Learning about obedience training for adult dogs is essential. If you have recently rescued an adult dog, you will quickly find out just how important it is.
If you have an adult dog in your life that hasn’t had any basic obedience training, you probably know this already.
Making your dog man’s best friend requires effort. We have to teach them how to live in our world. Obedience training can make life much more enjoyable — for both the human and the dog.
If you are trying to figure out where to start with training your adult dog, here is what you need to know.
Obedience Training for Adult Dogs: 3 Methods
There is more than one way to train a dog. And what works for one dog might not work for another.
Some dogs shut down when they are given a correction. Others are more strong-willed and are a nightmare to live with if you don’t correct bad behaviors.
Some dogs are very food motivated. Others could care less about the treat in your hand but would do anything in the world for a tennis ball.
So, it’s important to know what will work for your dog’s temperament.
Here are a few different training methods that have proven to work well with obedience training for adult dogs. You may have to try more than one to figure out what works best for your dog.
And never, ever underestimate just how beneficial it could be to hire a professional trainer. Their experience with many different dogs is invaluable and well worth the cost.
1. Obedience training for adult dogs: Positive training
Positive reinforcement is an effective way to train your dog. In addition to training your dog, this method also helps you build a strong bond with your four-legged friend.
The premise behind training your dog with positive reinforcement is simple. When your dog offers a behavior you want, you reward them with something they like.
The most common way to provide positive reinforcement is with treats. You can also use treats to lure your dog into the behavior you want, such as sitting or lying down.
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When it comes to obedience training for adult dogs (or dogs of any age for that matter), you want to reward them immediately when they give you the behavior you are looking for.
For example, you lure your dog into a sit with a treat. When it sits, you give him the treat. Easy peasy (for the most part).
Your dog not only learns to sit on command, but they also learn that they get good things when they sit on command. And that those good things come from you.
2. Obedience training for adult dogs: Clicker training
You may have come across a tool called a “clicker” while searching for information on obedience training for adult dogs.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that a clicker by itself will magically train your dog. It won’t. But it can be an incredibly useful tool once you understand how they work.
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A clicker makes a clicking sound when you push the button. The click is a marker. Simply put, this sound tells your dog that what they are doing right that very moment is what you want them to do.
As soon as you click, reward your dog immediately. They need to know that the click means they are getting a reward NOW.
First, you mush teach your dog that the sound of the clicker means they are going to get a treat. To teach this, just press the button on your clicker and follow up by giving your dog a treat.
Repeat this several times, in several short sessions, for several days. Keep practicing until your dog looks for the treat as soon as they hear the click. This exercise is called “priming the clicker.”
3. Obedience training for adult dogs: Balanced training
As mentioned earlier, some dogs need corrections as well as positive reinforcement. Balanced training uses corrections to stop unwanted behaviors in addition to rewarding good behavior.
Often, balanced trainers use tools such as prong collars and e-collars. These tools don’t harm your dog.
In fact, prong collars are actually safer than flat collars, which can damage a dog’s windpipe when it pulls on the leash.
E-collars, which are mistakenly called shock collars, work the same way a TENS unit does. They provide an uncomfortable stimulation, but they don’t actually shock the dog.
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For some dogs, such as breeds that are working dogs, they are necessary and can make all the difference in obedience training for adult dogs.
However, you shouldn’t use any of these tools until a professional trainer shows you how to use them properly.
Recommended Read: How to Leash Train Your Dog
Obedience Training for Adult Dogs: Basic Commands
Now that we’ve covered a few of the most common obedience training methods for adult dogs, let’s talk about what to teach them.
There are a few commands that every dog should know. These skills can make your dog easier to live with. You will also build a stronger bond with your dog while teaching them these skills.
Taking the time to work on obedience training with your dog can help your dog understand what is expected of him in the human world. As a result, obedience training can help your dog become more confident and well-adjusted.
Look at me
Getting your dog to pay attention to you is the first step in obedience training for adult dogs.
