Obedience Training Helps You Teach Your Dog Basic Life Skills and Avoid Behavior Problems
“NO!” “Down!” “Back!” “Out!” “Get off the couch!”
It’s enough to make even the happiest tail stop wagging.
Dogs may be man’s (and woman’s) best friend, but they’re not born knowing how to navigate a world full of human rules.
By teaching your canine companion some basic skills, you can improve your relationship and help your pooch be a happier pup.
January is National Train Your Dog Month, so let’s take a closer look at this important topic!
Why is Training Your Dog So Important?
As renowned dog trainer Victoria Stilwell explains on her website, Positively.com: “Since dogs are now sharing our homes and our lives in ever closer ways, it is more important than ever that every dog be given a good canine education. Doing so will prevent thousands of dogs being surrendered to shelters due to behavioral issues that could have been prevented.”
5 Reasons to Train Your Dog:
- Improve your bond and relationship
- Teach basic manners and life skills
- Ensure safety
- Improve socialization
- Avoid behavioral problems
There are many common dog training methods. Most professional trainers now recommend a “positive reinforcement” approach to achieve good behavior. Positive reinforcement focuses on giving the pet a reward in order to encourage the desired behaviors. Old-school dominance and ”be the alpha” training techniques are falling out of favor.
No matter what specific approach you decide on, it all comes down to this:
- Reward your dog for behaviors you want to see more of
- Don’t reward behaviors you want to eliminate
Rewards can be a small piece of “high value” training treats, such as bits of sausage, string cheese or similar. Even pieces of kibble can work in a pinch.
Remember that pets, like small children, don’t know what they don’t know. They need loving guidance and rules. Your furry friend needs to learn right and wrong, just like any member of your family. Patience and practice are key.
What are the Most Important Commands for a Dog to Learn?
Whether your pooch is a puppy or an adult who never learned his manners, a few basic training commands are essential:
- Lay down
- How to loose leash walk
For safety, your dog should learn her name and “Come” as early as possible. That way, if she bolts you can call her back before she gets into trouble.
Once you master the basics, the sky’s the limit. You can work on dog tricks such as rolling over, playing dead, fetch…the list of fun tricks to teach is endless.
Should You Hire a Professional Trainer or Do It Yourself?
When it comes to training, you can teach your pet on your own or work with a professional trainer.
Professional trainers can have a variety of experience and education. It’s important to talk to potential trainers ahead of time and make sure you’re comfortable with their background and approach.
The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) is an independent certification organization. To be certified, trainers must meet specific criteria, agree to a code of ethics and participate in continuing education.
Types of professional training:
- Group classes. Multiple pets and owners meet and learn together.
- Private training sessions. You and your dog work individually with a trainer.
- Board-and-train programs. Your pet stays at a trainer’s facility and returns home when training is complete. This type of program is only effective if the trainer also teaches the owner how to reinforce the behaviors at home.
Can You Really Teach an Old Dog New Tricks?
Yes, absolutely! The American Kennel Club (AKC) highly recommends ongoing training, no matter the pet’s age.
Whether you adopt an untrained rescue or your pup is well-trained and ready to up her game, training an adult has many rewards.
An adult with no previous training is much like a puppy—they need to learn your expectations and rules. Unlike a puppy, adult dogs may have more self-control, which can speed up the learning curve.
Even those who have mastered their manners can benefit from continued training.
Trainer, breeder and AKC GoodDog! Helpline program manager Penny Leigh, CPDT-KA, tells the AKC that an animal will be “healthier and happier if he stays physically and mentally active” as he ages.
“Dogs that still feel useful and that they have a ‘job’ tend to keep a youthful outlook, much like humans who continue to stay engaged in activities after they retire,” Leigh says.
The AKC says agility training, tricks, rally, flyball and scent work are all great choices for adults. These activities also help strengthen the bond between pet and owner. And they’re just plain fun!
In a Nutshell
Training is a crucial part of dog ownership. Your pet doesn’t know what you expect from her until you teach her. You and your pooch will both be happier once rules and boundaries are established.
Whether you go it alone or hire a professional trainer, patience and consistency are the keys to success. And, of course, lots and lots (and lots) of treats!
10 Signs Your Dog is Stressed https://petalive.blog/2020/10/01/10-signs-your-dog-is-stressed/
Working from Home with Pets https://petalive.blog/2020/04/01/working-from-home-with-pets/
- “Behavioral Health for Your Pet.” ASPCA. Accessed January 7, 2021. https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/behavioral-help-your-pet
- Lunchick, P. “Teach Your Puppy These 5 Basic Commands.” American Kennel Club. Accessed January 7, 2021. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/teach-your-puppy-these-5-basic-commands/
- “Obedience Training for Dogs.” Fetch by WebMD. Accessed January 7, 2021. https://pets.webmd.com/dogs/guide/dog-training-obedience-training-for-dogs#1
- Stregowski, J. “How to Train Your Dog.” The Spruce Pets. Accessed January 7, 2021. https://www.thesprucepets.com/steps-to-train-your-dog-1118273
- “How to Choose a Trainer.” American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior. Accessed January 7, 2021. https://avsab.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/How-to-Choose-a-Trainer-Position-Statement.pdf
- “Why Should I Train My Dog?” Positively Victoria Stilwell. Accessed January 7, 2021. https://positively.com/dog-training/find-a-trainer/why-should-i-train-my-dog/
7. Gibeault, S. “The Importance of Training Your Senior Dog.” American Kennel Club. Accessed January 8, 2021. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/training-your-senior-dog/