When Should You Start Obedience Training Your Dog?
As soon as possible after acquiring your dog!
Is your new dog a puppy? An older dog? A rescue? No matter how old your new dog is, you want to have a well-behaved dog in your home. So, start now!
I am going to focus on your new puppy.
You have probably heard that you shouldn’t begin obedience training your dog until it is six months old. So did I. And I faithfully followed all the advice by the obedience training experts. I didn’t begin obedience training classes until my puppies were six months old. Up to that time I lived with an unruly puppy!
I suspect that advice was based on the harsh training exercises I was taught. The dog had to be old enough to realize that I loved them to tolerate the severity of the training. Some of my dogs tolerated this experience well, others became permanently cowed.
Our lives, my dogs and mine, changed irrevocably when I was taught the praise and reward system of training. A learning process that was far more fun and could be started early.
I was taught this method by a breeder of miniature Poodles. She and her dogs always achieved High in Trial in Obedience competitions. Her dogs were a joy to watch in the ring. They seemed like they were having a lot of fun! And they were.
So, one day, when we were in obedience class, I asked her why her dogs seem to enjoy being in the obedience ring and completing all the exercises successfully.
She replied, “I start their training when they are babies. I make the exercise a game, with lots of praise and lots of treats. The lessons are short. I never punish when they approach me.”
1. Children and puppies learn best when lessons are fun.
2. Use ‘happy talk’ when talking to your puppy.
3. Never, never, never punish a puppy.
All they understand is that you have hurt them, and they don’t know why. You can’t explain to them. Why would they come to you if all you are going to do is hurt them?
If you are anything like me, training sessions were a severe tax on my patience. And I took out my frustrations on them because of their inability to follow my commands. Not good.
If you find yourself becoming impatient – quit the training session.
4. Gentleness pays off better than harsh punishments.
5. Never, never, never use double commands. “Sit down!”
Which do you want the puppy to do? Sit? Or lie down? Make up your mind. If you don’t, the puppy will make the decision for you.
Use only single words for commands.
6. Call your puppy by name. Then give the command
7. Carry treats around with you at all times you are around your puppies. Either in a pocket or in a fanny bag you hang in front constantly open. You want to give the treat quickly, so the puppy associates the behavior with the treat. Yes, you will probably smell like dog treats, but do you really care?