How to Train Your Dog to Be Obedient

Easy
2-7 Days
General

Introduction

Basic obedience is about teaching your dog good manners, and keeping the dog safe and under control. Quite simply, not everyone is a fan of dogs. Imagine the scenario in a park and your dog runs up to a toddler and bowls them over. The child creams and irate parents push the dog away. He then thinks this is a great game and bounces and jumps even more. The situation rapidly spirals out of control and could end in threats to call the police...when all the dog wanted was to play.

Not everyone understands the difference between a playful dog and an aggressive one, so to avoid confusion it's essential your dog is obedient to your commands. The good news is that using reward-based training methods means the dog is eager to be obedient as he realizes good things happen when he does as requested.

Reward-based training represents a quantum leap forward in dog obedience. Older training methods that rely on dominating the dog have no place in today's world and are not only outdated, but flawed to their very core. With this in mind, let's find out more about how to train your dog to be obedient while having fun at the same time.

Defining Tasks

Obedience is about having the dog respond promptly to your commands. Key to training this skill for life is to motivate the dog so that he's eager to respond. This is the principle on which reward-based training methods rest.

There is, however, a fine line between rewarding a dog's good behavior and bribing him. The difference depends on expecting the dog to work harder over time, before he earns his reward. In practical terms, this means phasing out food rewards and making them less predictable, as the dog gets the hang of what he's expected to do.

Rewards take different forms for different dogs. If you have a food motivated dog then congratulations, because you can use tiny morsels of treats as a reward. For those dogs less enthusiastic about food, try rewarding him with a game with a favorite toy or simply with lavish praise. All dogs have something they are prepared to work for, so it's a matter of identifying what does it for your dog.

From puppy to adult or senior, no dog is too young or too old to benefit from reward-based training. However, always keep training sessions fun and not overly long so as to tire the dog. Several shorter sessions in a day are better than one long training episode. And as a rule, end each lesson with a command the dog knows and has mastered, so you can praise him and end on a high.

Getting Started

When getting started, train in a quiet place with few distractions so that the dog's focus is on you. If training outdoors, then a collar and leash are beneficial to stop the dog running off. You'll also need to work out what motivates your dog to work, be that a food treat, toy, or fuss.

The basics for getting going include:

  • Collar and leash
  • Training treats and a pouch to keep them in
  • Patience

When using food rewards, be sure to keep them teeny-tiny. The dog should get no more than a taste in the mouth, or else training will be constantly interrupted by the dog settling down to chomp his way down through a large biscuit.

Also, consider having a basic food reward (such as some of his kibble) plus a super tasty treat (a cube of cheese or sausage) for that extra special reward when he does something particularly well.


The Reward Based Training Method

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Reward Based Training method for Be Obedient
Step
1
The concept
Reward based training works by rewarding good behavior so that the dog wants to repeat the action in order to earn the treat.
Step
2
Teach 'sit' on command
Hold a treat in front of the puppy's nose so he can sniff but not eat it.
Step
3
Follow the treat
Keeping the treat near his nose to hold his interest, describe a shallow arc in the air, over the dog's head
Step
4
Encourage his butt to drop
As the dog's head follows the treat, his butt should naturally drop to the ground.
Step
5
Label the behavior
As soon as his butt hits the deck, label the behavior "sit".
Step
6
Give the reward
Now give the treat to reward the sit.
Step
7
Reward
Work on this several times in a row. Ultimately, you can start saying "Sit" a fraction earlier, so the dog starts to anticipate what he needs to do to earn the treat.
Step
8
Lose the treat
Over time, stop rewarding every "Sit" and give a treat for every second or third response. This stops complacency and keeps the dog working to earn the reward.
Recommend training method?

The Clicker Training Method

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Clicker Training method for Be Obedient
Step
1
The concept
Clicker training works by teaching the dog that ‘click-clack’ means he's earned a treat. You then label the desired action by clicking, which tells the dog exactly what he did that earned the reward. But first you must get the dog linking ‘click-clack’ to treats.
Step
2
Scatter treats
Throw a handful of treats on the floor
Step
3
Click as he eats
As the dog eats the treats, click each time he picks one up.
Step
4
Scatter individual treats
Now toss one treat at a time on the floor. As he eats the treat, click.
Step
5
Click and wait
Now try clicking and see if the dog looks at the floor. If he does, then he has made the mental leap between click and a treat. Give him a reward.
Step
6
Click to label
Now try teaching "Sit" as in the Reward Based Training method. Only this time, click as soon as his butt hits the floor. Then give the reward.
Step
7
Phase out the treats
Clicker training allows you to tell the dog the exact moment he acts correctly. This allows you to lay down an IOU-one-treat on that action. Ultimately, this allows you to string actions together before giving a food reward.
Recommend training method?

