Obedience Training for Dogs
Many people can’t imagine life without dogs. We admire
and adore them for their loyalty, unconditional affection, playful exuberance
and zest for life. Nevertheless, dogs and people are very different animals.
Although officially “man’s best friend,” dogs have some innocent but irksome
tendencies-like jumping up to greet, barking, digging and chewing-that can make
it downright difficult to live with them! To make the most of your relationship
with your dog, you need to teach her some important skills that will help her
live harmoniously in a human household.
Learning how to train your dog will improve your life and hers, enhance the
bond between you, and ensure her safety-and it can be a lot of fun. Dogs are
usually eager to learn, and the key to success is good communication. Your dog
needs to understand how you’d like her to behave and why it’s in her
best interest to comply with your wishes.
How Should You Do It?
If you ask around, you’ll get all kinds of advice about training your dog.
Some people will tell you that the key is to use a “firm hand”-to make sure
your dog doesn’t think she can get away with naughty behavior. Some people
argue that you should only use rewards in dog training and avoid punishing your
dog in any way. Some people insist that all you have to do is “be the alpha
dog,” assert your status as the dominant leader of your “pack.” It’s easy to
get overwhelmed by the glut of differing opinions out there.
Regardless of which method and techniques you use, effective dog training
boils down to one thing-controlling the consequences of your dog’s behavior. If
you want to influence the way your dog behaves, you need to:
- Reward behaviors you like.
- Make sure behaviors you don’t like aren’t rewarded.
Understand How Your Dog Learns
One of the most frequent complaints of pet parents is that their dogs “just
won’t listen.” But put yourself in your dog’s shoes for a moment. If someone
was constantly chattering away in a foreign language that you’d never heard
before, how long would you pay attention? Probably not for very long-because
you simply wouldn’t be able to understand what the foreign speaker was trying
To communicate clearly and consistently with your dog, you need to
understand how she learns. Dogs learn through the immediate consequences of
their behavior. The nature of those consequences determines how they’ll behave
in the future. Dogs, like other animals (people included), work to get good
things and avoid bad things in life. If a behavior results in something
rewarding-like food, a good belly rub, playtime with dog buddies or a game of
fetch with her pet parent-your dog will do that behavior more often. On the
other hand, if a behavior results in an unpleasant consequence-like being
ignored or losing things she finds rewarding-she’ll do that behavior less