Editor’s Note: This entire post is an excerpt from our newest e-book, The Cockapoo Obedience Training Guide. It can help your dog learn or master commands such as Sit, Stay, Down, Heel, and more. You can read it online.
There are a number of standard rules to adhere to when embarking upon obedience training, and they apply to dogs of all ages. I am going to list the eight rules you need to keep in mind. Adhere to them at all times and training will be quicker and easier than you think.
Rule #1: Praise. Give your dog praise when he is obedient and when he does what is asked of him. On the other hand, administer correction when he is disobedient. Use a clear voice to reinforce praise and give correction.
Rule #2: Patience. Be patient with your Cockapoo. While highly intelligent, he still needs time to learn what you are asking of him, and will often require commands to be repeated a number of times.
Rule #3: Consistency. Maintain consistency. Ensure that all members of your family understand what the rules are concerning your dog’s behavior, and make sure that everyone applies the same rules to your dog. He should not be allowed to behave one way with your children and another way with you, since it will only confuse him. Clear commands from everyone, along with praise when appropriate, will encourage your dog to learn acceptable behavior.
Make obedience training a part of your daily life instead of just a slot of time each evening. For instance, ask your dog to “sit” before you put down his food bowl, or ask him to “stay” when the doorbell goes.
Rule #4: Rewards, Not Punishments. Many dogs are motivated by rewards such as tasty treats, while others love the reward of time spent with you, perhaps in playing with a ball or taking a walk. Find out what your dog responds to most and use it as a motivational tool in training.
You must not punish your dog for failing to perform as expected. Rewards are far more effective than punishments. Be fair and realistic in your dealings with him. Your dog will not meet all your expectations immediately. Keep going until he makes some progress and then reward him. Patience is always the best teacher.
Corrections like a stern no or a squirt from a spray bottle are OK if your dog is truly doing something wrong, like jumping, showing aggression, etc. But swatting, screaming, or otherwise punishing your dog is not going to help and may make matters worse.
One more tip on this: If your dog has truly done wrong, do not try to correct him after the event. Correction must be administered only if you catch your dog in the act of wrongdoing, because otherwise it will have no meaning for him and he will be confused about why he is being corrected.
Rule #5: Short & Simple. Keep training sessions short and simple so that your dog does not have time to become bored or to forget what he is meant to learn. Short, fun sessions on a regular basis will probably be produce better results than long, tedious ones. As a rule of thumb: No training session should last longer than 10 minutes (and you may adjust these to be much shorter if you have a puppy or older dog with a shorter attention span). You should try to have several of these short sessions split up throughout the day, for instance once in the morning, once in the afternoon, and once in the evening.
Rule #6: Baby Steps. Teach obedience commands one at a time. We have set this guide up in chapters, and within those chapters are several steps. Master each step before moving on to the next. This way you can give your dog opportunity to master one command, reward him for his efforts, and then build on that command with another. An ongoing training plan with structure will challenge your dog mentally.
Rule #7: DIY. This is YOUR Cockapoo, so YOU need to train him. Do not delegate the training to lots of different people within the family, to other friends, or to a professional trainer. As you will be occupying the position of leader of his pack, you must be the one whom he looks to for leadership and guidance. I have seen dogs sent to obedience schools where the master was not present (BAD idea), and many of these animals ended up obeying their trainer perfectly, while disregarding their master. Through the respect and conditioning of training, the trainer became the master.
Rule #8: Test. As obedience training progresses, constantly test your dog. See how well your dog has learned the basic commands. Take him to other places and put him in different surroundings. See how well he performs when there are distractions around him, and reward him for his ongoing obedience.
Keep these rules in mind when undergoing any training course, including our free Cockapoo Obedience Training Guide, and you will have a head start on most owners. For a much more in-depth understanding of Cockapoos, you should check out the Cockapoo Owner’s Handbook.