We can’t call ourselves responsible dog owners if we haven’t mastered basic obedience training with our dogs. And, yes, you’ll notice that we say “we” because both the dog and the owner should master it. Some people take their furry friends to a professional trainer. We’re not disregarding that option, but we prefer to try out something on our own. So, here are the best answers to the question of how to DIY obedience train your dog.
Why Obedience Training Matters
Some people are prone to label dogs as “untrainable” or “difficult” and “disobedient.” However, there’s not a dog in the world that can’t learn basic commands. Everything is a matter of will and devotion. If we don’t train our dogs to be obedient, they simply won’t know which behaviors are acceptable and which aren’t.
Therefore, we might find ourselves with a peed hallway, a destroyed couch cushion, or worse. What’s more, we’ll probably get frustrated and yell at our dogs, which will, in turn, make them sad. To avoid that, and make both our and our dogs’ lives happy, we should look into obedience training.
Everything You’ll Need For DIY Obedience Training
You really don’t need a lot to train your dog to be obedient. However, you do need to make a solid plan before you start. If you don’t, you’ll end up confusing not only your dog but probably yourself as well.
Aside from a plan, you’ll also need to set some time aside for DIY obedience training. It takes a while for us to teach even the simplest commands to our dogs. So, don’t expect miraculous results right from the get-go.
As mentioned, you really don’t need much. Some treats, a piece of equipment or two, and a reliable schedule are enough to get you started.
We definitely need a collar and a leash to train our dogs. When it comes to obedience training, other essential supplies like a harness and a long line will also come in handy. These are perfect for those sessions when we’re trying to teach our dogs to walk in a subtle, calm fashion.
Aside from that, if you feel like investing, you can also get a clicker. A clicker will help you provide a stimulus for correct behavior. Of course, if you don’t feel like buying one, you can download one of the many free clicker apps for your phone.
If you feel as if this isn’t enough, you can also get some barriers for your home and a target stick. The barriers are a great tool that can help us teach our dogs to stay out of specific parts of the house.
Since we need to use positive reinforcement to help our dogs determine which behavior is acceptable, having a lot of treats at hand is a must when it comes to DIY obedience training.
It’s always a great idea to choose the treats our dogs adore, as they’ll be more motivated to do well during training.
We can’t just go about obedience training willy-nilly. We have to figure out which commands will be easy and which ones will be hard, as well as make a plan on how much time we’ll set aside for each one. In general, a six-week training schedule is more than enough for basic commands.
We mentioned this before, but we feel as though we should repeat it — you have to have realistic expectations. No one can finish obedience training within a few days. It takes a while, and can’t be rushed.
How to DIY Obedience Train Your Dog
Step #1: Choosing a Training Method
One of the best ways to go about obedience training is with positive reinforcement. That is one of the best methods, and it works on most dogs. However, some people prefer other methods due to their or their dog’s preference. For example, we already mentioned some of the tools you’ll need for other methods. The clicker is one of the condition reinforcers used in the method of a similar name.
So, before you start anything, pick a method you think will be the best fit. Then make a plan based on the method you’ve chosen.
Step #2: Setting up Sessions
Obedience training is an everyday affair. However, that doesn’t mean that you should relentlessly teach your dog commands for the entire day. A few 10 to 15-minute sessions per day should be more than enough in the beginning. Make sure they don’t last too long because then your dog might get disobedient out of sheer exhaustion.
Step #3: Teaching the Basic Commands — Sit, Down, Stay, Come
There’s a method to every step of obedience training. Therefore, when we’re trying to teach our dog basic commands, we should start from the one that’s the simplest and work our way up.
The “Sit” command usually isn’t too difficult and is, therefore, a great place to start. Use a treat in your hand to teach your dog to sit on command. Stand above your dog’s eye level, and move the hand with the treat in it along your dog’s body. The dog will point their nose up to follow the scent and your hand.
As a result, their behind should naturally fall toward the ground. Once the dog is in position, say the word “Sit,” so the dog can associate the word with the action. Then rinse and repeat! Of course, don’t forget to give the dog the treat from your hand!
Step #4: Ending the Sessions on a Positive Note
No matter how the training session went, always end it on a positive note. Give your dog the treat, pet them, and play around with them for a bit.
Some dogs won’t be as receptive to obedience training as others. If our dog is being particularly difficult and is interrupting our training session, then we should interrupt them. All bad behavior should be interrupted, ignored, or shifted. We can divert the dog’s attention with obedience commands they already know, which we will reward with treats. That will surely get them back into learning mode.
One Last Tip – Get Professional Help
If your DIY obedience training isn’t accomplishing everything you hoped for, get professional help. Keep doing your own obedience exercises along with the professional, of course.
You can also work under the supervision of a professional. That way, you won’t miss out on the bonding that naturally comes with obedience training. The expert trainer will also make some things much more manageable. They can assess your dog’s learning capabilities and style and suggest better or more effective solutions.
Fundamentals of obedience training:
- Why dog obedience training
- Stages of basic obedience training
- Structuring obedience training sessions
- How to choose a professional dog trainer
Positive dog training with a clicker:
The following articles will introduce you to the principles of clicker training a dog and offer advice on how to get the most out of your clicker training sessions.
The next few articles cover some basic clicker training exercises. You’ll learn how to charge the clicker and how to teach your puppy or dog two simple behaviors, attention and targeting. Once you’ve mastered these, move on to the basic obedience training exercises below.
- Charging the clicker to start training
- Your first exercise: Train your dog to pay attention
- Another easy exercise: Train your dog to touch a target
Basic obedience exercises
Every dog should know the five basic obedience training commands. Below you’ll find the necessary exercises to bring your puppy or dog up to speed. There are instructions to teach each obedience command either with or without a clicker depending on your preferred training method.
If you’re not using a clicker:
- How to train a dog to sit
- Teach your dog the down command
- How to train a dog to stay
- Training your dog to come when called
- Training your dog to heel
If you are using a clicker:
A Few Parting Words
Try not to punish your dog or change your moods during DIY obedience training sessions. Our dogs should think of these sessions as something helpful and worthwhile, not as something potentially hurtful.