Basic Dog Obedience


animal                 shelter imageHow difficult is it to train a dog? Anyone can train any dog in two ten minute sessions a day in eight weeks (three is even better.) I have never seen it fail if done consistently morning and evening. There are no secrets to training a dog just as there are no magic solutions in raising children. The keys to a well trained dog are consistency and training. (So it is with children I suspect.) Training never stops and even after the dog has the basics down pat you should spend 10 minutes a day running drills on these commands.

Truly there are only 5 commands that a dog has to know.

Heel: To walk at your side. Not ahead not behind. Dogs shoulder shouldn’t go beyond your knee

Sit: Sit on your butt

Down: Lay Down

Stay: Stay Right Where you are and don’t move until I give you another command

Come: Come Here and that means RIGHT DANG NOW


Other handy commands are:

Leaveit: What ever you’re interested in, have picked up or want. Leave it alone

NO!: What ever you are doing stop it and yes that means stop chewing on my shoes

Whoa: Stop right there and don’t move.

Stand: Stand steady for inspection. (This command can make you popular with your vet and groomer)

Rouse/Scoot/Get: Go away. Get out of the room/road/underfoot.

Off: Get off the couch, chair, bed, (good luck with that one) etc

PawsOff: Paws off. Used for dogs that jump up and put their paws on you or other people. Squeeze paws and push on the chest with knee at the same time.

Kennel/Kennel Up: Go in your kennel/crate. Also used when putting the dog in the car. Kennel up to jump up in

Do use the same command every time. Do praise your dog when she does what you want. A dog will die trying to please you just to have it’s ears scratched and get told what a good dog she is. Do use a happy voice when praising your dog. Do set aside at least 10 minutes a day to train even after your dog has it all down pat. Do make training fun and a happy time. Do use a separate collar only for training. When your dog goes wildly happy when you reach for the training collar you know you are doing things right.

Don’t use ten commands that mean the same thing. Don’t use one command one time and another command another time. Use the same command for the same behaviour every time. Don’t let different members of the family use different commands. Such as hubby says come, wife says here, junior says right here, and so on. The same command for the same behaviour every time.

Did you know dogs don’t talk English, French, Chinese, or any other language? Surprise, it’s true. Ever watch Charlie Brown? Remember the teacher? Waaaa waaaaa waaaa waaaa. Just noise. That’s what you sound like to your dog. A dog, in its life time, can learn the meaning of approximately 600 words. Never use a two word command when one will do.

If your dog isn’t doing what you ask of it, then you haven’t taught the dog the meaning of the word. Expect the correct response for the command, each time, every time, do not let your dog get away with half correct responses. Half right will not stop your dog from running into traffic. DO NOT repeat the command endlessly, sit, sit, sit, sit, Sit, Sit, SIT. That’s waaaa, waaaa , waaaaa. Noise. Say the command once and only once. This is obedience training not “repeat myself till you do what you want when you want training”.

That being said there is one exception to the repetition rule. Heel. That can be used repeatedly as you walk, as the dog starts to drift, lag, or go ahead, correct with a gentle tug and say heel. This can be used as much as necessary. You’ll find after awhile you don’t have to say heel except at the beginning of a walk or when recalling your dog.

When To Start Training and How

When should you start training? The minute you’ve picked your dog out and given it a name!

The most important thing your dog will ever learn is its name. If your dog doesn’t know and respond to the name you’ve given it you’re going to have problems.

You’ve picked out the puppy, but it’s going to be 4 weeks before you bring it home? Get the breeder, kennel, or shelter to start using the dogs name as much as possible. When you visit the puppy, and do so twice daily if at all possible, play with it and call it by name. Back away from the puppy clapping your hands and call its name. When you feed it. Bang the side of the dish and call its name. Very quickly whenever you say the dogs name the dog will look at you at the very least. Name recognition usually happens around 12 weeks of age. Depending on how diligently you work with the puppy on this.

