Obedience training may just be the best gift you can give yourself, your family, and your pet. It teaches your dog appropriate social behavior with both people and animals; helps correct annoying behaviors like jumping, digging, barking, and chewing; and keeps your dog entertained and happy. A win-win all around!
When to start training
The sooner, the better! It’s easier to train a puppy how to act properly than it is to retrain an adult dog who may have already established less-than-ideal behaviors. Still, it’s never too late to train your dog—it just may take a little longer before he adopts new behaviors. Much like people, every dog is different. Some are hyperactive. Some are laid-back. Some are serious. Others are silly. Some are shy, and yet others have too much confidence. Regardless of these differences, training is necessary for all dogs and beneficial to your entire family.
Take a class and practice at home
Taking a class at your local AKC club is the best way to train your dog in obedience. But that’s really just a stepping stone because you can’t rely on classes alone: you have to practice at home as well, and your instructor will tell you how often and how long practices should be. While it’s important to practice regularly and frequently, sessions should be short and interspersed with playtime and rewards.
All dogs—purebred and mix breeds—are welcome to participate in AKC obedience training classes. Classes are taught by experienced trainers who have won obedience competitions with their own dogs. They know the latest training techniques, are familiar with training all breeds of dogs, and oftentimes can help solve behavior problems.
Your local club will usually offer three types:
Puppy class, designed for dogs 3-5 months old. Young pups will learn basic household commands and how to socialize with people and other puppies. You’ll learn about nutrition, grooming, housebreaking, and troubleshooting common problems.
Basic class, for dogs 5 months and older. You’ll learn essential training commands to keep your dog safe, such as heel, sit, stand, down, stay, and come.
Instructors will also teach you about proper nutrition, grooming, and solutions to common problems.
Companion events classes, which prepares you and your dog for competition in obedience and other AKC events like rally, agility and tracking. You’ll learn about the various levels of competition and titles available, how to teach your dog the required exercises, and will help you to learn the regulations for competing.
Additionally, Canine Good Citizen® (CGC) Class may be a separate class or a part of a beginner class at AKC clubs and other organizations. CGC is a certification program that is designed to reward dogs that have good manners at home and in the community. Your dog will need to know the commands and exercises taught in a basic training class to qualify for a passing score on the CGC test. Dogs that pass the CGC test receive a certificate from the AKC and are recorded in the AKC’s Canine Good Citizen Archive. Get more information about CGC.
Get started in Obedience or Rally with the American Kennel Club.