Does my dog need basic obedience training?

We at Pet Behavior Change often work with families whose puppies or adult dogs are generally well-behaved but require basic obedience training around the house and in public places. We teach families the best ways to train Sit, Down, Stay, Come, Leave It, and other important basic obedience commands using positive reinforcement in the form of praise, treats, and access to other valued items. Both puppies and adult dogs can learn these skills. Beyond simply teaching basic commands, regular in-home training establishes and reinforces the bond between owner and dog. Basic obedience also is sometimes part of the intervention for behavior problems such as aggression and attention-seeking behaviors. 

Our private sessions allow for the training plan to be individualized to meet your pet’s needs and your family’s needs. Such individualized attention is often unavailable in group training classes. On the other hand, a group class - in particular a puppy kindergarten class - can provide your dog with important socialization opportunities. Practicing basic obedience commands around other dogs is ideal for building responsiveness to commands given in the presence of distractions. We recommend that all families find a local puppy kindergarten class with an instructor who uses positive reinforcement training practices and provides pups with the opportunity to play with one another and be handled by other pet owners in a supervised and safe training environment.

Positive reinforcement training practices include the systematic use of treats, praise, petting, and/or toy play as rewards for good behavior. Many progressive trainers today utilize clicker training to facilitate learning and such training can be immensely helpful. Avoid trainers who rely on the use of pain-based consequences (e.g., electronic collars, collars that pinch the skin of the neck, choking at the end of a leash) or physical punishment (e.g., kicking, smacking, wrestling to the ground, pinning the dog down, or shaking the scruff of the dog's neck) to teach basic obedience skills.