Achieving a Higher Level of Reliable Obedience
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.
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).
- 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!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.