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Obedience Time Wasters

By on February 1, 2012

I see a lot of time wasted on obedience behaviors that are meant for competition rather than practical obedience. One example is teaching your Pit Bull Terrier to stay. Stay is a competitive obedience behavior and really doesn’t have any practical place in pet dog life. Since the focus of a stay is to stay put in one spot until the owner comes back to collect the dog the stay is generally a waste of time.

When using marker training you build a stay into behaviors because the dog is not allowed to get up and come get their reward until released. So with one cue, sit for example, you are in fact teaching a sit/stay to your dog.

Another obedience time waster is the heel cue. Heeling is not a practical pet dog obedience behavior because heeling is a strict position (not walking on the left). Trainers who have made the “heel” part of their training programs usually just teach loose leash walking on the left side. It is far from what a real heel is. Which is, a strict static position the dog never changes.

Example, the dog holds a position where their right shoulder blade is next to your left knee. If you move backwards that position doesn’t change the dog walks backwards. If you take a big step with your right leg but do not move your left leg the dog stays by the left leg without moving.

In reality there is very little need for a pet dog to learn this. The heel is also quite stressful on a dog when it is taught correctly. They want to sniff and explore their world yet you are restricting their ability to do so because you want your dog to follow you. Or you want to show them who is the “pack leader” or whatever other reason that you use to restrict your dogs natural movement.

I’ll say it again so people don’t email with hate mail about how I’m crazy. The only time you would ever need a real heel is in high traffic areas where you need your dog close to you for a brief time. If you are walking down an empty street in suburbia why not let your dog have more freedom to sniff, pee, poo, and explore? Your dog is not going to see this limited freedom as a chance to over throw your household. That I guarantee you.

In short the best obedience behaviors are the ones you can actually use daily. Many classes are regimented to teach you a specific set of behaviors THEY feel is best for you and your dog. If you don’t need to teach a 30 minute down stay (way excessive in my view) then don’t worry about teaching it and don’t allow a trainer to mislead you into thinking that you really need to teach your dog the behavior.

Of course if you want to spend time teaching your dog more complicated behaviors by all means go for it. I’m not saying you should take what I wrote here today and ditch the obedience training. What you teach your dog is entirely up to you. However for those that want to cut right to the chase the simple behaviors like sit, down, leash manners, and coming when called will give you a lifetime of material to work on.

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day!

Best Regards,
Jason Mann

About Jason Mann

Jason Mann is the founder of and retired professional dog trainer. He retired from Dog training in 2013 so he could devote more attention to and helping Pit Bull owners around the world learn how to live a more peaceful life with their dogs as well as educate the general public about the true nature of these incredible canines.

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