What skills should my dog learn after completing a basic obedience class?
There are five basic obedience commands: Sit, Stay, Down, Heel and Come.
However, a basic obedience class does a lot more than just teach the dog (and owner) these commands. It increases the human/animal bond, makes your dog feel secure and confident and helps you understand each other. It sets up boundaries helps to avoid misunderstandings, such as jumping up on the bed or chewing the furniture. It can calm your dog, tire her out and help to prevent certain behavioral problems, such as jumping on people and digging.
It’s not really unusual for a dog to go on to advanced methods once she has learned the basics. Sometimes, owners even prep them for the Canine Good Citizen Test!
Advanced commands are taught the same way basic commands are taught (often being extensions of the basics), using verbal commands and pairing them with hand gestures. What gesture you use is completely up to you.
Once your dog knows what to do, she’ll begin doing it on her own in exchange for a treat or praise. For instance, if you’re teaching your dog to bring, have someone across the room give her a toy or other item. Then, from across the room, you say “bring,” and use an accompanying hand gesture. You might start with, “Fido, bring.” She may respond either to her name or the “bring” by coming toward you with the item. As she’s approaching you, praise her by saying, “bring,” so that she understands that the actions he’s performing is the “bring.” When she gets to you, gently take the item while saying, “Bring.” When she releases the item, reward her.
You might also want to have your dog trained in agility, because it’s another excellent advanced exercise for your dog (and you) and there are competitions around the country.