How to Get Started With Obedience Training

As a dog owner, do you constantly find yourself yelling, "Bad Dog!", "Get Down!" or "No!"? Don't worry, you are not alone nor did you choose the wrong dog as a pet. The reality is that there are no bad dogs, only uneducated owners. Most dogs thrive with boundaries and predictable routines. Without obedience training, they simply do not know how to behave. There are a lot of different ways to train your dog from signing them up for a dog training class or hiring a professional dog trainer. However, plenty of people successfully train their dogs on their own. It's a great way to save money on training costs and a wonderful way to bond with your dog.

Dog owner trying to calm down a wild dog

When to Start Obedience Training?
The short answer: the sooner the better. It tends to be easier to train a puppy to act properly than an adult dog who may have already established poor behavior habits. But, it's never too late to start even with the older dogs. Even the slightest change in your dog's behavior will make a huge impact in the long run.

The Equipment
When it comes to dog training equipment, stick to the basics. You do not have to go out and buy every training aid at your local pet store. The below items will help make the process more convenient and effective.

  • Dog Collar or Harness
  • Dog Leash (non retractable one)
  • Dog Treats

Dog Owner putting a leash on a dog

The Method
Many trainers believe that dogs respond best to positive reinforcement, such as a "good boy/girl" praise or yummy treat and that's all they need to learn. Another common training aid, known as clicker training, includes the use of a conditioned reinforcer. A clicker is a mechanical noise maker that is performed once the dog has performed the desired action you are wanting. This method has been proven to have your dog learn and even correct bad habits.

Dog Owner and dog walking in a park

Start with Basic Commands [1]
Sit - Hold a treat close to your dog’s nose. Move your hand up, allowing his head to follow the treat and causing his bottom to lower. Once he’s in sitting position, say "Sit," give him the treat and share affection.

Come - Put a leash and collar on your dog. Go down to his level and say "Come," while gently pulling on the leash. When he gets to you, reward him with affection and a treat.

Down - Find a particularly good smelling treat, and hold it in your closed fist. Hold your hand up to your dog’s snout. When he sniffs it, move your hand to the floor, so he follows. Then slide your hand along the ground in front of him to encourage his body to follow his head. Once he’s in the down position, say "Down," give him the treat and share affection.

Stay - First, ask your dog to "Sit." Then open the palm of your hand in front of you and say "Stay." Take a few steps back. Reward him with a treat and affection if he stays. Gradually increase the number of steps you take before giving the treat. Always reward your pup for staying put - even if it’s just for a few seconds.

Dog owner training a dog to lay down using a treat

Remember, your dog will not be a well-behaved canine overnight; it takes time. Having a routine and a set schedule every day will get you the positive results you are looking for. They say your training sessions should be held to 2-3 times a day and shouldn't last longer than 10-15 minutes. This is due to short attention spans in puppies or older dogs becoming bored. Try to stick with one action per training session so your dog does not get confused.

Dog giving owner a high five in the park

After each training session, be sure to reward your good boy or girl with a nice meal in WeatherTech's Pet Feeding Systems.

[1]. 5 Essential Commands You Can Teach Your Dog