Jump to section
Raising a puppy can be demanding, depending on any number of factors including breed, temperament, and the level of training or other environmental factors that may have had an impact on your puppy before he came home with you. It can be difficult to manage regular obedience training along with regulating feeding schedules, bathroom breaks, and walks with that seemingly unlimited puppy energy that comes along with it. It doesn’t have to be so difficult, provided you know the appropriate tips and tricks to make it just a little more manageable.
Teaching your puppy to ask for permission for things like food, toys, walks, or going outside can give them a great foundation to later obedience commands, as well as increase the bond between you and the level of focus he offers when you want to ask something of him. This practice relies on the notion that “nothing in life is free”, and that earning these things is important, even if it’s with a simple obedience command as payment.
Asking for permission can consist of several different things. Some people choose to teach their puppy to ring a bell when nature calls, or to bark at the door if going for a walk is in the cards. But an easier method to utilize is simply using the basic obedience commands that your puppy will hopefully use and remember through puppyhood and well into adulthood. Asking for something as simple as a ‘sit’ or a ‘down’ before your puppy can get what he wants will help to teach him that he does not get things simply because he wants them. You are the provider of these good things and being able to show you that he is obedient and ready to receive what he wants with polite manners can mean the difference between a dog that steals food or bolts out the door as soon as it opens and a dog who is patient and waits for your say-so. Your puppy should begin this training as soon as possible and should pick up on the practice in no more than two to three weeks.
There are a few things that may motivate your puppy, though usually the reward should be what the puppy is asking for, such as his meal, going outside, or a toy. However, you may choose to use other helper items before weaning off of them.
Items that you can use include:
- A small mat for sitting or staying down
- A leash
You may choose to mix these things or not use them at all, depending on the level of training your puppy is already at.
The Focus Method
Hold a treat in view
Hold the treat near your face in order to draw your puppy’s attention.
Wait for attention
Wait until your puppy focuses on your face or the treat near your face.
Use a verbal command
Use a command like ‘look at me’ or ‘focus’ in order to mark the behavior for later use. Use this command as soon as your puppy focuses where you want him to.
Reward for focus
Reward your puppy with the treat once you’ve given him the command and he focuses.
Introduce the release word
Use a release like ‘all done’ or ‘okay’ before rewarding your pup with what he initially wanted. This works especially well for going outdoors or for a walk.
Use before giving anything
Ask for your puppy’s focus before giving him anything he may want. He will gradually begin to realize that looking at and focusing on you is important before he earns the things he wants.
The Sit Method
Hold a treat above the head
Hold the treat within your puppy’s sight but above her head. This should prompt her to try and sit down in order to look at it properly.
Wait until the 'sit' occurs
Wait until her rear is going towards a 'sit'. If she doesn’t sit all the way, try gradually rewarding her as she gets closer and closer into a full 'sit'.
Use a command
Use a ‘sit’ command to name the behavior.
Reward the 'sit'
Reward with the treat once she sits.
Allow the break
Allow for a release word following the sit like ‘good job’ or ‘okay’. This should be followed up with the object or activity which she wants.
Ask for 'sit' before any rewards
Use this before providing anything your puppy may be asking for. It is especially effective before a meal.
The Down-Stay Method
Place a treat at ground level
Hold the treat in your hand and bring it down towards the ground to prompt your puppy to follow it until he is lying down.
Use your preferred command
Use ‘down’ or ‘lie down’ to mark the behavior.
Reward the 'down'
Offer the treat when your pup remains in the 'down' position.
Increase the amount of time
Gradually reward for longer and longer amounts of time spent in the 'down' position. If your puppy struggles, go back a step and try again.
Increase the distance
Begin to start taking steps away from your puppy and return quickly to reward for remaining in the 'down'. This can be useful if you want your puppy to stay in one spot in the 'down' position while you make food, open the door, or get a leash ready.
Use a release
Use a word or phrase that lets your puppy know that he can move from his spot.
Ask for the 'down-stay' for a variety of situations to improve your puppy’s ability to hold it when it matters.
By TJ Trevino
Published: 04/03/2018, edited: 01/08/2021