Category Archives: Dog Obedience Basics

Basic Dog Obedience

Dog Obedience Training for Novices

While it may be easier to train some dog breeds than others, all dogs can benefit from basic dog obedience. I’m sure all dog lovers and even some folks who are not, know about the Dog Whisperer, Cesar Millan. While not everyone will have the skills to train a dog as he does, everyone can train their dogs to be obedient – at least to some extent.

Tips for Successful Obedience Training

There are some basic rules that apply when training dogs regardless of the breed. Most dogs can begin basic dog obedience at about 10 weeks, but be warned that their attention span is short. As such if you start training them to be obedient when young these tips will come in handy:

  • Choose and stick to a method:  There are different ways to teach obedience to puppies. For almost any dog, using treats is a sure-fire way to success.
  • Go slowly: Puppies are like children so don’t expect them to learn everything all at once. However, obedience training must be done frequently to be successful, but limit sessions to about 15-20 minutes for puppies.
  • Establish command. It is important that the dog knows who the boss is from early on.

Teaching some Basic Commands

The basic obedience commands for dogs are stay, stop, come and sit. Before beginning training decide on whether you will be using a clicker or treats. Once you have determined the method to use and the words you can begin training.

  • Speak loudly and clearly when issuing commands to the dog or puppy. It is with repetition coupled with praise and rewards that your dog will learn and remember what he’s supposed to do.
  • Always start off your training session by calling your dog’s name to get his attention.

Teaching the Sit Command

One of the most popular basic dog obedience commands is how to sit. Doing it can be as simple as this:

  1. Hold a treat in your hand and hold it above the dog’s head so that he cannot reach it.
  2. While holding the treat, push the dog down into a sitting position while saying, “SIT”. Make sure to be firm when issuing the command.
  3. Do not allow him to jump and take the treat from your hand; when he attempts to do so tell him firmly, “NO”, and keep doing that while pushing him back into the sitting position.
  4. Continue to do this until the dog associates sitting with a treat. Over time he will sit when commanded without any problem.

For this to work you will need to do it more than once per day, but remember to do so in short periods of time.

Barriers to Dog Training

Basic dog obedience tricks can be rendered ineffective if not done properly. There are some problems that almost always come up in dog training. Some of the most common ones to avoid are:

  • Not being consistent. If the training will be done by just one person there is less likelihood of inconsistency, however when others want to help problems can arise. If other members of the family want to help everyone should use the same words and hand signals. For example, do not use the words “stay” and “heel,” use one or the other at all times.
  • Trying to do too much too quickly. You may be excited about training your puppy or dog, but go slowly. Trying to get them to do too many things too quickly will only confuse the dog and frustrate you, the trainer.
  • Not rewarding the dog immediately after they have obeyed your instructions. You should establish a connection between doing well and being given a treat. As such you should avoid punishing the dog if he doesn’t respond to a command.

You may find that you still need some professional help to complete training your dog, especially if you started with a grown dog.

Puppy Training for the Novice

You would not be the first person to get taken in by that cute little puppy in the window. Many owners don’t realize how much responsibility goes along with that type of impulse purchase. Or perhaps you have long planned to add a canine addition to your family. Irregardless of how and why you have chosen your dog, it is here to stay and it must behave.


The biggest mistake an owner can make is to let the puppy be the master. You may not believe that it can happen, but most bad behavior from your dog can be traced to dominance issues. You have to remember, you are the master and you are in charge. This is called being the alpha to your dog.

Dogs live in packs and there is a leader that is in charge of that pack. That dog is called the alpha. You must become the alpha in your “pack” even if you think the dog will not like you for it. The opposite is true, a master that acts like the alpha makes a dog feel safe and secure as he knows his place in the pecking order.

Training a Puppy

The primary goal of the new puppy owner is housebreaking. Many people find that housebreaking is difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. Being consistent is vital for your puppy to get the message that is not okay to use your home as a toilet. Dogs are intrinsically clean and using a crate to enforce housebreaking is vital.

You may not think that crate training is kind and your dog will resent it. That is not true; a dog will use his crate as a safe haven that will keep him out of all kinds of trouble. When you can’t supervise your puppy, his crate is the safest place for him.

