Dog training basics

Most people think dog obedience training only amounts to teaching a dog the meaning of words. However, to truly train your dog you have to make him understand why he should respond to your obedience commands. Only then will you be able to effectively communicate with him. The process isn’t difficult if you take a two-step approach to training.

Stages of obedience training

Step One: Teach the meaning of obedience commands. Dogs already know how to sit, lie down, and rollover. You want your dog to associate those particular actions with a word and perform them upon request. You can do this quickly using simple positive training techniques. You’ll know your dog has grasped the meaning of a command, and can move on to step two, when he correctly responds 90-95% of the time.

Step Two: Teach why obeying instructions is important. This can be the more difficult part of dog obedience training and what most novice trainers overlook. You want your dog to want to obey because he understands that it’s in his best interest to do so. Once you’ve perfected step one, the following tips will help you take your dog’s training to the next level.

Integrate dog obedience training throughout the day

Rather than set aside a block of time for training every day, integrate training into your normal activities. Do numerous quick sessions, no more than five or ten seconds long. Practice randomly while playing in the house or outside, during walks, or whenever the mood strikes. Your dog will begin to associate commands with different places and activities, which will train reliable responses and make obedience exercises more enjoyable.

Use real-world rewards

Treats will only take you so far in dog obedience training. Unless you want to be a doggie snack dispenser, you need to find other ways to reward your dog for listening and obeying. Make him sit for meals, to greet guests, or before going on walks. Make him lie down before being petted or playing with his favorite toy. If you connect obedience commands to real-world rewards, your dog will learn that obeying allows him to do the things he wants to do. The commands will have meaning for him.

Making your dog the trainer

You’ve mastered obedience training when your dog thinks he’s training you. If he sits, you feed him dinner or open the door. If he retrieves his leash, you take him for a walk. Rather than obeying your commands, his responses become a request for you to do things for him. That’s when your dog truly understands the relevance of training and you can begin to communicate with one another.

Now that you understand the underlying structure of dog obedience training, it’s time to concentrate on what makes it work. Learn the dog training basics of making corrections.

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