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Step 1: Composure
The quick development of composure is the very first exercise in the family dog obedience program. In regards to composure, a realistic setting is critical for success in this training. Allowing your dog the freedom to experiment is the key to this learning experience. Composure is much more forgiving in regards to control than formal directives, such as the stay command, which will come later with time and further dedication to training.
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Step 2: Food Control
The idea of a food control exercise is to remove the tension from the human and dog eating environment. The dog’s role in this exercise is to learn to eat from his handler’s hands only and not from your house cat’s bowl or food that falls from the dinner table to the floor. It’s not the type of food that matters…it’s how the food is presented to your dog.
Step 3: Visitor Control
A visitor is defined as “any living beings not the primary handlers.” The dog’s role in this exercise is to respond to the visitor by licking, leaning, smelling, etc. but only if the visitor initiates the contact. The handler’s role is to greet the visitor naturally, controlling the dog without the use of commands with a loose leash. The handler needs to supply the consequences that go along with the dog’s behavior. Negative behavior results in negative consequences and positive behavior generates positive consequences.
Step 4: Door Control
One of the most challenging situations your dog is faced with is managing doorways. In our door control exercise, we create an invisible barrier over the newly exposed threshold. This is both for safety and ease of crossing. When I open a door, I envision a barrier that a dog cannot pierce, not with a toenail or a whisker. I don’t want the dog encroaching upon this threshold whether we have a tangible barrier or not.
Step 5: Walking
The idea behind this exercise is to help the dog develop a well-defined position whereas we travel so he does not impede our motion. The dog’s role in this exercise is to learn how to follow the handler, yield to the handler, adjust pace to suit the handler and adjust direction to suit the handler. Remember, you are a team – we’re going to work as a team but the handler is the leader.
Step 6: Heeling
The idea is to develop an immediate position between dog and handler. This is for safety and control when you are out traveling with your dog. Think of using “heel” rather than casual “walk” when crossing a busy street. Think of using “heel” when moving through a crowd of people. Or you can imagine using “heel” when going into your vet’s waiting room.
Step 7: Sit
Even though it’s looked upon as casual or informal, the idea is to get into an easy to get into and out of posture to view as a fixed position. Sit is used as a way to polish off formal commands.
Step 8: Down
The idea is the build a posture for the dog that’s both comfortable and secure for extended periods. Imagine meeting a friend at the park. You’ll stop and chat. Have your dog lay down while you chat. It’ll be more comfortable lying on the ground rather than holding a “sit” position. Utilize the “down” “stay” command at dinner time. Have your dog lay down where he’s comfortable – the family sits and eats at peace.
Step 9: Stay
The idea is to develop a “hold fast” response, namely a “sit” and “Down”. The exact meaning to the dog is “don’t move – I have somewhere to go. I’m going to be busy. Hold until I release you.”
Step 10: Come
The idea is to establish a focused “sit in front of the handler” position. No matter how far away the dog is from the handler; no matter what may be between the two of you, his job is to get to the handler right away.