Month: October 2006

Obedience Training

Part II

You will find that very soon, your dog will become accustomed to looking at you when he sits to heel, because he will associate it with being praised and given a treat. As with all training techniques, you should gradually replace the treat with praise, just giving him a treat from time to time to maintain his interest. Remember to release your dog when you don’t need his focus or are not giving your dog your undivided attention, otherwise he will quickly lose interest. You need to continually reinforce and reward this behaviour to maintain it.

As soon as you and your dog are working well with this exercise in a quiet location, you can begin to add other distractions, increasing these gradually to allow your dog time to adjust. Remember to praise him when he gets it right, then give the release command and play with your dog – he must be told when he has done well, and training sessions should be happy, pleasurable times for both of you.

When you feel that your dog has fully grasped this concept, you should extend the principle to heeling and other obedience training. Use the same technique as above to gradually teach your dog that is advantageous to watch you, to focus his attention on you for your next command, during all obedience training. The primary principle to this is to build his attention span by tiny increments and praise him when he has done well. Don’t get frustrated or cross with your dog if he loses attention quickly at first. This will decrease his ability to learn – you must simply praise him when he gets it right and make sure, at the beginning, that the treat you choose is his absolute favourite.

Lots of praise, lots of fun and and lots of patience are the three things that will gradually build attention span and therefore obedience in any dog.

Are You The Alpha Dog?

Part II

When you have eaten your meal and cleared away, make your dog sit before giving him his bowl of food and allowing him to eat. If you have been in the habit of feeding your dog before your dinner, or even during, this new routine may be very confusing for your dog at first. Be patient – if he whines or makes a fuss while you’re eating, it is simply part of his learning process. You are giving him new signals, new information about the pack and you must give him time to understand this. Be firm, kind and patient.

Secondly, you should always enter boundaries before your dog, especially doorways, stairs and narrow passages. You must NEVER let your dog push past you or go in front of you. The alpha dog in a dog pack would not allow a subordinate dog to enter a boundary before him, and neither should you. Use a lead to control your dog if necessary, but always ensure you enter before your dog.

You should never let your dog run up a stairway in front of you. This allows him to run to the top and look down on you, exhibiting dominant behaviour. The key to this is NOT to punish the wrong behaviour – it is too late to do that – simply physically stop him from exhibiting this form of alpha dog behaviour in the first place. Use a leash, close doors, give a short, sharp shout, whatever your dog responds to, and always remember to be firm, kind and respectful. You are talking to your dog, not trying to bully him into submission. The key these principals are repetition, consistency and patience.