Many images come to mind when you think of a respectful dog. Maybe she walks perfectly on leash, ignoring barking dogs and cars whizzing by. Maybe she waits patiently on her bed during mealtimes, not begging once. Maybe she simply gets off the couch when you tell her to.

It takes a lot of work to get a respectful dog. While the dog went through many training sessions, and was aptly rewarded with many, many tasty treats, it was the owner that did the hard work. Bringing a dog into your family is a big responsibility, and creating a respectful dog is a never-ending job. So, how to do it?

Before you bring a dog home, think about the commitment. Do you have time to love her and brush her teeth and comb her hair and teach her that people are not for jumping on?
Consider professional help. You likely didn’t learn to drive a car on your own, so why would you learn to train man’s best friend on your own? There are many books, as well as online videos and blogs, that discuss dog training in depth, but nothing is quite the same as meeting with a professional. Group obedience classes are perfect for helping your dog build confidence and an attention span–they’ll learn basic commands like “sit” and “down” while surrounded by other dogs trying to be just as good. If you have a specific task you’d like to work on, or an especially reactive dog who might do best on her own, consider a one-on-one session with a trainer. You can go to their facility, or some will come right to your home.
You’re already feeding and housing your dog, but is he getting enough exercise? A dog with lots of pent up energy may act out her frustrations at home. Be sure she’s getting out daily for a walk, run, or dog park time. If you’re not able to get her enough exercise, consider dropping her off at doggy daycare where she can make some furry friends, or hire a pet sitter for a daily outing to give your dog some personal, one-on-one attention. Be sure to let your your pet sitter know what you’re working on in training right now so they can keep up the good work.
Teach your dog that people are in charge. Share the training with your spouse, roommates, friends, and children. Even a few minutes of some basic commands per day will help your dog look to people for authority. This will help your dog learn to listen to and respect friends and family when they visit your home.
Practice makes perfect. If you decide that you don’t want your dog to pull on the leash, or always get off the couch every time you say “off,” be consistent. They’ll eventually learn that “off” means “off” every time. But remember that practice (and lots of it) is what makes perfect. I’ve been working on on leash manners since I brought my oldest dog home…five years ago.

Training is a never-ending job once you bring a furry friend into your life. But having a furry friend who you can trust not to jump on your friends when they visit, chase the mailman, or growl when you tell them you want some space in the bed will be worth it.

By Rachel Leisemann Immel