Why should you take your dog to obedience classes?
Dog obedience school teaches a variety of essential commands for your dog and techniques that can be used every day to ensure you and the pooch will enjoy each other so much more.
Dogs love structure! They like having rules to follow and although they will rebel at times, if you remain consistent and do the “homework”, you will both be so much better off for the experience. You will bond even more with the extra time spent together and your dog will be welcome into so many more places as a well trained animal.
People, including family and friends, might love dogs but they don’t love being jumped up on, especially when dressed to the nines or if your best friend has been out playing in the garden and makes muddy paw prints on their nice white outfit.
So when should you start with obedience?
Obedience, generally, will start when your pup is approx. 16 weeks old. Prior to that many training schools and vets have puppy kindy. This initially starts as purely a socialisation exercise. Pups learn there are other dogs bigger and smaller and they all want to play. This is excellent for timid dogs although many nervy Pet parents nearly have a stroke when tiny Fifi is investigated by a much bigger dog. They do the smell the rear end thing that is the way they check each other out… thankfully we don’t have to do that as a meeting technique!
Staff keep an eye on proceedings and don’t let things get out of hand but its common to let them wrestle, growl, even play bite each other. It is all part of the making friends ritual. As the weeks go by the puppies learn which ones they want to play with and which just don’t appeal and owners finally relax – until a new pup arrives and fun starts again!
The training school we took our family dog to, allowed small dogs of any age to remain going to kindy to help with the puppies of the future. The bigger pups went and graduated to obedience where they learn to properly sit, stay, drop and heel. It is important to remember that puppies are like little kids; they are uncoordinated, easily distracted and clumsy so have patience as they try and learn new skills. Practice at home is vital at this stage.
There are some breeds of dog that are just created for this environment – eg Border Collies are great trainers as they are bred to decipher signals and do what is asked of them. Beagles, bassets, boxers are not generally known to be blessed with the obedience gene but with patience and training they will get it, just probably not geared to agility competitions.
Years ago I was sitting on the grass watching the experienced dogs/owners go through their paces after our dog had finished her class. One of the dogs, a Border Collie amazed me with how good it was at following commands without a leash on but totally under it’s owners control.
I asked her, how long it took and her reply was consistent training over a couple of years, but the combination of the dog and it’s training actually saved it’s life. As a young pup, playing in the park with a ball – picture it, ball gets thrown, starts to roll towards busy road, pup follows enthusiastically.
Owner shouts out “Drop”, dog immediately drops to the ground, ball rolls onto road and is squashed by oncoming car. That could easily have collected the dog had it ignored the command and stuck with the fun option of the ball however Dog lies in wait for owner to come by, give some praise and perhaps a treat.
So obedience training saves lives as well. There really isn’t a reason not to do it, right?
Some owners, for financial reasons, or just because they think they have the knowledge will try and DIY. This can work if consistency with training remains. Kids can help but to get the job done, an adult must do the training itself. Dogs don’t really “respect” kids and although they will love them as playmates, they wont listen to what the kids say –regardless if its right or not.
Once dog is trained and can do the basics (sit, stay, drop, heel) well and all the time you can let the kids learn how to take the dog for a walk in the park (on a lead please!).
Leash –free parks are great for the dogs however the rules of the parks are generally that dogs must remain under control of their owners. This basically says that you need to have your dog trained to come when you call – something only well trained dogs will do and even then, not all the time. Other dogs, smells and water can be more fun than doing what they are meant to do.
My advice is, start young, and be consistent with training and you and your dog will lead a very happy life together.
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