Obedience: Get Started
Obedience training may just be the best gift you can give yourself, your family, and your Great Pyrenees. It teaches your dog appropriate social behavior with both people and animals; helps correct annoying behaviors like jumping, digging, barking, and chewing; and keeps your dog entertained and happy. A win-win all around!
When to Start Training
The sooner, the better! It’s easier to train a puppy how to act properly than it is to retrain an adult dog who may have already established less-than-ideal behaviors. Still, it’s never too late to train your dog—it just may take a little longer before he adopts new behaviors. Much like people, every dog is different. Some are ‘busy’. Some are laid-back. Some are serious. Others are silly. Some are shy, and yet others have too much confidence. Regardless of these differences, training is necessary for all dogs and beneficial to your entire family.
Take a Class and Practice at Home
Taking a class sponsored at your local kennel is the best way to train your dog in obedience. But that’s really just a start because you can’t rely on classes alone: you have to practice at home as well, and your instructor will tell you how often and how long practices should be. While it’s important to practice regularly and frequently, sessions should be short and interspersed with playtime and rewards.
All dogs—purebred and mix breeds—are welcome to participate in obedience training classes. Classes are taught by experienced trainers who have won obedience competitions with their own dogs. They know the latest training techniques, are familiar with training all breeds of dogs, and oftentimes can help solve behavior problems.
Your local club will usually offer three types:
- Puppy class, designed for dogs 3-5 months old. Young pups will learn basic household commands and how to socialize with people and other puppies. You’ll learn about nutrition, grooming, housebreaking, and troubleshooting common problems.
- Basic class, for dogs 5 months and older. You’ll learn essential training commands to keep your dog safe, such as heel, sit, stand, down, stay, and come. Instructors will also teach you about proper nutrition, grooming, and solutions to common problems.
- Companion events classes, which prepares you and your dog for competition in obedience and other AKC events like rally, agility and tracking. You’ll learn about the various levels of competition and titles available, how to teach your dog the required exercises, and will help you to learn the regulations for competing.
Go Further! Consider Competing
For many dog owners, obedience classes are their own reward. But for others, the experience of obedience training inspires a desire to continue onto the competitive level. If that’s you, there are two types of AKC Obedience competitions (“trials”) to explore:
- All-breed Obedience trials: The most common types of trials, these offer competitions for the 193 AKC breeds and varieties of dogs recognized by the AKC; also eligible are Foundation Service Stock breeds. Mixed breed dogs are also eligible, but they must be spayed or neutered in order to compete.
- Specialty trials: These competitions are restricted to dogs of a specific breed or to varieties of one breed. But under certain circumstances, specialty clubs can be allowed to hold trials with all-breeds and mixed breeds alike.
To compete, your dog must be:
- At least 6 months of age.
- Physically sound.
- Have an AKC number
- Spayed females and neutered males are eligible to participate but females in season are not.
- Dogs that are blind are not eligible to participate.
- No dog can compete if it is taped or bandaged or in any way has anything attached to it for medical purposes.
No matter how far you go, Obedience is arguably the most valuable training you can do with your dog. It will provide life-long skills, and each time he does something you ask him to do, you will burst with pride (and your family will be super impressed!)
Started in 2005, AKC Rally is a fun family sport and participation increases each year. All dogs are welcome to participate in AKC Rally, whether purebred or mixed breed. It’s a perfect starting point for those who are new to canine sports, as AKC Rally provides a challenging introduction to all AKC Companion Events for dogs and handlers to strengthen their skills.
Think of an AKC Rally event as any team sport: You and your dog navigate a course, side-by-side, as you steer him through a course of 10-20 different signs. Each of these signs provides instructions regarding the next skill that is to be performed. Your dog and you move continuously throughout the course with the dog under control at the handler’s left side. There is a clear sense of teamwork between the dog and handler both during and between the numbered signs. Although each performance is timed, having a good race time is not the goal; it’s all about working as a team while performing the skills, with the dog under control.
As one of the world’s most famous basketball players, Michael Jordan, once said, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” When you participate in an AKC Rally event, you get to show off both: Your dog’s talents and the teamwork between you.