Because a dog is clean, messing in its crate will not be pleasant. So if you buy a crate, buy one that will grow with the dog. When he is small, the crate should be just big enough for him to stand and turn around. This way, if the dog voids in the crate it will be an unpleasant experience and one he won’t be eager to repeat. The best bedding for your puppy when you are crate training and housebreaking is shredded newspaper. It makes it simple for you to clean and if he does go to the bathroom, he is able to cover his mess.

Housebreaking 101

The most important aspect of housebreaking a puppy is to know when they will have to go to the bathroom. Upon awakening, your puppy will have to go to the bathroom. Take him out to the same spot in the yard and find a cue that you will use at all times. I personally use “hurry up.” When you see that your dog is eliminating, say the cue phrase so that he will associate it with the action he is performing. When he is done, praise him lavishly.

Puppies will need to go out whenever they have eaten, awakened from a nap and after vigorous play. Pick your pup up immediately after any of these activities and take him outside to the place that is his designated toilet area. If your puppy is smart, they will realize what is expected of them quickly. Before you know it, your puppy will be sitting or scratching at the door to indicate to you that he has to go to the bathroom.

The most important thing to remember is not to be physical with your puppy. They do not respond well to violent behavior. A dog that has an accident in the house should not be punished in a physical way nor should their noses be pressed into the mess. All this teaches them is their person puts their nose in smelly matter and not much else. Merely tell the dog no in a firm voice and bring them immediately to the toilet area. If they go, praise them lavishly, if not, tomorrow is another day. You will be surprised at how quickly they pick up on this lesson.

Your puppy is eager to please and you need to take advantage of this fact. Using treats and love as a reward is the best way to get your dog to do anything you want it to do. Always discipline with a firm voice and praise your dog immediately once they have done something that pleases you. If you are to make a correction, do that immediately so that your pup knows you are disappointed with his behavior.

Dogs are just like children. If you can discipline your child, you can do the same for your dog. They just want to be shown what to do so that they please you in every way. Not using corporal punishment is just as important when you are training your dog as it is when disciplining a child. You want to be a leader by love, and not by fear.

Kennel Cough

Whether it’s a human or a dog coughing, the sickness should be treated or reacted upon with the same intensity.

The natural reaction when a dog coughs continuously is that the pet is choking or is seriously ill.

Dog owners come to realize their pet has contracted a virus known as kennel cough, or in more technical terms, infectious trancheobronchitis. Exposure to other dogs greatly enhances the chance that the common and usually non-serious respiratory disease will be transmitted.

In case your dog is infected by kennel cough, you may want to seek advice and recommendations from a veterinarian. This article describes what the vet will tell you in a nutshell.

A combination of viruses and bacteria cause kennel cough. The bacteria that causes kennel cough the most is known as Bordatella bronchiseptica. The viruses are primarily Canine adenovirus type 1 and 2 as well as Canine parainfluenza virus.

What distinguishes kennel cough? The most common symptom is a deep, scratchy cough that develops abruptly. In most cases, the dog will not cough up anything and it will appear as if the dog is heaving. The coughing is intensified when the dog drinks water or is exposed to a drastic temperature change.

Dogs with kennel cough generally do not lose their appetite, although those who are exposed to extremely hot temperatures may have a nasal discharge and will lose their appetite.

What dog breeds are affected by kennel cough? Just like humans can all contract a cold from each other, all dog breeds are susceptible to kennel cough.

Can kennel cough be treated? Yes, although in most cases, the infection will subside on its own in a week to 10 days. Some dogs may continue to cough for as long as three weeks. Most veterinarians will suggest that the dog’s coughing will actually help the symptoms come to an end because the airways will become clear of infective debris.

However, if the kennel cough is so persistent that the dog is increasingly uncomfortable, the use of cough suppressants is recommended. Unconventional forms of suppressant are honey on a piece of bread or human cough suppressant medicine purchased at the pharmacy.

Veterinarians will prescribe stronger medication if the case of kennel cough becomes more severe.

Can kennel cough be prevented? To prevent your dog from contracting the virus, you must have your dog isolated and away from other dogs that might have kennel cough. Hopefully, the owner of the affected dog is keeping the pet from walking the streets and coming in contact with other dogs.

