when your dog can be relied upon to stay by your side. If your dog moves away from your side after removing its lead, don't pull it back by its collar and instead calmly put its lead on again and repeat the training exercise.
When hearing the “drop” command, your dog should let go of a certain thing or object. For instance, if your dog has grabbed onto a shoe or “bitten” one of your children's toys, you should let it know through a clear “drop” command that you are not happy with this.
First offer it something in exchange
In order for an adult dog to react to your command, you must tempt it with a different object, such as a treat or dog toy. In other words, you have to offer it something in exchange. Hold the treat before their nose and say “drop”. As soon as they open their snout and let go of the other object, give them the treat along with petting and praising. Gradually you can leave the treat or toy to one side and only reward your dog for successfully obeying the “drop” command with kind words and by petting.
Dogs have to learn to sit in a certain spot or to stay lying down. Your dog should obey your “sit and stay” command not just outside the supermarket, but also when the doorbell rings or visitors call by who are scared of dogs. First of all, it has to master both the “sit” and “stay” commands. If your dog can calmly stand or lie by your side upon command, you can start practising “stay”.
How to practise the sit and stay commands
Give your dog a signal (for example, point to the floor with the palm of your hand) and clearly say “stay”. Now stand in front of your dog and move away just far enough for the lead between you to hang loosely. Stay still for a brief moment and return to them. If your dog remains sitting or lying down, offer them effusive praise. If you reward your dog with a treat, it should only be when they has come back to you or stayed sitting or lying down. Even if they have waited dutifully and only jumped up at the last moment, don't give them a reward. If you were to do so, they would associate this with jumping up rather than staying. You can practise the exercise with a longer lead at the beginning and without a lead at a later stage. You should also gradually lengthen the duration of time the “stay” command should be observed.
Is it worth attending a dog school?
Training adult dogs requires both plenty of time and a huge amount of discipline. Above all, dog owners need patience and perseverance along with consistency and intuition. Particularly if the dog has already demonstrated difficult behaviour. Don't be disheartened if things don't work out straight away. It takes a while for a dog to go along with alternative behaviour and grasp that it's worth obeying your commands. Regularly attending a dog school can be a good motivational incentive. Discussions with experts and other dog owners are often very informative, especially if it's your first dog. It's important that the approach of the dog school is right for you and your dog. The groups shouldn't be too big so that the trainer can focus on each individual dog (and owner) and gladly answer all questions.