Basic dog training obedience
Do thoroughly understand the training methods available to you. Unless you are working on a one-to-one basis with an experienced and open minded instructor, you won't be shown more than one or two methods on how to train for an exercise and even then little detail of why the methods work or don't work for you and your dog. Basic dog training obedience is easy. Find the method that suits you and your dog - which is not necessarily the method that suits your instructor. This page contains many methods - some contradict one another in some ways but I have included them for completeness sake and not to conform to a set of strict training methods. The handler must be comfortable with the methods he is using and the dog must be responsive to those methods in order for them to work well. They will all work for the right handler and the right dog but not necessarily for every dog and every handler. Do ensure your equipment is in good shape. A burr on a check chain, dumbbell or scent discrimination article which hurts theneck, mouth or gums, a lead that continually gets tangled and knotted and unintentionally jerks the dog's neck, a badly tied shoe lace thatstrikes the dog in the eye, a flapping coat tail, etc all have the propensity to cause major and lasting set backs in training. Do understand the correct use of the Collar and Lead. The collar and lead are used to define boundaries or limitations, they are not used to punish the dog. Many handlers train with a lead that is too slack. These handlers are defining limitations which are too wide. They allow the dog to make a greater mistakes than is necessary in holding the position desired by the handler. The difference between a tight lead and a slack lead should only be a few inches. If the lead is held in the correct way, there is no need for accidental of deliberate jerking on the lead. Do Get your Dog's Attention and Hold It. During training, the dog's attention should be on you at all times. Keep training sessions short so the dog's attention does not wander and he does not get bored. There is no point in calling a dog if he is not paying attention to you and so it is with all commands. Do use a work and release word. Let your dog know when he and you are working and when he can relax and be himself. Be absolutely consistent with these commands. "Free", "OK", "That'll do", "At Ease" are good for the release words, "Working", "Listen Up", "Smarten Up", "Attention" are good for the working command.
Do stick to one command for each exercise. Every command should convey an image to the dog and one image only. Every member of the family and others who handle the dog must know the command words for each exercise and use these words only when they want the dog to carry out that exercise. 'Sit' means Sit, 'Drop' means Down, 'Sit Down' is confusing the dog. By the way, that is one of the reasons I use 'Drop' for the Down exercise. Another reason I use 'Drop' is because the Judge's command for the exercise is 'Down Your Dog' and I don't want my dog inadvertently responding to the judge's commands. The dog's name should only precede a command if he is being called. Don't use his name to reprimand or to correct the dog. Do Understand the Importance of Timing in Dog Training. The timing of praise, the verbal event marker, the click, the reward is absolutely critical in dog training. The trainer must know the exact moment when to reward the dog or correct the dog. To avoid the dog looking for a reward before the end of an exercise always give the event marker (click) at the exact moment of action you want to reinforce and then treat a little while later. This will condition the dog to understand that the primary reinforcer (/ /play/tummy rub/praise/etc) will also follow the secondary reinforcer (verbal event marker/click).
Do always insist on Straight Sits, Stands, Downs, Jumps, Go Outs, Recalls and Fronts. This follows on from 'Do start as you mean to go on'. Most of the qualifying obedienceat a trial lost most of their points because of repeated infringements of these basic requirements. No matter whether a handler leaves the ring with a 199 or a 169, s/he will rue the crooked sit or front that cost the team that important point. See 'Positioning in Training. However, if the dog has a problem with a particular part of an exercise, and you are training to correct it, don't confuse the dog by correcting small imperfections in other parts of the exercise at the same time, eg a slightly crooked Sit in front when training for the Finish. Do Use Predictable "Punishment". The punishment for undesirable behaviour should be taught from the time the dog comes home as a pup (7-9 weeks old). Bad behaviour must never be allowed to become a habit. I use a sharp 'No!'. At first, this "verbal punishment" is given with a fixed stare (glare) straight into the puppy's eyes. The next level is a scruff shake. The puppy will instinctively understand what a glare or scruff shake means and will respect you for using it. The dog will soon associate the glare and the shake with the sharp 'No!' and after a short time the 'No!' will suffice. The No!, glare and scruff shake are what the bitch uses to correct bad behaviour in her pups. The pups understand this rebuke so we adopt it too. They will soon learn to understand the difference between a rebuke and praise tones. Like corrections and reinforcement, punishment must be timed correctly. Do not confuse punishment with corrections. Do not use physical punishment that is abusive. Punishments are used in behaviour modification not in obedience training. Corrections are used in obedience training to indicate a wrong choice. Punishment is rarely used on an adult dog if he has been trained in good manners from a pup