Basic Obedience: Why It Matters

I teach Beginners [also known as Basic] Obedience, a course that teaches obedience foundations upon which all other types of training will rely. When people call to inquire about specialized training, I ask them if their dog has had any basic obedience training first; if they say no, I encourage them to start with that. They ask me why, and I tell them the same thing I’m about to tell you: The foundations of all training start with the basics. Without the basics, the dog can’t succeed in any other type of training.

Before a dog can learn or perform advanced obedience – let’s say, long distance down-stay with recall – they have to first learn the down-stay position, how to recall on a lead of varying lengths, and how to stay focused on their handler at all times, no matter what distractions are around them. For the dog to learn those things, they must learn and master basic obedience, which teaches those foundations.

To expect a dog to perform precision commands – for example, think of the kind of work military and police dogs perform for their handlers – without first teaching them the basics is like tossing a baby into a lake and expecting it to automatically swim.

Now, most people asking me about obedience training are not looking to enroll their dogs in protection work or other precision training. But they do want their dog to be polite and well-behaved both at home and out in public. Without the basics, their dog is not as likely to be a good citizen as a dog who has learned, mastered, and consistently practices that foundation training.

Basic obedience matters. It matters a great deal. Without it, the dog can’t be expected to succeed in any other type of training. Without the basics, taking your dog out in public might be more of an adventure than you expect. Without the basics, having people in your home without worrying your dog will jump on them or otherwise misbehave might only be a pipe dream for you. Even something as simple as answering your door to a stranger might not be possible.

Basic obedience matters. It’s a big part of what makes the difference between having a happy, well-behaved dog who can calmly handle life’s challenges, and a dog who reacts instead of responds.

Have a great day, and remember to stay calm and lead on.


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