The Big 4 – Training Sit, Here, Heel and No

Basic obedience training builds the foundation for more advanced training, particularly for commands you will use in the field.  The big 4 that your dog needs to know, regardless of his or her purpose, are described here.


Although a simple command, sit is the foundation for nearly everything you will teach your pet.  

To begin, hold a treat in your hand and position it near your dog’s nose.  As you move your hand towards the ceiling, your dog’s gaze should follow, which will naturally cause his or her rear to hit the floor.  As soon as your dog reaches the sitting position, provide a treat.  Once your dog understands the motion, overlay the word “sit.”


What’s the difference between “here” and “come?”  When your dog is at a distance, “here” will travel farther (and is easier to say) than its counterpart.  

To train “here,” start with a short leash and a flat collar.  With a treat in hand, say “here” and encourage your dog to walk towards you using a combination of gentle pressure on the lead and the treat.  Provide plenty of positive praise when your dog reaches you.  Over time, use a longer leash or check cord before practicing in a yard or field.


Your dog should walk next to you both on and off-leash, which is why the “heel” command is important.

The traditional way to teach heel is with a choke chain.  While out for a walk with your pet, give a quick tug on the chain to position your dog properly, with his or her shoulder in line with your knee. .

The second way to teach heel is with a high value treat.  When walking with your dog, hold a treat at your chest.  Your pet will look towards the treat, which will naturally keep him or her at the proper position.  If your dog gets ahead of you, redirect with a treat.

In both instances, do not overlay the “heel” command until your dog is consistently walking in the proper way in response to your correction.


No” is an essential command, whether you use it to keep your dog from chasing the wrong game or from climbing onto the couch.  

One of the simplest ways to train “no,” is with the help of a treat.  First, place a treat in your hand, show it to your dog, and then say “no,” as you close your hand around the treat.  Your pet will likely lick and paw at your hand.  As soon as he or she stops showing interest in the treat, provide praise.  Continue this drill until your dog understands that “no” means the treat is withheld.  As your pet progresses, increase the difficulty of the command.  Place the treat on the floor and say “no.”  Only praise your dog if the treat is ignored.  Otherwise, quickly place your hand or foot over the treat and do not give it to your dog until he or she loses interest.

Note: The above uses the aid of food/treats for training, formal training at Bull Valley Retrievers does not include the use of treats, other than a very few exceptions. Contact Bull Valley Retrievers for all breed obedience training help or for any of your dog boarding kennel needs.


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