Achieving a Higher Level of Reliable Obedience

Get Your Dog's Attention and Adoration

If you have ever taken an obedience class with your dog, and actually done your homework, you will remember and notice that for that period of time (usually 6 to 8 weeks) your dog begins to listen to you faster and his obedience improved.  But weeks after the class is over, his skills begin to wan and the dynamics of life before class take over and it seems as if he never completed an obedience class.

WHY?

It’s simple if you think about it; if you practice something together you are better at it, the more practice and time you devote to something the better you get at it.  However, once you stop practicing and working on something, often, the more things go back to the way things were and you forget what you had once learned.

Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?

Most of us have either watched this show on TV or at least know the concept; adults (sometimes even doctors, lawyers and Yale graduates) are asked simple questions along the lines of the curriculum that we learned in and up to the 5th grade.  Most of us learned these things a number of years ago, but how much do we truly remember?  To have a child in school and needing help with homework is sometimes humbling!

Without practice or applying our knowledge, we often forget what we have learned.  The same is true of your dog!  If you don’t make obedience and training a part of your daily lives together, you and your dog will slip back into the same patterns of life that lead you to frustration and into obedience class.

But, often instead of understanding that dogs, too, forget and slip back into previous habits, we often blame them, think they didn’t learn or that they are being obstinate and refusing to comply, when really they are probably reverting back to what they knew and know best which is the dynamics of your household “before” obedience class.

What to Do?

Set a goal

  • Sit down as a family and come up with a plan.  What is going wrong in your current relationship with your dog?  Come up with a plan to address your issues and stick with it!  Consistency is the key to good dog obedience so everyone must be on board.

Take a Class

  • You may need to take a class or re-take a basic class if things have deteriorated severely.  A class leads to accountability and homework.  A class often coerces people to make time to work with their dogs.
  • I have been training dog professionally for almost 17 years and I still take obedience classes (I just don’t admit I am a trainer).

Compete

  • I HATE competition!  I hated competition as a child and I continue to hate it to this day.  I also hate getting up in front of people.  Ironically, I can lecture to a convention center full of people about dog obedience and behavior, but I hate that competitive feeling and being put on display.  However, I often make myself face my fears and compete anyway.
  • Competition takes a high level of practice and work, and the more time I spend with my dog the more he learns to listen to me in all facets of life.   Although I hate the feeling of the final competition (I am getting better ha ha) I LOVE the time we spend together preparing for our moment, and I also love our numerous blue ribbons!

Find a hobby you can both enjoy

  • You can take classes for advanced obedience, tracking (nose work), clicker training, games, agility, or weight puling, sledding and skijoring.
  • You can even play control games together.
  • Invite your friends and family to get together and play doggie games and have your own competition.   You can also find dog board games online like Funagle and Do You Mind by Darfinc©.
  • Buy a book and teach your dog as many tricks and commands as you can then have a party to show off your new skills!

To my clients I am known as the “fun” trainer.  I have been training dogs for almost 17 years and have seen all kinds of methods and I have taken my years of experience and knowledge and I have sculpted them into a program where I focus on games and fun ways to achieve my obedience goals.  I do this so that my dog enjoys his training but most of all I do it so that “I” enjoy training and working with my dog.  Fun does not mean there is a lack of skill or that my dogs are sloppy, it just means that my goal is to have a high level of performance and we both enjoy ourselves. The more things I can teach my dog, the happier we both are!  Even if I am just teaching him tricks, he is listening and learning and enjoying himself, and I am ending up with another skill to show off to my friends.

I try and make a point to spend time with my dog and invite him to join me as often as possible.  If I go hiking, biking or to the beach, I want to include him in my plans.  I enjoy teaching him new things and watching him enjoy life and excel at obedience.  It is a joy to have a well trained companion.

Every time you work with your dog in a fun and positive manner and you work together towards a common goal, you are solidifying your place in your furry pack and your dog is learning to have fun listening to you.  The more fun you have together, the more time you will find to spend together and you build a bond of respect that will last a lifetime.  So get out there and spend some fun time together as you reestablish your bond and your dog learns to listen to your every command!

