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Obedience Training


By:  Karen Quackenbush, Goodson, Missouri


I have asked Karen Quackenbush to write about obedience training.  Many of my clients have attended Ms. Quackenbush's obedience classes with their pets.  They have learned much in these sessions and now have a more enjoyable relationship with their furry friends.  I have had the privilege of caring for Ms. Quackenbush's animals and have found them to be well-behaved which makes them easy to examine. Please check with our front desk if you would like information on how to contact Ms. Quackenbush for her class schedule.-Mark Hale, DVM.


            "A trained dog is a joy to live with."  This is what I tell all the students that attend my obedience classes.  Basic obedience training is necessary if you want a happy home life with your dog.  All dogs should know the "basics", because they are the foundation of all other types of training.  The younger the dog is, the easier he is to train.

            The majority of dogs that end up in the dog pound, or animal shelter, are there because their owners could not control them.  Obedience training helps get your dog under control.  Just because a dog is out of control doesn't mean that it's a stupid dog or a bad dog.  It's just untrained.

            So, whether you want to train a dog for hunting, trailing, herding, guard duty, agility, handicap assistance, or just to do tricks, all dogs need to know basic obedience.  What are the basics?  Sit, Down, Stay, Come when called,Walking on Leash and Basic Control.  But in order for a person to properly teach these things, they have to know how to communicate them to the dog, so that he understands.  This is where a knowledgeable instructor in a class situation can help.  The instructor will show you how to teach each exercise, and then guide you to keep doing it correctly.  You need to know how to give effective corrections and praise and develop your timing in giving them, which is important because you want to give correction or praise either during or immediately after the event.  You will also learn what NOT to do, such as striking the dog with an object (rolled up newspaper, shoe, etc.), rubbing his nose in a potty "accident" or scolding your dog after calling him to "come."  You can learn these things from reading a good dog training book, but you will not get the socialization needed for your dog and you will lack the guidance of a good instructor.

            Obedience training won't take up all of your free time either.  It's best to teach the dog with short lessons, about 5 to 15 minutes a day.  Keep the lessons fast paced and fun, changing from one exercise to another.  This way the dog does not get bored and you will keep his attention longer.  If you can do two short lessons a day, that's even better.  An added benefit of training is that you and your dog will bond.  The dog will learn that training is fun and he gets to spend time with you.  Most owners see a positive overall change in their dog's disposition after just a few weeks of training. 

Let me relate one of my own experiences.  I've taken in an abandoned dog, approximately a year old, and with absolutely no training.  When I got him, he would jump on me, bark continuously and charge the gate of his pen.  I could not even put my hands on the dog because he would spin, flip or back away, not from being shy, but from having poor or little handling.  In two months of training, for about 5 to 15 minutes a day, he was greatly improved.  Within three months he was a different dog; he no longer tried to charge out through the gate of his pen, he stopped pulling on the leash, he didn't jump up on me and he sat and waited while I put his food bowl down in front of him, just to name a few things that have changed.  Also, I can pet and brush him.  After four months of training he can now do a variety of tricks.  This is the perfect example of what someone must have considered to be a "bad" or "stupid" dog.  With a little effort, he is now a fine companion.

            So, if you're having problems with your dog, seek the help of an obedience instructor.  But remember, it's always best to train the dog BEFORE he has problems.  This way you won't have to train the dog to do good things and also have to break the bad habits he's developed.