Obedience training will help you enjoy the time you spend with your dog with less frustration for both you and your pet.
A dog that has been trained in basic obedience is also less likely to indulge in destructive behaviour, and it is also generally safer for your dog when you have trained it in simple commands. Obedience training is a dog sport that can help to calm a dog and provides important mental stimulation. Most dog owners will be able to find a dog obedience club near them that can teach them the basics of how to train common commands like sit, drop, stand, and stay along with the basics of loose leash walking.
However, if you’re struggling to find obedience training near you, rest assured it can be trained at home by following the simple steps outlined in this article.
If you have a dog that just does not listen to you, then obedience training can help to improve their behaviour.
Table of Contents
- What is Obedience Training?
- What are the 7 Basic Dog Commands in Obedience Training?
- FAQ Obedience Training
- Five Golden Rules of Dog Training
What is Obedience Training?
Obedience training is a type of dog training used for teaching a dog some basic commands such as sit, stay, down, come, heel, etc. It also covers loose leash-walking and house training.
A dog owner can easily train a puppy in basic obedience in the comfort of their home, although there are professional dog trainers available for this job. It can be fun to join the local obedience club where you can meet other dog owners and learn in a social environment. Many dog owners learn the foundations of obedience and go on to compete with their dogs in competitions but regardless of your end goal, teaching your puppy some obedience commands will be beneficial to their overall behaviour and wellbeing.
Obedience training is an important aspect of responsible dog ownership as it helps ensure well-behaved, happy dogs. The training usually focuses on the use of positive reinforcement methods such as praise, treats, rewards, etc. Although, some dog trainers still use positive punishment and negative reinforcement, along with unnecessary aversive training tools like prong collars, check chains, electric shock collars etc.
You can also use a clicker during obedience training, as the clicking sound communicates to your dog exactly what you want it to do.
Benefits of Obedience Training
Obedience training has several benefits:
- Corrects common behavioural issues – Dogs that jump up, lick their owner’s face, bark excessively, etc. can all benefit from obedience training. Training in obedience and life skills can improve and correct such behaviour, making it a better-behaved dog that is a wonderful companion for life.
- Improves safety – Obedience training can keep the dog safe and prevent behaviours such as running away. It can also keep the community safe since well-trained dogs are less likely to show aggression.
- Enhances the relationship between the dog and its owner – Obedience training with positive reinforcement techniques, such as treats, praise, and enjoyable playtime, can all help to strengthen the relationship between a dog and its owner.
- Mentally and physically stimulates the dog – consistent and short daily obedience training sessions can keep your dog mentally and physically fit. Both these are much-needed to prevent health issues, dementia, and bad/destructive behaviours in our canine pals.
What are the 7 Basic Dog Commands in Obedience Training?
Below are the seven basic commands that every dog can be trained in:
The sit command is extremely useful, as it will help you to keep your dog still and calm. It is ideal for teaching with other basic obedience commands like “stay” and “come” – especially when you have visitors and want to stop your dog from jumping on people.
- Give the cue or command word, – “sit”
- Use a treat to show your dog how to sit (lure the dog into the sit position by holding the food above its head).
- Praise and treat your dog once it sits.
- Repeat 3-4 times a day and add the cue “sit” once your dog is reliably sitting when lured into the position.
This command is extremely useful if you want to take your dog to the local dog-friendly cafe, beach or park! Give it the ‘stay’ command while you sit and relax, and your dog obediently waits for you.
- Start in a quiet place.
- Position your dog the way you want it to stay. You can also have it sit.
- Give the “stay” command. Be very clear.
- Reward after a few seconds, making sure it is calm and quiet during that time.
- Repeat, but increase the delay before rewarding.
- Introduce the “stay” command.
- Give the release command – “break” can be a handy release cue.
- Eventually, build up to practising the command in an area with distractions (like the dog park).
“Come” is an extremely useful command that teaches your dog to come to you when called. It’s important for getting your dog’s attention.
- Run away a few paces from your dog.
- Say your dog’s name in a loving, excited tone.
- Say “Come”!
- Reward your dog with treats and praise when it comes to you. If your dog isn’t motivated by food, use their favourite toy to initiate a game of tug or fetch.
This command teaches your dog to walk nicely on a leash without pulling. You can use a clicker for this command.