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Comments

  1. Tom Peyton says:

    I saw somewhere on Chet’s videos where a woman had trained a lab to detect scent. She had used different jugs and put something into one of the jugs then taught the dog to lay down in front of the jug where it was hid. After completing Chet’s training I would like to try someting like this. Anyone out there have any ideas where to find this type of training?

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    Tricia Valente Reply:

    I have a year old British Bulldog. He is gorgeous but big and boisterous and very strong. He is obsessed with playing with his toys and wants someone to play with him all the time. I’ve tried putting him outside with them but he just jumps at the conservatory door and so we have to let him in case he hurts himself.Any suggestions?

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    Minette Reply:

    Dogs are pack animals and they rarely play with themselves, they enjoy playing with other member of their pack instead. Many dogs would rather get their business done outside and then return inside to be with us, so we need to teach them to enjoy their own company and also to play interactive control games with them.

    Find something special to give him or a special toy that he only gets when he goes outside i.e. a large bone to chew on or a special squeaky and then take it away when he comes inside, this should teach him that by staying outside he gets to enjoy his treats and should foster some independence.

    Play control games with him to help burn off some steam. Hide his toys and teach him to find them. Teach him to retrieve. Have him perform an obedience skill before you throw his toy. Name his toys and teach him to find specific ones. Teach him tricks and instead of giving him treats when he accomplishes the task play with him!

    We must teach our dogs to be independent, but respect and acknowledge the fact that they enjoy our company…isn’t that why we got a dog in the first place?

    Minette

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    Minette Reply:

    Tom,
    I wrote that article and that is me with my dog Snitch 🙂 Read the nose work introduction and scent discrimination and passive alert and then nose work 2 articles to help you get started with this fun training. I will also soon do a follow up article with a little bit of tracking information to help you.

    Most classes do not offer scent discrimination work but you can find some classes on Tracking because it is also an AKC sport. You can call local obedience clubs in your area or trainers who teach obedience and find out more or even attend an AKC Tracking event.

    Good luck. I will be writing more soon. Nose work and this type of training is a lot of fun!

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  2. Leslie Ward says:

    I have a 1 yr old Maltese that is obsessed with barking with every noise he hears. He’s fine when we go to bed, but during the day, it’s the hardest. I try the “No”, Stop it”, “No bark” etc. Nothing is working. I got the “Clicker” for when he is good, but the screechy barking has gone wild! Any ideas would be appreciated!

    Mommy going CRAZY!

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    Robert Morgenstern Reply:

    Me too. My 10 month old Newfoundland is a barker. He barks in a demanding voice to get his way. Trainers said to ignore him. If I did that he would bark 24/7. He also nips my wife on the arm. I know it is an attention getting behavior but I haven’t found a way to klick him out of barking and nipping. thanks

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    Leslie Ward Reply:

    Yep, I have done the “ignoring” and sometimes it works and mostly not! My Charlie is an an ankle/foot nipper (yes, for attention!), but I think we’re getting that beat with the firm “No”. When he does this barking though, ESPECIALLY when someone walk up to him outside or he hears a noise downstairs, he goes into this screech like I’m killing him! I ALWAYS have to pick him up to let him know that he & I are both safe and he “usually” quiets right down or at least until the other person lets him smell them and pets him (even though he still sneaks in those “love nips” at the same time! It’s most hard when we try to go for a walk and I live in a very friendly/quiet (except Charlie) Condo complex. Seems I have to wait for everyone to leave for work after walking their dogs before we can even go out, which is not what I want at all. How do you get a dog to know when it’s okay when there’s a noise or someone approaching without all the screeching he goes in to? When I go out, I cage him and he barks for a few minutes, then he’s fine. I certainly don’t want him caged all the time, nor use that as punishment. He gets along fine with his 15 yr old Golden Retriever bro and 2 little Terriers downstairs (being they are together alot) but newcomers…..what to do?

