Puppy Obedience Training - a Few Essential Tips for Success

By Anita Watson

"Sit! Heel! Fetch!"

...you utter the command, and yet, after months in puppy obedience classes, your pup is still more interested in what smells "like that" on this bush - hahaha!

OK, I'm being a little cruel - but yours is not an isolated case. I'll let you in on a secret (well, maybe not-so-secret after all): don't waste your money on obedience classes if you have a few minutes to spare a day. Have a look at my obedience training tips below and try them out with your puppy later today, and actually - every time you do a training session. It's fun and it will bring you and your puppy closer.

1. Learn how to teach your puppy the 8 basic obedience commands. These are:

  • COME
  • SIT
  • STAY
  • FETCH
  • QUIET
  • OK
  • NO
  • HEEL

These are not just a great way to entertain your family and friend when they come over, but also very useful daily commands for your puppy to learn.

Some of them you will be able to teach him fairly early on (like the NO and OK), but others require a little more maturity and patience. It's good to investigate what's involved in each one right from the beginning though, because innapropriate handling now, will mean hard work for you later trying to undo, what you thought was perfectly normal behavior.

For e.g. the COME comand - in the early stages your puppy is too young to learn, so in preparation, you should only use this command when he's already coming towards you. These are the first steps in forming an association between the motion towards you and the command COME. When your pup does reach you praise him - now you're forming the next association - if he's called to COME, and he does, he gets love - aaahh!

So take the time to investigate the above 8 commands - you will reap the rewards later - I promise you.

2. Learn the basic DOs and DON'Ts of puppy obedience training. Here are some of them:

DOs:

  • Give him rewards in the form of treats, praise or giving him his favorite toy every time he follows your commands. This method is called positive reinforcement - it teaches your puppy that if he performs a certain behaviour of which you approve, he will get rewarded for it.
    It's advisable to start rewarding with treats and love first, and to later on reduce the treats, and increase the love.
  • Whenever you feed your pup, ask him to sit. This reinforces the idea that you are the master and you are the one that provides the food.
    BTW, don't think that this master' talk is cruel to your puppy. It's not - dogs are pack animals, and they derive comfort and peace from knowing there is a 'pack' structure and routine. You are simply stating to him that food is provided for - and you are in charge of that.
  • Remove his food bowl 20 minutes after you feed him whether there is food left or not. This is not depriving your pup food; this action actually disciplines your dog and makes him aware that he has to depend on you for food, which in turn, makes the puppy training process much faster.
  • Only reward positive behavior. Reward can be in the form of food, attention (positive or negative) and play with his favorite toy. Dogs learn best when you make them focus on the good things. What do I mean (apart from the obvious - that you should reward him when he does the right thing)?
    If for e.g. he keeps jumping on you to get your attention (which by the way can become a serious obedience problem later on), instead of say to him to get off you (which mean you're giving him attention), turn away at once and move away from him - EVERY TIME until he stops doing it. Let a minute pass with him nt jumping on you - then go to him and tell him what a good boy he is.

DON'Ts:

  • Do not raise your voice whenever you are training your dog. Try to use a well-modulated voice - firm when you mean 'business', softer and more loving when you're praising. Shouting at your dog will only cause him confusion or it will make him associate your voice with fear - meaning problems in obedience training later on.
    Keep in mind your dog doesn't know what words mean - he recognizes the sound and associates it with the behavior expected of him. So it is important to use the same voice and word command each time you require him to do the same action.
  • Do not physically punish him if he disobeys your commands. This will exacerbate the training process because your dog might learn how to retaliate i.e. biting you back, or worse - he'll learn that your voice means punishment - and who would listen to that?
  • Do not tolerate and reward (with attention) your dog's bad behaviors such as whining in his crate. This will create a very demanding dog later - a dog that will want to be by your side day and night and in your bed as well. Start off right in the beginning by using his crate to instill some good habits in him.

If he whines for e.g. wait for him to stop for at least a minute, before you go to him take him out of his crate. This way he learns to respect that there are times when you're together and times when you're apart - but they all end up in 'happy days'.

3. Familiarize yourself with the basic puppy training techniques available and choose one that you feel suit you and your pup. I personaly advocate the Positive Reinforcement Method as it is ideal for all pet - owner relationships in domestic situations. But some other methods may be suitable for training a working dog for e.g.

So here are the most popular methods that you can investigate and try out:

  • Positive Reinforcement Method
  • Clicker Training Method
  • Dog Whispering Method
  • Ultrasonic Whistling Method

To round up here - remember that puppy obedience training is like raising a kid; it takes a lot of dedication, consistency, patience and love. But once you get the hang of it, living with your dog will be one of the most fulfilling experience of your life. The love your dog will give you in return will far outweigh the demands of obedience training.



Anita Watson
Article by Anita Watson
Anita Watson is passionate dog owner with years of experience in helping people raise and train their dogs, using real methods that work fast. For more great tips and advice on puppy obedience training.