Is Your Dog Well Trained?

A few of you will say “YES” to this question.

Some of you are here to dog training advice, problem solving, or behavior problems but some of you are dog trainers and some of you have dogs that are well trained.

A lot of people go through dog obedience classes, some of the dogs are top of the class and graduate with “honors” and some barely graduate at all!

But does that make them well trained?

I always say to my clients:

To Test Your Dog’s Obedience;

Sit on The Floor Facing Away From Him and Give Him a Command

Thanks to Caninegoodcitizen for the photo

Use a normal voice, not that mad voice you reserve for when he is in trouble ;)

Does he listen?

My guess is that most dogs, when seeing you sit on the floor, fly into your lap or try to scratch your eyes out while dancing tap steps on the top of your head!!

This isn’t such a horrible thing, it just means that your dog listens to you under certain circumstances but not ALL circumstances.

In one of the sports which I compete in and hope to compete at a higher level, the rules of the “game” or competition change with each judge.

It sounds really hard and not fair; because you never know what each different judge might ask you to do.

But to me, that is the test of good dog training (not a systematic approach where you know exactly what will be required)!

In one scenario, the judge had the owner of the dog leave the dog in a “stay” while he/she skipped down the field and laid down on the ground on his/her stomach face facing away from the dog.

Let's face it most dogs would break at the “skipping”…  I mean who can resist a skipping human?

Then the others I would expect to break at the laying down on the ground racing to their owners to join in the fun!

But these dogs were not only expected to stay, they were expected to stay there until their owner called them they were also expected to change position (sit, down, stand), then halfway to the owner (on the judges signal; because the owner could not see the dog) the owner was to give the dog the “DOWN” command!

WOW!!  What a test!

I will be the first to be honest with you and tell you that none of my dogs can do that, at least not right now!  My old dog is kind of old and senile, and the other’s 2, 1, and 4 months just don’t have that kind of training, yet.

But I can tell you it gives me something to aspire to!

And, I like silly training.  Silly training gets me ready for real life.

You may not skip through your house and kick up your feet very often… but if you go to the park you may encounter a child that does!

And, in my opinion, if your dog can “stay” while you skip, jump and run around in a field under few other distractions you might just have a chance of him being able to do a short sit or down stay under normal or busy environmental circumstances.

I use to tell my clients (when I ran group classes) that if their dog could do a 30 minute down stay at home, they might be able to do a 2 minute down stay with the other dogs in the class!

Obedience gets more complicated with more distractions.

Famous Guide Dog photo

My goal is to train all my dogs like they are Service or Guide Dogs.  My background in training is with Service Dogs so I know how difficult it is to get a dog to ignore just about any distraction.  Working dogs are expected to not only “survive” walking through a busy Wal-Mart but also enjoy it!

That requires REAL obedience!

And, even though you can’t take your dog into Wal-Mart you can train your dog to the point that you could do obedience in the Wal-Mart parking lot!

Once you can conquer that during “happy hour” with no problems you can move on to sillier training techniques.

Skip, run, tumble (if you are limber), sit on the ground, lay on your stomach and practice your obedience.

Then you can add running, screaming children, dogs at the dog park, cats, or other crazy distractions to perfect your obedience.

Obedience is NEVER finished, even when they are old and getting a little senile it is best to stretch their brains to the max!  Keep pushing yourself and your dogs and you will also continue to keep your relationship strong!

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  1. Jeannette says:

    Love this! Wow, do I ever have some work to do!