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    Minette Reply:

    Leslie,

    Teach him what you want by training him to perform tasks for you. DO NOT pick him up unless he or another animal or person is truly in danger…you are rewarding him for his behavior by scooping him up and giving him attention and love! Teach him to sit or lay down or spin in a circle or shake or high five or leap over your legs…ha ha…I don’t care what you choose, but dogs don’t “multi-task” well, so if when he gets nervous you give him a command he can complete, it eases his tension and instead of worrying he is able to do something for you. The important thing is finding a good buffer of space so he can perform the commands when he is stressed, if 10 feet is too close back up until he can complete the command then work your way closer. This takes lots of time and patience and work daily, and you must teach him these skills at home with no distractions and achieve a 95% reliability rate before you go outside with them for this to work! Good luck, just give him time and space and give him something else to think about!

    kipp funderburk Reply:

    they sell these things that give off a high pitched sound every time your dog barks and it is trritating to him so it makes him stop barking so much. and if your dog nips you give a yell that lets the dog know it hurt and he should stop. my pitbull used to nip and i yelled ow really loud and she got the messege right away that she was being too ruff and stopped. no more biting.

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    Minette Reply:

    This is not cute behavior especially in a Newfoundland! You need to work more on obedience and he needs to work for all of his food, affection and toys until these behaviors go away…nothing in life is free for him! This will be much worse when he is full size and if he choses to do this to strangers or guests.

    Work on obedience a minimum of 5 times daily for 20 minutes or so and your wife needs to work with him too. He should also work prior to eating in the morning and at night.

    Those trainers are right!!! Ignore the barking or change the meaning of his barking, but catering to him is only teaching him to bark more and longer. If ignoring him doesn’t work, immediately leave the room when he barks; teach him that barking means you leave. I don’t care if you have to leave the house for a minute or two, do it so that he is not rewarded for demanding your attention! Or teach him that barking means HE has to leave the house by going outside, or he has to do a sit stay for a minute or two in the room with you or in another room. If he realizes barking equals things he doesn’t want…he will stop barking!!

    Minette

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    Lori Reply:

    My maltese barks at everything that moves, too. I have gotten her under fairly good control by going to look at what she’s barking at (usually look out the window), saying thank you, good girl, and walking away. You have to do this *every* time he barks, so he knows that you will take care of whatever he is alerting you to. It takes time to sink in, but eventually you won’t have to look but just say thank you.

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    Leslie Ward Reply:

    Yes Lori, we have been doing that consistently. I live in a Condo upstairs and am constantly telling him the same. “it’s okay, thank you” with a pat on the head. I don’t “treat” him, unless he stops barking for at least 10 seconds (I actually count to myself!) at which time I will “click & treat” as I don’t want him to will feel as if barking will inherit a treat. I appreciate your feedback though. Maybe it’s just that I don’t have the patience that I use to. (My Golden – Jacob – is very quiet and laid back for the past 15 yrs!) Hopefully, SOMETHING will sink in!

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  3. im have taken my dog to obedience classes which have helped i also use your clicker which helps he still needs a little bit of help with the walk and other dogs but other than that ha is great i have a black lab he has been out of his crate since the age of seven months old he has not been destuctive at all

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  4. Lilly says:

    I have a 4 year old golden and I ws wondering if he is still trainable?

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    Chet Reply:

    Absolutely. He’s VERY trainable. There really isn’t such a thing as too old 🙂

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  5. Chloe says:

    I have a German Shepherd puppy. She is about nine months old. She gets very crazy and runs around at night. I was wondering why this would be?

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    kath Reply:

    Your puppy is blowing off puppy energy. Nothing wrong at all.

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  6. Sue Muntz says:

    I work every day with my Dobe, Bachan. We compete in Rally Obedience and have our Novice title. We take training classes every week and have retaken different levels of rally classes a number of times. We try to get her out in public as often as possible to expose her to different situations. I am always working on focus with her. She is by nature a protective dog and it can be difficult to keep her attention – even with all of the practice we do. Next weekend, we head into our first Advanced class – off leash. It will be an experience and I will be happy if we finish the course without disqualifying!