Owners of affected dogs should wait a week after the coughing has subsided to allow interaction with other dogs. If an owner has more than one dog, the airflow and dryness in the house should be maximized where possible.

Some vaccines help prevent kennel cough, including those for the viruses and bacteria that cause the disease. These vaccines can be administered by nasal drops or by injection. Cases show the nasal vaccines work the best.

In summary, dogs cough just like humans, and treatment for the cough should be handled in the same manner you or I should take care of our hacking. Don’t ignore the coughing. Monitor your dog for improvement or prolonged illness. Don’t allow your dog to infect other dogs.

Be considerate and caring, just like you would do for yourself.

Dog Accessories Article

Gone are the days when you bring home only Milk-Bone Dog Biscuits for your pup.

Now, for example, you might feel the urge to make your dog feel more special by combining the biscuits with a crystal pink collar and leash from Bloomingdale’s that costs as much as $100.

The fashion-sense world now requires a little bling to go with the bones for dogs of all types.

Dog accessories once considered outlandish are now becoming the norm to reward the canine. Instead of throwing your dog a bone, you might instead honor your dog by buying a “Bed of Roses” from Cath Kidston that sells for $85. The small dog bed is sized for a puppy and has a removable seat for washing.

Dog accessories were once considered a simple collar and leash with an occasional goofy shirt to slip over the dog for a good laugh or two. Mainstream retailers are now selling dog accessories that include dog bowties, bunny ears, and reindeer horns and elf hats for Christmas.

Department stores, such as Bloomingdale’s and Dillard’s, and dog accessory web sites are taking the dog accessory fare one step further. Dog accessory stores are also opening at a greater rate.

Some of the dog accessories might make you chuckle and ask: Do dog owners really go that far? A sampling:

  • Furry Tote. You can keep your dog warm with a shearling-lined tote from Travel with Tigers, a line of dog accessories. Price tag: $1,600.
  • A Patch of Green. Instead of having your dog relieve himself on unsightly newspaper in the house, you can order this dog accessory. The plush sod patches are a cleaner and more presentable way to housetrain your dog. Every week a cleanup kit and new grass is shipped directly to your door. They range from $175 to $275 with the startup kit and $40 to $80 for the weekly replacements.
  • Dine in Style. A ceramic dog dish from Burberry costs $50, probably more than the cost of the plate you eat on.
  • Bone Clean. You’ve heard of Soap-on-a-Rope. Now it applies to dogs. This all-natural oatmeal soap can be slipped around the dog’s neck. It has a mint-scented lather. The cost is not so bad at $11.

Other dog accessories include dog jewelry, hiking boots (yes, hiking boots), sweaters, holiday scarves, bandanas, and matching raincoats and umbrellas (yes, umbrellas) with their owners.

Believe it or not, some dog owners spend $700 to $800 a month, or more, on dog accessories.

The business of selling pet accessories is a booming success. According to the American Pet Products Manufacturing Association, revenues of pet accessory businesses more than doubled from $17 million in 1994 to $34.4 million in 2004. The reason for the increase is the ever-growing number of households that include pets, up to 63 percent or 69.1 million homes.

Major retailers such as Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Burberry, Tiffany, Coach all have extended their brands to include dog accessories. Even Target has entered the fray.

Target recently debuted designer pet collections featuring stiletto-shaped Isaac Mizrahi chew toys that sell for $2.99 and Michael Graves-designed dog houses, complete with awning. The dog house costs $99.99.

Gone are the days of gathering a few pieces of wood and nailing together a dog house with your kids. The old rug that was once used in the house is no longer subjected to the floor of a dog house.

These days the manufactured dog houses are insulated and the ripped rug is replaced by a plush bed. Your dog has never had it so good.

Are you ready for a puppy? Important things you should know before you buy a puppy dog

Are you thinking of adding a new member to your family? Have you even gone so far as to pick out a name? Have you visited with others that have additions to their families? Have you been actively looking for that new puppy? Those little fur-faces are so darned cute! It would be so simple to take one home with you; but do you know how complicated it actually would be?

