It’s a great feeling when you have a dog who you know will obey your every command. You can then be worry-free, safe in the knowledge that he will always come back to you and do what's asked of him.
An American bull terrier showing how to be obedient on a leash in the park
Being in control of your dog is very important, otherwise he will begin to control you. Instinctively, your new dog will think of your family as his natural ‘wolfpack’, and he will challenge each member in an attempt to become the leader. By adopting the role of the ‘pack leader’, you will be able to control your dog’s behavior effectively.
Before you teach your dog commands like ‘sit’, ‘wait’ and ‘heel’, you must discourage any behavior that is a result of him trying to overrule you. Some behavioral patterns like demanding attention and pushing through doors in front of you may go unnoticed, and although these actions may seem harmless, if they happen routinely then your dog may be climbing up the ranks in your family pack without you realizing. If he does not see you as the leader, he is unlikely to listen to your commands.
A German Shorthaired Pointer sitting waiting for a command from its owner
You must treat your dog in a way that allows him to find a comfortable position at the bottom of the family pack. From the minute you bring your new dog home, discourage any signs of aggression towards other animals or people, and teach him not to chew any furniture. This will help to prevent these behaviors from developing into bigger problems in the future.
Rewarding Your Dog
When teaching your dog new things it is important to reward him with lots of verbal praise and a small treat as soon as he responds correctly to a command. If you reward your dog every time he responds correctly he will learn quickly.
A Boxer being given a treat for good behavior
Once he becomes proficient at responding to a command, stop rewarding him every time. Remember, however, that if you stop giving him praise for good behavior he will soon forget what you have taught him. If your dog develops bad behaviors like whining for your attention, make sure that you don’t give him any until the unwanted behavior stops. If you give him the attention that he is trying to get, you will encourage him to continue. It is also important to tell all of your family members that you are trying to stop this behavior so that he is never encouraged to repeat it.