Where, when, and how to train your dog

If you structure obedience training sessions to be short, simple, and positive, you and your dog will both look forward to working on the next big trick. Here are some tips on where, when, and what to train during a session.

Where to obedience train your dog

Your obedience training classroom should change depending on how far along your dog is in understanding a particular command.

Start indoors with no distractions

When teaching something new you should find a quiet place in your house where you and your dog can focus. If you try to teach him a new obedience command outside, you’ll only add unnecessary distractions. Use the same room or area for training every day and your dog will be ready to work whenever you’re there.

Over time, change the training area and add distractions

Once your dog has learned a particular command and can perform it well (at least 90-95% accuracy) you should take your obedience training sessions to other areas of the house and outdoors. You want your dog to understand a command and respond the same way under any circumstances, even with multiple distractions. He’s not truly trained if he sits and stays in the family room, but completely ignores you while at the park. The more varied the environments you use to test his understanding, the more reliable your dog’s obedience training will be.

When and how long to train

There’s no need to block an hour out of your schedule each day to train. Not only is it hard to consistently find the time, it can be a real drag for your dog.

Be consistent and keep sessions short

Do several 5- or 10-minute sessions throughout the day. If you can do 10 minutes before breakfast, another 10 minutes of obedience exercises when you get home from work or before dinner, and another 10 minutes before bed you’ll easily get in 30 minutes of training every day. This consistency is the key to a well-trained dog, and neither of you will get tired of practicing.

Incorporate obedience training into every-day activities

Have your dog sit to be fed or roll-over to be let outside. You’ll get in even more training time and your dog will learn to attach commands to real word rewards, an important stage in the basics of dog obedience training.

What to train during a session

Focus on just one or two commands or tricks during a session. When possible, start with something your dog is relatively good at doing. The initial success and rewards will fire him up to continue on to new, more difficult tasks.

Train only as long as your dog is interested. If he gets restless or stops responding, you’ve gone too far. Next time make your training session shorter. You want to end while your dog’s energy and enthusiasm are still high.

And always end your obedience training sessions on a positive note. Your last command should be something your dog in his sleep. That way you’ll both feel great about his success and look forward to working together again.

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