There are several areas that you need to take into consideration before going out and getting your new puppy. Puppies, just like children, are not toys. Indeed, they are living breathing beings with many demands. Consider this short list before going out and bringing your baby home:

  • Puppies are a major responsibility
  • Puppies will be demanding of your time and attention
  • Puppies will make messes in your home (if you are getting a house dog)
  • Puppies cannot clean up after themselves
  • Puppies require regular medical checkups and a series of shots
  • Puppies will be very insecure when you first bring them home and, more than likely, will keep you up with their crying and whining until the wee hours of the morning
  • Puppies are not to be considered as objects that you can just get rid of if they seem to not be working out
  • Puppies will give you unconditional love and they need love in return
  • Puppies are not objects that can be abused physically or emotionally
  • You must be willing to commit wholly to your puppy in care, training and attention

Ask yourself a few very important questions; and be honest with yourself:

  • Can I afford the costs of caring for a puppy?
  • Am I at home enough to take care of the puppy?
  • Am I patient enough to tolerate the messes my puppy will make?
  • Am I responsible enough to take my puppy to the vet when he/she needs to go for a checkup or shots?

If you answered these questions honestly and the answers were all “yes,” then you are ready for the addition of a fur-face to your home. If you answered “no” to any of the questions then, for the sake of the puppy, do not get one.

Puppies must be fed, bathed, house trained, obedience trained and given all the love and attention that you can afford. So many puppies and dogs are not taken care of properly, abandoned or dropped at shelters because people did not understand the requirements of taking care of these animals. This is sad and makes me sick at heart.

Please consider all that you have read here. Please learn from this information and then make an intelligent decision as to whether you should be the proud new owner of an animal that will devote its life to you.

Tips For Litter Box Training Your Dog

Sadly, too many dog owners do not realize the time commitments involved in bringing a new dog into the home. If you do not currently have the quality time to spend with your family members, including yourself, you should not take on the added responsibility of a dog. Dogs, in particular, need a minimum of 15 minutes per day individual quality time spent with their humans much more when in the process of potty training.

Do you think it would be neat to train your smaller dog to use a litter box? It is best to train a dog while still a puppy. It isn’t impossible to train an adult dog, but the earlier that you develop good habits, the less likely the dog is to fall back to some previous behavior. If your dog is older, that doesn’t mean he is a lost cause, and may in some cases only help to make your dog easier to train – providing that he has developed some level of obedience already.

Training a dog to do anything usually involves identifying a positive behavior – and then rewarding it repeatedly until the dog reaches a point where the desired behavior becomes associated with a good thing like a treat or praise. Puppies respond better to treats more regularly, so a food treat that you will associate solely with the use of the litter box is a key. Try to find something that is small, but very flavorful or with a distinct smell, not the regular food that the dog has in his bowl at meal times. ( Cheese, small bits of cooked liver, small slices of wiener, bits of carrot, or store bought dog treats should work – but be sure the dog likes the treat before you invest in a big bag.)

Second, we need to catch the dog doing the behavior in the right place. The best way to do this is to place the dog in an enclosed area with newspapers or a small litter-box in the corner and watch for the puppy to go. When the puppy goes, immediately praise him and offer the treat. Even easier is to crate-train your dog. Rather than the long wait, put your puppy in a small enclosed space right after feeding. Wait a short time and then watch to see if the puppy is doing ok, then take him out and place him in a spacious puppy potty that you have set up for him.

The timing of the meal and the fact that he’s now restricted to the large litter box should increase the odds that he will be ready to go while you are watching him. Remember too that dogs are more prone to bathroom stops in the early morning when they wake or after you return home from work, school or shopping.

The reward you give your dog for going in the litter box is two-fold, offering mainly the treat at first, but also the praise. After a few days you will find that your dog will look forward to visiting the littler box and getting the good things that go along with it. (snack & praise). Soon you’ll be able to let the puppy choose his own times to visit the potty, but be warned, some dogs have been known to “fake” a bathroom trip or two once they get into the habit. Keep a sense of humor and reward him for trying, it will only reinforce the idea that he’s starting to understand. However if the fake trips become too frequent. You may wish to save the treat and just offer mild praise for false alarms.

