Teaching your dog gentle or easy by Will Bangura, M.S., CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, (Dog Behaviorist) Certified Behavior Consultant.
Training a dog to be well-behaved and gentle is essential for both the dog’s well-being and the safety of those around them. One effective way to accomplish this is by teaching your dog the “gentle” or “easy” command. This command helps your dog understand the importance of moderating their behavior in various situations, such as during playtime, interacting with people or other animals, and handling delicate objects. By mastering the “gentle” or “easy” command, your dog will be more adaptable to different environments and scenarios, creating a positive relationship between you and your dog while ensuring the safety of everyone involved.
The main purpose of teaching this command is to help your dog understand the importance of moderating their behavior, particularly when interacting with people, other animals, or during playtime. Some practical uses of the “gentle” or “easy” command include:
Dogs can sometimes play rough, which may lead to unintentional injuries to people or other animals. Teaching your dog to play gently can reduce the risk of accidents and make playtime more enjoyable for everyone involved.
Handling delicate objects
There may be situations where your dog needs to handle a delicate or valuable object, such as a child’s toy or a fragile item. By using the “gentle” or “easy” command, you can ensure that your dog handles these objects carefully and avoids causing damage.
Interaction with children
Children can be more vulnerable to rough play or overly enthusiastic dogs. Teaching your dog the “gentle” or “easy” command ensures that they can safely interact with children without causing harm.
Greeting new people or pets
When your dog meets new people or pets, it’s crucial that they approach them gently to avoid causing fear or injury. Using the “gentle” or “easy” command can help your dog understand the appropriate way to interact with others.
Training for therapy or service work
Dogs who work as therapy or service animals must be gentle and well-behaved when interacting with their handlers and clients. Teaching your dog the “gentle” or “easy” command can be an essential part of their training to ensure they provide a positive experience for those they serve.
Administering medication or grooming
When giving your dog medication or grooming them, it’s crucial for them to remain calm and gentle to avoid injury or discomfort. The “gentle” or “easy” command can help your dog understand that they need to be patient and well-behaved during these activities.
Preventing resource guarding:
Resource guarding can be a dangerous behavior if not addressed. Teaching your dog the “gentle” or “easy” command can help them learn to share and relinquish objects without becoming aggressive.
Encouraging polite behavior
In general, teaching your dog the “gentle” or “easy” command promotes polite behavior, making them more pleasant to be around for you, your family, and others.
In summary, the “gentle” or “easy” command has a wide range of practical applications that can improve your dog’s overall behavior and make them more adaptable to various situations. By teaching this command, you’re fostering a positive relationship with your dog while promoting their safety and the safety of those around them.
Here is a detailed step-by-step set of instructions to teach “gentle” or “easy”
Choose a cue word
Select a word that you will use consistently to signal to your dog that they need to be gentle. You can use “gentle” or “easy” or any other word you prefer.
Prepare high-value treats
Get some small, high-value treats that your dog loves. These will be used as rewards for correct behavior. Soft, bite-sized treats work well because they can be quickly consumed during training.
Start with a calm environment
Begin your training session in a quiet, familiar, and low-distraction environment. This will help your dog focus on the task at hand.
Present the treat
Hold a treat in your closed hand, allowing your dog to smell it. Let them know you have the treat but don’t give it to them just yet.
Introduce the cue word
As your dog sniffs or licks at your closed hand, calmly and clearly say the cue word you have chosen, such as “gentle” or “easy.”
Reward gentle behavior
Wait for your dog to be gentle with your hand. They may initially try to paw or bite at your hand to get the treat. Do not give them the treat until they show gentle behavior, such as licking or sniffing without biting. As soon as they are gentle, open your hand and let them have the treat, while simultaneously praising them verbally.
Repeat the process
Continue practicing this exercise multiple times a day, in short sessions of about 5-10 minutes each. Consistency is crucial for your dog to understand the desired behavior.
Gradually increase difficulty
Once your dog starts to consistently show gentle behavior, you can gradually increase the difficulty of the exercise. Present the treat in different ways, such as holding it between your fingers or placing it on your open palm, always using the cue word and rewarding gentle behavior.
Apply the command in various situations
Begin to use the “gentle” or “easy” command in other situations where you want your dog to be more gentle, such as during play or when greeting people. Reward and praise them every time they respond correctly to the command.
Practice and reinforce
Continue practicing the command in various situations and environments to solidify the behavior. It’s essential to be consistent and patient, as it may take time for your dog to fully understand the command and apply it in different contexts.
Remember that every dog learns at a different pace. If your dog struggles to learn the “gentle” or “easy” command, consider seeking guidance from a professional dog trainer or behaviorist for additional support.
The “gentle” or “easy” command is a versatile and useful tool that teaches your dog to moderate their behavior in a variety of situations, including safe playtime, handling delicate objects, interacting with children, greeting new people or pets, training for therapy or service work, administering medication or grooming, preventing resource guarding, and encouraging polite behavior. By consistently practicing and reinforcing this command, you foster a positive relationship with your dog, improve their overall behavior, and promote their safety as well as the safety of those around them. Utilizing a step-by-step training approach and being patient and consistent are essential for successfully teaching your dog the “gentle” or “easy” command.