It can make a significant difference in training your puppy or dog to avoid unwanted behaviors. You will be surprised at how understanding and perfect a companion your dog is when trained properly and given chances to socialize enough.
This article is a complete guide on how you can train your dog or puppy to obey commands such as coming to you, using their crate, containing their barking, or potty training.
Table of Contents
What is obedience training in dogs?
Obedience training refers to the process of teaching your dog to respond to commands such as sit, stay, come, and heel. WebMD made the case that obedience training is a basic need for dogs but I can attest that they are very necessary. Training dogs to obey commands is important for several reasons.
- First, obedience training can help keep your dog safe. For example, if your dog knows the command “come,” you can call him to you if he gets loose from his leash or runs off in a park.
- Second, obedience training can help reduce your dog’s bad behaviors. For example, if your dog knows the command “sit,” he is less likely to jump on people when they come into your home.
- Third, obedience training can strengthen the bond between you and your dog. When you train your dog, you are teaching him to trust and obey you. This increases the bond of communication and understanding between you and your dog.
- Fourth, obedience training can provide mental stimulation for your dog. Dogs need to use their minds just as we do, and obedience training is one way to give them the mental stimulation they need.
Types of obedience training
Before you begin obedience training, it is important to understand the different types of obedience training that are available. The most common types of obedience training are
- Puppy classes: These classes are designed for puppies between the ages of 8 weeks and 5 months. Puppy classes focus on socialization and basic obedience commands such as sit, stay, come, down, and leave it.
- Basic obedience classes: These classes are designed for dogs of all ages. Basic obedience classes focus on teaching the dog basic obedience commands such as sit, stay, come, down, and leave it.
- Advanced obedience classes: These classes are designed for dogs who have mastered the basic obedience commands. Advanced obedience classes focus on teaching the dog more difficult commands such as heel, stand, and fetch.
How to train your dog – obedience training
Now that you know the different types of obedience training available, you may be wondering how to train your dog. The following tips will help you get started.
1. Choose the right obedience training class for your dog
As mentioned above, there are different types of obedience training classes available. It is important to choose the right class for your dog based on his age, level of obedience, and needs.
2. Be consistent with your commands
When you are training your dog, it is important to be consistent with your commands. For example, if you want your dog to sit, you should always say “sit” – not “sitting” or “sit down.”
3. Reward your dog for good behavior
One of the best ways to motivate your dog to obey is to reward him for good behavior. When your dog obeys a command, be sure to give him a treat, praise him, or both.
4. Be patient
Training your dog takes time and patience. Do not expect your dog to learn everything overnight. Be patient and keep working with him until he masters the commands.
5. Seek professional help if needed
If you are having difficulty training your dog, seek professional help from a certified dog trainer. A professional trainer can assess your dog’s needs and help you develop a training plan that is tailored to your dog.
How Should You Train Your Dog?
The aversive-based method uses physical force or intimidation to get the dog to comply with the command. For example, alpha rolls (forcing the dog onto his back), scruff shakes (grabbing the loose skin on the back of the neck and shaking), and ear pinching are all examples of aversive-based training.
This method should only be used as a last resort, as it can lead to fear and aggression in the dog.
Positive reinforcement-based method:
The positive reinforcement-based method uses rewards (such as food, toys, or praise) to reinforce good behavior. For example, if the dog sits when asked, he is given a treat.
This method is the most effective and humane way to train a dog.
Understanding your dog’s intelligence:
Dogs learn like kids and are known to have the intelligence of a 2-year-old toddler. Other studies have shown that they can follow our cues, show an emotional connection to their owners, and even display jealousy.
According to Stanley Coren, Border Collie is the smartest dog breed and can learn up to 1000 commands.
Dogs have three types of intelligence:
- Instinctive intelligence – This is the intelligence that is specific to the breed. For example, herding dogs have an instinctive intelligence for herding, and hunting dogs have an instinctive intelligence for hunting.
- Adaptive intelligence – This is the intelligence that allows the dog to learn and adapt to his environment. For example, a dog that lives in an apartment will learn to use the elevator, and a dog that lives in a rural area will learn to avoid snakes.
- Working and obedience intelligence – This is the intelligence that allows the dog to follow commands and perform tricks.
How do you know if your dog is intelligent?
There are a few ways to tell if your dog is intelligent:
- 1. He learns new commands quickly
- 2. He obeys commands
- 3. He picks up on social cues
- 4. He is food motivated
- 5. He is easily bored
If you think your dog is intelligent, you may want to consider enrolling him in an obedience training class.
