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Magnus is now with us 2 weeks now and it’s fair to say he’s settled in! He can be over excitable a lot of the time and if I’m honest I think we’re fuelling the fire and are far too wordy for him to understand.
He can sit and wait....I use the command ‘get it’ for toys/treats and he will wait for command. I’ve started some heel training which is in its early stages, he’s only 9 weeks old so very young. However other than Sit, Wait and Heel I’m not sure what other commands to use. He eats the plants in the garden, has now started to jump up at the sofa and table and is a prolific thief of slippers...even from feet.
Can you suggest what commands I can use, we’re removing him from furniture etc with a No but it’s turning into a game for him...there are times we’re round the house like a Benny Hill sketch.

I realise that we are the problem, any guidance would be gratefully received.
 

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I concentrate on three things until they're about a year old, over the years I've seen the same problems come up time and time again with me, and other owners. The very first command that goes out of the window is recall, if you haven't got a reliable recall then you will struggle letting him off lead where there are things that may distract him. I wouldn't like to say how many times I've seen other dog owners say he's got a 100% recall unless ....... - which basically means he's got no recall with distractions, and that's what you need to train for.

The other thing I work on is the sit/stop, I don't use wait, if I ask my dog to sit, then they sit until I ask them to do anything else. Once I know they've got a good sit, I then build up distance, so if I need them to stop at distance, they know that sit means sit either next to me, or whenever I blow the whistle. So many times I watch people asking their dog to 'sit, sit, SIT, sit, sit' and so on, if they don't sit the first time, they either think they can get away with not sitting for whatever reason, or they don't understand the command.

And other than that, I don't want them to pull me, so work on manners on lead. Again, lots of times I've seen people asking for 'heel, heel, HEEL, heel, heel' and the dog has no idea what heel actually means, other than it seems to be uttered a lot when they're on lead. I don't want obedience style heelwork with the dog wrapped round my knees, but I don't want to be pulled over, or knocked over, so want my dogs to walk nicely to the side of me, or behind me on a narrow track.

Once I've got those commands instilled I use them as building blocks for other training, such as steadiness training, and asking them to go in different directions.
 

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I agree with Tarimoor, with one exception. I do use a stay command when leaving my dogs in the sit. It's something I've done for the last 60 years and I'm too old to change now! 😁

One thing I will stress. Commands are just that. They are not requests, nor are they debating points. A command ignored is the command devalued, the start of a command becoming to the dog just another sound we make. So with that in mind, try to avoid giving commands to puppies unless you are in a position to enforce it. Ideally your pup should grow up never realising that it has a choice. Never easy!
 

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Thank you both for your advice! I’d hate to set the young chap up to fail so perhaps just focusing on the sit and wait which he is really good at. This is our first lab, I’m keen to train him well but as there are no puppy classes on at present I’m very grateful for any guidance.
 

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Commands! Most people use far too many commands, and at inappropriate times. If you imagine that to work in the highest class of competitive obedience you only need 7 commands, then think how many you are using. And how many of those are sentences rather than one word commands? For a dog learning the sounds of the words which make up a sentence is so much harder than learning the sound of one word. Add to that, probably several words in that sentence are used is several different commands! How hard is that for a dog to learn! Then comes multiple commands. So many people use "Leave" for leaving something alone, but also use "No" for other things, where "No" should be a general purpose command for whatever you are doing, dont do it! At a stroke you have eliminated one command your dog would need to learn! If you think about it you can probably think of more which you use. Then comes the multi person household. Is everybody singing from the same hymn sheet? So often different people are using different commands so the poor dog is having to learn two different commands for the same thing! How confusing is that!

Now a little story about the mistakes we make. In the days of my Mandy, when working competitive Obedience I started having problems with recalls. I would tell her to stay, leave her, walk to the designated place, turn to face her and call her. And she would sit there, not moving, with a big smile on her face! Watching her I decided that the stay command was so well learned that when I used it she was staying, come hell or high water! So I started using wait for recalls and stay for just the stay exercise. Mandy won so much in Obedience during her life!! But when she was 2 years old another Labrador arrived, Katy. Her training came along nicely, EXCEPT the recall. Every time I told her to wait she got up to come with me. Then it dawned on me. Kate and Wait sounded so similar that she thought I was calling her! So I went back to using Stay with her and that worked so well. But of course, working two dogs in competition, using Wait for one and Stay for the other did mean I got the command wrong more times than I got it right! The moral is, think about the words you are using. Are the sounds as different as possible? No room for confusion? I remember when a friend brought a new puppy, we sat down one evening going through names for her which did not clash with any Obedience commands. That dog later became an Obedience Champion!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thank you John, ive no idea how you kept all those commands going 😁. I definitely have a lot to learn, I frequently feel I’m getting it wrong. My last westie Vaila had superb understanding of wait and good recall and that was it, but as she was small she was easily scooped up if needed, Magnus is going to be a very big lad, that will definitely not be an option!
 

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The thing about it is, if something is not working then look into why. Dogs, and particularly Labradors, actually like learning. Training is something we do together, a chance to interact with their human. So think, "What am I doing wrong? Why does my dog not understand?" Because that is the reason time and again. In a class situation I used to say to my class, "Watch other people working their dog. Shut your ears and see if their actions tell you what they are trying to do. Think, if you cannot understand from their actions then how on earth can their dog hope to?" OK, looked at like that it's easy to spot other people's faults, but it's so much harder to spot our own faults. :)
 

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I still catch myself making mistakes, asking a dog to do something they're not ready to do, or don't quite understand, but once you progress to learning how to spot your own mistakes it does become a bit easier xx
 

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Thank you Tarimoor, I’m certainly starting to spot my own mistakes...trying too hard being one of them! I’m trying to be a bit more relaxed about some things and continuing to focus on what we’ve learned so far. Your advice is greatly appreciated 😊
 
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