Understanding Obedience Training

Author: John Lockett|Print|Return


I want to explain the 3 phase training process we use at K-9 Perfection. Not the training techniques themselves, simply because we use many different techniques depending on the dog we are training. There are many methods and styles of obedience training a dog. In almost all these methods, there are three basic phases:

Phase 1. Teaching

The teaching phase is the first step of training. This is where we teach the dog to associate specific commands to specific actions. The dog is to perform this action when the command is given. During this stage of training we use positive motivation only!  There are two reasons for this.

  1. Whether we're starting a dog at 4 months old or 4 years old, we want the dog to look forward to performing obedience for us. By starting the dog off this way, he/she should be happy to work understanding it’s going to get ‘paid’ for it participation.
  2. We always want to be fair to the dog. If we give a correction before we're 100% sure the dog understands how to comply with the command, we're not being fair at all.

Phase 2. Correction

In the first phase we asked the dog to comply with a command and rewarded the dog if the dog complied.  We're now ready to move on to this next stage of training, because we're 100% sure the dog understands how to perform the command.  We do not want to give him the option of refusing to comply. Therefore, we now add corrections to the training.

These corrections are designed to teach the dog that following the commands are no longer an option.  We never stop rewarding the dog for performing the commands in hopes that the dog will learn that it is always better to sit, down, come and so on for the reward vs. the correction.


Once we add correction to the training the reward must be much greater than the correction. For example: The dog does not comply to the sit command, so I give him/her a level 2 correction. I must give him a level 4 reward the moment the dog complies, in the hopes of bringing the dogs mood back up to counter balance the correction.

Remember, hitting a dog is NEVER an acceptable form of correction.

Phase 3. Proofing

The Proofing stage of training is simple but often is the most over looked or prematurely performed stage of training. The Proofing stage of training is when we prove the dog is fully trained and fully understands exactly what we want. It also shows that the dog is willing to perform our command happily and quickly under any condition!

Remember this is still training, so we add the distractions as well as keeping up with the methods we use in phase 2. I like to start slowly, staying on the same property I did the dogs foundation training on, adding other people and toys. Once the dog is not breaking the commands with the small distractions, I move the training to new and busier places i.e. parks, busy streets, mall parking lots and so on. Once your dog can perform under extreme distractions, you have a well trained dog.