My readers are aware that I like to incorporate real obedience sessions throughout my mysteries as Veronica, my main character, is a professional dog handler who trains a myriad of dogs for their owners. Some dogs in the books are simply learning how to be canine good citizens and obedient companion animals, while others will go on to get specialty training as service animals (such as allergen detection dogs or contraband sniffing dogs). But the building blocks for every well-behaved dog, real or fictional, are Obedience Lessons. You don’t need a professional trainer to train your dog for you—just a professional to show you how to properly train your dog yourself. Many people are surprised to discover that the classes are for “training” the owners as well as the dogs!
I highly encourage anyone who has added a new canine to their household to sign up for obedience classes. There you will learn to teach basic obedience commands to your dogs, including Sit, Down, Heel, Come, and Stand. At the same time, you will be developing your dog’s ability to really focus on you—despite the distractions of what is occurring around them in class or out in the world. And your dog will get much needed dog socialization by learning in close proximity to other canines. Well-behaved dogs are welcome in so many more places than a dog who has never had any training. Dogs want to please their owners; we just have to give them the guidance to understand what we expect.
Praise and positive reinforcement are key to keeping your dog upbeat while learning and making it a pleasant educational experience for owner and dog. You will learn to give commands in a clear and happy tone, and to have the dog respond to a command given just one time. Apart from your weekly class with the instructor, daily training sessions at home will run ten to twenty minutes to stay within the limits of your dog’s attention span—with time set aside for play time distinct from the period allotted for working together.
Look online for obedience classes and read reviews, or ask at your local pet supply store for recommendations. The instructor you choose will ensure you have a training collar that fits correctly and the appropriate six-foot leash. They also should give you practice to do at home, including working on keeping your dog’s attention on you.
If you really love learning dog obedience with your dog, you can move on to competing in obedience trials, rally, or even agility as I did with my Golden Retrievers and Chesapeake Bay Retrievers. Time spent interacting with your dogs is time very well-spent!!