The Handling Bad Behavior Method

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Handling Bad Behavior method for Be Obedient
Step
1
Ignore bad behavior
Try not to shout or punish bad behavior. This only makes him fearful and may make him wary of you.
Step
2
A short, sharp "No"
If the dog does something dangerous that needs instant reproof, then a short sharp "No" labels the action as unacceptable.
Step
3
Don't go chasing
Be aware that chasing after a dog to retrieve that stolen slipper, only makes this into a game and he learns it's a great way to get attention
Step
4
Use a distraction technique
Instead, distract the dog with another, more interesting behavior. Get his favorite squeaky toy and squeak it to get his attention. Make the toy far more appealing than the slipper, so that the drops the latter. Then reward the dog with a game of tug with his toy.
Step
5
Withdraw attention
Most dogs are attention junkies, and don't mind being told off if it makes them the center of attention. If the dog is being naughty and has stopped listening to you, then make sure he is in a safe place and leave him alone. Withdrawing attention sends out a powerful message that the fun stops if he misbehaves.
Step
6
Reward an alternate behavior
And last but not least, give a command you know the dog will obey such as "Sit". Then you can reward this good behavior, and distract him away from naughtiness.
Step
7
Plenty of exercise
Bored dogs or those with too much energy are apt to behave badly. Short cut this by providing plenty of exercise and mental stimulation.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Mr. Brown
Pomapoo
1 Year
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Question
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Mr. Brown
Pomapoo
1 Year

What is your opinion of the Canine Good Citizen test? Some of the tests seem to repress a dog's natural instincts. For example, my dog likes to greet friendly strangers with a little jump. This has never caused any problem, but is grounds for failing the CGC test. Another habit considered poor manners is excessively sniffing the ground. But I also believe dogs should naturally explore their environment. I guess the CGC test is not for everyone. Thoughts?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
150 Dog owners recommended

Hello Eugene, The Canine Good Citizen test is a phenomenal test. If you want to train your dog to do highly skilled task work, like bomb sniffing, Service Dog work, Therapy Dog Work, Conformation Obedience, Search and Rescue work, and more, a dog has to be able to ignore other dogs unless given permission to greet, not jump up, heel properly, ect... With that said, your dog is yours to train and if you don't want to participate in activities that require those skills and like for your dog to do certain behaviors that the CGC test excludes, it is entirely up to you whether or not to train those skills. I personally allow my dogs to do a couple of things that other trainers would not simply because I enjoy my dogs more that way. That's the beauty of training, you decide what you want to teach and then take the time and spend the effort teaching the behaviors you want that make your life more enjoyable for you and your dog. An Intermediate Obedience class might be a better fit for you if you feel uncertain about the CGC. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Carter Young
Shorkie Tzu
7 Months
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Carter Young
Shorkie Tzu
7 Months

My dog won’t srop whining , and I can’t figure out what’s wrong with him .

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
150 Dog owners recommended

Hello Zahira, If the whining is continuous and recent, even when he has all of his needs met, then he might need to be evaluated by a vet to see if he is in pain. He could also be whining to get attention if it is happening when you are ignoring him, crating him, or leave the room. To test this, see if the whining stops when you interact with him. He might he whining because he hears something outside and is excited or anxious about it. If that is the case, then a change in location, where he won't hear the same things should help you test that. Without being there in person it is difficult to evaluate. If the whining is recent or continuous, then I suggest visiting your vet. If you still can't discover the cause of the whining, I suggest hiring a private trainer to come evaluate him for you to help you determine what's going on. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Rollie
ShihTzu
10 Years
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Rollie
ShihTzu
10 Years

My dog has and uses his doggie door frequently all day, yet he sometimes will pee indoors. No matter what I do he won't stop.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
150 Dog owners recommended

