How to Teach Your Dog Words & Commands
Do you and your dog speak the same language? Kind of — you probably already know what your dog means when he barks a certain way. But you can make that line of communication a two-way street and teach him to understand hundreds of words outside of the usual sit, stay and fetch.
The following method was pioneered by John Pilley and his border collie Chaser. In fact, John has taught Chaser to learn and respond to more than 1,000 different words. Use these tips to train your dog the Chaser way, and watch this training video series to see John and Chaser in action as they guide you through the system.
1. Setting the Groundwork
Follow the “errorless learning” method to train your dog
Nurture your dog’s natural instincts
Make tasks so simple that your dog can’t make a mistake
Reinforce what he or she has learned frequently
2. Building Confidence
Adding playtime elements helps make learning fun
Playing builds confidence
Play strengthens your relationship
3. Saying “No”
Avoid saying “no”— it can diminish your dog’s motivation.
Just like us, dogs are sensitive to failure
Harsh commands won’t make your dog happy
“No” simply means, “stop what you’re doing”
4. Let Your Puppy be a Puppy
Part of successful training is knowing when not to push your dog
If your dog gets frustrated, take a break
Let your dog decide what’s fun
It’s ok to give in and play
5. Teaching Names of Objects
Playtime with a favorite toy or ball can help your dog learn the object’s name
Start with verbs, like “sit” or “catch”
Teach only one object at a time
Repeat the name of the object while your dog is playing with it
6. Learning Builds on Learning
Practice opens the door for learning to do even more
Give your dog a problem to solve
Dogs need practice, too
The more your dog learns, the more she is able to learn
Having Success? We'd love to hear about it.
Think your dog is as smart as Chaser? Share your success story with us on Facebook and we’ll feature some of the best in hopes they can help other people train their pups.