Training a Puppy to Sit, Lay Down, Sit up, Sit Pretty and Stand

By: David Codr

Published Date: May 17, 2018

For this Omaha puppy training session we trained 5 month-old Yorkie Terrier Burke to sit, lay down, sit up, sit pretty and stand.

Due to a health concern, one of his guardians (who I will revert o as the second guardian) was laid up when he first came to their home. This was at the tail end of Burke’s imprint period which is when puppies bond deeply with whoever they are around at the time.

This has resulted in Burke protesting when he is with the second guardian and the other guardian that he bonded with is in the home. This is obviously frustrating for the second guardian as she loves the puppy and gets bummed out when he makes it clear he wants the other guardian’s company instead.

The good news is this problem is easy to fix with a little time and positive interactions. If the second guardian can spend some time teaching Burke some basic commands and engaging in activities he enjoys.

To get started, I showed the guardians how to teach a puppy to sit, lay down, sit up, sit pretty and stand.

Teaching the puppy these basic puppy commands will help Burke for the rest of his life and have the added bonus of helping the second guardian form a better relationship with him. It was great seeing how quickly this limited interaction impacted the puppy. He was sitting, laying on or relaxing next to the second guardian within minutes of finishing the puppy basic training exercise. When he has practiced these with her a dozen or more times, I see him bonding with her and reducing his protesting when he is not with the primary guardian.

Once Burke knows how to do these basic commands, I suggested the guardians start to practice my petting with a purpose method. This will help Burke practice more desired behaviors and help him see and identify the humans as being trusted authority figures.

Because the second guardian will be laid up due to a medical procedure and the other guardian works long hours, I recommended they set up a puppy play pen instead of kenning him. All dogs get an increase of cortisol in their blood when left in a kennel for longer than 4 hours, but leaving a puppy in for that long can easily lead the pup to develop a habit of going potty in the kennel. That is one of the hardest dog behavior problems to fix so I really hope the guardians set it up ASAP.

He will likely protest the first time he is left in there so I gave the guardians some tips to help this transition.

  • Set up the play pen and have the guardian spend some time inside with Burke a few times a day (progressively longer) for a few days before he starts to sleep in there.
  • Start feeding Burke in the play pen out of treat dispensing toys.
  • Take Burke to daycare for at least 8 hours for the first 3 or more days he sleeps in the play pen.
  • Make sure to take him out for potty before putting him in the play pen for the first night and ensure the pen is safe. Once he is put inside (always walking in himself, never living him over), the guardians cannot come to check in when he barks or protests as this will train him that whining or barking will bring the guardians a running.

Now Burke will likely still protest the first few days he is left inside the play pen. But if they get him plenty of exercise the first few days, combined with helping him practice being inside, he will transition to it and learn its ok to be alone. Its soon enough for the dog to get over the separation anxiety he is starting to display.

To help the second guardian body with Burke in another way, I showed them how to do a Cooperative Check in exercise or CCI. This involves tossing a treat behind the dog, then clicking when the dog turns back around and looks at the face of the human. After clicking, the human should toss another treat behind the puppy. Doing this with 6-10 treats a few times a day for 2-3 days will help Burke practice looking up at the second guardian and develop a positive association with her.

I also recommended the guardians enroll Burke into our puppy socialization class to help wear him out, develop good social skills and confidence which will all help with his separation anxiety.

To help the guardians remember all the positive puppy training tips we covered in this in home puppy training session, we shot a roadmap to success video that you can check out below.

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