This article includes detailed instructions and helpful tips on how to DIY obedience train your dog. We’ve even included a step-by-step tutorial video, so you can follow along. Please note: This article assumes that you have a basic understanding of dog training and are capable of using treats and toys in a way that motivates your dog. If this is not the case, we recommend you seek help from a professional trainer to ensure that you get the basics right before attempting this type of training at home.
Step 1: Teach a “sit” cue.
The first step in training your dog to sit is teaching a “sit” cue. The dog needs to know that sitting will get him what he wants and increase the likelihood of receiving something good.
Sit is one of the easiest cues for dogs to understand and quickly learn, because it’s not too different from their natural inclination to sit when they’re about to be petted or receive affection, like a hug or kiss. That’s why we want our dogs sitting at our side before we give them any kind of reward: so that they associate good things with sitting down!
Step 2: Reward a dog for sitting down.
Now that your dog has learned to sit down when you ask him to, it’s time to teach him what happens when he does. The next step is rewarding him for obeying your command.
When teaching a dog how to obey commands, be generous with your praise and rewards. If a dog feels like the reward doesn’t match the effort he put in, he’ll get frustrated and eventually stop trying.
There are several ways you can reward your dog: with treats or a toy, verbal praise and affection (like pets or scratch behind the ears), belly rubs or belly scratches—the possibilities are endless!
Step 3: Training with treats.
Now that you have your dog’s attention, it’s time to begin training. This can be done with or without treats—it depends on your dog’s level of comfort with the process.
If your dog is very shy or skittish and doesn’t seem interested in food, start by rewarding them by saying “good girl!” when they look at you willingly. You can also try a toy they like playing with instead of food. In these cases, where we want our dogs to look at us as part of their normal routine (not just during training), we can help them get used to eye contact by rewarding them for looking at us without giving commands first.
Once your pup is comfortable looking at you without being prompted and responding positively when given praise, start giving verbal commands: “sit.” If she sits well for several seconds before receiving a treat, reward her immediately with praise alone then give her a treat once she finishes sitting up straight again. Repeat this until she learns how long she needs to remain in position before getting rewarded; typically this takes about 2-3 sessions depending on how patient and attentive our pups are!
Step 4: Practice good timing.
Timing is key! You can’t give a cue too soon, you can’t give a cue too late, and you can’t give it too often. Your timing needs to be just right for your dog to truly understand what you want him to do—and become an obedient pup.
Here are some tips for getting your timing right:
- If the dog takes longer than three seconds to respond to your command, then it’s probably too late already. Try giving the command sooner next time so they know exactly what they should be doing when hearing it from you.
- If your dog responds immediately every single time without hesitation or confusion over what he should do when he sees his favorite toy or food bowl in front of him (or anything else that might trigger his response), then maybe he isn’t understanding why exactly we’re using these things as rewards during obedience training? Try having him sit down instead for example.”
Step 5: Do not yell at your dog.
When you yell at your dog, they will only think that they are being punished and will not understand what they did wrong. Your tone should always be stern but not harsh. If the dog tries to do something wrong, you should use a loud and commanding voice to let them know that this is unacceptable behavior. The dog needs to learn how to act in different situations, so it’s important not to let them get away with bad behavior just because they’re still a puppy or young adult.
Step 6: Give treats generously.
You want your dog to know that it was the behavior he performed that earned him a treat, and not just because you were in the mood to give him one. To help your pup learn this, you should only reward behaviors where he’s actually doing what you want him to do (like sitting down) rather than just standing around waiting for a treat. You’ll also want to make sure that your dog does whatever behavior you’re rewarding three or four times before giving him his treat: one time won’t teach him much about what he needs to do in order for the treats to keep coming!
Finally, remember that rewards are most effective when they’re given immediately after performing a desired action; if they come later on down the road when your pup isn’t expecting them anymore then they may not seem as valuable as they once were before being delayed so long!
Step 7: Stop giving treats before the dog gets bored.
Once your dog will sit for a treat, it’s time to stop giving treats before the dog gets bored. If you keep rewarding your dog for sitting, he’ll learn that this is the word you want him to obey. However, if you stop giving out treats and reward him only after he sits down, then he’ll quickly realize that sitting down is what earns him his reward.
The best way to do this is by changing up when and where you give out your rewards so that they’re unpredictable. You should also use different types of rewards (treats vs praise), so as not to become predictable yourself!
Step 8: Start over if needed.
If you’ve been working on a new command or behavior, and your dog is not responding to your training, try again later. It may be that they’re at the end of their attention span for the day, or maybe they’re more interested in something else going on around them. If that’s the case, try again tomorrow!
If your dog still doesn’t seem to get it after several tries, change up one or more of these things:
- The reward you’re giving them may not be as effective as another type of reward could be. If so, switch out the type of reward – use a toy instead of food, or vice versa; put some peanut butter on top of some kibble; give them a treat when they sniff something interesting (instead of sitting).
- The rewards schedule may also be preventing progress – try giving less frequent but larger treats so that they don’t lose interest over time; experiment with timing by having some long periods between treats (to see if this increases motivation) or short periods between treats (to see if this decreases boredom).
Always reward your dog for desired behavior.
Rewarding your dog for desired behavior is one of the most important aspects of training. You can use treats, toys, or verbal praise to reward good behavior. It’s also a great way to build a bond with your dog, because dogs love it when we show them affection by praising them for doing something right!
You don’t want your dog to think that only bad things happen when they’re around you—that would make them feel anxious and uncomfortable in their own home!
It probably won’t happen overnight, but with plenty of practice and a few treats, you can be the proud owner of an obedient dog in no time!