obedient German shepherd heeling next to owner

How to Obedience Train Your Dog

Calm, friendly greetings by your canine companion is what every dog owner envisions. Those wonderful greetings are possible for you and your dog!

Do you desire to have a dog that is polite and has good manners?  The solution is to be intentional about obedience training.  Obedience training is a wonderful opportunity to communicate with your dog how to live in your home.

When you want to know how to obedience train your dog, you can begin right in your home or backyard.  Dogs thrive on a daily routine that includes teaching them new skills.  Your dog wants to know what is expected of them and what they need to do to please you.

In this article, How to Obedience Train Your Dog, you will want to consider the method or combination of methods of dog training, gather a few key pieces of equipment, and set aside a few minutes every day to spend teaching your dog.

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Training your dog has great value, dogs that are trained spend time with their owner and often enjoy going more places.  Another plus for the dog is having an enriched and engaging life.

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How to Obedience Train Your Dog: Ways to Train

It is amazing the opportunities we have when it comes to training our dogs in obedience.  When it pertains to how to obedience train your dog, you can choose any combination of the four following ways to train.

  • Enroll in a Puppy Class.  Attending a class with other dog owners and puppies is a great way to safely socialize your dog to a new atmosphere and other dogs.  You and your puppy will learn to be calm in the presence of other dogs.  One element of obedience training is learning to obey when distractions are present.
  • Learn Canine Good Citizen Skills. When you and your dog know the basic obedience skills but want to go further with your training.  Join a class that teaches you and your dog how to greet a stranger, walk nicely on leash in a crowd of people, have a reliable recall, and is comfortable with a physical exam.
  • Work with a Dog Trainer.  Find a local dog trainer that specializes in obedience training.  Some trainers come to your house while others teach private lessons at a training facility. A private lesson will give you specific skills to work on with your dog.
  • Training / Boarding Facility.  Dog training facilities provide overnight dog training service anywhere from two weeks to one month.  Your dog will be initially trained by a professional for the dog’s first several weeks of their life.  You will then build on that training at home after you pick them up.  Some facilities specialize in training hunting or retrieving dogs.

Pick and choose how to obedience train your dog from the above ways to train.  Whether this is your first dog or fifth dog, you can still learn and bond with your dog.

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How to Obedience Train Your Dog: Methods of Dog Training

In an effort to not make obedience training complicated, we will look at four different methods that are used to train dogs. Again, you might opt to use a combination of these methods.  

In the dog training world, there is not necessarily one way to train a dog. Here are a few you can use for training obedience.

  1. Positive Reinforcement Training is reward-based training.  Dogs are rewarded with praise, treats and/or playtime for behaviors that you want repeated.  Behaviors that are undesired are ignored.  It’s crucial to be aware of what behaviors are rewarded.
  • Science-Based Training strengthens good behaviors without necessarily needing to reward the dog. However, positive reinforcement has a place in science-based training. The main difference is this method relies on dog psychology to improve behavior.
  • Clicker Training is using a small handheld device that allows you to mark a behavior you want to see again with a little “click”.  Dog trainers that use a clicker as a method of how to obedience train your dog are using a form of positive reinforcement training.
  • Electronic Training commonly uses a specialized collar around the dog’s neck, that is often referred to as an “e-collar”. Electronic dog training uses an auditory signal, vibration signal which often accompanies a static electric stimulus, which are all given through the special e-collar.

As you begin learning how to obedience train your dog, you can choose which method or methods suits you best.

One note about e-collars; they are primarily used for training dogs that will leave your side to complete a task, such as retrieving a duck for hunting dogs or training water retrievals and rescues for dogs that are strong swimmers.

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How to Obedience Train Your Dog
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How to Obedience Train Your Dog: Be Prepared

Set your dog up for success by being prepared to train.  Three ways to be prepared is having the right equipment, properly exercising your dog beforehand, and knowing how to begin with a calm dog.

Equipment. You and your dog do not need a lot of specialized equipment for training obedience. Equip your dog with a properly fitted flat buckle collar or martingale collar.  When fitting your dog for a collar make sure it can’t slip over their head at the same time making sure it is not too tight.  You should be able to slip two of your fingers between their neck and collar.

Purchase a comfortable four-to-six-foot leash for yourself.  A simple leather leash works well as the excess can easily be held in one hand. Leather leashes are less likely to slip out of your fingers.  When you are training your dog, remove any poo bag holders and accessories, so they will not obstruct with the training sessions.

Exercise.  Your dog will need an opportunity to eliminate before they can begin training. Take your dog for a walk around your house or around the neighborhood before beginning.  Obedience training is a form of mental exercise that will tire them out.  However, all dogs need to exercise and use their muscles to stay healthy and optimize obedience training.

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Calm Dog.  Another area to be intentional in preparing your dog for obedience training.  When a dog is calm, it can think about obedience.  One simple way to calm a dog down is putting them in a “down stay”, meaning they are in the down position and not moving until you give them a release word.

You can also have your dog sit in front of you, facing away from you, and you begin rubbing their chest.  Use a flat hand and move slow.  Take your other hand and place it under their chin.  When the dog begins to relax, their chin will rest in your hand.  It’s a good feeling for both dog and owner.

The three ways to be prepared for learning how to obedience train your dog is having the right equipment, exercising your dog, and calming your dog. Now, we will talk about duration.

How to Obedience Train Your Dog: Duration

Obedience training needs to be a commitment to your dog; however, it does not need to be a lengthy training session.  In fact, puppies and most dogs learn quicker with short frequent training sessions.

Ideally, spend a few minutes several times a day training your dog. Here are a few examples of how to obedience train your dog throughout your day.

  • Teach sit politely before feeding times (2-3x a day, depending on the age of the dog).
  • Sit before going in or out of any doors.
  • Reinforce stay while you are opening and closing the doors. 
  • Practice recalls several times during the day. Only call “come” when you can reinforce the command.  One simple way to do this, is working with your puppy on a leash in the house.
  • Work on walking nicely on a leash by walking inside your home and eventually outside your home. 

Remember, if you are using positive reinforcement training method, toss a few tasty treats in your pocket to reinforce those behaviors you want to see repeated.

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How to Obedience Train Your Dog: Good Behaviors

What behaviors would you like your dog to know?  You can determine what you want taught when it comes to how to obedience train your dog.

Most dog owners like their dog to sit, lay down, stay in place, and come when called.  Practice those simple behaviors every day.  If you are training a puppy, it’s good to keep in mind that their brain is changing up to the age of two.  Reinforce learned behaviors through their entire adolescence.

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One of the biggest struggles for dog owners is their dogs greeting or barking at people coming to the door.  A behavior you might desire is sending your dog to a dog bed or mat when you have people coming over to your home.

The list is nearly endless of what your dog can learn. When you train your dog in obedience it keeps their minds engaged.  Choose which training method works well for you, purchase a good collar and leash, and learn to incorporate teaching your dog into your daily routine.  Obedience training is an investment in your dog that will reap benefits for years to come.

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