After adopting my dog, one of my friends told me to be sure to train her. My friend told me that dachshunds are manipulative and headstrong. So training is a must.
After some time with my dog, I wouldn’t say dachshunds are manipulative. At least, not in a deliberate or vengeful sense. But I agree that your dog will end up training you if you don’t set proper boundaries. And that’s where teaching your dog basic commands becomes important.
So, I’d like to share a few basic commands that your dog should know. I’ll also share some tips on how to teach that command to your dog.
But first . . .
Tools You’ll Need
You’ll need several tools to start teaching your dog. The first tool I recommend is a training clicker. If you’re not familiar with one, a training clicker is a handy object with a button. You press the button and it makes a distinct click sound. By itself, the clicker is useless. But the clicker becomes a powerful tool once your dog understands the click sound means, “good job”.
The next tool you’ll need are treats. You want to find a mix of treats that you dog considers high value and low value. High value treats are items that you dog goes bonkers over. Low value treats are items you dog still likes, but isn’t his or her favorite treat.
One of the trade off to using treats is weight management. So, adjust your dog’s diet when using treats. Try to find high value treats that are healthy for your dog. Avoid treats that contain a lot of things your dog doesn’t need. But whatever you choose, make sure your dog gets excited over them.
The treat pouch isn’t necessary. At least, that’s what I first told myself. But after cleaning my pockets out all the time, I decided to invest in a treat pouch.
A good treat pouch stays open so that you can reach in and pass treats to your pet. It also stays on your person using either a clip or a strap of some kind. Treat pouches also tend to have clips or loops that can hold your clicker. A good pouch is also dishwasher safe in your top rack. And, they usually have several compartments to help separate different value treats.
Patience and Consistency
Your last two tools are patience and consistency. I don’t need to go into those concepts too much. Don’t rush your dog and don’t punish him if he doesn’t catch on as fast as you want. Also, progress doesn’t require hours each day. Five to ten minutes daily can turn into big results. But the important word is daily— for while at least. Over time, you can slack off as your dog consistently follows your commands.
Let the Fun Begin!
Once you have your tools in place, you’ll want to activate or “load” your clicker. By this, I mean that you condition your dog to realize the clicker means, “good job”. To do this, you press the clicker and immediately give your dog a treat. Try to time the click with the moment you offer the treat to the dog. Your dog will amaze you at how fast she realizes that clicks = treats. Do this off and on for about a 30 minutes to an hour. Be careful not to feed your dog too much. Keep the treats small pieces– even pieces of a piece. The point here is to condition your dog.
You psychology students out there will remember Pavlov’s dogs. We’re doing the same thing here– classical conditioning.
You’ll know you’re successful when a click get your dog’s undivided attention.
Yes, even stubborn wirehaired dachshunds learn this trick.
I’ve heard some dog trainers insist that drop it is the first command you should teach your dog. I won’t argue for or against that idea. But, I agree that this is a basic command that your dog should learn.
You can choose to teach the drop it command without treats in some cases. So, if you don’t have any treats handy, you can start with this one first. Though, having an activated or loaded clicker helps a lot when teaching any command to your dog.
To teach drop it, get a favorite toy or tug rope that your dog enjoys. If your dog isn’t into toys, still give it a try. A clicker plus treats are great motivators. If toys don’t work, then you can try a flavored chew toy. Most dogs love peanut butter. Be creative.
Engage your dog in play. Let the dog grab an item from you. Give them a few moments to play with it. Then, you grab the item and pull it away and give the command “drop it”. Continue to give the command and pull until you can get the item from the dog. Once you’ve done this, press your clicker and give the dog praise and a reward. In this case, the reward can be giving the item back to the dog. Or, you can choose to give a dog a treat instead.
Keep practicing. In time, your dog will let go of anything that you don’t want them to have. This command is good for those moments when you catch your dog with something they shouldn’t have. You can say with an assertive tone, “drop it” and your dog will comply.
The leave it command is the drop it command’s cousin. They both have the same goal: they tell your dog to disengage from an undesired item of interest. But drop it assumes your dog already has the item and you want her to give it up. With leave it, you want your dog to back off before she even picks it up.
Drop it = Let go of that paper towel you found.
Leave it = No! Back away from that cat poo!
I found teaching leave it a bit more challenging because you have to entice your dog with a lure. And in that moment, Lily would make a calculated decision:
Hm . . . Which is better? The treat on the floor or the reward I get for leaving it alone? Hm . . .
So, sometimes my dog would go for the lure rather than hold out for the reward. So, I had to get creative.
I learned that with leave it, you’ll want both high value and low value treats.
Place a low value treat on the floor. Hover your foot over the treat so she can’t get to it. Your dog starts to show interest and sniffs around your foot. Start telling your dog, “leave it”. Continue to do this until your dog loses interest. At that moment, press your clicker and give a higher valued treat.
After repeating this a few times, you’ll want to completely expose the lower value treat on the floor. At that stage, you’ll only want to use your foot to block your dog from snatching it from you. But if they comply and start backing off, press the clicker and reward them with a higher value treat.
Getting your dog to come to you is important. If your dog is dashing under the fence or out the door, you want him to return.
Before I knew any better, Lily would squeeze under my fence and leave the yard. I caught her in the act of escape one day. With her body halfway though the fence, I called her to return. She backed out of her escape only to looked up at me and then dash completely through the fence like lightning.
I could have sworn she looked at me with an impish smile before disappearing through the fence.
That’s when I realized that teaching my dog to come when called was important.
Treats are a tremendous help with teaching this command. You want your dog to enjoy coming to you. Often, we call dogs to us and have them do something they don’t want to do. We call them and then crate them. Or call them and take them back inside. You’ll want calling them to become a rewarding event.
So I started calling her by name, followed by the command come.
I’d start off with her on a leash. If she closed the gab between us, I’d give her a treat.
In time, I’d remove the leash and move across the room.
A hand motion helps. Dogs likely read our body language and tone better than they decode our actual words.
As she became more consistent, I got a long lead. I’d let her roam around in my back yard. Every so often, I’d give the command,
She’d stop whatever she was doing and run up to me. Then, I’d click and give her a treat.
In time, she started to come to me consistently. Now, I can have her roam my back yard off leash (with supervision). If she goes near the fence I call her with the command, or make a sound of disapproval. Now, she listens.
A Final (But Important) Training Tip
As your dog catches on, you can dial back the training sessions. Though, you’ll always want to brush up these skills on a regular basis.
But most importantly: You’ll want to keep your dog guessing.
In the first days of training, you can reward your dog each time you press your clicker. But over time, you want to vary when and how often you actually give your dog a treat.
In other words, you will press your clicker without giving the dog a treat every time.
You’ll want to mix it up. Your dog might seem insulted the first time you click and don’t give a reward. But, then your dog starts trying harder. Your dog starts thinking, “Why didn’t you give me a treat just then? OK, I’ll show you! I’ll do what your asking even better than last time!”
If you don’t start randomizing your rewards, your dog will get complacent. You can also start mixing high value treats with low value ones. Then, you can reward your dog randomly.
Hope this helps. Have any comments or questions? Have any training stories you’d like to share? Any suggestions? Express yourself in the comments section!