    Carolyn Reply:

    Ditto!! Actually the extent of my dog training previously has been to spoil them rotten and then hope they would come to me if I had enough treats on hand and they were hungry enough to be tempted…. but I am in agreement with that old saying that one is never too old to learn–neither myself nor my chihuahua of 6 yrs of age. Chet sure does make one think. I am in my 60’s and finally learning to do some real training with my little dog. I will be forever grateful for the help I find here!!! My little dog has been kind of a special case, since she came from a puppy mill at 6 months of age and had never been socialized and I was given little hope she would ever be anything but terrified of humans… and she has come a long way. However, I do believe she is happier when she learns new things… and she has come to trust me, although she doesn’t trust anyone else yet. It has been a hard long road with her, but she is worth it all! We have a real love thing going… and she is slowly learning a few basics like coming when I call her. 🙂


  2. Jewel Lusher says:

    I have been working with my 1 1/2 year old Westie/Schnauzer mix that we just adopted from a shelter three months ago. He has been very good at picking up all the easy commands like sit, down, stay and go to your bed but it is the “taking him for a walk” that has gotten down right miserable. When we got him he had real bad seperation anxiety but taking him once a week to doggie day care has helped somewhat. He plays with the other dogs fine even though he prefers people but boy oh boy when I take him for a walk on the leash and he sees or hears another dog he becomes unmanagable. He barks and whines like crazy. If the other dog comes up to him he will bark once or twice, whine a little and then go and play with them just fine but it is just awful walking a whining barking dog down the street and don’t even get me started on our Petco and Petsmart visits :(. He is a sweet baby and you can tell he wants to please but just can’t seem to help himself. Is there any obedience training that handles this kind of situation???
    I would sure like him to be able to enjoy a nice long walk as now I have to avoid all other dogs (in yards and such).
    Thanks—-Jewel Wanda Lusher


    Minette Reply:

    Read this article series: click on all the other articles that are highlighted to read all 4 of them

    work on leash manners and eye contact at home!


  3. Tina says:

    This is really great and informative post about dog training. This will help pet owners.


  4. Dennis Crawford says:


    I laugh at this. My 2 year old Cairn Terrier to stand still while a cat goes by. Not.

    I do have a serious, serious I think, problem with him on greeting people. He just wants to run up to them, jump on them and if he knows them he likes to hold hands with his mouth. He is gentle, but I can not figure out the best way to train this out of him. He is a beautiful dog and just can’t stop people from coming up to him.

    Any advice wouild be very much appreciated.



    kat Reply:

    We have two rescues— 60 to 70 lbs each… adopted 2 years ago. Immediately we put up signs and gave verbal commands to the HUMANS who visited to IGNORE THE DOGS totally for 3 – 5 minutes. Now, training the humans has been a challenge, but the dogs have responded sooo well & never jump– and never annoy. They’ll come up to folks but only when invited.
    Good luck training the HUMANS.


    suzie Reply:

    wonderful constructive advice! we will try this on our 105 lb. retriever and 5 lb. 1 yr old chihauhau. they both have the same exhuberant personalities. we are 2 seniors and don’t get any company or social interaction for the dogs.
    thank you.


    mfoster Reply:

    Put a sign on your dog or the door, that says ‘ignore the dog!’ I find that when people come up to, or come in the house, etc they always pay attention to the dog. It is hard not to. Then give her the commands she is accustomed to. But your friends have to cooperate by really ignoring the dog. I have done this with my exuberant 13 month GSD. and it works pretty well. It gives me a chance to be in control with out the guest trying to make friends with my dog.


    Suzie Reply:

    My same reply to you M Foster as Kat….Thank you for the info. I need it!


  5. Anne Skarzenski says:

    I was able to put my 6 months old puppy and 4 year old in a down-stay position at a farmer’s market, with all kinds of good smells, many dogs, screaming kids, strollers etc. But to move away beyond the length of the leash and out of site…. we are not there yet. We also need to get used to road construction sounds.
    I am quite inspired by the level of training a service dog has and hope to be able to live up to my dogs’ abilities.


