Making the decision to take your dog to obedience training is usually based on one of three things – either you don’t have the time to train him yourself, you don’t have the patience, or you don’t know how.
If your reason is either of the first two then you might want to re-think owning a dog. Obedience training only works if you reinforce what you have learned at home. It is more about teaching you how to teach your dog.
Just like children dogs need time, patience and positive reinforcement in their formative years in order to become happy, well-balanced adults, and – just like children – they also need boundaries, discipline and socialisation.
Dog obedience training can offer all of these things and is a fun activity for both you and your dog, but more importantly it’s about showing you how to work with your dog in a positive way. By making the commitment to attend regularly, you are forming a bond with your dog that you will both come to cherish and enjoy.
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So what can you expect?
Most dog obedience clubs are run by volunteers and the training is separated into levels or grades. The one that I attended with my dog worked on a pay-as-you-go system.
There is often a ‘puppy pre-school’ where Rover will learn to come when called, sit on command, and social skills like getting along with others and no jumping up.
Beginners or novice class is where you and Rover will learn the basics of walking on a leash, stopping, starting and changing direction on command. You will also learn ‘stay’ or ‘wait’ and ‘come.’
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Intermediate is all about refining those commands, directing Rover to stay for extended periods, walk at heel without a leash and respond to hand signals.
Many owners are happy to stop there but if you would like to advance to the next level Rover will learn about remaining calm and still while being examined (handy for vet visits,) how to fetch and carry objects or manoeuvre through and around obstacles. He will also learn to obey all commands by hand signal without a leash.
There are higher levels for those who want to pursue showing.
Once your dog passes a level he will generally receive a sash, medal or certificate which you can proudly display.
This is just a general overview of what to expect. Not all obedience schools follow the same guidelines but as long as you find a club that is friendly and convenient, you and Rover will have a ball and learn some fun new things together.