Dog Obedience Training
This section is designed to teach you how to become a leader and gain your dog’s respect. What is it that leaders do? They lead! A Leader . . .
- Walks through the door, doorways, and up or down stairs first.
- Is firm. A command is spoken once or twice at the same volume. A string of commands, "no, noooo, no, I mean it!, NO, BAD DOG! NOOO!"–is ridiculous and completely ineffective.
- Is consistent.
- Is patient while interacting with dogs.
- Rewards positive behavior.
- Sets up the environment for success.
- Decides what direction to go and does not allow pulling the leash.
- Decides when and how to play.
- Can take anything away from any dog and claim it as his own.
Place a treat between your fingers and present it in front of your puppy’s nose. Practice having your puppy sit by moving the treat backward over the dog’s nose. Most puppies will back up by placing their bottom on the ground. As soon as your puppy sits, say “Good Boy” and give him the treat. Repeat this practice for no more than 10 minutes several times per day.
Place a treat between your fingers while having your puppy in a sit position. Place the treat directly in front of your puppy’s nose (if he tries to take the treat from you, keep a firm hold of the treat) while moving your hand slowly down towards the floor. Once the puppy’s nose follows the treat to the floor, slowly slide the treat away from the puppy (towards you). This should cause the puppy to stretch out and thus lie down on the floor. Once your puppy’s tummy and elbows are touching the floor, say “Good boy” and give him the treat. Repeat this practice for no more than 10 minutes several times per day.
Reward all good behavior. Be on the lookout for all behaviors you would like your dog to continue. For example: every time your dog is calmly sitting or lying down, say “Good boy” while at the same time giving him a treat. Ignoring your dog when he is behaving teaches your dog that being calm isn’t rewarding. Repeat this ALL THE TIME.
Watch Me (Focus) Command
Not all dogs are food or treat motivated. Some dogs are motivated by toys and others by a simple pat on the head. Once you have discovered what motivates your dog, you can use that “tool” to teach the Watch Me command. Move to an area with as little distractions as possible using the dog’s motivator (treat or toy) get the dog’s attention by holding it in front of his nose. Slowly move the motivator toward your face while saying, “Watch Me.” As soon as the dog looks you in the face, give him the motivator (treat, toy, or quick pat on the head) while saying “Good Boy” or “Good Girl.”
Lure your puppy into the sit position. As soon as the puppy’s bottom touches the floor, say “Good boy” while giving a treat. Immediately hold your hand out toward the puppy’s nose (like giving the high 5 sign) while saying, “stay.” Take one step backward, away from your puppy, and then immediately say “Good boy” while giving your puppy a treat. If your puppy moves before you have a chance to say “Good boy,” do not give him the treat. Instead say, “No, Eh–Eh, or some other word signifying a No Reward Marker, and repeat the practice until he sits long enough for you to say “Good boy” and give the reward.
Practice the sit–stay cue adding additional steps backward for no more than 10 minutes at a time. If at any point your puppy fails to sit–stay, then reduce the number of steps you take backward. Example: Your puppy remains in a sit–stay while you take four steps backward, but when you try again he fails to remain seated. At this point you will repeat the practice but only take three steps backward. Continue practicing at three steps several times before trying to add the fourth step.
Place a treat between your fingers and your puppy in the sit position. Quickly, before your puppy gets up from the sit position, show the puppy the treat and at the same time say “release.” As soon as the puppy gets up from the sit position, give him the treat while saying “Good boy.” Repeat this Practice for no more than 10 minutes several times per day.
Start with the dog in front-sit position and the leash in your right hand. Place a treat in your left hand and lure the dog into a sitting position near your left foot. As soon as the dog completes the command–give the treat while saying “Good Boy /Girl.” Practice as many times per day as possible, but for only 10 minutes at a time.
Loose Leash Walking
Place a treat in the fingers of your left hand. Holding your puppy’s leash in your right hand begin walking. If your puppy follows you without pulling or lagging behind, take a few steps; stop and give the puppy the treat while saying “Good boy.” If once you start walking your puppy refuses to move, lags behind you, or runs ahead of you, lure the puppy into the heel position using the treat. Once the puppy reaches the treat, say “Good boy” while giving him the treat. Practice the Lure Loose Leash Walking as often as you can but for no more than 10 minutes per day.
Reward / No Reward Markers
It is very important to let your dog know when he/she has done the right behavior or the wrong behavior.
The Reward Marker and the No Reward Marker are basic obedience training, and this technique is commonly used with today’s positive-motivational trainers.
Saying “Good boy” is the verbal “reward marker.” Offering the dog a favorite treat or toy (the reward) after he does the right thing will teach him to repeat the desired behavior when asked.
It is equally as important to let him know when he has done the wrong thing. This can be accomplished by saying the word "No, Eh, Eh, or even making a sound such as clearing your throat, etc. This is a “No Reward Marker.” Pick something that you will use. The important thing to remember is to be consistent.
Reward marker. Guide your dog into the proper behavior each time. By consistently guiding the dog into the desired behavior after each “No” instead of physically correcting the dog, the dog will soon start to offer the correct behavior when he hears the word "No."
The American Kennel Club (AKC) promotes puppy training classes known as the
S.T.A.R. Puppy Program for all dogs under the age of 12 months. The 6-week program focuses on:
- Socialization–Interaction with other animals and their owners.
- Training–Sit on command, down on command, walking appropriately on leash, comes when called, free of aggression, and other obedience commands.
- Activity–Owner maintains adequate daily exercise and play time.
- Responsibility–Dog owner pledges that he/she will be responsible for the health, safety, and social needs of the puppy.
Like myself, many responsible breeders are partnering with the AKC and are becoming
S.T.A.R. Puppy class trainers and test evaluators. Ask your breeder if he/she offers these classes, or contact the AKC for a list of trainers/evaluators in your area. You can hear more about the AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy and the Canine Good Citizen (for dogs over 12 months of age) by visiting the following website http://www.akc.org/starpuppy/about_the_program.cfm
From the book "Iʼm Gonna Buy Me a Dog " by Penny DiLoreto