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post #1 of 59 (permalink) Old 09-29-2003, 04:20 PM Thread Starter
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Why Obedience Train? ...


Why Obedience Train? - Your Dog Will Thank You

Itís outstanding to have a self-assured dog as your companion. It reflects the job you have done creating independence and confidence in your pet. Your once tiny little clingy fluff-ball that followed you everywhere, was your shadow and always underfoot is now more interested in the great wide world around him. Curiously enticed by his surroundings and all the sights, smells and sounds, the world is now his to investigate.

Itís great to raise a confident dog, but it canít be emphasized enough that refusing to obey your commands challenges your leadership and creates a power struggle that can lead to behavioral problems. Itís imperative that your dog obeys every command you teach, no exceptions. To accomplish this you must reinforce in the dog that no matter what distracting influences are present he must obey you instantly and with no hesitation. The focus when training your dog should be on building a solid bond based on mutual trust, love and respect between your pet and every member of your family. Your goal should be a dog that clearly understands what is expected of him and comfortably accepts his place in your household.

Iíve heard the phrase, ďAn obedient dog is a happy dogĒ and this statement is true on many levels. Training your dog should be fun for both you and your pup. It should also be a lifelong commitment because itís natural for your dog to occasionally see an opportunity to vie for the dominant role and incorporating your commands into your daily routine will consistently reinforce your role as the leader.

Appeal to your dogís will to please his master. You are more important than anything else going on around the dog. A natural respect evolves that can be called ďvoluntary submissionĒ. This is the total acceptance of your position as Alpha, or Pack Leader. Our dogs are genetically wired to understand pack mentality and every dog big or small needs dominance adjustment and alpha image formation. Be his leader or he will be yours. Be aware of your dogís personality and win every conflict. Never hit, slap, beat or choke your dog as this will create an insecure animal who will cower in fear, be scared and nervous. Itís also unthinkable and cruel to inflict pain on your dog. The problems caused can be irreversible. It is possible to firmly correct your dog during the teaching process using gentle but firm negative consequence and enthusiastic jubilant positive reinforcement. Tone of voice and body language are paramount. Dogs naturally respond to our body language and tone of voice. Keep your dogís particular temperament in mind when choosing your method of correction. Some dogs are hard and require corrections that heíll respond to while other dogs are soft and the same correction might be too much and defeat your intention. Know your dog. Remember, mutual respect, understanding, consistency and patience will reward you with a lifelong bond, an animal that is welcomed, loved and secure within your family structure and community.

If your dog is not bound for the show ring or obedience trials, technique doesnít have to be very important. For instance, heeling doesnít have to mean that the dogís head is even with your left knee. Walking on a loose leash without pulling can be a very attainable goal. Think about what behaviors are important to you. Your neighbor may never allow his dogs to jump up onto the couch for a nap. Your sister insists her dogs are crated during family meal times. You may not mind your dogs snuggling on the couch with you and decide that teaching them to come up on the couch when invited is fine. You may want your dogs in a down-stay position or crated during family meals, or you may be fine with your dog sitting or laying down by your side while you are at the dinner table. Itís your dog, your family and you need to decide what rules are important, then teach and enforce them. Never give a command that you donít enforce, follow through on and reward your dog for completing.

All dogs should know the basics that will make them welcome citizens and family members. Sit, down, stay, down/stay, come, wait, quiet, no jumping up on anyone or anything, no food stealing, no garbage ransacking, not chewing or destroying anything that isnít his, not being possessive with food, toys or chew bones (or anything!), allowing hands in his bowl of food, accepting food from your hand, accepting handling of any part of his body for inspection, grooming and petting are things that not only make it easy for you to care for your dog, they keep him safe and in your control at all times. Obey leash laws and donít let your dog roam. Donít put your best friend at risk by allowing him to run free right into traffic, poisons or intentional harm by others. You may not mind the neighborís dog leaving presents on your lawn daily, but the guy down the street may find this totally irresponsible and disgusting. Holes dug in his landscaping and flower beds may find him on the empty side of patience and he may take matters into his own hands. You might end up in court or worse, your dog might end up dead. It only takes one loose dog in the street and one car to cause great loss and a lot of heartache. Keep your dog confined to your property at all times. This can mean a physical fence, invisible fencing, a dog run or a safe tie-out. Itís not cruel to keep your dog tied out if heís supervised, canít get tangled or strangled and heís not left out alone for unlimited hours a day with no access to water, shade and access to protection from the elements. They donít need to roam free to be happy dogs. They need you to provide safety, love, structure, nutrition, shelter, supervision and leadership. A controlled dog knows his place. His place is a guided safe place.

