After the “call your dog” exercise, the dog should be sitting directly in front of the handler. At this point, the handler will say the dog’s name and “heel.” The handlers will take a step back with their left leg, pull the dog in a circle (like stirring a large witch’s pot) and stop so that the dog can sit directly at their side while stepping back into place with the left leg. The right leg should never move.
Just as you would with a new puppy, you should introduce your shelter dog to crate training as soon as possible. In this way, you can work on housebreaking and be comfortable that he won't get into mischief when left unsupervised. It's also helpful because it gives your shelter dog a place of his own. Between living in a shelter and now coming to a new home, your dog may feel extremely stressed. Having a place of his own to retreat to when he feels overwhelmed can go a long way in helping him get settled in his new home.
Next, drop a treat on the floor near you. As soon as your puppy finishes the treat on the ground, say his name again. When he looks up, give him another treat. Repeat this a couple of times until you can begin tossing the treat a little further away, and he can turn around to face you when you say his name. Avoid repeating your puppy’s name; saying it too often when he doesn’t respond makes it easier for him to ignore it. Instead, move closer to your puppy and go back to a step where he can be successful at responding to his name the first time.
At first you are going to let the puppy see the food in your hand so that you will have her attention and can use it to guide her into position. As your puppy begins to comply more readily, you can start to hide the food in your hand, but give the command and repeat the motion or signal that she has learned to follow. Soon the puppy will come to expect the treat each time she performs the task. Then, signal and give the command, but when she performs the task, reward only with praise and give the puppy an affectionate pat. Next, you can begin to vary the frequency, giving praise with “good dog” and perhaps patting each time, but giving the food randomly, perhaps every 3 or 4 times. In time, the puppy should respond to either the hand signal or the command.
After your dog has mastered the come command, it’s time to teach him how to sit. This command is, after all, a prerequisite for many others. To train your dog to sit, simply hold a treat above his head and slowly move it back. Most dogs respond to this gesture by automatically moving into the sitting position. As soon as your dog starts to sit, say the word “sit” and offer the treat as a reward. Repeating this task many times will help reinforce the command. This command is especially useful in instilling good manners. For example, an obedient dog who sits on command won’t jump on visitors.
As soon as your dog comes home with you – that very first day – you should begin training basic obedience commands like Come, Sit, Stay and Down. You might discover your dog can already follow basic commands. You might also find that you need to take it very slow, working on just one command a day or for a couple of days or weeks then moving on to another command. Repeating a command over and over won’t make your pooch listen any better. If you find he can’t speak any English, solicit the help of a ‘translator’ or positive dog trainer to help you communicate more effectively.
The next option is called luring. Get down in front of your puppy, holding a treat as a lure. Put the treat right in front of the pup’s nose, then slowly lift the food above his head. He will probably sit as he lifts his head to nibble at the treat. Allow him to eat the treat when his bottom touches the ground. Repeat one or two times with the food lure, then remove the food and use just your empty hand, but continue to reward the puppy after he sits. Once he understands the hand signal to sit, you can begin saying “sit” right before you give the hand signal.