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Dog obedience keywords


I often use keywords in my dog obedience training, so maybe putting them somewhere organized is a way to share my knowledge about dog obedience.

Maybe start with the llist (just click on the link to go to the respective explanation):


Most people think love and affection are the most important needs of a dog, but according to the teaching of Cesar Millan and my own experience that is absolutely not true. As far as I know the most important needs of a dog are safety and security, not affection.

Affection comes certainly after discipline and possibly also after exercise, although I am not convinced about the last, but is definitely not the first thing your dog needs.


I have learned that awareness, being aware about everything around you, including the emotional state of the dog, is one of the most important characteristics of a good (pack) leader.


To me there is no need to bribe a dog with a treat. In my experience dogs are very happy do do almost anything for their owner, as long as it is fair and reasonable. And to me a simple "good boy" or "good girl" and a pat on the head or on the back are mostly the best reward for a dog. I consider treats more as a bribe than as a reward, especially if it is only used for training. I also don't think it is healthy to give a dog a lot of treats.


The keyword "clear" means to me that a dog owner or handler always needs to be clear in expressing what he or she wants from his or her dog.


In order to keep focus and making happening what you want to happen it is very important to make conscious decisions about everything you do or don't do.


I guess dogs will follow also a dictator type owner or handler, but I prefer to teach responsible leadership.


To me discipline is the most important thing to understand in dog obedience. And please don't the word discipline being something like punishment, although in the end punishment is part of discipline. To me discipline is related to rules and regulations and limitations, as I understand Cesar Millan's teaching.

As I have learned a dog's most important needs are safety and security, and next to water, food and shelter, it is my belief that discipline in the form of rules and regulations and limitations, is an important part of giving a dog safety and security. As the main reason for rules and regulations and limitations is safety and security, similar to the human justice system.


Distractions are normal in life. Just don't let them change your goal or focus.


Exercise is one of the three main keywords of Cesar Millan, who's teaching I basically follow. And I see now, doing research for this paragraph that for him it is even the first priority: exercise your dog. However, it is not my experience that exercise is the first and foremost need of a dog, above discipline and affection.


The keyword "firm" relates to the fact that a dog owner or handler needs to be firm in handling his or her dog.


If you want your dog to follow what you want it is very important to keep your focus on what you want to happen. This includes making sure to always go back to what you wanted to happen after any intermezzo, like taking a phone call or handling any other distraction.


Always insist on what you want from your dog. Never ever let them get away with not following a command, as they will remember and you will loose respect.


It is very important a leader observes everything that is going on in his or her environment.

Pack leader

Dogs want and need to feel safe and in order to create safety and security it is very important that the owner or handler takes the role of pack leader.

You can read more about this on the page about leadership.


Patience is one of the most important things to keep in mind when training your dog or teach him or her something. We often get caught in our own emotions when dealing with our dogs losing our temper. But being annoyed or angry because of our own thoughts and feelings don't help us when dealing with our dogs. Dogs are very sensitive and approaching them with the wrong emotion mostly gives us the opposite effect of what we want.


Pausing or stopping is very important when you are lost, as without focus you won't go anywhere, at least not in the direction of what you want to happen. So first pause, then make a conscious decision on what you want to happen and only then (try to) make it happen.


To me the relationship between humans and dogs is based on mutual respect, meaning the human needs to respect the dog for being a dog and the dog needs to respect the owner or handler as being the leader. Please note respect needs to be earned. Please note respect starts from the leadership position. A dog will only respect you when you are a good pack leader.


I prefer to teach responsible leadership as I believe an owner or handler is responsible for his or her dog.


As far as I know dogs expect a reward after they have done something for their owner or handler, their leader. However, I normally don't use treats to teach a dog something and I don't give dog a treat when he or she does something for me or follows a command.


The keyword "sit" refers to the basic command "sit" that I believe every dog needs to know and follow straight away.

I also use "sit" in my sit exercise, as it is the easiest command I know and it is very clear what it means.

Please note my sit exercise is about taking control and not about sitting.


Whenever you get lost and don't know what to do anymore, the first thing to do is stop or pause.

I have learned that anything is better than panicking and often the best thing to do is just stoppping whatever you are doing. And I mean litterally stopping, meaning just keeping the current status stable and don't do anything.

It is important to realize that if any damage has been done it already happened and cannot be undone. Also going in the wrong direction, any direction won't solve anything. Only a consicous decision about what to do next can give a positive result, nothing else can.


Until now I don't use treats in my dog obedience training sessions as I consider them more as a bribe than as a reward, especially as you are planning to stop giving the treat after the dog is following you.