The Ultimate Guide to Dog Obedience

A dog training to learn the shake command.A dog training to learn the shake command.
A dog training to learn the shake command.A dog training to learn the shake command.

Table of Contents:

  1. The Importance of Training Your Dog to be Obedient
  2. Obedience Training Philosophies
  3. General Rules for Training Dogs
  4. Teach Your Dog Basic Commands
  5. Guide to Training Your Dog

“My most satisfying aspect of animal training is a very simple moment. After a show when I leave the stage door … sometimes I hear someone say the following and it makes it all worthwhile. ‘How did they make that dog do that?’ I smile because I am the only ‘they’ and I do it with love.”

Renowned animal behaviorist William Berloni stated this in reference to his successful transformation of an abused shelter dog into Sandy, the pooch featured in a recent rendition of the hit musical Annie.

While it’s highly unlikely you aspire to turn your canine into a Broadway star, the importance of dog obedience training – and the theme of love – are still applicable.

Boundaries, training, and predictable routines help our dogs to thrive. Proper obedience training represents a critical component to nurturing a healthy human-animal relationship and creating a socially compatible pet. With adequate training, your dog can truly be your best friend, and the feelings of love and respect can be mutual.

Here’s our guide to achieving a level of dog obedience that produces a well-behaved pet and healthy human-animal bond.

The Importance of Training Your Dog to be Obedient

Having descended from pack animals, most dogs need instruction and direction. Obedience-trained dogs tend to have easier lives than their untrained peers, as they learn to better cope with their surroundings and often receive more privileges as a result of their good behavior.

Ideally, you should start them while they’re young, developing a foundation of obedience in your puppy and cultivating this skill set throughout your dog’s life. Even adult dogs respond positively to obedience training, mastering most basic commands.

Pet parents need to recognize the difference between canine behavior and human behavior. Dogs have some behaviors like chewing, barking, jumping up to greet us, and digging that make it difficult for us to live together. Dogs need to understand how you want them to behave and realize how good behavior benefits them.

Training can create a closer bond between you and your pet, and it will help socialize your dog. The basic elements of obedience training – “sit,” “down,” “stay,” “come,” and “heel” – help produce a good canine citizen. By keeping training positive and fun, with a rewards-based approach, both you and your dog can enjoy the process and the end result.

Obedience Training Philosophies

At its core, think of obedience training as a canine’s version of an education in good manners. When you have guests enter your household, you want every family member to display proper manners and good behavior, including your dog.

While some dog owners opt to take obedience training into their own hands, there are alternative options available for those owners who lack extensive experience with this process. Provided your budget allows, consider enrolling your dog in a formal class, where they’ll receive training to develop the foundation of lifelong behavioral skills.

In addition to teaching compliance with basic commands, an obedience class instructor can help guide you through issues, such as the timing of food rewards when your dog listens and the best way to respond when they don’t adhere to your requests. You’ll learn training techniques you can reinforce when you’re with your dog at home.

General Rules for Training Dogs

Regardless of whether you implement formal obedience classes or opt for an independent training effort, there are a number of general rules to keep in mind:

  • Training should be a positive experience for you and your dog.
  • Every dog should be familiar with basic obedience commands.
  • Training should not involve any negative or punishment-based components.
  • Ensure that your dog’s motivation for reward is highest during a training session.
  • Make sure the reward you offer in training is the most powerful one for your dog.
  • Once training has been accomplished in a quiet area, you can gradually begin to practice in environments with more distractions.

Dogs have short attention spans so keep training sessions brief – only about 10 to 15 minutes per session. You can train two or three times a day and you should stick to teaching only one action during the training session, so your dog does not get confused.

Dog obedience training takes time and things may not always go smoothly. Just remember that positive reinforcement is the key to success. Never punish your dog or lose your temper, because this will only cause confusion. Always end each training session with positive reinforcement.

Teach Your Dog Basic Commands

With a commitment to consistent practice and repetition, you can succeed in instilling basic commands within your canine companion – and do so quicker than you ever thought possible. The commands instructing your dog to “come,” “heel,” “sit,” “stay,” and “stay down” are essential for ensuring your canine remains safe and well behaved.

Here are “how to” guides for teaching your dog to master the obedience skills associated with these five basic commands:

Guide to Training Your Dog

Ultimately, you can convert a disobedient dog into a well-mannered member of your family by utilizing effective training strategy, consistency, and persistence. Your dedication and discipline will rub off on your eager-to-please canine.

Start by consistently rewarding your dog with a small treat for eliminating outdoors in order to achieve housetraining, and by teaching your dog that their crate is their safe haven. After these fundamental techniques are in place, divert your attention to instilling basic commands by applying a similar rewards-based approach. With any luck, you’ll soon be able to tackle more exciting elements of training, such as teaching your dog to perform tricks.

Keep in mind that dog training is an ongoing process. The idea of “use it or lose it” applies here – if your dog doesn’t continue to use these skills they will forget much of what they learned. That means you should continue to work on obedience training throughout your dog’s lifetime.

You and your dog will be together for the long haul. With effective obedience training, you can chart a course early on for a healthy human-animal relationship and the makings of a lifelong bond built on love.

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