In our private basic obedience classes at Alaska Dog Works we address commands such as; sit, come, stay, down, wait, and loose leash walking. These commands are outlined for you on homework sheets and you are shown how to teach your dog these commands. It’s a simple concept. After about eight weeks you are invited to try out your new skills in a group setting. Group is set up to test your new skills, your dogs’ new skills and your ability as a “team” to remain focused. Some of our students are invited to group class after just two private classes because they are already showing focus as a team.
Every once in a while we notice that our teams aren’t having fun, they have reached a plateau in their training and they are no longer having fun. This goes for the dog and their handler. That’s when we remind our handlers why they got a dog in the first place. Dogs are fun! Teaching them to be obedient is supposed to be fun too. Obedience classes can be stressful not only to your dog who is now being asked to sit when you say, but to you as well. There will be times when you ask your dog to sit and they will just flat refuse. Remember our article “Win All Games”; and choose how to win the game.
Part of our job as trainers is to teach you how to identify when your dog is no longer learning. We do this by constantly observing his behavior during play, training, and just by how they are interacting with you. Your dog will tell you when they don’t like something, tell you when they are stressed, and they will tell you when they just want to goof off. No they won’t speak it to you but they will communicate by using their body language.
Say for instance, you notice that your dog is refusing to do commands that you know full and well he is capable of performing the first time you ask. Do not become compulsive in your training style here, instead take a moment and think about the energy you are putting off, change your attitude, uplift your spirits and see if your dog reacts. If he still is refusing to perform the commands you are asking him to do then turn your training session into a game.
A simple game of come, yes come can be a game. We have spoken about fetch being a great way to teach your dog while having fun, but there are times when fetch turns into keep-away because your dog isn’t in the mood to get a ball for you.
Here’s how we do it: while on leash at first to maintain control, sit/stay your dog and then go six feet in front of him, call him to you in the happiest voice you can muster, as he approaches you give him the sit hand signal and then praise. Repeat four or five times and then begin dropping the leash and adding distance. You are in constant motion moving backwards and your dog is in constant motion moving forward. We utilize treats, toys, or just ourselves during this game. If this is not something you do with your dog often it will surprise him and he will become more receptive to doing those commands that he was refusing to do. Sit is easy, what if he is refusing to do down, no problem, when he comes to you ask him to sit and then down and then return him to sit before leaving him again.
After about ten minutes of this you and your dog will have completed a great training session that has worked on sit, down, stay, and come. Viola! It’s that easy! So we challenge you to get up off that coach and challenge your dog to a game. Game On!