OBEDIENCE BASICS

The basic tips for general obedience..

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Knowing when to start formal obedience training – walking on a lead, the sit / stay command and recall – is dependent on your dog’s sex, breed and personality but as a guide around 4/5 months old is a good age to begin.

However, boundary training should start the moment you take your new dog or puppy home.  You have now officially become a dog trainer and the whole environment you bring it into will affect its future personality and behaviour.

Socialise your dog and introduce them to various situations.

Furthermore, there is no upper age limit for dog training. The older your dog is the longer training may take and the more patience you may need but to say you can’t teach an old dog new trick’s is a fallacy.

In order for both you and your dog to co-exist in a harmonious relationship it is imperative that you enrol yourself and your dog on a dog obedience class with a professional dog trainer.

Teach your dog the 3 basic skills of  Heel, Sit and Come.

For successful canine training you need Know-How, Patience, Repetition and Consistency and most importantly a ‘Positive Mental Attitude’ (PMA).

Exercise is critical to your dog’s physical health and mental wellbeing.

A large exercise run is not a substitute for a daily walk.

In order for your dog to be balanced you must take your dog for at least two daily walks. This will help relax your dog and burn up any inbuilt energy and frustration.

Walking is natural for dogs it is engraved firmly in their genotype.   Good heelwork is the basis of owning a calm, relaxed and obedient dog.

If your dog pulls on the lead ahead of you while walking he is officially assuming the leadership role and will assume the role of protector of the pack using whatever means his personality dictates, this could be aggression towards people and other dogs or lunging excitable hyperactivity. for the same reason.

It is important to teach your dog to walk correctly in the follower position here are a few basic tips:

  • Its always best to use a long lead for walking this allows for the freer movement of energy to pass between you and your dog when walking.  Shorts leads create permanent tension.
  • Ensure your dog sits and waits patiently before putting on their lead – Remember only ‘Calmness leads to Reward’©.
  • Always walk out and in the door or gate ahead of your dog. Its the basis of good manners.
  • When you return from your walk make your dog sit patiently while you put the lead away.
  • After the walk is a good time to feed your dog as it will have felt it has worked for it.
  • Dogs are very territorial & readily mark their territory with scent. Don’t allow your dog to cock his leg at every lamp post or constantly sniff the ground.  Always keep their head up when walking.
  • When walking always position the dog on your left hand side.
  • Hold the end of the lead in your right hand the left hand resting on the lead for guidance.
  • The follower position is your dogs head slightly behind your left leg so that when you step forward you are always leading and your dog is following.
  • The moment your dog pulls or lunges forward apply gentle pressure in a downward motion onto your lead and at the same time turn the opposite way as you do so issuing the communication cue of  ‘Heel’ or 'Follow' in a consistent tone.
  • You don’t have to be harsh, jerk or yank on the lead simply bend down low and teach your dog to follow your body movements in a positive way.
  • Always remember to give calming voice praise when your dog gets thing right.
  • Sometimes it may be necessary to use a proper training lead to assist with walking such as a 'Halti head collar'.
  • Practice this exercise daily in a distraction free environment for at least 15minutes per day before going for a walk with your dog.
  • As your confidence grows and your dogs heelwork improves, regularly walk your dog in parks but mostly through the town streets to acclimatise your dog and achieve perfect heelwork with natural distractions.

 

The sit exercise is one of the most important communication cues to owning a perfectly calm dog.

By teaching the sit exercise thoroughly you should be able to teach your dog to switch off in any given situation promoting “Calmness Leads To Reward”.

What we want to achieve is a calm dog that is totally chilled and relaxed in any environment.  Here are a few dog training tips:

  • Teach your dog to switch off in the sit position.
  • Click your fingers to sharpen the response followed by the hand signal.
  • Issue the communication cue of 'Sit' in a calm consistent tone.
  • The moment your dog sits, don’t instantly praise them otherwise they will think the exercise is complete and over.  Teach them to be patience and calm and switch off in the sit position.
  • If your dog doesn’t instantly respond, you then have to teach them by showing them by gently placing them in the sit position.
  • Then issue the release communication cue of OK, this will be the cue your dog will associate with being released from a given position.
  • Remember gadgets or titbits aren’t required.  So once your dog sits after a period of calmness give them hand and verbal praise only as you say the word 'OK'.
  • Build up the distance that you move away from your dog and increase the time that they have to remain in the sit position.
  • If your dog goes down on their belly when told to sit this is fine as long as they don’t get up until you release them by issuing the cue ‘OK’.
  • Always return to your dog when you leave them in the sit never call them to you.
  • Finally and most importantly practice the sit position daily while walking your dog teaching your dog to sit and wait patiently while standing outside shops in the town, make them sit before they get food, before crossing the road. Practice the exercise both indoors and outdoors as part of your daily routine.
  • Remember the 3 D's of Sit, Duration, Distance & Distractions.
  • Increase the Distance that you move away from your dog daily.
  • Increase the Duration of time that you leave them sitting for.
  • Increase the number of distractions that they are introduced to while sitting.

 

As I often say why make the sky your limit when you can reach for the stars.

Teaching your dog to sit with distractions is paramount to owning a well trained dog that is totally relaxed and calm in any given situation.

Here are a few examples:

  • Once success has been achieved and your dog will remain steady in the sit position, distractions should be introduced into your daily training exercise. The more distraction your dog becomes accustomed to the more calm and relaxed they will become.
  • Increase the distance and length of time you place your dog in the sit position for and also increase the number of distractions practising on and off the lead.
  • The more distractions you introduce the more steady your dog will become.
  • Teach your dog to sit and remain in the sit position indoors while you watch TV or read a magazine. Practice the sit with your dog while you put clothes on the washing line or wash your car or cut the lawn.
  • Practice sit with your dog with the distraction of your kids playing football or riding their bicycles.
  • A good training exercise is to practice sit while you answer the door and welcome a guest.
  • Ask your dog to sit before getting to play with toys or eat their food.
  • Remember “Calmness Always Leads To Reward”. Personalize the distractions to suit your home environment and daily routine and with repetition and consistency you will be well on the way to owning the perfectly calm and relaxed dog.

Recall and getting your dog to come back when called is one area that most owners have problems with. In order to rehabilitate your dog and get him to come back every time you call him, it is important to understand first why you have problems in the first place.

  • Remember it has to be more fun for your dog to come to you than run of after a distraction.
  • Use a treat bag filled with lots of appetising treats.
  • Initially practice the recall in a controlled distraction free environment.
  • Show your dog the treat, get them motivated with it but don’t give it to them, then let him off the lead, issuing the communication of 'play'.
  • Give your dog initially a few seconds of free play increasing the time gradually. Then call them using their name and the communication cue of 'come'.
  • The moment they return reward him with the treat and loads of hand and verbal praise.
  • Don’t ask your dog to sit to get the treat when they return otherwise they will associate the reward with sitting and not coming back.
  • The recall exercise can be practised indoors as well as outdoors, by using two handlers you can call your dog to each person and instantly reward.
  • With time your dog will soon associate the communication cue of  ‘Come’ as a positive exercise.

Recall is the hardest exercise to perfect. Achieve recall perfection in a distraction free environment first before venturing into the public arena. Include recall training as part of your daily routine but don’t overdo it, practice the recall exercise 3or 4 times always finishing on a high. It takes time to undo your dogs bad habits, but with consistent practice you can achieve wonderful results

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