The praise component is very important, don’t neglect it! Remember that there will be many times that you may be elsewhere when the dog needs to go. It’s a good idea to bring the dog to site and praise him when you get home or when you discover his earlier handiwork – make sure that you only offer special attention when your dog is on target.

Another consideration is the type of surface. Some dogs may already be used to going on a plain surface or on newspapers. You can leave your litter boxr bare, or line with a single sheet of newspaper – depending on the dog. Either way, clean-up is still easy. If you have a dog that is used to going on the grass, you may have a more difficult time switching, but it is worth a try, and you may find an organic or recycled litter that will act as a good substitute.

For smaller dogs, you may be able to use an absorbent litter, but do use some caution here as you’ll want to test your dog’s reaction to the type of litter that you use. If your dog is a “digger” then you may wish to avoid using a litter at all. You should try to avoid clumping litters – whether clay based or natural fiber – if your dog is curious about the “clumps” that form. Experimentation is the only way to be sure that your dog finds the litter box a comfortable stop, without also making it a site for exploration. Assume the worst and be wary of any litter that might cause problems if ingested.

When your Dog forgets:

If your dog happens to eliminate in the house but in an inappropriate spot (only while you’re home), clap your hands to interrupt her and take her quickly to the desired location immediately. You don’t have to get angry, just disrupt the activity and establish that you wish the dog to stop. Many dogs will react to a firm “No”, or a loud “AH, AH, AHHHH!”

In Summary:

Any elimination in the litter box should be enthusiastically praised and otherwise rewarded as soon as it happens. It also will be helpful to reward even mild interest and sniffing in the vicinity of the potty. Dogs are bright and will enjoy this activity as much as any other game that you might play with them. The extra attention to training early on will usually pay off with a life-time of easy clean ups and a contented pet.

How to Obedience Train Your Dog

In a household that already includes an infant child – and all the attention needed for a baby girl – welcoming a Bichon Frise puppy into the family can be viewed as masochistic.

The father saw the situation that way, but the mother was more enthused about the idea of how the puppy could relate to the daughter and 6-year-old son. “Come on,” she said. “It can be a puppy they can play with and grow up with.” Her eyes looked as babyish and playful as the little dog’s eyes, as she tried to strike a chord with her husband’s soft side.

That same night, the white puffy Bichon puppy named Austin howled and barked for most of the night in the family’s house.

All of a sudden, those nights of the baby crying in the middle of the night for formula or a diaper change seemed like a peaceful rest by a waterfall. What was the husband and now father of three to do?  He could not get angry because the wife would make him sleep outside instead of the dog.  He could not take his frustration out on Austin because the guy at the pet shop said the white ball of energy needs affection and positive reinforcement at all times.

“How long do we have to be affectionate?” the father asked.

“As long as the dog lives,” the guy said.

“And when does too much positive reinforcement become a negative?” the father relied.

“Never. He needs special attention, more than other dogs,” the guy answered.

The father, mother and son learned Dog Obedience Training 101 from the time they took the puppy home for the first time. Although the guy at the pet shop said a Bichon needs special care, the training of the puppy is really not different from taking care of other dogs. The lessons learned:

  • Dogs do not become housebroken in a matter of days, especially in this case with a male Bichon (they tend to be more stubborn than their female counterpart). It can take a week or two or more for the dog to grow accustomed to the owner’s demands and the home environment.

Austin finally came around after relieving himself in the master bedroom closet or near the son’s bed. Dogs always mark their territory, never failing to stray off course. The scolding (void of physical harm) and the pointing of his nose in the direction of the accident finally worked about a half-month after Austin entered the home.

The husband and wife sprinted to the backdoor when the dog scratched on the door for the first time to be let outside to take care of his business.

  • Devote time every hour you are home to your dog.  Do not assume the dog will adhere to a command and remember your direction after it is left alone for a few hours.

Dogs understand their place in the family totem pole and they relish being the hypothetical baby of the household. They love to be petted and playfully wrestled on the ground, and believe it or not, they also like to be told what to do. Spending more time with the dog – by taking it for daily walks or by playing with him – translates into less scolding and more constructive direction.

