Basic Obedience Training
All dog training is based on motivation either positive or negative. This may take the form of food reward or withholding food, added pressure or pressure relief etc.
The dog must be an active participant in training and must understand the consequence of what he is doing. Show him what you WANT him to do and let him KNOW instantly, exactly what he has done right by marking and rewarding that behaviour. You cannot tell your dog to “Stand” when he has no idea what you are talking about.
Obedience Training teaches a dog to DO something like sit, stay, lie down, stand, fetch, watch/look, come when called and many other tricks.
Behaviour Training teaches him NOT to do things like jumping up, chewing, digging, barking, ignoring a call to come, chasing the cat or cars etc.
Both Obedience and Behavioural training form part of successful dog training intervention.
Mastering basic obedience commands successfully requires the handler to have a clear understanding of all the steps that must be followed in order to help the dog to get it right. The 6 steps below should be applied with each new obedience activity the dog has to master e.g. sit, down, stay, watch me, stand etc.
Step 1 – Capture the position before giving it a namee.g. “Sit.” Let the dog sniff a treat and then move it over his head to get him into a sitting position (without physical contact) and reward him. (Don’t tell him to “Sit” when he is already sitting.)
Step 2 – Name it. Repeat the previous action a number of times (5+) and then say “Sit” as soon as he is in a sitting position. Over a week you can repeat this section 20-100 times.
Step 3 – Mark it. Have the dog stand in front of you and say “Sit” and when he correctly moves into the proper sitting position, say “Yes” and reward him with a treat. Repeat this step 20 – 100 times. The reason for many repeat is to develop Speed in obedience training.
Step 4 – Introduce a release command: “Free” “OK.” Once the dog is sitting for a short while, offer a treat to be fetched from you or toss it some distance as you say “Free: or “Ok” or any other release word of your choice. The idea is to get the dog to move away when released to become active and play etc. It is very important to let the dog know that all commands have a beginning and an end and he must wait for the release command.
Step 5 – Stay sitting: “Good.” Say “Sit” and then “Good sit” or “Good” to let him remain sitting. (No need to say “Stay”) Stroke the dog, say “Good” move away a short distance 1 metre, return and say “Good Sit” before the release command is given. Repeat many times as you move slightly further away each time. Maximum time for sitting is one minute.
Step 6 – “Nope” Try again. As exercises get more difficult it will become necessary to encourage the dog to try again. E.g. If he looks away in the “Watch,” exercise, say “Nope”and withhold the treat. Encourage him to try again and reward well when he is successful.
Practise sessions ideally should take place often, 3x a day for 5 minutes. No more! Stop if dog tires. The faster a trick is done the harder he must concentrate and not be distracted.
Distractions before distance! Play with a ball during the stay exercise as a distraction before moving some distance away to repeat the same exercise.