All right, so you’ve decided to take the plunge and obedience train your puppy or adult dog. This is a worth goal, after all, whether you own your first dog, or you’ve had several over the years (or you own several now). A well-behaved canine will make your life easier in a lot of ways, and make your dog a lot more pleasant to be around for friends, family and other animals.
Once you’ve decided to plunge into basic dog obedience training, you should be ready to see your project through to the end. Too many dog owners start to obedience train their pets, only to give up before completing the job. And end up with half-trained dogs that are just marginally better-behaved than an untrained puppy.
Also be prepared for a lot of work, and a considerable time commitment when undertaking basic obedience dog training. You’ll also need a good measure of patience, especially in the beginning. But if you stick with it, your patience will almost always be rewarded in the end, and you’ll own a dog that you’ll be proud to take out in public.
Before you begin, you’ll have to decide whether to “go it alone” and perhaps read a dog obedience book or watch a DVD to learn the basic commands. Another option is to enroll in a basic dog obedience training course in your area. These are offered at many of the large pet stores like PetCo or Petsmart, and some dog clubs as well.
One advantage to taking this kind of formal class is that you’ll have an instructor there to help you and answer your questions. You’ll also more than likely have other dog owners in the class who are going through the same trials in training their own canines. This can be a great way to social and make new friends, for you and your dog.
Also keep in mind that training your dog should be a fun experience for you and your animal. Dogs are playful, fun-loving animals by nature, and they tend to respond better to training when they’re enjoying themselves. So don’t take things too seriously and don’t expect perfection right from the start, and you’ll find yourself having a good time as well.
What you’ll need to get started
You’ll want to have a few essential items on hand before beginning your dog obedience training program. The first thing you’ll need is your dog, of course. It’s also a good idea to make sure your dog isn’t hungry, and that she’s done her business outside before you begin, that way you’ll have her full attention.
Then you’ll need a good area in which to perform your training sessions, and preferably the same area every time so that the dog knows what to expect during that time. It should be a large enough space so that neither of you are bumping into walls or furniture as you engage in the training exercises.
You’ll also want to limit distractions as much as possible during your obedience training sessions, especially in the beginning. If you have small children in the house, try to keep them in a separate area so your dog won’t be distracted by them. This goes for other pets, and your friends as well. Even a television or radio playing in the background can be unwelcome competition for your canine’s attention.
Then, as your training progresses, you’ll want to start gradually introducing some distractions into the environment. This will force your dog to stay focused on your commands even as things are happening around you.
A good strong short leash will be required for training, and you’ll want a longer version at some point when you begin training your dog outside at longer distances.
Another essential items is a bag of dog treats to give out as a reward when Fido performs a command. The small bit-sized treats are generally better than larger treats, as they won’t fill your dog up as quickly. There are some obedience training methods that use a clicker as a reward mechanism, but for this article we’ll be using a food treat for this purpose.
The last required item is patience! Basic dog obedience training will probably be rough going, especially in the beginning. There will be times when you feel like you’re talking to the wall, and that you’re puppy or adult dog just isn’t “getting it.” If you or your canine are feeling frustrated, you might want to move on and try another command, or even take a time out and end the session early.
Remember, you’ll get better results if your dog is enjoying herself, and she associates training as a rewarding experience. So always try to end the session on a high note, so that these sessions become something your dog looks forward to.
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