Case in point: After Austin dug his way out of the backyard underneath the gate, he was scolded most vociferously. Thankfully, the father was parking the car in the driveway when the Bichon ran out from beside the house, otherwise all this house training would be a waste. He has tried to escape again, however, after the family devoted more time to him with walks or by simply throwing a Frisbee around the backyard.

  • Finally, positive reinforcement does play a significant part in a dog’s development. A dog biscuit here or there, or a pat on the head or back, makes the dog feel needed. His mission is to feel the love of his owner. For example, when Austin heeds the call immediately to go outside the backdoor without a fuss, he knows a reward is coming. Or if he does not run inside the house when he is to stay outside, he realizes what is coming the next time the door opens.

He looks at his owner with those babyish eyes. The proud father throws him a dog biscuit and pats his head every time. Austin has discovered the father’s soft side. This is not so masochistic after all.

The Basics of Dog Obedience Training

Old dog new tricks.

Dog obedience training is something that should be done from the first day you get your new best friend. Early education is important to animals as it is to humans and training obedience to a puppy is a lot easier than training an old dog already set in their ways.

You shouldn’t find yourself waiting for the dog to become difficult to cope with before you consider and implement dog obedience training, because by starting at an early age you will soon learn the signs that your dog is about to ‘misbehave’.

Why do dogs misbehave?

Dogs aren’t humans. They don’t have the same inherent knowledge of what is right and wrong; they have to be taught these social skills. As far as they are concerned it’s fine to chew shreds out of your couch because you haven’t indicated to them that they shouldn’t. You are their parents and they not only need you to teach them but they want you to. This is where basic dog obedience training will do wonders for both your dog and you.

The theory behind dog obedience training.

Again, this is very similar to having children and teaching them the difference between right and wrong. The logic behind doing so is the same, and the essential principles are also very similar; although I’m quite sure your 5 year old daughter wouldn’t see a Bonio as a special treat.

In the right hands, dogs are incredibly obedient animals, although the level of obedience will obviously change depending on breed, age and temperament of the animal. Certain breeds like Collies find immense pleasure in learning new tricks and pleasing their owners, but some of the more stubborn dogs can be quite difficult to teach at first.

Teaching your dog obedience is a life long process. Once they are well behaved you can’t sit back and enjoy the work you’ve done without continuing their education so start young and end late.

What’s in a name?

You will have undoubtedly already named your dog, and you should try to only use one variation of this name. The less you shorten it, the less your dog thinks it has two names. This is important, dogs can learn words and commands and their names but the fewer non-essential words they have to learn the better.

Next, you must remember with dog obedience training not to reprimand your dog using their name. Their name should be used for recall when trying to get them to come to you on the beach or in the garden or even in the house. We use the word ‘Baah’. When you use your reprimand you need to say it in a low growling voice and be very firm.

Positive reinforcement.

There are two basic steps to teaching a dog to do anything. Reprimand and positive reinforcement. When he or she misbehaves reprimand them immediately, and when they do it right they need positive reinforcement to know that they’ve done much better.

For instance, we have a St Bernard at home who used to insist on lying on the couch. This isn’t practical with a dog of that size, and we needed to stop it. Besides, a dog who gets on the couch with you without invitation believes they are at the same dominant level as you are.

Every time he jumped on the couch we would ‘Baah’ him. When he then got off the couch, we would say ‘Good boy’ in a high-pitched friendly voice. This action and reaction showed him that getting on the couch was bad and getting on the floor was good. At first we would also reward him with a treat. This should only be done the first few times and then be gradually faded out.

You must always remember the positive reinforcement; no matter how angry you may be you must always congratulate a dog on good work. Also, for more difficult dogs you can use a more severe reprimand. A metal chain thrown on the floor in front of the dog makes a terrible noise that will discourage them from doing anything but be careful not to hit your dog at any time.

The bottom line.

A dog is a member of your family like any other member of the family. They must be taught the ground rules of your house; the best and most effective way of doing this is with reprimand and positive reinforcement. The reprimand tells them not to do something the positive reinforcement rewards them with your love and maybe a treat when they do what you want.


A happy dog is much easier to train than an unhappy or stressed dog. Hitting your dog will not only make their life unpleasant it will make them less co-operative than the use of positive reinforcement.