by Pat Santi

There are so many ways to train a Corgi and about the same amount of “do’s” and “don’ts”. I like to start serious leash training at about three to four months of age.  Remember, this is the time “teething” is taking place and the puppy is having a painful time.   Pain, as we all know can keep the puppy from concentrating.  So, when training this youngster do have consideration for his or her powers to concentrate.  If you gain the puppy’s confidence, training can run more smoothly.  You must always think about the temperament and personality of any dog before you start training.

If you remember that any training is no easier on the puppy than the trainer you can accomplish much more in a limited time.  Your voice is the KEY to all training for any dog.  A dog, like children, knows the difference between the sounds of words.   The most important thing to remember is that any dog also knows if you mean what you are saying.  Limit yourself to very few short commands at first.  I like to use come, stay, stand, heel, down and sit.  Patience is a big factor in any training for a dog and so is reward.   By reward, I mean that the puppy or adult dog learns that this is a special time between owner and him- or herself.  Cardigans, love to please their owners and this training makes them feel they are special.

Never train a puppy more than five to ten minutes at a time, as they cannot take more than this amount when they are young.  Most people’s patience runs out in that length of time also.  You can start leash training at home and then find a local dog training school.  There are many of them today.  Go and visit one or two and see how they approach training. You must not use brute force and not allow this kind of treatment for your puppy or adult.  A school that uses praise is the best.  Some schools use treats and praise and this can work.  CARDIGANS ARE USUALLY VERY TRAINABLE AND FOR THEM PRAISE GOES A LONG WAY.  It is unusual to find a truly untrainable Cardigan.


If it is your desire to have a well behaved calm dog that is unexcited and yet alert and who will listen to you, then do not wrestle, play tug of war, push or shove your dog.  No roughness of any kind should be used and remember you are not your dog’s play toy.  Make all your words, movements and actions consistent so they have meaning.  Balls and sticks make great playthings and always remember to praise your dog for bringing the ball or stick to you.  Praise is the key to all happy training with any animal.

Teaching a puppy that you can look at his teeth is another way to teach a dog that you can see the teeth and examine them.  First, lift the lips gently and hold firmly.

Do not squeeze the lips or gums and remember that the mouth can be painful till a puppy is six months old due to teething.  Try and make the puppy learn that your hands will not hurt him or her.  So you must act calmly and deliberately.  A puppy is like a sponge, ready to learn everything quickly both good and bad.

There are many schools for training a dog and they can be found in your local papers, and  phone books, but here are some basics for home training.


A six-foot leash and a small metal-link collar.

You can also use the same collar for the show ring and change the leash to a four or five- foot nylon leash and the Cardigan will know the difference.  The weight of the leash lets your dog know what you expect of him or her.


It is very important that you hold the leash correctly for obedience or even show training.  The collar should have slack in it except when correcting your dog.  With your left hand holding the leash by your side, take the slack of the leash with your right hand and give small tugs for corrections.  By using this method you can teach your dog that he will walk on your left side and corrections will come from your right hand.  This enables you to do both breed and obedience work in the future.  Always, walk your dog on the left side.  Do not play with your dog and the leash.  NEVER CORRECT THE DOG USING THE LEASH AS A WHIP.   You can cause a dog to be afraid of the leash if you do.


With your dog on your left side, hold the leash very short in your right hand and give the command “sit”.  As you say “sit” pull up very lightly on the leash and with your left hand push gently on the dog’s hindquarters.  It usually takes a few short sessions for your dog to learn this. This comes in very handy in later years.  After your dog learns this he will do this without the leash.  Nice for when company comes or you want to have your dog sit instead of jumping up on your dress clothes.


“Heeling” means having your dog walk along side of you on the left.   Now, to start training for this with the dog on your left in a sit position, call his or her name and start your left foot and walk. You start with your LEFT foot because it is the foot closest to your dog and it makes them aware you are moving.  After learning this, when you start to walk with your left foot it will serve as a signal for your dog to follow.  Remember, when you stop your dog should be on your left side.  If you are show training the dog should remain standing; if you are obedience training then your dog should sit at your left side.


Place your Cardigan in a sit position at your left side, put your left hand on the training collar under the throat and pull gently toward the floor.  Simultaneously, your right hand , palm down, gives the command “down.”  Remember to give the signal in front of the dog’s face and not over his or her head.  Many times this will not work.  Then, you can kneel alongside your dog and put your arms around the middle - right hand on his right elbow and left hand on his left elbow and slide the dog gently down as you again use the command “down.”


All signals for sit-stay and stand-stay are given with your right hand, you must have the leash in your left hand.  With your dog in a stand, down or sit position give the command “stay.”  Please do not use your dog’s name.  Using his or her name means you want them to respond and just like the comical characters that they are they will respond and get up and come to you.  To give the signal “stay,” place your right hand in front of the nose , with the palm facing the dog.  Give the command “stay” at the same time.  When you give a hand signal, you should not be moving all the time but try to keep your hand steady.  Always repeat the exercise if the dog bolts.  Patience will be a big key in the success of this exercise.


I always begin this when they are puppies.  Call them by name and say “come,” they will learn this exercise easily.  Have the dog on your left side sitting and step away with your right foot and walk to the end of the leash and turn and say his or her name and “come.”  Give a little tug on the leash and walk backwards a few steps  making the dog sit directly in front of you.


After basic obedience, all you will need to go in the conformation ring is to teach your Cardigan to “Stand.” 

With the leash in your left hand and the dog in the heel position, move quickly to stand in front of your dog and say “stand” and with your right hand give the signal to “stay.”  You may have to position your dog until he or she learns to place their feet for the conformation ring.   This “stand-stay” exercise will help you in the veterinarian’s office, when grooming and when placing the dog on a table for a judge to examine in a show ring.

At this point if you need more expression for the conformation ring you can use a favorite treat.  For my dogs it is a small dog biscuit.

Remember, I believe that all the foregoing commands will make a great difference in the life of any dog.  To polish these skills find a school or a club to help you.  The Kennel Club in your country  will send you the rules and regulations for conformation and obedience.  Above all, have fun with your dog and your dog will always be willing to please you.

August 2004

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