Obedience training for dogs in the UK – what does it mean and when is the right time to start?
When to start obedience trainig for dogs in the UK, how to go about it and what it really involves, are questions that often perplex the owners of young puppies. If you’re in that situation or hope to be soon, here are a few points to consider.
Start as you mean to go on
Training starts as soon as you bring your new pup home. In the earliest days of your puppy parenthood, you will be focused on socialisation (and house-training) but, done properly, this is an excellent grounding for later obedience training in the UK.
At its most basic, socialisation means exposing your puppy to as wide a variety of people, dogs and other animals in as wide a variety of environments as possible – and ensuring that these experiences are pleasant and positive. This is crucial for helping to ensure that your pup grows up into a confident and happy dog. The socialisation window is a small one: in most breeds, dogs may respond with caution or even fear to new events experienced after about 12 weeks of age. The owners of well-socialised animals will find attending obedience classes for dogs much easier than those with fearful or anxious pets – as, of course, will the dogs themselves.
Once your pup has had their vaccinations, they can attend puppy classes. Most classes admit puppies from around 12 weeks of age up to around 20 weeks. These classes can be an excellent means of reinforcing socialisation and, done well, they also help inculcate the basics of good behaviour that will make your pup a pleasure to be around.
In time, the lessons learned in puppy classes can translate well to obedience training for dogs and to a variety of other fun activities, such as agility.
Moving on: obedience classes for dogs in the UK
By around six months of age, your dog may be ready to begin more formal obedience training. Traditional dog training methods place great reliance on punishment. Thankfully, such methods are falling increasingly out of favour. In their place is rewards-based training that places great emphasis on rewarding desirable behaviour with the use of food or toys.
The best obedience training for dogs is:
- Fun for dog and owner - because a dog that is enjoying himself will usually respond more quickly and be unafraid of trying again after making a mistake. Meanwhile, an owner is more likely to persist with a class if they also enjoy it!
- Short – “little and often” is a maxim that works well for most dogs (and their owners).
- Repeated in a variety of environments - because you cannot assume that what works in class will automatically also work in a busy park with lots of interesting distractions or on a noisy street.
- Positive – linking an action with a reward means your dog is more likely to repeat the action.
Obedience training: when to stop
The simple answer to this is never. All dogs benefit from training refreshers throughout their lives. Many owners learn to incorporate this into their daily activities, perhaps making a fun game of it. Others prefer to continue attending classes, where dog and owner alike benefit from social interaction in a fun, supportive and appropriately challenging environment.
For more information on our dog training techniques courses and more, please visit our website at www.watchmychops.com