Stages of Dog Obedienceby Louise Lawson
Teaching your dog to be obedient is one of the best things you can do for her. Obedience builds a strong foundation of trust and helps you communicate more effectively with your dog. Obedience skills range from puppy to advanced, and knowing the various stages will help you determine the right skill set to teach your furry friend.
The foundation of dog obedience training begins as soon as your puppy comes home. Acclimating your puppy to a collar or harness, teaching him to walk calmly on a leash, and getting him used to human touch are all basic skills that every obedient dog must know. Focus skills also are essential to future training because they teach the dog to watch you and look for cues. Socialization is another important facet of your puppy’s growth and development. Enroll him in a puppy play class, or take him on frequent trips to the dog park to introduce him to new people and situations.
Basic obedience encompasses simple skills, such as sit, down, come and stay. These skills are necessary to move onto more advanced obedience training, and are the framework for more complicated commands. Obedience should be a fun game instead of a chore, and many classes focus on keeping the mood upbeat and exciting for you and your dog. Basic obedience continues the socialization learned as a puppy, teaching him to remain calm and relaxed in any situation.
Intermediate obedience classes focus on perfecting basic obedience skills and introducing more complex exercises. Intermediate skills also include proofing of previously learned commands, such as increasing the duration of the “stay” or moving out of sight during a “down” exercise. Trick training is another facet of intermediate obedience, and tricks, such as rolling over or picking the right toy out of a pile, are simpler to teach once your dog has a handle on basic obedience skills.
Advanced obedience training is reserved for dogs that have mastered intermediate skills. The highest level of obedience training is focused on perfecting the dog’s skills, ensuring that he is stable and will follow your commands under any type of distraction. Many advanced dogs transition into competitive obedience, which prepares them to compete in sanctioned obedience trials. In these trials, the dog and handler are required to perform a set of maneuvers, and are judged based on how accurately they perform. Competitive obedience skills include difficult commands, such as scent discrimination and retrieve over hurdles.
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