Hello Vanessa, Has the issue been happening just this past year or his whole life? If the issue has been going on for his whole life, then he has created a very strong habit of peeing inside, and close supervision with him tethered to you when loose, confinement in a crate when you cannot watch him, taking him outside to go potty on a leash every time, rewarding him with treats for going potty outside, or teaching him to go potty on a disposable real grass pad in an exercise pen are your options that are most likely to work. If the issue is recent, it is likely due to a health complication due to his age, such as mental decline that makes it hard for him to remember and find his way outside, failing eye sight that confuses him, arthritis that makes him hesitant to walk all the way outside, urinary incontinence that makes it hard for him to hold his bladder long enough to get outside to go potty. If the issue is recent, then I suggest having your vet check for any medical issues due to age, or a urinary tract infection. If the issue is not something that can be treated, you may need to transition him to using a real grass pad in an exercise pen inside to help him make it to the bathroom, or taking him outside more often on leash on a schedule before the urge to go potty hits him. If you end up needing to transition him to an indoor grass pad, check out the article that I have linked below and follow the "Exercise Pen" method. For him you would keep one exercise pen with a grass pad up, instead of removing the pen eventually. He will likely need to visual reminder of the pen to help him locate the pad. The article below was written for litter box training but you can use it for grass pads also by simply susbtituting the litter box for a grass pad. https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy Example of real grass pad: https://www.amazon.com/Fresh-Patch-Disposable-Potty-Grass/dp/B005G7S6UI/ref=asc_df_B005G7S6UI/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=309763115430&hvpos=1o1&hvnetw=g&hvrand=2245085113648406326&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=m&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=1015431&hvtargid=pla-568582223506&psc=1 Amazon also carrier real grass pads. Porch Potty makes a more expensive, high quality one for longer term use as well. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Temoc
Labrador Retriever
2 Years
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Question
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Temoc
Labrador Retriever
2 Years

Our 70 lb dog jumps excitedly and is mouthy sometimes when we get home or when he meets new people. He'll open his mouth around your arm - not aggressively and doesn't bite down but it can hurt! What can we do to curb this bad behavior?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
150 Dog owners recommended

Hello Whitney, Check out the article that I have linked below and follow the "Step Toward" method if you are able to with her size. Be firm and mean business with this. Also, put your arms behind your back and stand tall like a drill sergeant when you do this. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-australian-shepherds-to-not-jump If she is too large to use the step toward method, then check out the article that I have linked below and move onto correcting the jumping, combined with rewarding sitting once she stops jumping. You can also go straight to this method. This method tends to take two people to work as effectively, so you and a family member can take turns holding the leash when the other comes home, to practice this. For this training to work, you will likely need to use a prong collar with a leash. A quality prong collar is rounded on the ends of the prongs and the prongs are at an angle so that the prongs create an even squeeze on the dog's neck and do not dig into the dog's neck straight down. They look harsh because of the design but are actually one of the least harmful corrective devices because they go not require a lot of pressure on the neck to be noticed by the dog and the sensation is more of a squeeze than a hard bump, like a choke collar would be. A prong collar needs to be fitted correctly to be the least harmful and used properly. Check out the second video below for how to properly fit a prong collar. Jumping video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=TaF7vQU3k4E Collar fitting video: https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=how+to+fit+a+prong+collar+jeff+gelmman&docid=608026187740874131&mid=09342BBDF7268CF2C70F09342BBDF7268CF2C70F&view=detail&FORM=VIREHT For the mouthing, check out the article that I have linked below and teach her the "Leave It" command from the "Leave It" method and use that command when she attempts to mouth or looks like she is thinking about mouthing. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Scrap
Feist
2 Years
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Scrap
Feist
2 Years

Hello! So glad you guys are doing this now! Ok so I have a few questions. Some minor, some not.

1) how do I slow his eating down? I've used slow feeding bowls, bowl balls, smaller portioned intervals but he just dives in and inhales it and then trolls for my other dogs food. He's 26lbs and gets a half cup of Rachel Ray's Nutrish 2 times a day, 8 to 12 hrs apart.

2) he's a poop eater! I've tried coprophagia powder or meat tenderizer in his food, pineapple, etc. I've even sprayed his poop with butter apple spray or hot sauce before and doesn't phase him. I've if he poops in the house he eats it. Whether it's because he likes it, he's hungry or he's trying to hide it to avoid getting I trouble I do not know.