It sounds like a daunting task! Itís not. These things can and should be part of your daily interactions and routines. Make it fun, make it exciting and make it a priority. I always start my training sessions with a verbal cue, ďLetís Go Work!Ē. I say it in an upbeat tone of voice and my excitement rolls right into the dogs and they get excited. They learn quickly that ďLetís Go Work!Ē means itís time to have a purpose, please me, get lots of love and attention, and they are very proud because they always succeed. It makes them confident and content. It also gives them a constructive outlet for pent up energy and a tired dog is a good dog! It cements the bond between us and reinforces my position as leader. I aim for two 20 minute sessions a day. If they are focused and interested I donít watch the clock. If itís a day that they arenít focused or seem disinterested I wonít introduce new commands. Instead Iíll reinforce easy ones and always let them succeed. I may end the session early. I may work them in the house. Vary your routine, keep it interesting but be consistent. Always end your training sessions on a positive note with the dog performing a task successfully. Always lavish enthusiastic physical and verbal praise. I always end training sessions with a verbal cue, ďYouíre Through!Ē or ďYouíre Free!!Ē and I wave my arms away from my body in a playful manor. I then always engage them in free play. I take out a favorite ball or toy and we play fetch and just happily goof around for a little while. I may toss a rope bone for them to run around with and shake in their mouths or sometimes theyíll play for a few minutes and then come to me for lots of physical touching, tongue and tail wagging, affection and a big drink of water. Itís a great way to get them used to training as routine and lots of fun. Itís something they get used to and look forward to.

Remember, dogs want to please us. They need to know exactly what it is we expect of them. They also need to rely on us for everything including fun and play! Again, be consistent. Be positive and upbeat. Be in charge. Be your dogís universe. Be your dogís best friend and playmate. Be a good leader!

When beginning any training always keep your dog on a leash. I prefer a six foot lead attached to a standard nylon snap release collar. Basic beginning commands can be easily taught to most dogs using this type of standard equipment. Corrections will be inevitable and can be applied using this type of collar and lead. Youíll work up to commands that will require a longer lead. Never work your dog off lead until you are certain heís 100% reliable. Donít give him the opportunity to fail miserably, itís confusing to the dog and totally frustrating for you. Donít be discouraged if you need to back up and repeat lessons. They can hit a wall and your patience and perseverance will pay off for you both. You may decide to investigate other avenues of humane correction. Choke collars when worn and used properly do not choke! The correction is a quick snap meant to get the dogís attention. Please learn the proper way to use this chain collar before you put it on your dog. Electronic Collars deliver an unpleasant sensation, again, to get the dogís attention and get him to comply. Never leave any type of correction collar on your dog outside of controlled training sessions! Positive reinforcement after any negative correction is monumental to your dogís success, and your success as the leader and teacher. Investigate all avenues before resorting to a choke chain (or pronged) collar or e-collar and be properly trained in their applications. They do have their place in correcting certain behaviors.

Consult with a professional if you arenít clear about methods, equipment, corrections, rewards or where to start. Your dog needs you to be confident.

Most of all, make it fun, have fun and enjoy watching your dog blossom into an obedient, trustworthy, proud and confident loving companion. Itís a rewarding and gratifying endeavor! Itís the most valuable gift you can ever give your dog.


By Linda Vanator
Copyright 2003

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post #2 of 59 (permalink) Old 09-29-2003, 08:46 PM
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Deja, I just read this whole thing! Thank you so much for posting it, there is a TON of good information in the article!


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post #3 of 59 (permalink) Old 09-29-2003, 09:42 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you Capn'! I'm going to keep going with them, starting on working with the basic commands and getting into behaviorial issues, problem solving....
it's fun! If you can think of anything you think might be interesting let me know- I'll do my best and keep on writing

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post #4 of 59 (permalink) Old 09-29-2003, 09:59 PM
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What about getting prepared to bring a puppy home? things to get ready beforehand and what a puppy needs at first attention wise? Is that too specific? i feel like you are my doggy tutor! You are named Linda? you wrote that? Wow...I am so impressed! Very professional and easy to understand!


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post #5 of 59 (permalink) Old 09-29-2003, 10:06 PM
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Psst ... Deja, PT has a featured article section ...

Stephanie

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post #6 of 59 (permalink) Old 09-29-2003, 10:24 PM Thread Starter
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Jade, when I was getting ready to post or submit this I wasn't sure where to stick it - (though I was wondering just where I was going to be told to ummm stick it ) I'll submit to the featured article section. I feel kind of dumb 'cause umm....how do I do that? I've just gotten back in to writing... once I get going you are going to want to shove a sock in my mouth

Capn' that's a great place to start! Thanks! That really is the true beginning...
That's my real name I'm so glad you enjoyed reading it. Thank you so much

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post #7 of 59 (permalink) Old 09-30-2003, 10:33 AM
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I typed this whole big reply and then lost it! (I am on huge time restrictions today due to the scrapbooking nazi!)

