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K9 Buddy Curriculum: Obedience

The following is a list of verbal cues that your K9 Buddy dog has learned.

Heel (position)
The dog is at your left side, facing the same direction as you are with their head next to your left leg. This verbal cue prescribes a desired position relative to you and can be given while standing still or while you are walking with your dog. The dog should assume this position while standing at your side or during heeling, sits and downs.

The dog is sitting in heel position on its haunches facing the same direction as the handler.

The dog is lying on the ground next to the handler’s left leg facing the same direction as the handler. The head may be up or down.

The dog is to stay in a given spot until the handler returns to it or calls the dog.

This word releases a dog from a previous command or position.

The dog is to come close to the handler, readily allowing the handler to touch the collar.

How to practice the “come” command for consistent recall:

  • Say the dog’s name first to get their attention prior to saying “come”
  • Only say “come” ONCE. If the dog does not respond, do not repeat “come”
  • Use a pleasant and friendly tone of voice when calling the dog
  • Praise enthusiastically as the dog moves toward the handler
  • Have a couple of pieces of kibble handy at all times to reward the dog for responding around the home and yard, even when not working on recalls in a “practice session”. Food reward is held close (actually touching) to handler’s legs while dog is fed, to promote the dog coming in close to the handler.
  • As the dog is eating the food, use other hand to gently hold the dog’s collar. This keeps the dog close and prevents leaving the moment the food reward is taken.

Things to avoid:

  • DO NOT call the dog when there is a high probability they will not respond
  • Do NOT call the dog to correct or discipline it
  • DO NOT run after, lunge for, or suddenly grab at the dog
  • DO NOT bribe the dog by showing or waving food; keep food reward in pocket or food pouch until dog touches your hand otherwise your dog may learn to come only when they can see food reward .

Other ways to practice recall

  • Two-handler Recalls: This is a fun game involving two handlers. It is done on-leash at first, with the handlers a leash-length apart. As the dog is successful, the leash can be dropped or removed and the distance can be gradually increased. Both handlers should have a supply of kibble in a bait bag or in their pocket. Take turns calling the dog and rewarding with praise and kibble for good responses. Allow sufficient time for each handler to give praise and attention, then they can become calm to make it easier for the dog to be recalled to the other person.
  • “Random” Recalls: The dog can be wearing a light weight drag leash, which the handler can step on if needed. In an area with no distractions (such as inside), the dog should be allowed to wander and its attention to drift. When the dog is no longer paying attention to the handler, its name should be called, and when the dog’s attention is on the handler, the hander can cue “Come”. If the dog ignores the handler when their name is called, approach closer to the dog until you get their attention, then back away and call them to come. You can step on the leash if needed to prevent the dog from moving away. Enthusiastic verbal praise should be given as the dog moves toward the handler. Backing away from the dog will encourage them to move toward the handler (be sure it is safe to back up!). Once the dog reaches the handler, feed a kibble with one hand (close to the leg), and gently grab the collar with the other hand. Lots of praise should be given along with the kibble. When done, release the dog with an ‘OK’, and allow them to wander around again. Once the dog is reliably coming when called inside, this exercise can be practiced outside in a securely fenced yard.

Heel (re-positioning the dog)
When your dog is elsewhere, this command calls the dog into heel position. This may be used after a stay, a release, or a ‘come’ cue.

A temporary ‘stay’; the dog expects to move from the spot momentarily. This is commonly used when waiting to get in or out of a vehicle.

Obedience cues are generally preceded by the dog’s name and are given in conjunction with hand gestures and specific leash handling. You will be instructed on the best way to say these verbal cues to your dog during your partnership training. Remember to give each cue only once to maintain effectiveness. An occasional repeat cue is acceptable if dog does not respond.

To maximize your training time, sessions should be short to keep your dog engaged. Be consistent! Dogs are lifelong learners and need repetition to maintain behaviors.

Doing obedience exercises (whether an isolated exercise or the entire sequence) is important for many reasons. These exercises also maintain good behaviors and manners for practical situations when in public. They also help regain your dog’s attention if they are distracted. Finally, they enable the team to practice verbal cues, responses, and praise with rewards.

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