In the last blog, entitled Dog Obedience Training! Do I have to be a “Dog Whisperer”?, we discussed the importance of consistency in training. And no, you don’t have to be a dog whisperer or professional trainer in order to have a well-behaved dog.

You do have to set yourself and your dog up for success. Start your dog obedience training in a closed environment, with little to no distractions. This environment is ideal to start off leash dog training. You want to keep control of their focus, which will be easier if you keep sessions short and make it fun, with lots of praise and enthusiasm. Once they are focused on you and consistently performing the behavior well, take it to the next level. Go into the living room with the TV on. Once you have success there, go into the backyard where there are more but limited distractions. Next may be the front yard. Remember to never do off leash dog obedience training in any open environment. No matter how good they are doing we don’t want to risk them running after a distraction like a squirrel or a cat.

If an environment turns out to be too much (you might barely get them to look at you let alone obey a command), take a step back to the last environment where you were successful. We do this all the way to the point where they can sit and focus on you even when outside a dog park. And remember, set them up for success. Make yourself the most exciting thing out there. If you can’t get focus and obedience, don’t keep saying a command. Give a command you are sure they can follow and then release them, and then stop for the time being. It’s time to take a break.

 

outdoor dog obedience training
“Every adventure I take with my puppy Miah turns into some sort of training trying to get her to pose just right. Sometimes, having a little help from others can make the scene so much more mesmerizing.” Photo by Wyatt Ryan

 

Eventually, you will be able to get focus and obedience even inside of a dog park, which can be a good place to do more off leash dog training. But remember that even in a dog park, you have to pay attention to your dog and what’s happening at all times. Too many people go to the dog park and are on their phone or distracted talking to other dog owners rather than making sure the dogs are all ok.

Positive reinforcement or reward-based training is great in dog obedience training, meaning that they obey the command and they get a reward, be it a treat, love, and attention, or the opportunity to play with you like with a tug toy. Play is a huge part to success.

 

Full moon kayak adventure tour
Join us on an outstanding full moon adventure on the Catawba River at Tailrace Marina.

 

Most importantly, keep sessions short, fun and positive for both of you. Training is as much about building and strengthening your relationship with your dog as it is about them following commands. Make sure that you stop the session before your dog loses interest and then reward them with a good play session. Training sessions should always start and end with play. Then training itself becomes a reward and they look forward to it. It’s all part of setting them up for success.

Lastly, dogs learn at different speeds and in different ways just like people. Don’t get discouraged and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Even the best and most successful trainers still take seminars and ask for help from others. To achieve success in dog obedience training, we can’t let pride get in the way.


My experience is that many of us get a dog because we desire that sidekick that accompanies us everywhere, sitting patiently outside of shops or work or school for us to come out for another chance to be with us. My dog Max was that way. It came relatively easy, not because I’m some sort of dog whisperer or expert at dog obedience training, but because Max and I spent a year traveling right after I got him, and we were constantly together.

In order to be able to really have that kind of relationship with your dog, you have to invest a lot of time and energy. Even after a lot of dog obedience training they will likely be far from perfect but will be surprisingly easy to deal with, whether you are traveling on your own or with us at Happy Tails Canine Adventure Tours. Whether staying at pet friendly hotels, flying with your dog, or exploring amazing new places like the U.S. National Whitewater Center or Dog Friendly Asheville, or simply having them relax calmly next to us while we eat at a great dog friendly restaurant, dog obedience training is the most rewarding and most important gift that you could give to your dog, and to yourself.

 

Full moon kayak adventure tour
Join us on an outstanding full moon adventure on the Catawba River at Tailrace Marina.

 

Traveling with your dog is a great way to deepen that relationship including your communication, and that’s a big part of why we created Happy Tails Tours. But for most people with a limited amount of vacation time, they will have to start at home before hitting the road. There are different modalities or schools of thought in dog training, and again, you do not have to be a dog whisperer! Any good dog trainer that you work with will be able to give you a “set of tools” or techniques that require little to no expertise as long as you use the tools correctly and consistently. So whether you are a proponent of positive reinforcement training (such as clicker training), a follower of the dog whisperer, or any other method or combination of techniques, the key is to commit 100% and follow through.

The most important thing is consistency. Dogs are going to constantly test you both during dog obedience training and throughout their life. As hard as it can be, our rules have to be non-negotiable in order to achieve success. If you don’t want them to beg at the table, you can never break the rule of not feeding them at the table. You could enforce it 9 times out of ten, but that tenth will let them know that there’s always a chance that this time could be that one time when begging and bad behavior pays off. The same goes for any other rule. If you tell them to sit, they need to sit. If you don’t follow through, then they will think to themselves, “It’s ok, she isn’t serious. I’ll do it next time.” And if you have to tell them twice, or as some people do, five times, then they learn that “I don’t have to sit until the 5th time.” Or “…until he gets that loud voice.” Sound familiar? I know enough from my own experience with our three dogs that I could probably write more on dog obedience training don’ts and mistakes than on what to do.

So the question is how do we get consistency. It starts with the simple basics and in my next blog, I’ll go into detail, such as the importance of setting your dog and thus yourself up for success!


More in Dog Travel Tips

[su_posts template=”templates/teaser-loop.php” posts_per_page=”5″ tax_term=”100,86″ order=”desc”]