Monday, August 25, 2008

Step #1 in Dog Obedience Training

This will sound so simple that you'll wonder why I'm telling you - or maybe not.

When we started classes, the first thing our instructor had us do was begin conditioning our dogs to stop and look at us when we spoke their names. We were to choose one name and use it consistently.

None of this stuff like I do now with Suzie. I call her Suzanna, Suzie Q, Sue, and Sue-Bell - and now that she's grown, she knows those are all her names. But we started with Suzie in class.

We were to use their names first before giving any command, so that they knew the words were directed to them. Later on you can yell "Leave it" and all of your dogs should respond at the same time, because they know those words are always for them. (If you forget and use the same command when your toddler is reaching for your new crystal vase, your dog will get confused!)

In order to reinforce the idea that your dog should give you attention every time you speak his or her name, you give a little treat when you get that attention immediately.

Our trainer recommended spending time at home on this - keep a few treats in a pocket and hand them out every time you call the dog's name and get immediate response.

Remember that the dogs are used to you talking all the time - and most of the time you're talking to someone else. If you say their name first and they pay attention, then they'll know what you're about to say is for them.

Unless you use their names first, please don't expect them to know that you're telling them to "come" when you've been saying that to the kids all day. (Just think how many times you say things like "come wash your hands," "come to the table," "come see what's outside," "come say Hi to Grandma," etc. etc. etc.)

Yours for happy dogs,


Maureen said...

Well, I am going to comment because this is a good blog and deserves more exposure. I particularly liked the post on arthritis - that is valuable information because we have had several dogs on Rimadyl at various times and they have all died. Admittedly, they were all getting on in age but still perhaps they would have lived longer had we known about this natural alternative.

As for Marte's kind offer to include information about any shelter that comments. We are The Animal House Jamaica. At any given time we care for over 150 of Jamaica's forgotten animals and have survived four hurricanes within one three-year period (with another one looming on the horizon but hopefully skirting us). Our website us

woodyswife said...

Marte, I have been a faithful receiver of your helpful emails, and have put many of your ideas to use. I am a volunteer of Animal Rescue of Carroll in Carroll, Iowa. We have just started up in the past couple of years, but our efforts are going strong with nearly 200 adoptions. We are in process of receiving our 501c3 certificate, but are under a non-profit clause of our affiliate, A.P.E. Everyone can access our website at:

Keep up the great work Marte!

Marte said...

Thanks Maureen and Stacey! I appreciate your comments.

From the reading I did on Rimadyl, older dogs are usually the ones who suffer - and my Harry was 12 when it got him. I didn't realize it until a year later when I got into a conversation with a stranger. Then I did the research. Before then I trusted my vet.

I congratulate you both on the work you're doing - and I'll get that sidebar going right now!

Hope that hurricane fades away!