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5 Steps to Dog Obedience Training

How to Train Your Dog to Behave and Respond to Commands

By Madeleine Burry. November 27, 2012 | See Comments

5 Steps to Dog Obedience Training

Making sure your dog is well trained is crucial in terms of keeping your family safe and comfortable, as well as other people who may encounter your dog. Use these 5 steps to help guide you through the training process.

Having a well-trained dog is important for your family’s comfort, for all the people that your dog encounters on walks, and for the safety of your dog and other dogs in the vicinity. As you begin your dog obedience training, keep patience, persistence, and positivity as your watchwords.

Training is not at all synonymous with punishment, and should not seem like it to your pet -- keep training sessions brief, reward all good behavior, and know that sometimes you can just ignore bad behavior. If your dog tries to jump on you, and you just turn your back, for example, your dog will learn that jumping will not get the wanted attention. A quick and firm "No" will tell your dog you're not pleased, and you should never resort to hitting.

Praise your dog immediately following their actions to help to enforce the positive behavior. Remember that seemingly simple tasks, like learning to heel, are new skills for your dog, and may take some time to master.

Here are 5 steps to training your dog.

1. Gather Your Tools:

Get started by reading up on training techniques, and having a clear strategy for how you’ll accomplish your goals. A consistent and clear approach will help training go smoothly for both you and your pet. You’ll also need some supplies on hand to facilitate the process:

  • Treats:

    As well as praising your dog after good behavior, providing a treat enforces your praise, and reinforces the benefits of behaving well.
  • Leash and Collar:

    A collar with your address and information is particularly important for young dogs who may run off. A leash will help you keep your dog near, and is particularly important since puppies may not pay attention to a vocal command, and can be kept in control with the leash. Your little pup might not like the collar at first, but will grow accustomed to it over time.

2. Start Housebreaking Early:

Potty training is an important part of your dog’s obedience training -- it’s a big step for your puppy to realize that it’s not appropriate to go to the bathroom inside, and to understand the concept of waiting to urinate and defecate. Like a baby, a young puppy cannot completely control their bladder, so it’s important to keep natural limitations in mind, and only plan for puppies to hold it for a reasonable amount of time. Setting up a crate can be helpful, since dogs will naturally resist going to the bathroom in the same area that they sleep and rest in. Just be careful to only confine your pet in the crate for a reasonable amount of time; waiting to use the bathroom, and being in the crate in general, should not feel like a punishment or unrealistic task. Praise your pet when they go to the bathroom outdoors in an appropriate spot.

3. Get Your Dog Used to the Leash:

Being on a leash doesn’t necessarily make intuitive sense to a puppy -- give your dog time to get accustomed to the idea of always being attached to an owner and having restricted movement. Start by introducing your pet to a collar. Once your dog is familiar with having something around their neck, add on the leash. This step doesn’t need to happen outside; in fact, it’s preferable to get your dog accustomed to the feel of a leash before teaching him how to go for a walk with it on.

Once your puppy is OK with the leash, take them outside, and get your dog used to walking while on a leash. As with all training, treats will help your dog feel good about the leash, and walking under your control.

4. Develop Social Skills With Kids & Other Dogs:

If your dog will encounter children, strangers, and other dogs -- and even the most isolated dog is likely to interact with other people and pets in his lifetime -- it’s vital that your dog knows how to behave. Lunging, biting, and other bad behaviors are completely unacceptable. The easiest way to show your dog how to behave around other dogs, people, and kids is to introduce your dog to them early on. It’s surprises and unfamiliar experiences that will trip your dog up later in life, causing them to respond with aggression. As with all training experiences, you can help this process along by giving your puppy treats to encourage them to interact with others, and praising successful social interactions.

5. Begin Teaching Commands:

At the very least, all dogs should know the basic commands like “Sit,” “Stay,” “Heel,” and “Come” -- of course, more understanding of commands is only going to make communication and obedience easier. To teach commands, you’ll need to be patient and train your dog in short sessions. Focus on one command per session, and be consistent in your approach. If you’re teaching the command “Stay,” for example, focus on just that one command, and say it in the same tone each time. Whenever your dog follows the command, praise and provide treats as positive reinforcement.

More on Training Your Dog:

Golden Retriever Crate Training
Tips for Training a Beagle
Training Greyhounds for Long Leashes

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This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or other qualified professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard or delay seeking professional advice due to what you may have read on our website.

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