3) massive anxiety! It's gotten better but when I come home and let them out of their crates or when someone comes over he is uncontrollable. Screaming and barking very loud and high pitched. HThat wouldn't bother me so much if I wasn't an apartment dweller and have neighbors to worry about. This is usually accompanied with excited peeing which is also embarrassing with guests and bad on my carpet. The crazy thing is he knows the basic commands (sit, stay, lay down, come) but when he gets excited it all goes out the door.

Clearly I need help and I'm sorry for the long msg but I'm just in need of help and trainers are so expensive. I know I could do it with the right information. Thank you!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
150 Dog owners recommended

Hello Corey, First of all I would rule out weight and nutrition issues because both of those things can lead to acting starving and eating poop. Parasites are one possible cause, especially tape worms because they steal your dog's food and can make the dog very hungry and and not prevented through common work prevention pills. Look for rice sized, tape like pieces of off-white colored worm sections in your dog's poop or have your vet do a stool sample for that and any other worms he suggests. Also, evaluate him to make sure he is eating enough. Dogs can have different metabolisms so feeding guidelines sometimes need to be adjusted to add more or less food. Check out the links below and look at the charts and descriptions for how to tell if a dog is an ideal weight. Many charts are more worried about over-feeding so just pay attention to him not being underfed from the article information. He is naturally a thin breed and I cannot tell from pictures if he is too thin or a healthy weight (and am not a vet) so I am not suggesting he is too thin from pictures, simply stating that could be one cause for the poop eating and fast eating. https://www.dummies.com/pets/dogs/how-to-evaluate-your-dogs-weight/ https://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/dog-feeding-tips/dog-ideal-weight/ If you rule out weight, worms, or another nutritional deficiency, then you can tackle the issue from a training point. If underlying issues aren't addressed then the issues won't get better though. For the fast eating, I suggest purchasing a large Kong wobble toy and feeding him his meals out of that or by stuffing hollow chew toys for him. Feed him where other dogs cannot steal it from him. If you feed him from chew toys, then a crate is the best place to feed him to give him a place to relax and eat, and prevent him from stealing other's food. A crate is a great place to feed almost any dog...it has the added benefit of helping a dog like his crate. For the poop eating, you can also try feeding him a bit of pumpkin, but picking up the poop and addressing any health issues if present (like worms) is the only sure fire way to stop what has become a habit. You need to break the habit long enough for him to get out of the mindset of doing it. Some dogs do it because of unmet nutritional needs and other simply do it for fun. For the anxiety, check out the video that I have linked below and follow the protocol for how to let a dog out of a crate. Also check out the second video and teach him the "Place" command. That command is very useful for teaching anxious dogs how to cope and calm themselves down. Finally, pay attention to the type of structure demonstrated in the third video I have linked below, to help with general anxiety. How to teach Crate: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mn5HTiryZN8 How to teach Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo General tips for adding more structure to help with anxiety. Anxious dogs tend to need a lot of structure, calmness and confidence from you, and clear direction. You can interrupt an anxious dogs anxious state of mind to help the dog choose a better behavior and then calmly let the dog know that you like the new behavior. https://youtu.be/g-VJXhM0iJo Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Maximus
Siberian Husky
9 Weeks
0 found helpful
Question
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Maximus
Siberian Husky
9 Weeks

Potty training has been really hard. He prefers to poop and pee inside and I really want to get this potty training under control and so I don’t have to stalk him around the house and outside. Any advice.

Also, if you know of a good dog food brand that’s good for husky pups please can you share that as well 🤗

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
150 Dog owners recommended

Hello Jasmine, I highly suggest crate training. The crate will encourage his natural desire to hold his bladder in a confined space, which will help him associate that with your house. It will also only give him the opportunity to pee outside. Since the only time that he will be free inside is when is bladder is empty. Be aware that puppies can only physically hold their bladders for the number of months they are in age plus one while awake - and that's a maximum amount of time. This means that he cannot physically hold his bladder for longer than 2-3 hours. To be successful with potty training at this age, he needs to be taken outside every 1-1.5 hours. That number will increase by one every month. By four months, he will be able to hold his bladder for 4-5 hours, but again, he should still be taken out sooner than that so that his bladder doesn't get too full and risk having an accident. Check out the article that I have linked below and follow the Crate Training method. You can also use the Tethering method when you are home, if you are very careful to supervise him and simply want him to be with you more, but honestly the "Crate Training" method tends to be the most straight-forward and effective for potty training. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Chloe
Goldendoodle
5 Months
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Question
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Chloe
Goldendoodle
5 Months

