Back-to-school: Tips for obedience classes with your dog

All dogs are different. Some are laid back and easy-going while others rocket through the house like their tails are on fire. But regardless of your dog's personality, there's at least one thing they all have in common: they need training. Whether it's teaching them where to do their business or how to greet visitors, dogs need structure and leadership. Choosing the right type of training for your dog at the appropriate time can help ensure a safe and happy family.

Start Training Early

Most puppies are ready for beginning obedience classes at about 10 weeks old. Here they will learn basic commands like sit and stay, and also work on manners and socialization. This is also a good time to work on training that will help keep your dog safe, like staying away from the fireplace or not running through an open door.

Get the Family Involved

Although you'll want to be consistent with who takes your dog to school, all members of the household should be briefed on the dos and don'ts of training. If the verbal command for getting your dog off the sofa is "Off!" it will be confusing if some family members say, "Down!" Involvement from the entire family will help ensure a successful training experience.

Choosing the Right Type of Class

Many companies and organizations that teach dog obedience will offer a selection of classes for your dog. Most will be based on progression and allow your dog to move to the next level only after he has mastered the skills of the lower level classes. If you want to work on a specific type of behavior, like digging holes in your back yard, private classes may be more valuable than those performed in a group setting.

Consistent and Continued Reinforcement

One of the most important variables in the success of any dog's training is consistency. Obedience school for your dog at any age is a commitment that takes time and effort aside from the classes themselves. You need to be committed to taking the time necessary to practice new commands and constantly reinforce training at home, even when it's not convenient.

It's Never Too Late

We've all heard the phrase "You can't teach an old dog new tricks." But that simply is not true. We are capable of learning new things at any age, and so is your dog. It's never too late to work on your dog's behaviors, and the best time to get started is now!

Sources:

"Getting Started in Obedience," American Kennel Club

"Puppy Education," PetSmart.com

"The Top 5 Most Important Dog Training Mistakes to Avoid," TheDogTrainingSecret.com

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