The original views on basic obedience come from a time when dogs were still considered to be working and sporting equipment (sit, down, heel – always on the left,…) and it is actually long outdated.
Today, the “classic” signals are rarely really needed (unless you want to do Obedience in a sportive way) and we also know that the dog does not have to “submit to” or “obey” the human.
Of course, we always wish for the latter, because especially in dicey situations, or when the dog embarrasses us with his behavior, it would be nicer if he would simply obey.
Unfortunately, life doesn’t work like that if we don’t want to break the dog.
So if the dog is afraid in a situation and wants to leave as soon as possible, we can insist on our “SIT”, but the dog will not feel good.
Fortunately, this is now a criterion in many households when training methods are selected.
It’s the same with the leash-reactive dog.
The dog is not freaking out for fun or because he wants to show who wears the pants in the relationship. He feels uncomfortable and does the only thing that has worked so far to resolve the situation.
Again, we could theoretically force (try to force) the dog to obey a command. But again, it will go completely against the dog’s needs.
So does basic obedience still have a place in our lives?
For me, it starts with replacing the word “obedience” with “training” or simply using “basics”.
That fits better with our loving relationship with our dogs.
Then we look at signals (because I don’t want to use “command” either… we’re not in the military).
Here I find it important to see what is really needed in the daily life of each team. You decide what is important to you 😉 .
Still, there are “classics” that come up again and again because they are just super useful.
For me, these are:
– Loose leash
And then it becomes individual already.
Some dogs need a target in everyday life because they often need to be led from A to B without having to put on a harness and leash every time.
A cooperation signal (also a target) also always makes sense, because every dog needs any kind of grooming actions or vet appointments at some point.
A stationary behavior also often makes sense for brain game ideas (stay, sit/stand/lie).
And for me, a clear must is relaxation with the respective signals (again, individual).
These are things I like to suggest to first-time dog owners or new puppy parents because it makes life with a dog immensely easier.
Still, it doesn’t have to be the only or most important thing.
For example, if a dog would get terribly upset at the sight of other animals (and only at visual contact), it can also be useful to teach him that it’s ok for you to hold a hand over his eyes as a first step.
And if something has already happened, the trust is lost and you don’t really want to be together in the same room anymore, the muzzle might be the first priority.
You see, individuality is not just a marketing gimmick.
We are so different, and that’s why we don’t need a recipe.
But can’t the exercises from Obedience also be helpful?
Sure they can.
It’s just a question of what for.
The dog likes to learn tricks and practicing them together is fun for the team.
It’s bonding and a nice mental workout.
And in fact, really well-practiced tricks can also help in emergency situations.
If, for example, a dog encounter is too close and cannot be avoided, a really well-trained continuous signal can bridge the unpleasant situation. The dog virtually blanks out the environment and feels more comfortable because of the training history.
This scenario falls under the category of management and can save nerves.
The small disadvantage is only that the dog does not learn thereby to deal with the stimulus.
So it takes more than that.
In the end, we can only decide individually which signals we need, which we practice just for fun and how we use them all in real life.
Because a good plan helps with every exercise.
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