Training Your Dog to Obey

Learning to train your dog to obey may feel a little like a psychology class, but luckily it is relatively simple and fun. The key to getting your dog to obey your commands will be a technique known as “positive reinforcement”. This entails rewarding your dog for doing the things you command him to do. Rewarding your dog does not only mean giving him a treat, but should also include gentle and reassuring petting, and nice words and body language.

The first thing you should train your dog to do should be to come to you. Let’s go over what you should do to train your dog to come to you. Start off in a safe environment with a leash, like your backyard, and call out the command clearly to your dog. The command should be the same sound every time so the dog learns to recognize that command. If your dog does not respond at all to your command, try tugging gently on the leash and walking a few steps back as your dog comes to you. As he gets closer to you give positive body language such as gestures, and repeat the command word. The most important part of this positive reinforcement training is to give the dog a treat and positive reassurance as soon as he arrives where you are at. You can repeat this 3-5 times for a training session, 2-3 times a day. It’s a good idea to keep training sessions short but more frequent as your dog may start to lose interest in the activity, making it harder to train him.

After training your dog in this way and seeing results, the next step will be to take him out for a walk on a leash. While he is interested in something, try giving the same command as you have been, and have a treat ready. If your dog doesn’t respond, try tugging on the leash. If he still doesn’t respond, it is very important that you don’t let him off the hook. Repeat the command while getting him to come to you, even if this requires some tugging. It is also very important though that you continue to use positive reassurance and body language as your dog makes progress towards you. Also remember to reward him when he arrives at your feet. This training can be done in the same frequency as described in the first step. You should see rapid progress in the response of your dog to your command, and gradually taper the reward giving as your dog gets better and better at responding. When your dog is fully trained in this command, he will obey the sound of your command no matter what and you can abandon giving him positive reinforcement in the form of a treat.

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