To teach your dog to make eye contact with you, hold a treat up by your eyes, and say “Look at me” in a high-pitched voice to get your dog’s attention.
At first, you may need to show your dog the treat and then move it up to your face. Although this is a simple skill, it can make a lot of difference when you need your dog to focus on you.
Practice this exercise inside where there are no distractions at first. Then slowly move up to environments where there are more distractions, such as your yard.
Eventually, you’ll want to practice this in a lot of different places with more things competing for his attention, such as a park or city street.
But don’t rush it. When it comes to dog training, the motto is “slow is fast.”
Teaching your dog to sit is one of the first commands you should work on. Using a treat as a lure makes this really easy to train.
Hold the treat in your hand and show it to the dog. Then slowly raise the treat up in the air. The dog’s nose should follow the treat. As the dog raises its nose, his hind end will drop down into a sit.
Once your dog sits, praise him and reward him by giving him the treat you used to lure him. If you are using a clicker, click the moment his bottom hits the floor and immediately give him the treat.
If your dog isn’t interested enough in your treat to follow it with his nose, try using a higher value treat.
He may not be motivated by a piece of kibble, but a piece of cheese or chicken could be a whole different story.
Some dogs are more food motivated than others. If your dog is not interested in food treats, try using a favorite toy instead.
Remember that your dog doesn’t speak English. You are not just teaching him the behavior; you are also teaching him what the word “sit” means.
You can teach your dog to down on command the same way you taught them to sit.
To use a treat to lure your dog into a down, it is easiest to start with your dog in a sit. Hold the treat in your hand and show it to your dog.
Lower the treat to the ground and then slide it towards you. As your dog’s nose follows, he should lie down. When your dog’s body is flat on the ground, praise and reward him or click and treat.
Once your dog has this under his belt, start teaching him to down from a standing position. This step is important so that you avoid making your dog think that he can only move into a down from a sit.
Loose leash walking
Loose leash walking is a skill that every dog needs to have. It saves both your arm and their throats. No one wants to walk a dog that incessantly pulls on the leash.
We’ve all seen the dogs at the end of their leash, pulling so hard they gag themselves. Walking a dog like this isn’t fun for the human or the canine.
There are different ways to train a dog to walk on a loose leash. But they all have the same basic principle behind them: your dog doesn’t get to move forward if the leash is tight.
As soon as the leash gets tight, stop moving. Your dog will eventually turn around and look at you, which makes the leash go slack again. When this happens, begin walking forward again.
Another way to teach loose leash walking is to turn around and walk the other direction as soon as the leash goes tight.
Or you can have your dog circle around you and sit on your left side in what is referred to as the “Heel” position.
Choose the method that works best for you and stick to it. The rule is that the leash has to be loose for your dog to get where he wants to go. And make sure to start where there are the least distractions.
Dogs repeat behaviors that work for them, and moving forward is self-rewarding. Training loose leash walking can take time. At first, you may not even make it out of your driveway.
It will eventually click in your dog’s mind. However, some dogs have a harder time with this than others.
Depending on your dog’s temperament, it may be worth looking into various types of training collars, such as prongs or head collars. But make sure you educate yourself on how to use these tools properly.
How important it is to train your dog to come when called cannot be overstated. This skill can quite literally mean the difference between life and death. So it’s a vital part of obedience training for adult dogs.
To start teaching a solid recall, begin with the “Come” game. To do this, you will need two people. Begin inside where there are fewer distractions.
A room with a hard floor is best so that your dog can hear the treat hit the floor.
Each of you will stand on one side of the room. One of you will throw a treat onto the ground. When your dog starts to go after the treat, say “Come.”
As soon as he eats the treat, the other person throws a treat on the ground and repeats the process. Take turns doing this in rapid succession. Slowly increase the distance between you.
To train a solid recall, there are a couple of rules you must follow.
First, never tell your dog to come unless you can enforce it. Otherwise, he will just learn that he can ignore you. Use a long-line when you are training outside. If he doesn’t come when called, use the long-line to reel him in.
