Obedience training usually refers to the training of a dog, and the term is most commonly used in that context. Obedience training ranges from very basic training, such as teaching the dog to reliably respond to basic commands like “sit,” “down,” “come,” and “stay,” to high level competition within clubs such as the American Kennel Club, United Kennel Club or the Canadian Kennel Club, where additional commands, accuracy and performance are scored and judged.
Many dogs have no manners, and their owners are at a loss as to how to teach them to behave. So these unfortunate owners frequently end up hollering at poor Spot or smacking Buddy on the butt with an open palm or a newspaper. Even worse, when Rambo doesn’t shape up, he’s banished to the basement or the backyard to live his days in solitude, or he’s taken to the pound because “we just can't deal with him anymore.”
Of course, obedience training would be a cinch if dogs spoke the same language that people speak. But – this just isn’t the case! Dogs have their own attitudes, voice, body language and mindset. They can be stubborn, dominant, submissive or fearful – characteristics that can make them difficult to train!
Training a dog in obedience can be an ongoing and lengthy process depending on the dog, the methods of training used, and the skill and understanding of both the trainer and the handler. The level of obedience training the handler wishes to achieve with the dog is also a major factor in the time involved, as is the commitment to training by the handler.
Basic or beginner’s obedience training is typically a short course ranging from six to ten weeks, where it is demonstrated to the handler how to communicate with and train the dog in a few simple commands. With most methods, the dog is trained one command at a time. Although there may or may not be a specific word attached to it, walking properly on a leash, or leash control, is often the first training required prior to learning other commands.
Obedience training implies compliance with the direction or command given by the handler. For a dog to be considered obedient rather than simply trained in obedience, it must respond reliably each time its handler gives a command. And then, obedience training is often a prerequisite for, or a component of other, more advanced dog training.