- Start with your dog on a leash, on your left side and you both facing the same direction.
- Walk a few paces with your dog by your side.
- When you find your dog next to you, say its name, say “Heel,” and click.
- Repeat in areas with distractions and slowly increase the duration that you expect them to walk by your side.
- It can be a difficult position for dogs to walk in constantly and it can be kind and effective to allow your dog to decompress by sniffing and exploring their environment on a long line or leash.
Down or Lie Down is an important command that helps dogs stay calm, and relax in hectic situations. It also teaches young dogs impulse control.
- Have your dog sit.
- Take a high-value treat in your hand and move it from your dog’s nose to its chest, and down to the floor.
- Your dog will lie down on the floor.
- When it does, click, give the command “Down or Lie Down,” and reward and praise it.
- Repeat several times and proceed to teach it in a place with plenty of distractions.
This is the command to teach your dog if you don’t want it on your bed or sofa!
- When your dog has its paws on a table/chair/sofa, use a treat to lure it off the furniture.
- As soon as all four of its paws are on the floor, say “OFF,” use the clicker, and treat praise, and reward it.
- Repeat every time your dog has its paws on the furniture or is jumping up.
This command teaches your dog to leave an object or food and is extremely important for preventing your dog from eating dangerous items.
- Use a low-value toy to teach this command. Have your dog play with it for a few seconds.
- Place a high-value toy or treat in front of your pet. If you use the right low-value and high-value combo, you will easily get your dog to ‘drop’ the unwanted toy.
- As soon as it drops the toy, click, praise, and reward your dog. Hide the low-value toy behind you while your dog is finishing its treat.
- Once your dog finishes eating the treat, present the toy again. Repeat 3-4 times a day.
- Gradually move to teach this command by saying “leave it” when the dog is reliably leaving the low-value toy for the high-value treat or toy.
FAQ Obedience Training
What is the best age for obedience training?
The best age for obedience training your dog or puppy is when you have a spare 2 minutes to engage them in a positive and fun way. Obedience training involves using treats, praise and play to reward your dog for behaviours like sitting, dropping, standing, loose leash walking and staying. If your dog or puppy doesn’t naturally offer these behaviours you can use a treat or toy to lure them into the position.
Once they are reliably following the lure into a sit position, simply add the cue “sit” and offer them a reward. Dogs quickly connect the association between the desired behaviour and the positive consequence. This results in them offering the behaviour again in the future.
What is the correct way to obedience train a dog?
Positive reinforcement is the best training method to use when teaching your dog obedience commands. Other methods that use punishment and tools like prong collars, check chains and E collars can increase anxiety, fear and aggression.
Similarly, the relationship between dog and owner can also be negatively affected when aversive training techniques are used.
Using treats, praise and play to teach new behaviours, keeps a dog engaged and motivated to learn.
What does obedience trained mean?
An obedience-trained dog will understand and be able to execute some simple behaviours such as sit, drop, stand, stay and heel on a loose leash. A dog or puppy that has advanced obedience training will be able to walk off-leash in amongst distractions and can even be left in a stay position while the owner or handler walks away and is out of sight. Similarly, obedience-trained dogs are also expected to be able to fetch a dumbell and to hold it until the handler requests that they drop it into their hands.
Obedience trained dogs will also have a reliable off-leash recall.
Can I do obedience training by myself?
Obedience training can be done in the home but it can be fun and helpful to join the local obedience dog training club to learn tips and tricks from experienced trainers. Puppies and dogs also benefit from socialising with other people and dogs.
Obedience training also involves generalising new behaviours like sitting, dropping and staying in environments with distractions. It can therefore be helpful to train in groups and not just by yourself.
Five Golden Rules of Dog Training
To improve your tips for success, use the following five golden rules of obedience training.
- Go slow. Go at your dog’s pace. Don’t try to teach too many tricks at once. Revise whatever your dog learned the previous day.
- Be consistent and patient: Don’t expect your dog to learn everything overnight.
- Use positive reinforcement: Positive reinforcement, such as praise and rewards, is more effective and humane than punishment-based training, which can cause fear and anxiety in dogs.
- Make it fun – use toys, rewards, and play. This will make your dog look forward to training. It will also strengthen the bond between you and your pet.
- End each training session on a high note: stop the training session while your dog is successful and still engaged. This will set your dog up for success.