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A Simple Obedience Clinic

One of my favorite obedience clinic tips: “In obedience work, there are no requests...that’s why we call them commands...”

A Simple Obedience Clinic : Whenever you make the choice to train your dog in any type of obedience, you MUST, MUST, MUST understand the statement above.



There are two very basic things that are extremely difficult to get people to understand, especially when they first start obedience training their dog.

• The first thing in this simple obedience clinic (unless you are working with a very young puppy) is that you have got to get yourself out of "The Cookie Trainer Training" syndrome.

From hardcore obedience trainers I have been told that there should be NO TREATS during the hour or so of training (daily) and that if you use treats while training then you are ASKING your dog to PRETTY PLEASE do this for me.

This type of training will also produce an unreliable dog, especially when you try to work the dog down the road.

Think about it for just a minute from the dogs (anyone’s really) view point. Why would the dog want to sit/stay on hot asphalt during any obedience clinic or training session, in the hot sun, on a hot day, with you no where in sight (or way over there somewhere)?

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That makes absolutely no sense to a dog EXCEPT for the fact the dog has been taught that this is NOT A REQUEST. This is a command and there will be a correction for breaking the command.

A dog should never, never, never be corrected unfairly.

Only after many repetitions showing the dog what is expected during a "STAY", is the dog corrected for breaking the stay. Now if you "sweetie pie, honey bunched, cookie treated" your dog into following the command it is not fair to correct the dog for breaking the stay command - because you just taught the dog that it is only required if the dog would like to do it for this goodie in my hand.

You can bet when the dog is either full, or burned out on the goodie you have, or just bored in general with the training that the dog is not doing to follow the command. And why should it? You just taught the dog to respond only whenever it is in the mood for food. Maybe some day you might like you dog to listen to you and follow commands, you know, some day when you don't have any treats with you.

• The second most difficult thing to get obedience beginners to do, and I'll point it out here in this obedience clinic, is let THAT LEAD OUT!

You'll think "but if I do that and you call for a left turn the dog will be too far out in front of me to make that turn". That's absolutely right! That is exactly what you want! The dog has got to make some mistakes to learn the correct thing to do in this situation.

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We have all been through it if you've tried obedience training for some time: where it takes divine intervention to stay up on your feet while doing those left hand turns over and over.

The dog has got to be trained to work WITHOUT TENSION on it's neck, or you will NEVER get the dog to work off-lead, walk in the proper heel position or to even know or care where you are at 99% of the time. Not to mention being reliable in any of those situations while working on and hopefully, eventually, off lead.

Have someone stand next to you and pull on your arm. Your natural instinct makes you physically resist the pulling on your arm. The exact same thing will be true for your dog. The more you pull, the more your dog is going to pull in return. And over, and over, and over, and over. Maybe you aren’t always going to feel like having to pull and strain constantly. Why should you have to?

When you keep your dog cinched up on the lead, you are physically controlling the dog. Not having control of your working/obedience dog (and there is a BIG difference) is your dog learning (if you will allow it) to accommodate you - not the other way around.

Allow the dog to make mistakes so that it can learn. Be fair, be consistent and keep practicing these tips in this simple obedience clinic over and over and you will have a well trained and responsive dog.

Article written and reprinted with permission of: http://www.pedigreedpups.com/

Purebred Dogs, Puppies and Dog Breeders

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Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

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"Politics are not my concern... they impressed me as a dog's life without a dog's decencies." - Rudyard Kipling