Dog obedience training can range from very basic training that should be done with all dogs, up to the Olympic competition level, where complex commands are used and judged on speed and accuracy. It is the basis for all future training of the dog. The basic training level is required to have a meaningful and pleasant life with your dog, whether in the house or walking in the park.
A common question asked of a dog walker or trainer is how long will it take? The response will be vaguer than you want, but it does depend on a lot of factors. It depends on the dog, its breed, the skill and understanding of the both the trainer and those who interact with the dog and what level or skill are you looking for.
So who trains? It could be anyone and the most common method is the owner of the pooch as they will be the one giving the commands. Success is very dependent on the relationship of the owner and the dog. The owner is often supported by a dog trainer, whether professionally trained or someone with experience.
Typically a basic dog obedience training class will take six to ten weeks. This dog obedience training will show the owner how to communicate well with five or so simple commands. These commands are trained one at a time. It also covers walking on a leash and will support toilet training, so they are housebroken.
Certain dogs have a greater ease of learning than others. Typically working dogs pick up commands quickly as this has been inbred for many generations. We are all impressed by the ease that sheepdogs guide flocks of sheep in response to the shepherd’s whistle, or how a hunting dog will chase down its quarry to the hunter’s command. Certain breeds that are difficult to train may have been bred for doing just one thing to the exclusion of all else, such as the Husky or Bloodhound. Some independent breeds such as the Terriers can also be difficult.
The stubbornness in some breeds that makes it difficult to train might hide their intelligence. They are still very capable of opening cabinets to get at their treats or food. High intelligence, whilst good for learning, can easily lead to problems of boredom if they do not have the exercise and other stimulation that they need. Smart dogs can be the most destructive and difficult dogs in a time busy city family.
Whilst no breed is impossible to obedience train, some novice owners might find training some breeds quite difficult. If you have difficulties, you may need to be more patient or creative (or both) with some breeds or individual dogs than with others.
There are various ways of doing the training that have evolved over the twentieth century. Originally the training was quite formalised and reflected the military and police approach. More recently and now the most popular methods of behavioural change are based heavily on positive reinforcement. This is achieved through a mixture of giving rewards, treats and food for behaviours that we want to reinforce. Also the use of clickers, a small box that makes a click, when desired behaviour is done by the dog.
A challenge for the owner is the appreciation that dogs are not human so do not be surprised when they don’t act or think like us. If the training is becoming difficult and stressful, call in a dog trainer for advice and dog walkers to help.
Chris (of Dulwich Pet Sitters) was friendly, helpful and responsible and we had no hesitation entrusting our two cats into his care. Getting reassuring text messages from the pet sitter while you are away is a real plus! Mr B.T and Misha and Kuzya of West Norwood