Understanding Obedience Training
Obedience training should start during the dog’s formative period, at age 2-4 months. Dogs who don’t learn to learn during this sensitive period will never learn as well as dogs who have done, so this is the best time to start training your dog to understand commands. You don’t need to teach your dog any advanced obedience during this stage; just getting the dog to understand some useful commands and good discipline will lay down the foundations for future work. As dogs get older and reach approximately 8-12 months of age, they will really start to consolidate this learning.
However, it’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks, and we also specialise in working with older dogs. Older dogs have plenty of potential to learn. The techniques for working with older dogs who already have established behaviour patterns (and frequently, problems) often include more advanced training techniques; please refer to other parts of this website to see how we work to treat behaviour problems.
For us, there are three very important commands. Firstly, a really strong recall is very important for many reasons. For example, a reliable recall is extremely important when you’re out and about in public with your dog. Secondly, a good “sit” command, as this can help avoid many unwanted interactions. Thirdly, training dogs to go to their mat and relax is a great behavior for reducing hyperactivity and creating a calm atmosphere which then assists with all other aspects of training. Alongside these basic commands, we also train “down”, “wait”, “stay”, “heel”, “leave it”, and “quiet”. Additionally, having your dog understand a “no” command is also useful. More advanced work and specialised film animal training – right through to teaching dogs to drive – is also in our bag of tricks; please refer to the Animals on Q part of this website for more information on this advanced training.
We use clicker training and positive reinforcement techniques to achieve basic obedience training. For example, when training a dog to sit we use a food treat to get the dog’s attention. By using this treat as a lure and moving it just above and behind the dog’s head, the dog will look up at the treat and lower its rear end onto the ground. We then use a clicker to mark the exact moment the dog is in the sitting position and immediately give the treat to the dog. By repeating this several times, the dog learns how to sit very quickly.
Prevention Is Better Than Cure
One service we offer is puppy consultations. These sessions are designed to avoid any future problems that could arise when dogs get older. We highly recommend coming in to the Animal Behavior Clinic for a puppy consultation soon after you have gotten your puppy.