By Dr. Julie Damron
Stockton Record September 20th, 2008
Name recall, sit, stay and down: These commands can make a huge difference for you and your dog. Behavioral problems are among the leading reasons for animal euthanasia. Obedience training, even at a basic level, makes behavioral issues far less likely to occur. Begin training your canine at an early age.
The key to success with obedience training is to make sure that you reward only the desired behavior, not the bad behavior, and that this positive reinforcement takes place while your dog is still doing what's wanted. Treats make an excellent form of positive reinforcement. The treats can be staggered when your pet routinely begins to do the desired command and eventually eliminated once the behavior has been ingrained.
This is the easiest command to start with. Simply reward your pet consistently every time he or she comes to you on command. In an emergency, getting your pet to come on command can save his or her life.
If you hold a treat at just above nose level to dogs, most of them will automatically sit down. If this doesn't happen on its own, simply place gentle pressure on your pet's hind end to get him or her into a sitting position.
This is done most easily when your dog is already in a sitting position. Simply lower your hand in a downward motion, and most dogs will lie down. Having a treat in your hand can make this more effective.
This is the most difficult basic command, because when your dog is doing this correctly you are at a distance from him or her. This makes it difficult to reward at the correct time unless you throw a treat. Having your dog on a leash with a second person holding the leash can help your canine companion learn this concept.
These tools can be used as building blocks to learn other skills.
Julie Damron is a veterinarian at Sierra Veterinary Clinic in Stockton. Contact her at [email protected]