I liked that you yell the same command before training everytime, "Let's go work" because by now even the cats know basic phrases "It's time for snugging" peep will jump right onto the kitchen counter, "let's go watch football" and Baby girl races off to the Steeler room, "Who wants a treat" brings the cats from anywhere in the house.

Now that lead thing, how does that work? i tie a six foot something between me and the dog, and then drag him all over the house with me? What if he is tired? Oh if I want to teach him how o hit the bell, we should do that from day one every time taking the dog outside right?


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post #8 of 59 (permalink) Old 10-01-2003, 12:31 AM Thread Starter
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Capn', the lead thing is a method some people use called "Tethering". It is a leash clipped to your belt so that the dog follows you wherever you go, allows him to be in every room under your watchful eye, and makes it easy for you to pick up on cues that he has to go outside to potty. I've never used this method consistantly, I've tried it out just to see how it would work. It does! I just use other methods because they just work well for me.
Some people love it though. I think it has to be a personal decision on what methods you want to use to train- you know, what you feel comfortable with and what feels right to you.
I train and walk them on a 6 foot leash though.
When you have a small puppy I like to put his collar on right away and get him used to it. When they're so young they rarely even notice it and accept it totally within hours. I get them used to a leash by just attaching a shorter, light leash (6 feet is kind of long for a pup to be dragging around) to the collar and just let him drag it around, just letting him get used to it's existance. They'll play with it or bite on it... but they get used to it and it eliminates the leash struggles because it's not something they will view as scary or restrictive - it's just normal for them. Plus... if they are dragging a short leash around and get into something or are doing anything you don't want them to it's easy to just step on the leash (mine used to run really fast lol!) or pick it up and redirect them.
The bell on the door is great, and it's fun and cute too when they start to paw at it and you know they are *getting* what it means! You can start the jingle bells from day one. Just make sure they are big strong safe ones... I like the kind they sell around Christmas time... big huge ones attached to a strap of leather, meant to put on the door- you'll have to lower it with some strong rope or string so that he can paw or nose it when he's tiny. You just sit him in front of the door , raise his paw and jingle the bells, then take him out. They learn quick that ringing those bells means going outside. Dogs are smart. Smarter than I am most of the time

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post #9 of 59 (permalink) Old 10-01-2003, 02:39 AM
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ahhh I see! I guess if I was on the computer or something I could try the tethering...I really like the bell idea I will ahve to remember that around Christmas, to pick that up!


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post #10 of 59 (permalink) Old 10-01-2003, 07:19 AM
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What Deja what a great article! So much information and easy to read.

I have one question...Can you teach an old dog new behavior? I have Cookie whoo is 6 years old and does not know any of the basics. She is smart and I don't think she was ever taught anything by her previous owners. Well I guess I know she wasn't. Any hope for her?

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post #11 of 59 (permalink) Old 10-01-2003, 11:13 AM Thread Starter
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Laurie, absolutely! Whoever said that old phrase about not teaching old dogs..... ??? They were so wrong. I believe the same techniques can work on any age dog. Get them excited about the process, make it fun, be consistant.
I'm teaching my old dog right now - a few new tricks
All dogs perform the behaviors we desire of them naturally. They sit, lay, etc... sometimes it's just catching your pup or dog in the act (so to speak) and rewarding them - they won't be clueless about what you are so excited about for long!

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post #12 of 59 (permalink) Old 10-01-2003, 12:02 PM
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I agree Deja! When we were training Tito to come to 2 claps, Snooper (6 yrs old) picked up on it and we weren't even training her!

~ Jodi ~

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post #13 of 59 (permalink) Old 10-17-2003, 09:06 PM
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what a great thread!!! we have a battery operated door bell and have just started working Audrey and Greta with it. We've mounted it about 18" off the floor by the back door. They havent grasped the idea yet .... but it WILL work. They will do it on command but i am hoping they will do it when they want to go outside. Who knows maybe even the kitty will pick it up too.
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post #14 of 59 (permalink) Old 11-28-2003, 08:10 PM
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This is a great topic..more people need to know how important obedience training is!!!!!!!!

-Katie
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post #15 of 59 (permalink) Old 04-18-2004, 06:02 PM
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You mention using a leash, but is there anyway around that? I say this because I want to retrain some things to my 8 year old (almost) chihuahua. However, when I get the leash she thinks we are going for a walk, and I don't want to get her "hopes down".


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