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Dog Obedience: The Basics

Teaching basic obedience skills to a dog can be exciting as well as challenging. Having problems on where to begin? Start by doing your homework. A student can only be as good as his trainer, right?

The first lesson in obedience is to get your dog to pay attention to the commands. You want to start by calling his name and then using a keyword like 'watch' or 'look' afterwards. This way, he will associate the words to a command. Once you've got his attention, the lessons can begin.

You want your dog to be able to pay attention for a short length of time. Try keeping his attention by doing attention exercises. One example would be to hold a toy or dog treat in near your mouth and then give him the keyword command. Each time he takes the time to watch, praise him. The more you do this exercise, the more time he should be able to pay attention to you. Try getting him to watch for at least a minute. Let him know that he is doing a good job by rewarding him. Dogs learn best this way.

Because dogs have such short attention spans, they get distracted pretty easily. Choose a place that is free of other distractions such as other pets, children or loud noises. Training sessions should only last approximately 30 minutes tops. Usually, if you go over this time limit, the dog will get restless and easily distracted.

If your dog isn't learning very quickly, you may become frustrated. Don't take that frustration out on your animal. A few things to remember before starting your obedience lessons:

1) Never cause pain to your dog (this will cause him to shy away or become aggressive to you.)

2) If he begins to become distracted, change the tone of your voice (this doesn't mean raising it)

3) Consistency can not be stressed enough (animals are like children, if you're not consistent, they will become confused as to what is expected)

Teaching your dog basic obedience commands will make for a more obedient and more pleasant dog to be around.

The first command to start off with would be to sit. You must use the word sit while teaching him so that he can relate the word with the action. Start by gently pushing his backside down and saying the word 'sit'. Eventually he will catch on to the concept.

The second command is 'down'. Dogs can become pretty hyper when they get excited. Jumping up on their owner's lap is usually how they express their excitement. If you have a big dog or have other people over, you might not want them pouncing about. When they jump up, tell them 'down'. Do not pet them or act excited to see them while they are on you. Continue to tell them 'down', and even place their legs down if you have to.

Next is the command of 'stay'. This command is a good one to know especially if you have a rambunctious hyper dog. You can teach him stay, for example, by putting a treat or something desirable on the ground. As he moves toward it, tell him 'Stay'. Another good idea would be to put your hand up while saying the word 'stay'. When he begins to become obedient in this area, you can move further away from him. This will cause him to become more daring and he will probably take a step forward to see how much he can get away with. When he does this, continue to put your hand out and tell him 'stay'. He has to know that even though you are moving away, you can still see what he's doing and expect him to continue to obey.

After you've mastered the stay command, you will move on to the come command. Once your dog has learned to sit and stay, he will need a command to know when it's ok to get up and approach you. They may be a bit confused at first, but with a change in the tone of your voice, he will soon understand. Put a little excitement in your voice when saying the word 'come'. He will pick up on it. You might also want to pat your leg when you say come.

Stand is the last command to achieve. This is where your dog is allowed to get a little excited but not in a pouncing kind of way. When teaching your dog to stand, pat your hands on your chest and, once again, put a little excitement in your voice, so that he knows he's aloud, under certain circumstances. He will begin to know the difference.

Teaching your dog basic obedience, if possible, should be taught as soon as you and your dog are ready. Remember be consistent with the commands and don't forget to have fun!

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