The Many "D's" of Dog
15 Steps To Obedience Training
& Proofing Your Dog
Dog Training Nework
1) Difficulty of the command
Always begin teaching your puppy or
dog the easiest command(s) possible (ie: "Look",
"Sit", etc.). Very gradually introduce new and more
2) Degree of inherent genetic
compatibility with a given command
Consider your dog's genetic makeup.
If you have a Basset Hound and want to teach him personal protection,
you may have your work cut out for you. If instead, you have a German
Shepherd or Rottweiler from Schutzhund lines, you'll probably have an
easier time teaching him personal protection.
Using the above example, if you have a Labrador Retriever from field
lines that you are interested in teaching to fetch a ball, you're dog
is likely to learn how to retrieve relatively easily.
3) Duration of time
When initially teaching a new
command, such as "Sit", if your dog sits for even just a
second or two, he should be praised, rewarded and released. Gradually,
the duration of time your dog should be taught to remain in position
should be increased.
[Note: Make sure your dog is
physically comfortable throughout any training exercises. Always
release your dog from a command/session before s/he becomes stressed.
Short and sweet sessions are often best. Always end sessions on a
4) Distraction level
Start training each new command in
an area free of distractions, such as your home or yard. Once your dog
is responding reliably, gradually increase the distraction level.
Add distractions such as:
A) Bouncing a ball
B) Throwing a ball/toy
C) Squeak a toy
D) Doing "Jumping Jacks"
E) Singing a song
F) Running around your dog
G) Playing "Ring-Around-The-Rosie" around your dog
H) Play "Patty Cakes" with a friend in front of your dog
I) Have dogs heel around your dog
J) Throw treats around your dog
[NOTE: Never use a distraction that
frightens your dog!]
5) Distance between you and your
Begin teaching a command with you
dog right next to or in front of you. Gradually increase the distance
between you and your dog to 30 feet.
6) Distance between your dog and an
object of attraction
If your dog is 3 feet from you and
37 feet from a squirrel, flock of pigeons, or an other dog, you have a
greater likelihood of getting your dog to respond to a command than if
your dog is 37 feet from you and 3 feet from a squirrel, flock of
pigeons, or an other dog! Once your dog is reliable in the face of
distant distractions, gradually, decrease the distance between your
dog and any "objects of attraction".
7) Different locations
Just because your puppy will respond
to the word "Sit" in your living room, it doesn't mean he
understands that command in the context of the local dog run. Don't
expect your dog to automatically generalize the meaning of a given
command in every environment or context. Once your dog fully
understands a command at home, it is important to re-teach the command
in many different locations. Make sure to practice commands in both
rural and urban locations.
8A) Different surfaces
Practice commands on a variety of
8B) Different object surfaces
A) On a chair
B) On a table
C) On a low wall
D) On a log
E) On a surf board in the ocean
F) On the back of a horse
9) Differing order of commands
A "pattern trained" dog will
always expect one specific command to follow another specific command.
This can work for or against you depending on the circumstances. Usually
it is advisable not to pattern train, as your dog will have greater
difficulty learning how to respond to a given command that is out of
10) Different contexts
Many dogs have difficulty responding
to commands that are given out of context to normal training situations.
Many dogs simply have not yet fully generalized a given command. Trying
giving known commands:
A) As you're walking down the street
with your dog.
B) When you're in your local pet supply store.
C) While you're on line at the bank
D) When you're both within five to ten feet of your local dog run
entrance,while dogs come and go.
E) While inside the dog run with your dog, both with and without a
F) When riding in a moving elevator (assuming your dog is already
acclimated to riding in moving elevators).
11) Different times of the day and
Practice commands at different times
of the day and evening.
12) Different body positions while
Does your dog really fully understand
a given command? Try giving the command when you're in a different
position than usual. For instance, if you are sure your dog understands
the command "Stand", try issuing the "Stand" command
(from a sit or down):
A) While you're laying down on the
floor, stomach side down.
B) While you're on the sixth rung of a ladder.
C) While you're one flight above or below your dog, each of you
located at the opposite ends of a staircase.
13) Different levels of volumes and
different tones of voice
Try issuing commands to your dog in
several different volumes (whisper, quiet, moderate and loud) and
different tones of voice (squeaky, in a low voice, grumbly, singing,
14) Disappearing after issuing
Give a command your dog knows well,
then go out of sight for 3 minutes. Does your dog remain in position
until you return and release him or her?
15) Disappearing before issuing
First, try standing behind your dog,
facing away from him, when giving a command. Use a mirror when
possible to watch your dog. Then Give your dog a "Sit-Stay"
command, then go out of site for 1 minute (ie: into the next room
where your dog can't see you). Then, while still out of your dog's
sight (but within hearing distance), issue a command for your dog to