Dog Obedience Matters

Dog Obedience : High Expectations Needed

Dog obedience is important for both the dog and owner to fully understand. I wanted to share video from a recent training class at That’s My Dog!. Well, truth be told, it is more like a fun outing we do with our clients a few times a month rather than an actual class.

We invite our clients to participate in our traveling classes once they have completed the basic introductory course of dog obedience. Our classes are called On The Go! because the goal is to get out and about in the community to help ensure that our pet owners are comfortable fully integrating their dogs into their lives.

It is the skill set of obedience commands we teach that allows this full integration. Once a dog  understands the meaning of words like Heel (which means to remain on my left side whether I’m stationary or walking) or Down, (which means keep your belly to the ground regardless of what exciting things you might want to participate in)…THEN the dog can become a welcome guest in most environments. These simple skills, when truly understood,  enhance the human-dog relationship by providing us a means to communicate in a clear and concise way. It is that kind of communication that allows us to develop a greater partnership with our dogs.

Here are the steps we adhere to.  First, TEACH the dog a behavioral meaning that is attached to a cue. For example, the word Sit means put your rear to the ground and keep it there until further notice. Next, PROOF the meaning of the words so the dog comes to understand commands are not just situational or optional. The words have a purpose and are not something to be ignored just because there are other exciting things distracting the dog’s attention. Once that process is well underway UTILIZE this language and the new skills so that dogs can be welcome members of society and not a nuisance to others around them.

So back to the video…we had a large turn out for our recent On The Go! class.  After a short walk and a bit of practice we made our way to an outdoor cafe for dinner and drinks. Several in our group grabbed a table to socialize and get a bite to eat. They had their dogs politely lay down next to them for the duration of their meal. I got engaged in conversation a few yards away and was pleasantly surprised when I turned around to find several of our group were still practicing with their dogs. 🙂

Such great follow through from everyone in our group! It is that kind of commitment that makes these dogs perfectly welcome canine citizens in the community.

Take a look.

It was also impressive because it demonstrates exactly what is possible for the average dog owner who is willing to do the work.

That level of possibility should be the goal for all pet dog training professionals. So I’ll also pat myself and my staff on the back because we adhere to a philosophy to never sell our clients short.

I think this kind of expectation is being lost in the pet training world. Too many pet dog trainers have watered down the standards for themselves, their clients and what the dogs are capable of.

Fortunately this belief is shared by a number of other individuals and some are beginning to speak out about it.

I recently attended two days of workshop and seminar time with Ian Dunbar, who has long been considered the backbone of lure -reward training. While he and I may not agree on everything regarding dog training, I was nodding my head in full agreement when he expressed dismay at what has been occurring in the pet training world the past 10 years.

He and numerous others I know are frustrated by the lack of standards. It is a shame that there are fewer and fewer trainers who believe it is important to have a higher degree of expectations from their clients and their dogs.

I believe many ‘professional’ trainers need to step it up. Using the excuse of “just give em the minimal of what they want” is selling the future of dog obedience short. The average pet owner doesn’t know what is possible until they have witnessed it. I’ve yet to find watered down versions of anything to be admirable in terms of effort or outcome.


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