Our dog doesn't seem to be picking up the "stay" or "come here" commands. She understands the game when we're doing training, but those commands don't seem to register beyond the short training sessions where we have treats. Any advice?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
150 Dog owners recommended

Hello Madeleine, It sounds like she simply needs more practice around distractions. Basic Obedience is all about simply teaching your dog what English (or other language) commands mean. Period. Intermediate Obedience is about teaching your dog to perform the commands they already learned in Basic Obedience around distractions. Just because your dog understands what the word "Stay" means that doesn't mean she can perform it around distractions yet. Take time practicing it around distractions. Start with easy distractions first, and gradually work up to harder ones as she gets better. For the Come check out the article that I have linked below and follow the "Reel In" method. Again practice it around easy distractions, like your front yard, first and work up to harder places, like the park, as she improves. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall Do the same thing with Stay. First practice somewhere easy using a long leash (hide the treats behind your back or in your pocket so that she is not being bribed by them but is more surprised when she gets one). Tell her to "Stay" and take a couple of steps back. If she pops up, rush toward her with the palm of your hand toward her like a stop sign (this naturally makes her back up a bit and helps her learn not to get up). Gently guide her back into the Stay position without repeating the command (unless you think she forgot it or it's been a while since you told her), then try backing up again. You'll notice about how far you can get before she breaks her stay, try to return to her before she breaks the stay and reward her for doing well. Only let her get up when you say "Okay", and not just because you returned or gave her a treat. Don't always let her up when you return, practice backing up again sometimes to keep her guessing. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Henry
hound mix
2 Years
0 found helpful
Question
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Henry
hound mix
2 Years

Our dog is a rescue. He is very needy for attention, if you give him a pet or sometimes if you just sit down on the couch, he is immediately leaning on you, under your feet, trying to get in your lap and in the way. How do we teach him to give space instead of invading peoples space constantly? It makes guests uncomfortable and frustrates us.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
150 Dog owners recommended

Hello Hanna, Teach Henry a Place command and have him practice that for long periods of time and around distractions. Place is also good for building his independence. Also, teach him an "Out" command, which means leave the area. To teach Place check out the video below. https://youtu.be/omg5DVPWIWo To teach "Out", first, call him to you, tell him "Out" while you toss a treat away from you and point to where you toss with your treat tossing hand's index finger. Use large enough treats for him to see where you tossed it. After he leaves you and eats the treat, tell him "Okay" and encourage him to come back. Repeat the "Out", treat toss, and pointing toward where you tossed it. Practice this until he starts to go where you pointed when you say "Out" even if you haven't throw the treat yet. This takes most dogs about a week of practicing a bit every day. When he will go where you point before you throw the treat, then as soon as he moves toward that direction, toss the treat in that area. Practice this in different areas when he can do it in the first location. After he understands what "Out" means, use it in real life. If he obeys and leaves when you tell him to without coming right back unless told "Okay" then toss a treat to where he is. If he disobeys or tries to come right back (which he likely will), get in front of him, and walk toward him, herding him out of the area until he backs out of that area. Picture yourself like a brick wall or drill sergeant when you do this. Your attitude is calm and firm - not angry but meaning business. It's okay if you have to walk into him a bit. He can backup. Once he is out of the area, stand in front of him until he stops trying to get past you, stops looking like he's trying to go back to the area he left (looking area still), or until he leaves completely. When he gives up, go back to where you were before. If he tries to follow you without being told "Okay", tell him "Ah Ah" to let him know that's incorrect and walk toward him again. Repeat walk back to where you were and walking toward him as many times as it takes for him to stop trying to come back over there. When you want him to return, tell him "Okay". He needs to learn some self-control, how to give space, and to understand when he shouldn't be in someone's space. You can use these commands for all of that. Structure and boundaries can also help in general. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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