Dog Obedience Training | 6 Tips for Success

Getting Started With Dog Obedience Training

If you've been searching for resources on dog training, this is a good place to start.

Maybe you have a new puppy that you want to get started on the right paw, or maybe you have an adolescent or adult dog that needs some obedience training.

Either way, it's never too late to start, as all dogs can benefit from learning at least the basic commands—sit, lay down, stay, come, and loose leash walking.

Dogs are naturally loving and kind, but if we expect them to know how to behave within our human world, we need to take the initiative and the responsibility for teaching them.

And that's where dog obedience training comes in. The great thing is, it's not difficult—even to do at home. It just requires a good deal of patience, persistence, and consistency.

Of course, the younger your dog is, the easier it will be to train him, as he has not had a lot of time to develop bad habits. Nevertheless, you can train your dog to obey your commands, no matter his age.

Just be aware that there will be a lot more bad habits to break with older dogs—but it can be done!

If you're a busy person with very little time outside your work and social schedule, you may have considered utilizing board and train type training.

This is where you drop your dog off to stay at a training facility for a few days or even weeks to be trained by a professional trainer. Then you go and work with your dog and the trainer when it's time to pick up your dog, and if all goes well, you have a dog that is now well-behaved and able to obey your commands.

While this method can work well for some people, for most, it's out of reach due to cost.

Luckily, it's actually quite simple to train your dog at home if you simply create a schedule and stick to it. In fact, if you can commit to 10-15 minutes per day, you can easily train your dog at home and have a lot of fun and great bonding time with your dog.

If you have a puppy or younger dog, you can break it up into multiple 5-minute sessions if his attention span isn't quite able to handle a 10-15 minute session yet.

Tip #1: Establishing Dominance

Before you can begin training your dog, it's critical to establish yourself as the alpha dog.

Think of it like this: packs of dogs live in a hierarchical society. There is always a single alpha or an alpha pair. The alpha is the leader of the pack and makes all the decisions for the pack.

The most important thing you must do to establish your alpha status in your dog's eyes is to control the food.

Now, you may be thinking, "I already control the food—after all, I feed my dog every day."

But there's a little more to it than that.

If you leave food in your dog's bowl to graze on as he pleases throughout the day—you are not in control of the food. Your dog is.

Also, edible chews like bones, antlers, pig ears, or rawhide chews—these are all food in a dog's mind. You cannot leave any edible treats lying around. Pick them all up when you are not supervising your dog, and make sure you find all the hidden ones.

In a dog pack, alphas eat first before any of the other dogs. One of the best ways to show your dog that you are the alpha is to eat in front of him before you give his food.

It's critical that if your dog does not eat when you give his food, you take it away, so you stay in control of the food.

Picture of dog holding his food bowl.

Tip #2: Patience, persistence, and consistency are everything.

This may or may not be evident to you, but dogs are not born understanding human language. Even just learning his own name is the first language hurdle to overcome.

As you move forward with training your dog, be patient. You will have to perform many repetitions of the various training commands, and some commands require multiple steps or prerequisite steps.

It's best to train one command per training session until your dog has mastered at least the basic commands.

So train the sit command one session and the lay down command the next.

It may be frustrating at times, but don't be discouraged. In fact, if things aren't going well and you find yourself getting frustrated during a training session, it's best to take a break and come back to it later.

Take your dog for a walk or some playtime with the ball and just have some fun bonding time—but make sure you do get back to your training session.

Short daily training sessions are the best way to go. Be persistent and consistent, and your dog will learn!

Tip #3: If your dog is misbehaving, it's your fault.

Remember, your dog doesn't come into this world knowing how to behave in human society—you are his teacher. If things aren't going well, it's not your dog's fault. Avoid yelling or scolding. Continue to use positive reinforcement techniques—rewards for performing the desired behavior.

Rather than reacting negatively to undesired behavior (that may seem impossible sometimes—especially in the case of your dog chewing up things that are yours and not dog toys)—try to remain calm and ignore the behavior, especially after the fact. If you come into a mess made by your dog, reacting negatively and emotionally will only confuse your dog.

If you catch your dog in the act of destroying something, quickly redirect the behavior to an approved dog toy and then praise him when he plays with the toy.

You should use positive reinforcements for every success. You don't have to give treats every time, especially for commands your dog already knows—praise works fine there—but when training new commands, treats are essential for correct behavior reinforcement.

Picture of woman holding her dog's paw.

Tip #4: Dog obedience training is best after playtime.

When your dog is wound up full of energy, trying to accomplish training objectives can be impossible.

For that reason, it's recommended that you give your dog a few minutes of vigorous playtime, fast-paced walking, or running before you begin your daily dog training session.

Puppies are notorious for having short attention spans as well as having an abundance of energy. Make sure you let your pup burn off some of that energy before training.

Once you've given your dog some time to play and release some energy and tension, allow him to calm down and regain his breath if he's been panting hard—then begin your training.

Picture of a dog sitting waiting for a treat.

Tip #5: Use special treats your dog would normally never get.

My preference for training treats is to give my dog the good stuff from our kitchen. That means real steak, real chickenreal high-quality meat. One of my dog's absolute favorites is grass-fed all-beef hotdogs (free from nitrates and preservative garbage, of course).

Steak trimmings are excellent—the fatty, grisly stuff you'd normally throw away off your plate your dog will love. Chop it up into small pieces for training treats.

Believe me, when your dog is getting the premium stuff from your kitchen—the same stuff you eat—you will keep his attention during training for sure.

Not only that but going back to the idea of controlling the food as the alpha—if you use the same food for training your dog that you'd eat yourself, you can show your dominance as the alpha before the training session by eating a few little training treats yourself in front of your dog.

When you prepare your own food at night, chop some up to use as training treats and place them in a small container in the fridge ready to go. Make them small—1/4 inch pieces are perfect because they can be gobbled up quickly, allowing for your training session to progress without the distraction of eating.

Picture of a dog being rewarded with a treat.

Tip #6: Reward timing is everything.

When you are training your dog to learn a new command, the timing of the reward is critical. It must be given at the precise moment that he performs the desired action, along with a "Yes!" or "Good boy!" in a positive tone.

Personally, I like to affirm the action performed. For example, if my dog just sat on command, I'll say, "Yes! Sit! Good boy, sit!"

In this way, he is receiving lots of affirmation for the successful command.

Picture of a man and his dog at sunset.

In Conclusion

Dog training takes a lot of energy, a bit of time, lots of patience, persistence, and consistency, but if you stick to it, you will not only build an incredible bond with your dog, but you'll end up with a well-mannered, obedient dog that is a joy to be around.

You can do it!