  6. Jeanne Carr says:


    Thank you so much for all of your e-mail training “tid-bits” I look SO forward to receiving them. My pup is 18 months old and a mix of pit and who knows what else. Scrappy is full of energy and so loving. He is best friends with my 4 year old granddaughter, whenever she cries, he comes running to lick her face. I just recently figured out “Lets Go” works for him. He will even come to me if a cat is just outside the fence instead of ignoring me and barking. “Lets Go” even works when someone is at the front door and I want him in the dining room so I can answer the door. “Leave It” works great. He does most basic commands except “Roll Over” I can’t figure that out yet. Anyway, I’m feeling like a “super hero” these days. I’ve always loved Scrappy but now so frustrated. That is a Great Feeling”. Thanks again.


  7. Jeanne Carr says:

    Whoops, I meant NOT SO Frustrated!!!!


  8. Rose says:

    Hi All,
    I live in Perth Australia. Its been great to read all your comments and suggestions about raising a puppy. I have a poodle cocker spaniel mix puppy who is just adorable. His name is TED. He is 12 weeks old and is pretty smart. The suggestions from the service dog area really interests me. These dogs are so obedient. I would like to learn more about teaching Ted to “stay” for prolonged periods, come, and other behaviours that will help Ted keep out of mischief. Apart from the obedience aspect of teaching a puppy, he has a very good disposition and is a cheerful happy boy. I will keep reading this forum to pick up some more skills.


  9. Amee says:

    Would love to know what sport you are talking about. I want to play too! 🙂

    (we already do Agility (CPE, USDAA, & AKC), Obedience (CDSP & AKC), Rally (APDT & AKC) and Canine Freestyle (WCFO.)



    Minette Reply:

    It is a protection sport called PSA


  10. Donna Kerr says:

    I have a short haired Chihuhu that will be 4 years old on November 7th! I got her when she was just 2 years & 8 months old! When I first got her she was terrified of any male! The reason for that was she had been with a man that would kick her every time she tried to eat, sleep, or try to get him to show her some love! I finally got her house broke to a leash! Mu problem is when I take her out is if she sees a cat or dog she takes after them until she reaches the end of her leash! also if we have a male visitor she wants to bite them so I have to lock her in my bedroom! I hope you know something I can do to stop this!! Thank you for all of your advice!

    Donna Kerr


    Minette Reply:

    You need to get eye contact and focus from her. Read this

    And as for the aggression, I can only recommend that you contact a veterinary behaviorist!!


  11. Autumn says:

    I would reward my Brittany by playing with him. In the middle of a rough and tumble I gave him a command. It took very little time for him to figure out the games didn’t begin again until he complied so I soon got instant response. I put him on a down-stay once and forgot I had, a couple of hours later I came across him still laying there looking sad. I felt bad but it showed a true ubderestanding of how important being obediant was to him.


  12. Ken Crawford says:

    I enjoyed your article. I can see where this level of obedience would require a lot of training time.


  13. Nancy says:

    My daughter, living with me, has a Min Pin that she has so spoiled that he has her trained. That blasted dog is very aggressive and will not mind at all. I can’t have company because he will constantly bark and try to nip all the time company is here. If I put him in a room by his self, he will bark and scratch at the door the whole time. If he sees anyone walk by he starts his barking to protect (?)the house. My daughter say’s that is just the nature of that particular breed. I disagree, I think any dog can be trained to obey and you should not have to spank or spray them with a water bottle. Can’t afford behaviorist or private dog trainer. So, what book would you recommend, I do have patience or do I continue to dislike that dog?


  14. Sharon says:

    Yes my dog would pass the test and did so. I had her in an obedience training class when the trainer’s cat walked across the court in front of all the dogs in the class. Everyone of them broke to go chase or sniff the cat, except mine. She was on a down stay and that is exactly what she did. I’m not saying it was because of the training or because of the fact that she had four cats at home that wandered all over her territory and she could care less. She looked absolutely bored with the whole group rushing to the cat and she just laid there and watched. I died laughing when the trainer just threw up her hands in disgust.