The second thing to do after picking out the dogs name is to buy a proper collar and leash appropriate to the size and age of the dog. I suggest nylon collars with stainless steel buckles and a solid ring for connecting the leash at the back of the neck. Plastic clip buckles have a tendency to break. Just touching a plastic buckle at -20°C can cause it to shatter. Strong dogs will yank these right apart in short order. A sudden lunge is not when you want your collar to come apart. You may go through 5 collars in the first year. After that replace as you see fit.

Attach a metal tag with the dogs name, your name address and phone number to the collar then buckle the collar on and never take it off except to give the dog a bath, groom it, or change collars.

The leash should be flat nylon and 1.8M (6ft) in length. For a puppy buy a thinner ½ inch wide leash, for an adult or larger dog go with 1 inch width. Flat nylon webbing gives fewer burns on the palm and is easier to grip. With strong dogs gloves are always a good idea.

When the collar is attached clip the lead/leash on the collar and let the dog drag it around and get used to it. Let puppies play with it if they want it is new and it is on them, it is strange to them. This is about getting them used to the collar and lead nothing else. Formal Training begins when you pick up the lead.

Points To Ponder

Read! There are so many different training “methods”, ideas, thoughts, and persuasions out there that it can be confusing. Don’t believe everything you read but read. Talk to people that have well behaved dogs. Where’d they get their information and training knowledge? Talk to people with poorly trained dogs, where’d they get their training or information? Avoid that training or information in turn.

A dog is a social animal. Socialize it. Start taking the dog out in public as soon as it has received its first series of vaccinations. Prior to then keep the dog away from other dogs not it’s litter mates. As soon as the puppy has its shots get it out and about. Get it used to people, traffic, other dogs, kids, birds, sounds, noises, and smells. The more accustomed a dog gets to people and situations the less likely they are to become a fear biter, aggressive, or overly timid at a large stage. The more relaxed they are around everyone and everything in their environment the better.

As a dog is a social animal it also is a pack animal. If you let it happen the dog will be the boss. You have to be in charge and the dominant member of its pack. All the human units should be over the dog in pack rank. Otherwise the dog will feel it doesn’t have to obey that person because they are of lesser rank.

DO NOT punish your dog. Correct it. Punishment doesn’t do a thing for the dog and while it might make you feel better momentarily you’ve just lost all the trust of the dog and made your training that much more difficult. You can make a dog cringe and cower by punishing it, beating it, or depriving it of your company. You can’t make it understand what you want or obey you however hard or often you whack it. You can’t correct what you don’t see. You can’t correct or enforce what happens right now. 5 seconds is all you have, if that. A mess on the floor, a tipped over plant, or an eaten shoe, two hours later you have to clean it up and just ignore it. If you don’t catch them in the act you can’t correct it. Pay attention to what your dog is doing.

Do not try to train your dog when you are angry with the dog or about anything else. Your dog can sense emotions more surely than you can say the alphabet. If you’re training or working with your dog and you get upset, STOP working the dog immediately and go do something else. Chop wood or mop the floor. You won’t harm the dog and you’ve got something to show for the energy you are expending.

Dogs bark. Know it and accept it. However it is NOT acceptable to let your dog bark at everything that goes by or to bark for hours just to respond to its own voice. One bark is fine. Two is Ok. Three is that’s it. More than that it better be someone intruding closely into the dogs space that shouldn’t be there.

Growling. Snapping. Nipping. Biting. Are NEVER acceptable behaviours. Cure it. If you don’t know how find out how. Ask. Read. Train. Or have the dog professionally trained. If you can’t cure the dog of these activities do yourself a favour and give the dog to someone who will or have the dog euthanized. Better to have the dog humanely destroyed now than having to do it by court order after the dog has bitten or killed someone.

Remember above all you can train a dog to fetch the paper. You might even be able to teach it to read the paper afterwards. Doesn’t mean the dog is going to understand it. All I’m saying is a dog is a dog is a dog is fuzzy person.

A dog that won’t lust after the Christmas goose isn’t worth having. The dog that gets it better practice at looking pathetic, guilty and contrite if she wants to survive.



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