When you bring home a new canine, whether it’s a puppy or a grown dog, you will need to start basic obedience training. There is a lot you can do at home, but if you’re not experienced and confident in your skills, then taking a class will be one of the best investments you can make. For around $100, you can learn a few basic skills that will change your years with your dog. A well-trained dog and an out-of-control dog are two different creatures. Which one you end up living with is up to you.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when you are training your dog. First of all, it is better to master a few fundamentals than to teach many different commands in a mediocre way. If you have a dog that will come when called, sit on command, and stay there, and will do it reliably, then you have a well-trained dog. A dog that “kinda” knows 50 commands if you can get its attention, is not a well-trained dog. The point of obedience is to have a dog under your control at all times, so that you can curb destructive behaviors, keep it out of danger, and prevent the nuisance factor.
When you do learn the techniques for a few basic commands, the important thing is to practice them over and over, in increasingly distracting situations. It’s no big deal to get your dog to come when you call if you’re in the house alone. It’s a completely different thing to call your dog back from a busy street after you’ve dropped the leash and a cat has just run across the road, dog in hot pursuit. You must carefully control the training situations, because if you set the dog up for failure by unrealistic expectations, you will weaken the discipline of training, not strengthen it. So don’t take your dog to the dog park and try to call it to you a week after you start training this command.
To find classes, try looking for community center courses or classes at your local humane society. Make sure that your class offers positive reinforcement training methods. Not only are these the most forgiving of errors (yours and the dog’s), they are also far more pleasant for both of you, increasing the likelihood that you will stick with it. If you are looking for private training, you can expect to pay more, but you might decide that it’s worth it. Just beware of red flags. Choke-chain methods are one, “guarantees” are another. The effectiveness of training depends more on your consistency than anything. And every dog reacts differently. So no one can truly “guarantee” results. It’s essentially up to you