A study conducted by Charles Spearman in 1904 found that there is a positive correlation between intelligence and obedience. In other words, the more intelligent the dog, the more likely he is to obey commands.
However, it should be noted that this study has been criticized for its lack of scientific rigor.
How to Train Your Dog Using the Positive reinforcement-based method
1. Choose a command
Before you start training, you need to decide which commands you want your dog to learn. Some popular commands include sit, stay, down, come, and heel.
Some of the basic commands every dog should learn include the following, in the order presented:
- Heel: This command teaches your dog to walk by your side without pulling on the leash. It is important for your dog to learn this command so that he does not pull you when you are walking him.
- Sit: This command is one of the most basic commands and is used as a foundation for other commands. It teaches your dog to sit down on command.
- Down: This command is similar to the sit command, but it teaches your dog to lie down on command.
- Stay: This command teaches your dog to stay in one spot on command. This is an important command for your dog to learn so that he does not run off when you are not looking.
- Come: This is probably the most important command for your dog to learn, as it will teach him to come to you when you call him. This is important for recall if your dog ever gets loose.
Once your dog has mastered the basic commands, you can start teaching him more advanced commands. These commands include, but are not limited to:
- Roll over: This command is a fun trick that you can teach your dog. To teach this trick, start by having your dog lie down. Then, hold a treat over his head and say “roll over.” As he tries to get the treat, he will roll over. Once he rolls over, give him the treat and praise him.
- Speak: This is another fun trick that you can teach your dog. To teach this trick, start by having your dog sit or stand. Then, hold a treat in front of his nose and say “speak.” As he tries to get the treat, he will bark. Once he barks, give him the treat and praise him.
- Fetch: This is a great command to teach your dog if you like to play fetch with him. To teach this command, start by having your dog sit or stand. Then, throw a toy or ball a short distance away from him and say “fetch.” As he goes to get the toy, give him praise. Once he brings the toy back to you, give him a treat and more praise.
2. Choose a cue word
Once you have decided which commands you want to teach your dog, you need to choose cue words for each command. A cue word is a word that you will say to your dog when you want him to perform a certain command. For example, the cue word for the “sit” command could be “sit” or ” chair.”
3. Choose a reward
When training your dog, you will need to reward him for performing the desired behavior. The most common form of rewards is food, but you can also use toys or praise.
4. Start training
Once you have all of your supplies, you are ready to start training your dog. When training your dog, it is important to be patient and consistent. You will also need to be mindful of your tone of voice and body language.
5. End training sessions on a positive note
It is important to end each training session on a positive note, with your dog successfully completing the desired behavior. This will help your dog to associate training with something positive and will make him more likely to cooperate in future sessions.
The key to successful dog training is repetition. You will need to repeat each command numerous times until your dog is able to perform the behavior consistently.
When it comes to obedience training, positive reinforcement is key. This means that you should reward your dog for performing the desired behavior, rather than punishing him for not doing what you want.
Punishment can be quite stressful for dogs, and it can actually make them less likely to obey commands in the future. It is much better to focus on rewarding your dog for doing what you want, and this will usually result in quicker and more successful training.
Steps in a typical dog training session
Below is a summary of a typical training session once you’ve decided on the command and the cue to use to train your dog;
- Decide on the command and cue: For example, you want to train your dog to sit on command.
- Get your dog’s attention: When you’re ready to start training, get your dog’s attention by calling his name or offering him a treat. Treats or toys get your dog’s attention and are effective in training, but you should only use them as a reward for good behavior. Otherwise, your dog will learn to expect a treat every time he hears a command.
- Choose a reward: Choose something that your dog likes, such as a treat or toy.
- Give the cue: Once you have your dog’s attention, give the cue in a clear and concise firm voice for the desired behavior. In this case, you would say “sit.” Spell out the command the same way consistently and do not try doing a variation of the command such as ‘sitting’ if you are trying to get them to learn the command ‘sit’.
- Wait for your dog to respond: If your dog doesn’t immediately respond to the cue, give him a few seconds to think about it. If he still doesn’t respond, you can try repeating the cue or offering a little help by gently pushing him into a sitting position.
- Reward your dog: As soon as your dog completes the desired behavior, rewards him with the treat or toy. Be sure to praise him in a happy voice so that he knows he’s done something you like. You can start using their regular food as treat to see if that gets them motivated to learn the command. If not, you should definitely use treats that are tastier than their regular food. Their eagerness for rewards will help them learn the commands quickly.