  15. pam marshall says:

    I have a dog Harley7!!! He is 4 yrs old mixed german shepherd/beagle!! I rescued him 3 yrs ago. He has had alot of traning and has gone through alot of stages. He is so much better because I am better. I was told he was fearful/aggressive!!! When he sees certain dogs such as pit bulls, or even smells certain dogs and they aren’t there he goes crazy!!! He jmnps up and growls, barks and grabs he leash in his mouth. I get him to give the the leash and sit. I ue a gentle leader that I have found to be great!!! People in my neighborhood thinks he is a mean dog and I crazy lady. NOT TRUE!!
    They all have dogs they have spent alot of money on!! ANY ONE CAN BUY A DOG BUT IT TAKES A SPECIAL PERSON TO RESCUE ONE!!! My neighborhood has turned into pit bull city. If I see the dogs before him or he right after he does I use a treat to get to walk away. But he goes to a day care that is outsie and inside in the country and he runs off leash supervised with about 20-30 dogs!!! He has his buddies but they all get along. They love him. They don’t alow pit bulls. I wish he could talk of I could afford the real dog whisperer. If he was lined up with all those shepherds and the cat, I don’t know what he would do!!!
    We never goes at the dog.
    Pam and Harley


    Pat Sullivan Reply:

    Have 2 Grt Pyrs, 4 1/2 and 6 1/2. Pyr people say they are guarding me but—— can’t walk anywhere near large dogs, they go nuts, one starts then the other and the male (both fixed) starts chewing his leash. (frustrted I think)
    This occurs at the lake (we go daily for an hour) or in the neighborhood. Never with little dogs We walk 2x’s daily for 1 hr/ea. If I see another big dog, I run the other way, or hopefully out of site (know i shouldn’t be doing this), However I have to hang on to over 200#’s of dogs. Also afraid if they get away from me, Pyrs off leash are disappear. Also afraid of any kind of dog fight especiallt with 2 dogs. Of course I will say, they are the sweetest ever. Girl dogs wants everyone to pwet her, and boy dog a clown, not at all alpha. I know Pyr guarding really sets in around 3-4 yrs. but I want to have less stressful walks.They think they own the place. No longer go to dog park, as I was showing the male, he is now neutered. god help us if a dog os off leash and is running our way. I have even hidden the the bathroom at the oark to avoid this hassle. HELP


    Minette Reply:

    You have to teach them a coping behavior or an incompatible behavior…

    I teach my dogs focus and eye contact when I ask for it so when we see another dog they give me eye contact.

    First I have to teach them separately then I can put them together, but I would never walk to aggressive dogs together your odds of a dog fight is soooo much worse because they feed on each other’s behaviors.

    So teach them separately and build a firm foundation first… then see if they can control themselves and lose the aggression.

    I use to work with a friend of mine’s severely dog aggressive Weimaraner although he learned to give me focus and stop being aggressive alone on a walk he wasn’t able to be with the other dogs or he would get out of control and sometimes want to bite them. So I use to work with him alone, and walk the other 4 together.


  16. Pam Kutscher says:

    You have reminded me that I need to do a LOT more work with my dogs! I am sure they wouldn’t ignore a cat or many other disractions. They have come a long way since I rescuec each one (5+ years ago and 2+ years ago) but it is a continuing process and we have a long way to go. Thanks for the photo of the line of perfectly behaved dogs–wow ,what inspiration!


  17. Doris Smith says:

    I got a small dog at a humane place .He is so sweet but he will not stop chasing my 2 cats..He scares them and chases them.I don’t want to punish him or yell at him.what can I do to stop this so my cats can be comfortable around him,he also tries to bite anyone who comes to the house and I tried to take him to the nursing home but he tries to bite them and so I can’t take him around anyone.I don’t know if he is trying to protect me or what he was fine with me when I got him from the shelter.HELP


    Minette Reply:

    Put him on a leash and teach him what your expectations are and work on basic obedience.