Second, never punish your dog after you tell him to come. Always have a reward for him when he comes to you. You want him to know that coming to you means he will get something good.
Stay is another important basic command that your dog needs to know.
Start by telling your dog to sit. Tell him to stay. Then tell him to come. Next, put him in a sit, tell him to stay, and take a step back. Slowly continue to increase the distance.
You should also add different positions. For example, put your dog in a down and tell him to stay. Practice this the same way you practiced the sit-stay.
In addition, practice your dog’s stay without calling him to you. Make him stay in the same position until you return to him and release him.
Eventually, you should be able to completely leave the room, and your dog should still be in the same position when you return or call him to you.
Obedience Training for Adult Dogs: Advanced Skills
Once you complete basic obedience training for adult dogs, you can move on to some more advanced skills.
These are also important things to teach your dog. All of these skills can make living with your dog easier.
They can also make your dog happier. So don’t stop once you reach the bare minimum.
Instead, move on to training the skills below.
Teaching a solid “Leave It” is a must when it comes to living with a dog. Actually, this skill can also save your dog’s life. And it is easier to train than you might think.
To start, put a couple of pieces of their food in your hand. Close your hand around the treats and let your dog sniff your hand. Your dog may even paw at your fist trying to get to the food.
Whatever you do, don’t open your hand until your dog relaxes and stops trying to get to the treats in your hand.
Once he backs off, open your hand, give a release word such as “All Done,” and let your dog have the food. When your dog starts to learn this game, add the command “Leave It.”
Next, start the game over with your hand open. Just be ready to close your hand if your dog goes for them.
Then, start placing the treats on the ground — but stay close at first and be ready to cover them with your hand if he tries to go for them. Again, don’t let him have the food until he backs off and you give him permission.
When your dog really gets good at this, you can use “Leave It” to tell your dog to ignore things on the ground or anything else that is distracting him, such as people or other dogs.
Teaching your pet to “Wait” is another important part of obedience training for adult dogs. It’s also another skill that can save your dog’s life.
How? You can prevent your dog from rushing out the door every time you open it or from jumping out of a car.
To start training “Wait,” put our dog on his leash. Have him sit before you open the door. Tell him to “Wait.” If he starts to move, quickly close the door, put him back in a sit, and start the exercise over.
You should always walk through the door before your dog. So have him sit and wait until you give him a release command such as “All Done” or “Let’s Go.”
“Give It” is another advanced skill to teach your dog. It can often be overlooked, though. That’s at least until you need your dog to give you something that it has in its mouth.
The easiest way to teach this is to make a trade with your dog. Offer a high-value treat when you tell your dog to “Give It.” In order to take the treat, your dog will have to drop what it is holding in its mouth.
Training your dog to “Give It” can make a game of fetch much more fun for both of you. It can also help keep your dog safe if he picks up something dangerous.
When teaching this skill, always offer your dog something better than what he has. That way, he makes the exchange willingly and doesn’t feel like you are taking something away from him.
This skill can make it much easier to have visitors or answer your door. To teach “Place,” give your dog a specific spot, such as his bed.
A raised bed often works best for teaching this because it is easier for your dog to discern where he should be.
Have him get on his spot and put him in a down, then tell him to stay. Work on this skill the same way you taught him to stay.
With practice, you can train your dog to stay in a down on this spot until you release him.
The “Place” command can make it so that you can open your door for the pizza guy or invite company into your home without your dog jumping on them.
Recommended Read: 6 Tips on How to Potty Train a Puppy
Obedience Training for Adult Dogs Is Possible
Don’t buy into the old adage that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. That is nothing more than a myth.
Obedience training for adult dogs is not only possible; it is highly effective. Teaching your dog these skills will improve both of your lives in a myriad of ways.
So grab some treats and get started. I promise you will never regret having a well-trained dog. And you also won’t regret building a stronger relationship with your best friend.