Before moving on to the 15' leash and the first week's outdoor work, I also will show you how to teach your dog to sit for a treat.  The sit is generally one of the first things we teach a dog or puppy.  It is the beginning of self-restraint, and of learning to do something he is told to do, earning praise and a goodie.  It is the beginning of asserting your dominance, as he must do something for you before you do something for him, whether it involves food, attention, going outside, etc.  For a glimpse of what the 15' leash is all about, see Snoopy's page.
getting started
ABC Dog School
Getting Started
   Welcome to Beginner Obedience class!  The goal of the training program is to have a dog that is compliant with your wishes.  This is accomplished by a step-by-step process that builds your dog's self-control and attentiveness, and that's why I call it ABC!   In this class you will learn the first steps to take, and a lot of little goodies about relating to your dog.  Let's get started!
Please note that this class is for dogs who are at least six months of age.  It is best to start training at eight weeks, using a method appropriate to the age of the puppy.  ABC offers Puppy l and Puppy ll for the little guys.
The Collar and Leash
Copyright 2005 Carole J Sulser
   The first thing we need to consider is proper training equipment.  We begin with a 15' leash and a training collar properly fitted to your dog.  For the second lesson, we switch to a six foot leash.  Flexi type leads and chain leashes are not good training tools.  Retractable leashes are too light, and counterproductive when we are teaching a dog to keep the leash hanging loose.  As for chains, it is better to teach the dog that chewing the leash is a no-no.  Nylon, cotton, or leather are the styles of choice.  As for collars, chain is the one I normally start with.  Head halters defeat the purpose of the training, which is self-control in the dog.
     Dogs assembled for class are usually pretty excited.  We get things under control by standing on the leash with the left foot, leaving the dog just enough to stand comfortably.  Yes, you do keep your hand on the leash, as well!  At this point, we are using the six foot leash.  Remember, your dog wants to do his own thing, and if he pulls on you and you pull back, this constitutes a tug-of-war, a test of wills, and your dog will most likely persist in trying to win.  Standing on the leash takes the argument out of it and the dogs all settle down pretty quick.     
Name Response
   Name response is the next order of the day.  Your dog doesn't understand the concept of name, that is, that it is his label, his identity.  Not having or understanding language, he has no way to relate to these things like we do.  So his name is actually an attention word.  More accurately, it is a sound, and when he hears that particular sound, he needs to know that it is means, listen up!
     You can teach him to respond to his name by saying it when he is very near, and only has to turn his head and look at you to get his reward...a nice treat, or at least a hearty "Good dog!"  You should soon see your dog snapping to attention immediately.  When he gets good at it, begin saying his name, along with the word, "Come!" when he is a few steps away from you.  He'll be ready to come on the double for that reward!  Be sure to say his name first, and praise him as soon as he begins to move toward you.
     I know, by the time your dog is six months old or more, you figure he pretty much knows his name, but when my students say their dog's name, not many respond.  They're way too distracted!  Teach your dog the name response and recall ("Come!") anyway.  I bet you'll see a lot of improvement!  And getting a quick response is part of the groundwork for all that comes afterward.
Tone of Voice
   At this point is is important to clarify some things about how to communicate with your dog.  Many people misuse the dog's name, which causes confusion.  For example, what do you say when you catch your dog doing something wrong, like chewing on a throw pillow, or grabbing a steak from the table?  Do you bark his name at him in a gruff tone?  Then you are using his attention word as a correction sound.  This we must avoid!  How then, do we stop him before it's too late and YOUR dinner has become HIS dinner?
     Your dog knows whether you are happy or unhappy with what he is doing, by the tone of your voice!  If, as a puppy, he was allowed to remain with his mother until he was seven weeks of age, she would have taught him the meaning of a gruff or harsh sound.  He gets into trouble, she growls, snaps at him, he gets the fear put into him, learns how to accept discipline.  A correction sound is hard, harsh, sharp.  "NO!"  "STOPIT!"   Better yet..."AGHHHH!"

Try not to use your dog's name in this manner.  You're after a happy response when you use his name.  You want him to look at you and be ready for the next word, which might be "Come!"  And here is another place for confusion.  Puppies come at the sound of your voice, no matter what you say to them.  People get used to saying his name, and here he comes, bless his little heart.  They are teaching him that his name means to come.  It doesn't.  Teach him the proper word, even though he comes at the sound of his name.
     When giving your dog any obedience command, use a firm tone, but not an angry-sounding one.  Again, a command word is NOT a correction sound.  If you make it sound like one, your dog will wonder what it is that you want him to stop doing!  This is not the response you are looking for!
     Also, when using a certain word to elicit a certain response, be sure not to use the same word to elicit a different response.  Dogs have simple minds.  For instance, when using the word, "Come!", be sure you are using it for one particular action.  When your dog moves toward you, praise him, and be there waiting for him to arrive.  Some folks use the recall command when they want their dog to go with them.  Hence, they say "Come!" while they are walking away from him.  No, no, no.  Use a different command for that, such as, "C'mon, let's go!"  Try not to make things harder for your dog than they need to be!
     When you approve of what your dog is doing, be sure to praise him.  Again, he doesn't understand the words, but the tone gets the message across.  Be sure you aren't getting the wrong message across!  For instance, if your dog is trembling in fright, trying to soothe his jangled nerves will only make him think he is right, and that you approve.  It's better to ignore him, or distract him with laughter, toys, fun.  If he is growling at your instructor...and if you are in my class, that would be me...don't give him the idea that this is the thing to do.  And don't ignore him either.  This is behavior to disapprove of in no uncertain terms.  I'm not a serial killer.  Really, I'm not.