Basics of Obedience

The basics of obedience training

Obedience training can be extremely rewarding for both dog and owner. It can strengthen the bond between the two of you and make your dog a more enjoyable pet to be around. Besides, knowing even the simplest commands could save your dog's life. For example, obeying the “stay” command could prevent your dog from crossing a busy street or entering any area that could be dangerous. Practice these commands with your dog during short, daily training sessions for the most effective results.

This command is used so frequently that your dog might already have some idea what it means. However, if your dog does not consistently sit when he hears the command, here's one way you can instruct him.

Take a food treat in your hand, and hold that closed hand in front of your dog's nose. Move your closed hand toward the back of your dog's head as you say "sit." As his head goes up and back to follow the treat, he should sit automatically. Praise your dog and reward him with the treat. Repeat this exercise until your dog sits immediately at the command. This command can be practiced throughout the day. For example, before you put your dog's food bowl down ask him to sit. Once he does, place his food bowl on the floor and praise him.

The "stay" command is easy to review with your dog if he understands the sit command because it's really just a long sit. When your dog is in the sit position, say "stay," while giving him the open hand signal. Praise your dog if he maintains his position for a few minutes. However, don't expect your dog to remain in this position for long periods of time, or if you leave the room.

If your dog responds to the down command, immediately praise him, and then practice the command a few more times during different activities. If your dog doesn't respond to this command, you may have to review it with a food treat.

Start with your dog in a sitting position. Hold the treat in your hand. As you give your dog the down command, place the hand holding the food treat at your dog's nose, and then move your hand down to the floor. Your dog should follow the treat and lie down. Praise him and give him the treat. When your dog recognizes the command, you will not need to use a food treat, but praise is always a good idea. Your dog wants to please you, and praise helps him understand what you want him to do.

If your dog is responding well to the down command you can next review the come command. Start from a stay or down position. Take a few steps back and say your dog's name and the command "come." Praise and reward him when he obeys.

This command confuses some dogs, particularly if after they responded to the command, they were then disciplined. Never call your dog to scold him or to do anything that he won't like. He will remember it and could be confused about how to respond the next time he hears the command.

This is a difficult command for many dogs, and you may need a professional trainer to help your dog understand how he should respond. However, it is a useful command, particularly when walking or jogging with your dog. A dog that understands the heel command will match his pace to yours, and he won't pull on his leash or make frequent stops and starts.

With your dog leashed and on your left-hand side, give him the "sit" command. Give the leash a lot of slack and hold it in your left hand. While your dog sits at your left side, put a treat in each hand. Your left hand should be gently clenched, holding the leash and a treat. Shake your left hand a little to get your dog's attention to focus on the treat. This slight shake of the hand will be the signal used to "heel." Take 3 or 4 steps forward and shake your left hand again, keeping it on the left side. Your dog should follow you with his nose towards your left hand until you stop. Next, give your dog the "stay" command and reward him with the treat from your right hand. Repeat this many times, taking larger amounts of steps, until your dog understands that when he hears you say "heel" he must follow on your left side, with his nose towards your left hand.

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