  18. Michelle says:

    I’m proud to say my dogs sat as I lay on the floor. Now if only I could get Liddy to stop wanting to chase all bike riders.


  19. Carol says:

    My 6 month old Rhodesian Ridgeback saw a cat last week for the first time in his little life. The cat just sat there looking at him. I made my dog sit & then he just looked at this white, fluffy thing as if to say, “What the heck is that?” He made no attempt to run at it, chase it, did not bark, and after about 3 minutes we walked away & my puppy didn’t even look back! He is obviously very well fed 🙂


    Minette Reply:

    Well fed has really nothing to do with it, he just probably has a low prey drive, at least for now!


  20. John Eckard says:

    Wow, Was I fooled when I read the title of this email and then read the email. From the title I thought you were going to give us some help on how to do this, boy was I mistaken.


    Minette Reply:

    It wasn’t a “How To Get Your Dog to be Well Trained” my other articles cover lots of that and as for everything mentioned that would take many articles, this was a test.

    Simple training, then leading to advanced training is what you need.


  21. Amber says:

    Wow… I so wish I could get our puppy to do that… I’d love to take her to a dog park but she’s just too hyper and doesn’t listen real well. She’ll sit 95% of the time but getting her to stay for a long time is hard. The other day, I put her in a sit and stay before I let her get to her food. She just wouldn’t sit still hardly at all! Then, there’s her non-existant re-call. I’ve switched her recall from ‘come’ to here but I haven’t used it when we’re outside yet. I don’t want her learning that she doesn’t HAVE to come…. Oh well. The next step is not chasing after the cats… A dog her size could easily kill one of them and she just cannot do that. I doesn’t help that she get distracted by smells all the time outside, either. Maybe whistle training would help..


  22. Sonia says:

    Awesome thought provoking article. Thank you so much for setting the bar higher and clarifying routine commands from real obedience. I have six well-behaved dogs that make everyone smile when they come peacefully on our morning walk. I will try your suggestions. Thanks again.


  23. I Have 4 dobermann dogs I took them to school to basic obedience,and they seemed to do pretty well,but now that i’ve read your articles i know that they can do a lot better if I’d only teach them how to with different commands.They know to obey commands with the training collar,but i dont want to harm them at all.I wish you’d recommend me articles to read and learn so when i’m done with the eye contact, focus,etc,training, I’d be able to take the four of them for a walk without them pulling or chasing another dog.How can I say one command and make the four of them obey me at the same time?.If you advise me how can I do that, i’d be so grateful.


    Minette Reply:

    Go back to the blog and on the right hand side of the page is a search bar.

    Type in anything you are looking for; off leash obedience, leash manners, heel, eye contact, barking, digging… whatever your problem or question and it is probably back in our archives.

    You can search and work on one thing at a time that way and work toward better obedience.


  24. Dana Keefe says:

    Unrelated question.
    I have four dogs. When we are all outside (one on a retractable cable system and three in a large kennel) in the back yard, all is fine as long as I am present. If I leave to go to the front yard (out of sight) one of the dogs will bark until I return.
    The only solution I have found is to take her inside but that is rewarding her for barking. Ignoring her usually does not work and she disturbs the neighbors. Advice please.


    Minette Reply:

    I would put her inside.

    I never leave my dogs out unattended.

    I have been a dog trainer too long and have seen too many barkers poisoned by neighbors. So my dogs are NEVER out unless I am home!


  25. To Minnette

    What do you think aboutAnyone who thinks a dog does not remember or does not feel a little guilt?I think he who does has not lived bondly related with a dog. Just look at the expressions on the faces of these three dogs when they are asked the same question at the same time. (Note the immediate reaction of the two darker dogs on the right side of the screen – talk about a total ‘throw under the bus’!)


    Minette Reply:

    Read this and research the study I mention to see why people “think” dogs show signs of guilt even when they are proven to be not guilty


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