Home obedience training
- Take your time! Your dog’s behavior will let you know when it’s time to move on.
- Use a crate or confine your dog until he can stay out of trouble when left alone.
- Keep obedience training fun. If you’ve had a bad day, skip the training session.
- Give your command once and enforce it. Don’t repeat commands. He’ll think you’re nagging.
It’s up to you to teach your dog what each command means. Show him with your hands, and use a training leash. Repeat, repeat, repeat. When he makes a mistake, correct him. The best ways to correct him are to withhold praise and to scold him. When he does what you want, praise him generously with words. Reward him with lots of affectionate scratches and pats.
Ten minutes is enough time for your first obedience training lessons. Enjoy a play period before and after each lesson. Don’t play during the lesson, though. Even the youngest dog learns that learning is a serious matter. Fun comes later.
There are many how-to books on dog obedience training. Caesar’s Way: The Natural, Everyday Guide to Understanding and Correcting Common Dog Problems is just one of many.
Ebooks such as the Secrets to Dog Training are also available.
Some breeders will require you to sign your puppy up for puppy kindergarten classes. These classes are offered by dog training clubs and pet supply stores. They are toned-down fun sessions for puppies (usually 12 – 16 weeks old). Training is informal and is usually followed by play time for all the puppies together. Kindergarten classes teach your puppy to walk nicely on a leash, to sit and lie down on command, and to come when called. Trainers can answer your questions on common problems such as barking, housebreaking, biting, chewing, and jumping.
Formal obedience training
You can teach some basic obedience training at home, but a class atmosphere is better. In a class, your dog learns to focus on you in spite of distractions. Your dog learns to behave appropriately when around other dogs and people. It is important for your dog to know what is expected of him.
Formal classes are usually offered for dogs over 6 months, and understanding your dog’s behavior is a must.
- Dogs are honest creatures; they aren’t spiteful.
- Dogs respond like dogs, not as people do.
- Some dogs suffer from separation anxiety when they are left alone. Anxiety may lead to unacceptable behavior such as barking, chewing, digging, and housebreaking accidents.
- Dogs do not understand “sometimes.” Be consistent. If you don’t want your adult dog to sleep in bed with you, don’t allow your puppy in your bed. If you don’t want your dog to jump up on you when you’re dressed for work, don’t let your puppy jump up on you when you’re wearing your jeans.
- Dogs are creatures of habit. Keep your dog on a regular schedule. They are comfortable when life is predictable and routine.
- Dogs learn by repetition.
Obedience training is a good way for you to learn how to communicate with your dog. Learning to communicate is an ongoing process. If you don’t use it, you lose it. You have to keep it up!
Equally important to your dog’s well-being is what breeders call “socialization.” Socialization requires exposing your puppy to new things, new people, and new situations. Take your dog with you whenever possible, especially as a young puppy. Show him as many unfamiliar things as possible. When he’s confident that nothing will hurt hurt him, he won’t back away from strange circumstances. This is especially essential for a show dog. A self-confident, “heads-up” dog will win every time over the frightened one with his tail between his legs.
Showing your Dalmatian
If you are interested in showing your Dalmatian, you should enroll in a show handling class. The handling class will teach you how to pose your dog properly and how to present him in motion to the judge. Handling classes are often given by all-breed clubs or by professional handlers. Your dog’s breeder or local breed club can help you find a good handling class in your area.
It’s never too late!
If your Dalmatian is already an adult and in need of obedience training, don’t give up on him! If he’s badly out of control, you may want to consider private lessons with a private instructor. A few private lessons may get him started on the right track. You can then continue training and enroll him in a group obedience training class. It’s NEVER too late!
photo credit: J. Chris Vaughan