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What is Obedience Training

When you bring home a new dog, one of the first considerations is obedience.  What will you teach the dog, and how?  Which commands are most important, and how quickly will your pet learn them?  Here, obedience training is discussed.

What is Obedience Training?

Simply put, dog obedience training refers to basic dog training where an animal completes a task when directed to do so by the owner or handler.  There are two distinctions that are important:  a dog trained in obedience, and one that is obedient.  In order for an animal to be considered obedient, he or she must respond to the owner / handler’s commands quickly, accurately, and reliably.

Besides teaching basic commands, obedience training is also important for providing an animal necessary skills for communicating with humans.

Basic Obedience Training Commands
There are many levels of obedience training, ranging from basic to advanced.  No matter your dog’s ultimate purpose, he or she will start with the same set of commands as all other dogs.  These include:

  • Sit
  • Stay
  • Down
  • Off
  • On
  • Heel
  • Recall

Depending on your individual needs, additional commands might also be taught, such as:

  • Place
  • Whoa
  • Steady
  • Back Up
  • Stand
  • Drop It
  • Leave It
  • Fetch
  • Give
  • Speak
  • Take it

How Long does Obedience Training Take?
The duration of obedience training is dependent upon the dog’s intelligence and motivation, as well as the experience of the owner, handler, or trainer.  In general, most dogs can be taught to reliably perform basic commands within 6 to 10 weeks.  More advanced skills can take a longer amount of time to teach and learn.  It is important to note that obedience training does not cease once the training sessions end, but requires practice at home throughout the dog’s life.

Can All Dogs Learn Obedience?
All dogs can be taught basic commands; however, some animals will be easier to train than others.  This variation is largely dependent upon breed, although individuals of the same breed can display different personalities ranging from eager-to-please to hard-headed.  Generally speaking, dogs that have been bred for working closely with humans are easier to train than animals that historically work independently from their owners.  However, with the proper tools and knowledge, all dogs can pick up basic obedience.

How is Obedience Trained?
There are numerous tools and methods for training obedience, each with a distinct purpose.  General obedience dog training equipment includes:

  • Flat collar
  • Prong Collar
  • Slip Collar / Choke Chain
  • Electronic Collar
  • Leash
  • Treats
  • Praise

In general, a dog’s behavior is first shaped by using treats and praise.  Positive reinforcement is given whenever a dog performs the proper commands, and negative reinforcement (i.e. absence of reward or physical correction) is used to discourage improper behaviors.  For more advanced obedience training, multiple training methods might be used in order to produce the most well-rounded dog.

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