Beyond Obedience Skills- Helping Your Dog Adapt to Life

The foundation of your dog’s success in our human world is in mastering the basic obedience skills and then building on them. Basic obedience starts with learning how to pay attention, sit, stay, and how to walk on a loose leash. From there, you can move beyond obedience to develop a highly mannered dog who can be successful in our human world.

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One of the things that can really help your dog adapt to life in a human world is developing self control. For dogs, self control is calm, focused behaviour in situations that might otherwise cause a reactive response or an over the top excited one. Self control is fairly easy to teach your dog, all you have to do is reward calm focused behaviour with the thing he or she wants. It could be a treat, a toy, the food dish or going outside, but in order to get it your dog needs to sit or stand quietly with full attention on you first. It’s a simple thing to work this exercise into your everyday activities.

Polite greetings are also necessary in a well mannered dog. This is where your dog can hold in a sit position when being petted by you or other people. After mastering the sit, it’s important to take your dog out into situations where she will encounter other people. You can use food rewards to hold her attention while people walk by, and then work your way up to a polite greeting with a new person when your dog is ready.

Trips to the vet or the groomer can be a much happier situation when you work with your dog on staying calm when having different parts of her body handled. Have her sit calmly while you play with her ears, open her mouth, touch her tail and paws and so on. Reinforcing this with a food reward will make it a positive experience all around. 

Finally, active socialization and getting out to busy places will really help to build your dog’s confidence and improve her quality of life. No dog wants to get left behind when everyone else in the family gets to go out to play. Teaching your dog how to behave when you’re out and about is the only way she will be able to do it successfully. That means you have to actively seek out places where your dog can play with other dogs and interact with strangers, while you use the self control and polite greeting skills. It also means exposure to busier areas where there are strange or loud noises, moving objects, and different smells. The more you practice with your dog the easier it will get.

Of course the best way to be truly successful with all of it, is to get help from a certified trainer who can show you the most effective ways to navigate the world together in structured training classes. Check out our memberships and training classes to find the one that will work best for you and your dog!