- End on a positive note: It’s important to end each training session on a successful note, so that your dog associates training with something positive. If your dog is having trouble with a particular command, try ending the session with an easier behavior that he can perform successfully.
Common Training Mistakes
1. Not being consistent
One of the most common mistakes people make when training their dogs is not being consistent. It’s important to use the same command and cue every time you want your dog to perform a behavior. If you use different words or gestures each time, your dog will get confused and won’t know what you want him to do.
2. Not being patient
Training takes time and patience. You won’t be able to teach your dog everything in one day, so don’t get discouraged if he’s not picking up on things as quickly as you’d like. Be sure to give him plenty of time to learn each command, and praised him when he does something right so that he knows he’s on the right track.
3. Not using positive reinforcement
As mentioned previously, it’s important to reward your dog for good behavior rather than punish him for bad behavior. Dogs are much more likely to respond positively to rewards than punishment, so focus on using treats or verbal praise to reinforce desired behaviors.
4. Not being consistent with rules
It’s important that everyone in the household is on the same page when it comes to training. If you’re trying to teach your dog not to jump on people, make sure everyone in the family is reinforcing that behavior by not rewarding him with attention when he jumps. Otherwise, he’ll get mixed signals and won’t understand what you want him to do.
5. Not having realistic expectations
Don’t expect your dog to be perfect. Just like humans, dogs make mistakes and sometimes they need to be corrected. Having realistic expectations will help you stay patient during the training process.
Training your dog can be a fun and rewarding experience for both of you. By being consistent, patient, and using positive reinforcement, you’ll help your dog learn quickly and effectively. Remember to have realistic expectations and to end each session on a positive note. With a little time and effort, you’ll be able to train your dog to do all sorts of tricks and behaviors.
How often should you train your dog?
It’s important to have regular training sessions with your dog to help him learn and retain the commands. However, you don’t want to overdo it or he’ll get bored and frustrated. Start with a few short sessions each day and gradually increase the length and frequency as your dog gets better at following the commands.
In a 2011 study by Demant et al., they realized that the less training a dog receives per week and the shorter the sessions are, the more and faster the dog learns. The study also found that dogs need a minimum of five minutes per day of active training to maintain their skills.
Demant et al. (2011) concluded that dogs trained to sit and stay in a basket once or twice weekly reached a significantly higher command acquisition level than those trained daily, as did those trained with only one session as opposed to three consecutive sessions per day.
So, should you train your dog only once or twice a week?
Dogs have varying degrees of attentiveness and need for stimulation, so it’s important to tailor your training sessions to your dog’s individual needs. Their training requirements vary from dog to dog and are influenced by various factors including the breed type and age.
For example, young puppies have shorter attention spans and need more frequent, but shorter training sessions than an adult dog. You might start with two or three 5-10 minute sessions per day and gradually increase the length as your puppy gets older.
On the other hand, an adult dog who already knows some basic commands might only need one or two longer training sessions each week to maintain his skills.
If you have a high-energy breed that tends to get restless, you may need to have more frequent and longer training sessions. On the other hand, if you have an older dog or a breed that is less active, shorter and less frequent sessions may be all that’s needed.
How to get started with obedience training
Obedience training is a great way to bond with your dog while teaching him essential life skills. It’s also a useful tool for behavior management and can help prevent problem behaviors from developing.
The first step in obedience training is to establish yourself as the leader or alpha dog. Dogs are social animals and have a hierarchy within their pack. In the wild, the alpha dog is the one in charge and makes all the decisions for the pack.
In your home, you need to be the alpha dog to ensure that your dog respects and follows your commands. This doesn’t mean that you need to be aggressive or dominate your dog. Instead, you should be calm, assertive, and consistent in your commands.
Once you’ve established yourself as the alpha dog, you can start teaching your dog basic obedience commands such as sit, stay, come, down, and heel.
Here are some tips to help you get started:
• Choose a quiet place with few distractions to start training. You can gradually increase the level of distraction as your dog gets better at following commands.
Use help of your friend or partner if needed – one person can be the primary trainer while the other person acts as a distraction.
• Start with simple commands that your dog is likely to obey such as sit or down. As your dog masters these commands, you can add more difficult ones.
• Use positive reinforcement such as treats, praise, or petting to reward your dog when he does what you’ve asked. This will help him understand that he’s doing something you like and will encourage him to continue the behavior.
• Be patient and consistent with your commands. Dogs learn best through repetition and rewards, so keep at it even if it seems like your dog isn’t getting it at first.