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  7. Annie Williams says:

    Chet, Thank you for ALL the great newsletters, e-mails, videos, etc… I take everything you say to heart. My dog and I have just completed our 14th training class, and she just turned two years old. We have taken numerous classes in Agility, Freestyle, Tricks, Rally-O, Tracking, but are currently pursuing Agility as that is what my dog thrives in. She loves it! It’s a sport we both enjoy together. My husband has built us a complete course in the backyard for us to practice working on our skills together daily. Like you stated…it is SO IMPORTANT to practice learned skills daily. Thank You!!!!!

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  8. Carla says:

    We rescued a 1 yr old german shephard/husky mix 6 months ago. The dog “belongs” to our 12 year old son. My son can be very hyper and has serious, latent control issues with the dog. I started using your wonderful training but ended up having to do it when my son wasn’t at home because he would confuse the poor dog clicking the clicker all the time and generally not paying attention to the lessons we were working on. (Emotionally my son isn’t quite 12 and has decided he’d rather be another puppy than a trainer.) This went well for a awile until I realized my son is sabotaging the training!) The poor dog acts as if he was taken from his mother too early…uses his mouth excessively, and was obviously abused. He was found with 2 prongs of a choke collar imbedded in his neck and both areas had abscessed.
    Right now my biggest concern is the mouth thing. He’s constantly licking people, or trying to. It took a bit of training for him to let me pet his head gently without getting the cold wet tongue first. I’m sure I could break him of the habit, but as soon as my son comes home they start to play together and my son will put his hand in the dog’s mouth and allow the dog to lick him. Then when the dog wants my son’s attention he starts nipping at his shirt sleeves or biting at the back of his shirt.
    I’ve tried reasoning with him by telling him that a dog that is so used to using it’s mouth is only a step away from biting someone if one of his friend’s were to inadvertantly pull his ears or be too rough with his neck.

    I know the problem here isn’t really the dog. It’s my son. I’ve asked him to sit down and make a list of the 5 most important things we need to teach the dog and to put them in order of priority. Maybe, if he can verbalize the importance of the training, he’ll be less likely to undo it. I watched your video about children undo’ing training and I taught my son to cross his arms over his chest and turn his back when the dog starts using his mouth. Now I’ve asked him to sit down and figure out why he’s not using these techniques and instead doing the opposite. If he’s mad at me, the only real result he’s getting is hurting his dog. (I have a 14 year old Burmese cat that is connected only to me and all my son’s life he has been very jealous of the cat and our relationship. My son’s hyperactivity is too much for the cat and she will hide from him, only to find her cuddled up next to me with her head on my arm when he comes back into the room.)

    Up to this point he hasn’t had the patience to watch the training videos but I think I’m going to make him do it, even if I’m the one to train the dog. Then he’ll know what we’re working on.

    Did I mention that the dog is very hyper also? Our last rescue was an 8 year old black lab that had been in a “no kill” shelter for 5 years. He was very mellow and came already trained. Maybe my son thought they all came that way, like a package deal.

    I hope this isn’t going to automatically post to this site. It’s very long, and personal. If there are any suggestions you could give I would be very grateful.

    With Warmest Regards, Carla

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  9. Lilly says:

    Thanks Chet. Also I was wondering how to treat my dogs jumping habit along with is food aggression and a few other things. Thanx once again.

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  10. Leslie Ward says:

    Minette,

    Charlie does all the tricks of …”sit,lay down,spin in a circle,shake & high five” We haven’t done the “leap over your legs” yet as I am disabled. Right now the getting up, going to the window with thanks you’s are working very well. There’s no way he will obey outside at this point when others walk up to him. I’m actually trying to train the humans to have patience with his screeches, as all he really wants to do is say hello and play. I’ll try your advice with getting him to “trick” outside, but I have high doubts that will work when he can’t even hear me. I know I shouldn’t pick him up, but in order for me to even have a conversation with a neighbor, that seems like the only option right now! I need Ceasar Milan! LOL! Seriously, I’m determined to get this down with a pat & a good behavior treat!

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  11. qsas says:

    dcuhdihvcdsvjk getting up, going to the window with thanks you’s are working very well. There’s no way he will obey outside at this point when others walk up to him. I’m actually trying to train the humans to have patience with his screeches, as all he really wants to do is say hello and play. I’ll try your advice with getting him to “trick” outside, but I have high doub

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