Proper dog obedience training is essential in preventing canine behavioral problems. Obedience training not only makes your dog calmer and more respectful of your space, but it can teach your dog new tricks, convenient skills or just simple things like pooping the place that you wanted instead of chasing your dog with a pooper scooper in hand. A dog who never receives obedience training is more likely to become unpredictable, aggressive and uncontrollable.
Find a Dog Trainer!
Training your dog is one of a dog owner’s most important responsibilities. A well-trained dog can accompany you anywhere! However, when searching for a dog trainer, the options abound. We have put together a dog trainer search engine to facilitate your quest to find a dog obedience training service.
When choosing a trainer, it is important to consider a few different trainers before enrolling your dog in obedience training classes. Call or, if possible, meet with the trainer and ask him/her questions about the success rates, costs, and methods of training involved in that particular course. Choose a trainer with whom you feel comfortable. If you are comfortable with the trainer and his/her methods, your dog will likely be too!
Dog Obedience Training Schedules
Training should begin as soon as the dog enters your home. Adult dogs or adopted dogs pose a greater challenge than puppies because they may already have deeply entrenched patterns of bad behavior.
A puppy, on the other hand, presents a canine tabula rasa, meaning that she has not received any training. Consequently, the puppy will quickly learn from obedience training and can more easily build positive behavioral responses. Nevertheless, correcting bad behavior in older dogs is not impossible; it just takes longer and demands greater patience because of the re-training involved.
Basic Dog Commands and Training Techniques
Your most powerful tools for dog obedience training are TLC, firmness and consistency. Few fearful and aggressive dogs fail to respond to commands that are delivered in a calm, firm, and caring manner.
The general consensus among dog training experts is that positive reinforcement produces better and more long-lasting results than punishment. Rather than constantly telling your dog what you don’t want her to do, encourage the behavior that you prefer from her.
Rewards vs. Reinforcements
Two popular methods of obedience training that are based on positive reinforcement are reward training and leash training. Both techniques have their advantages and disadvantages.
Advocates of using rewards argue that complex behaviors can be achieved only by offering rewards such as food or toys. However, this method requires not only a large number of rewards to achieve results but it also can create a dog who expects to be rewarded whenever you ask him to do something.
Rather than using treats as the sole means of positive reinforcement, some trainers opt for clicker training. With clicker obedience training, a dog is conditioned to think of a clicking sound as his reward. Because the clicking sound is randomly accompanied by treats, the dog understands that the clicking is a form of praise for behaving well. When the dog obeys, the trainer acknowledges the dog’s obedient behavior with a clicking signal and sometimes an edible treat.
Alternatively, leash obedience training gives dog trainers greater control over and a faster response from their dogs. One of the disadvantages of leash training is that a dog may not respond to commands when it is not on the leash. As a result, trainers usually recommend a combination of obedience training styles.
Basic Dog Training Commands
Because dogs and humans don’t speak the same language, you and your dog must find a way to understand each other for obedience training to work. Useful, common commands used in dog obedience training classes include:
- “down” when you want your dog to lie at your heel
- “heel” when walking your dog on a loose leash
- “sit” to sit at attention
- “stay” to stand still, often at a distance.
Dog Training Equipment
Whether you attend dog obedience training classes or decide to train your dog independently, you’ll need some equipment such as buckle or chain collar and a leash. A pinch collar is another option for more unruly dogs. While the pinch collar has a harsh name, it’s particularly effective for larger or especially unruly dogs.
Large, strong dogs require chain or rope leashes. A simple detachable leather or nylon lead usually offers sufficient restraint for smaller breeds.
Depending on the obedience training you choose, you may also require a supply of suitable rewards, a rattle or shake can and a dog training manual for reference purposes.
Choosing the Right Obedience Class for Your Dog
The method of obedience training you choose for your dog will depend on his personality. Because of their unique personalities, some dogs respond to some types of instructors and training styles more readily than others. Get to know your dog’s personality traits and characteristics before choosing a suitable instructor or obedience class.
Because a shy dog needs more positive reinforcement, you might start with reward obedience training. Alternatively, if you have a more social or aggressive dog, leash obedience training is likely the better option for your dog.
If you’re unsure of what type of obedience training to chose, ask your local veterinarian to recommend a class or instructor. Before deciding, visit several professional dog instructors and view different types of classes. Talk to the instructor and ask him questions to ascertain his approach to obedience training. Most importantly, have your dog’s personality in mind when choosing a class or private instructor.
Once you feel comfortable with an instructor, check that the instructor is a member of an accredited association such as the NADOI (National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors) or the APDT (Association of Pet Dog Trainers).
Finally, observe whether the exercises performed in the various classes offer transferable skills, skills that can be used at home. Once you’ve made your choice, make dog obedience training a team effort so that both you and your dog can enjoy the experience.
Tips for Fast-Track Doggy Obedience
Here are some tips that can help facilitate dog obedience training:
- Exercise your dog regularly and often. If you use up some of that excess energy, you’ll have a calmer, more well-behaved dog.
- Always reinforce desirable behavior with your chosen rewards technique: treats, toys, or clicking.
- Whenever possible, call your dog by name when she has exhibited good behavior. Avoid using her name when curbing bad behavior.
- Never capitulate if your pet refuses to obey a command. Respond to bad behavior with a firm “no” and repeat the command calmly until your dog obeys.
- Help your pooch practice the routines he has learned at dog obedience training class. Reinforcing commands between lessons will give your dog a head start to fast-track doggy obedience!
Catherine Bono is a blogger, who is passionate about dogs and cats. She created Crittersitca.com to shares her experience as she studies to become a qualified vet.