Dogs are man’s best friend. Sometimes, though, your furry friend won’t be as well-behaved as you want them to be. Problems, like sneaking food from the table, barking at inopportune times, and running off and getting into dangerous situations, may arise. That’s where obedience training comes in.
Dog obedience training is important in that it will not only teach your pooch to behave better, but it will also stimulate them mentally, which keeps them healthy and happy. While dogs are smart enough to learn hundreds of commands, they only need to know a few important ones to safely co-exist with other pets and people.
Before you begin training your furry friend, remember that your training should be based on positive reinforcement. Avoid using punishments such as yelling or leash corrections, as these can confuse your pooch and make them unsure about what you want from them.
Positive reinforcement can come in many forms. It can be food that your dog likes, from special treats to their kibble. It can also be playtime with their favorite toy or lots of praise and attention from you.
The “sit” command is the easiest one to teach and is often the first command that dogs learn. Most dogs can sit on their own, in fact – all you have to do is connect their behavior to your command.
While your dog is standing, hold a treat right in front of their nose then slowly raise the treat above their head. As they lift their head to follow the treat, they will sit down. Once they do so, say give them the treat. Repeat this a few times daily with the food lure, then, gradually, remove the treat and just use your empty hand – but keep rewarding your dog after they sit down. Eventually, your dog will understand the hand signal for sit.
The “stay” command isn’t just about getting your pooch to stay still. It will also teach your dog self-control and keep them safe from harm.
To teach your dog how to stay, start by standing close to them. Make sure they are in a sitting position. Hold a hand out towards them and say “stay.” If they stay in their sitting position, reward them with a treat and some praise after a few moments. Do this again and again until your dog gets the idea.
Once your dog gets the basic “stay” command down pat, you can build on the skill with the Three D’s of training: distance, duration, and distraction. Over the course of several training sessions, increase the distance between you and your dog, as well as the duration before you release them. You can even introduce distractions to test their self-control.
Coming when called can help keep your dog safe from potentially dangerous situations such as going into traffic or getting into a fight with another dog.
Start training your furry friend to come to you indoors, in a quiet area. Back away from your pooch while telling them to “come” – make sure that you only give the command once. Be enthusiastic and keep your body relaxed and open so that your dog is encouraged to go to you. You can even show your dog a treat to coax them to head your way. Once your dog goes towards you, reward them with the treat! You can gradually increase the distance between you and your dog over time.
Dogs are good, efficient learners; they’ll quickly understand these commands and more if you manage to train them correctly. Just remember to keep your training sessions short and fun and to end each one on a positive note.