Let's face it, providing some basic obedience training gives us a dog that is more fun to be around. But there are other benefits to basic obedience training. Such training will make you the leader of the pack. It also provides the necessary mental workout that all dogs need which is just as important as physical exercise. Without such training your dog is likely to become bored. They need to feel useful. But the biggest benefit to obedience training is that it could be a life saver to the dog. For instance, a dog that is absolutely obedient to a recall command will immediately come to you when ordered. This is helpful if the dog gets away from you and tries to run across a busy street.
What you train your dog to be obedient to is really up to you. There are, however, five commands that every dog should be taught: sit, down, stay, come, and walking on leash.
How To teach Your Dog Commands
Everybody has their way of training a dog. Even professional dog trainers have different methods. But everyone seems to agree that there are 11 things that should be included in the training process. These are the guidelines to training.
1. Be Consistent
Being consistent means using the same word or words for the command. If you are trying to teach your dog to come to you with the word "come" you need to use that same word each and every time you want the dog to come to you. Don't change it to "come here" or anything else. If you change it you will confuse the dog. Dogs learn sounds and the sounds of "come" and "come here" are completely different to a dog even though the meaning is the same.
2. Start simple and gradually increase the difficulty.
Dogs learn in a step-by-step fashion. If you are trying to teach the dog to pick up its ball and bring it to you start by getting the dog just to pick up the ball. Once your dog has mastered that technique you can then start getting the dog to pick up the ball when it is ten feet from you and bringing it to you. After that teach the dog to just give you the ball. Then finally teach the dog to pick up the ball that is ten feet or more away from you, bring it to you, and then give it to you.
Once you have distance and duration down you can start to add distractions to the mix. This is something that professional trainers do. They invite other people to be in the area as well as other dogs. Even scattering treats around the training area will offer a good distraction. Now you must get the dog to obey the command and ignore all the distractions.
The important thing to remember here is that when you train a dog you teach it only one command at a time. Once your dog has mastered that command then you can move on to teaching another command.
3. Don't repeat the command.
This is something that a lot of people do when they train a pet. The problem with repeating the command is that you are really training the dog that they don't have to listen to the first command. You want the dog to obey the command the first time you say it. If he or she doesn't obey don't give a reward or any praise.
4. Lure the dog with treats and rewards.
One of the best methods of training is with food treats and rewards. Treats are used as both a lure and a reward. Lure the dog with the treat to get it to do what you want. When the dog obeys give the treat. But what if the dog is not motivated by food? Every dog has something that they like, a favorite toy, kind words, a good scratch behind it ear, a tummy rub, or a few seconds of playtime with you. Any of those can be used as a reward or lure.
5. Perfect your timing.
The praise and reward in the training session must be done immediately after the dog does what you wanted. The dog will eventually make the connection between these and will obey with the expectation of the treat or reward.
6. Start giving sporadic rewards, then phase out the rewards.
Once the dog is obeying the command you can start giving sporadic rewards. Start slowly. Once the command is mastered start giving a reward every second time the dog obeys. Once that is mastered move on to every third time. Then every fourth time and so on. Even try mixing up the rewards by changing it up to include other types of rewards. The goal here is to eventually phase out the food rewards altogether.
7. Keep the training sessions short and fun.
Many people want their dogs to learn a new command in one day and have been known to make training sessions last for hours. This is not the right way to train. Dogs will get bored if they have to constantly repeat something over and over again. Dogs have a relatively short attention span. Especially puppies. You must keep the training sessions short. Two or three training sessions lasting no more than twenty minutes each is the best approach. This should, however, be a daily routine for training until the dog is well trained.
8. Train the dog to obey family members and other important people.
Dogs should be trained to listen and obey all members of the family and not just you. To accomplish this you should have family members give the dog commands in various settings and rooms of the house. If you have a dog walker it is also important that your dog obeys them as well.
9. Stay cool and calm.
This is a big mistake that a lot of people make. Dogs are players. If they think that they can get something for nothing they will. For instance, you are trying to teach the dog to sit and stay until called. You have a food treat in your hand as a reward. The dog knows this and follows you for the treat. Now you tell your dog to sit by raising your voice. That's a huge negative to your dog. The point here is to be consistent and use the same tone of voice each time. If he doesn't obey just bring him back to the beginning and try again. Don't give the reward until he does what's expected of him. You might have to repeat the process twenty times before he gets the picture. Raising your voice or becoming frustrated takes all the fun out of the activity for both you and the dog.
10. Teach the "Nothing in life is free" rule to your dog.
Now that your dog knows a few commands it's time to reinforce them. This is done by asking your dog to obey a command every time you are about to give a treat, a toy, its meal, play a game with it, go for a walk, etc. If the dog ignores the command just put off what you were about to do with the dog for a few minutes and then try again. This practice will assure that you are the leader of the pack and that Fido must obey your command.
11. Keep the practice going.
This is all too often forgotten once the dog learns a command. Everyone, including animals, forget their training if it is not reinforced throughout their lives. This is an important step in the process. You must practice what you have taught the dog throughout its life.
Teaching your dog the basic commands will teach your dog some basic skills. They will also teach the dog who the leader is (hopefully it's you). By properly using treats for lures and rewards you will reinforce the dog's training. After all, what dog doesn't like a good treat. And by using treats you will make the training process easier. And you will end up with a best friend for life that is well-rounded and obedient.