• Have realistic expectations for your dog. Some dogs learn faster than others and some breeds are more inclined to obey commands than others. Don’t get frustrated if your dog isn’t catching on as quickly as you’d like.
• Get professional help if you’re having trouble training your dog. A professional trainer can help you identify any behavior issues and give you customized advice for training your dog.
So, how long should I train my dog?
While there are varying studies arguing for less time or shorter periods, you should aim to train your dog at least 10 minutes per day for 2 to 3 times. This short training session gives you enough time to repeat various commands at least 5 times each session and should be enough to hold your dog’s attention.
Training more frequently is better than longer sessions as it helps keep your dog’s attention focused. If you find that 10 minutes is too much for your dog, try starting with 5-minute sessions and gradually increasing the time.
In addition to daily training sessions, make sure to spend some quality time with your dog each day. This can include going for walks, playing fetch, or just cuddling on the couch. This time spent together will help strengthen the bond between you and your dog and make training more enjoyable for both of you.
If your dog has unwanted behaviors such as jumping up on anyone your dog meets, you can learn strategies that have worked with other dog owners. Watch the video below;
Gadgets and dog gear to assist with dog training:
While not required, there are various gadgets and dog gear that can make obedience training easier.
Here are a few popular options:
- Clicker: A clicker is a small hand-held device that makes a clicking noise when pressed. Clickers can be used to mark desired behaviors so that your dog knows he’s doing something you want.
- Remote dog trainer collar: A remote trainer is a small hand-held device that emits a radio signal to a receiver collar worn by your dog. The receiver collar will give your dog a mild static shock when you press the button on the remote trainer. Remote trainers can be used to train your dog from a distance and are especially helpful for recall commands.
- Halter: A head halter is a type of collar that fits around your dog’s muzzle and behind his head. Head halters give you more control over your dog’s movements and can be helpful for dogs that pull on the leash or are difficult to walk.
- Dog collar: A regular dog collar can be used for obedience training, but you may find a head halter or remote trainer more helpful. Read this other guide on when and what age to use a dog or shock collars.
- Leash: A 6-foot leash is a good length for most dogs. A longer leash may be needed for large dogs or if you’re training in an area with lots of distractions.
- Treats: Training treats should be small, bite-sized, and easy to eat so that your dog can have a treat while still paying attention to you.
- High-value toys: Some dogs are motivated by toys more than treats. If your dog is toy-driven, consider using a toy as a reward during training.
- Crate: A crate can be used as a safe space for your dog and can also be helpful for potty training.
- Shock collar: A shock collar is a type of remote trainer that emits a static shock when the button is pressed. Shock collars can be used to train your dog from a distance and are especially helpful for recall commands. However, they should only be used as a last resort after other training methods have failed as they can cause distress and anxiety in some dogs. You can also read this guide on how to train your dog using shock collar to come.
FAQs on Dog Training
Q: What if my dog doesn’t seem to be learning?
A: If you’re having trouble training your dog, it’s important to consult with a professional trainer. They can help identify any behavior issues and give you customized advice for training your dog. You also need to keep training as it may take a few months to get some commands. Puppies may take up to 10 weeks to learn basic commands or potty training. By week 12, they’ll have developed impulse control and by the end of the 4th month, they’ll have mastered heel command. By the end of the first year, they’ll have mastered crate or dog bed training with 3Ds (distance, distractions and durations).
Q: What age should I start training my dog?
A: You can start obedience training as soon as your dog is able to follow simple commands such as sit or down. Puppies typically learn best between the ages of 8 and 16 weeks, although some may be ready earlier or may take a bit longer.
Q: What if I have more than one dog? Can they learn together?
A: Yes, you can train more than one dog at a time. In fact, it may be easier to train two dogs at once as they can learn from each other. However, make sure to introduce new commands slowly so both dogs have a chance to learn them.
Q: Do I need to use treats to train my dog?
A: While treats can be a helpful way to train your dog, they’re not necessary. You can also use praise, petting, their regular food or play as rewards.
Q: What if my dog is barking excessively?
A: If your dog is barking excessively, it’s important to consult with a professional trainer. They can help identify any behavior issues and give you customized advice for training your dog. You should also make sure to spend some quality time with your dog each day as this can help reduce stress and anxiety.
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Hi there! My name is Alex Landy, one of the co-founders here at Our Pets HQ and a parent to a small-breed Yorkie. I am a published author of two books on dog breeding and currently write on various pet-related blogs about caring for dogs. I am a parent of two daughters and live outside Boston where I spend a lot of time with family and serve in different breeding clubs. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org