Importance of Practicing Basic Dog Obedience Cues
By Danielle Farrington
Your dog might be a master of agility. She might be a brand new puppy who doesn’t yet know how to lie down on command. She might be a rescue who needs a little extra love and attention before working on complicated cues.
It doesn’t matter how well trained your dogs are. They will always need the basics. The cues you learn in a beginner dog trainer course, such as “focus,” “sit” and “stay,” are the building blocks for other cues. These cues help your dog successfully perform more complex behaviors. Without a cue asking her to focus or sit, how will you get your dog’s attention in the first place?
Many dog owners take these basic cues for granted. Once our dogs have successfully learned them and we move forward to more advanced work, we often forget to practice the basics. It may sound silly to practice “sit” with your dog after years and years, but sometimes a nice, easy “sit” is the best thing to do.
Benefits of Practicing Basic Obedience
These cues become important in real-life settings. They’re also great cues for working on your relationship with your dog. Once your dog understands them, she will always offer them with enthusiasm. She knows a reward of praise or treats will be coming even if other cues are confusing or the training session is difficult.
Below are two cues that can be beneficial and should never be forgotten.
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Dog Training Commands
Sometimes called “watch me,” the “focus” cue can help catch your dog’s attention. This is beneficial in all stages of training. As a puppy, it can help your dog understand when a training session is beginning.
As she masters the cue, you can use it to gain her focus in high-distraction areas. This can help with all sorts of behaviors. For example, if you and your dog are out for a walk and you can keep her focus as a cat meanders by, your dog has great focus. Sometimes, the ability to focus can even help a dog through a stressful situation. If she gets nervous at the vet’s office, but can focus on you during the exam, she may feel significantly less stress.
Keep in mind using your “focus” cue in high-distraction or stressful places can be difficult for your dog at first. This is where using praise, treats and other positive reinforcers ensure your dog knows you are the most interesting and important thing in the room.
Although “sit” is a natural position for dogs, teaching it as a cue is incredibly beneficial. “Sit” is the gateway to other behaviors, such as lie down, stay and even heel. This basic move becomes so ingrained in many dogs that when they see a treat, they automatically sit.
While you’re training your dog, you want to make sure training time doesn’t become routine. This creates a great opportunity to be creative, forcing you to find ways to keep training interesting for you and your dog, and to keep her from becoming complacent.
These are just two great examples of dog obedience cues that should never be left out of your training sessions. Whether your dog is a beginner or very advanced, knowing the basics enables your dog to progress. One of the most important parts of training your dog is keeping things fun. No matter how rough the training may be, if you end your session on a nice easy “sit,” you’ll have a happy dog and a fine stopping point.
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