Important steps to maintain a healthy relationship with your dog
Dog obedience training is an important part of your dog's socialization. It establishes a way for you and your pet to communicate with each other. After dog obedience training, your dog knows what is expected and feels more secure. Giving your dog praise when he obeys will not only reinforce the behavior, but will show your acceptance.
The term "obedience" covers standard commands of "no," "sit," "stay," "down," and "heel." It does not solve all behavior problems, but if started early can prevent problems.
Naturally Pack Animals
Dogs are by nature pack animals, and do not naturally understand how to behave in our human environment. Their natural instincts are to run, bark, chew, and dominate other pack members. Obedience training is a step to help direct the dog's natural behavior in appropriate and safe ways.
As pack animals, dogs look for a pack member to be the leader. If the owner does not take the leader role, the dog will. Through obedience training, the dog understands that the owner is the pack leader. Learning to obey your commands requires the dog to acknowledge your dominance.
Establishing dominance may be an uncomfortable idea to an owner, but the owner is responsible for keeping his or her pet safe. An untrained and disobedient dog can find himself in trouble or hurt. An unruly dog may run out the door and into the street, fight with other dogs, or even attack people.
Where to start
Dog obedience training classes are often available at local humane societies and at local pet stores. Classes are often helpful to learn the basics, but practice must continue at home. Buying a dog obedience training book written by a reputable author or the American Kennel Club is a good investment.
Praise is an important part of an effective training program. While it is important to be firm and to expect obedience, you must give praise for all positive behavior. Even if the dog sits only for a few seconds, you must give praise. The praise can be a "Good dog," a pat on the head, or even a treat. The type is not important; giving and receiving the reward is what matters.
Once you are working well together with your pet in class or at home, you should begin to expose your dog to new situations. Your dog needs to learn to obey even when there are real world distractions. Practicing obedience training in public places or when you have company is a good progress test.
Dog obedience training requires time and commitment, but the rewards of having a well-behaved dog are well worth the work.