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Dog Obedience Training (and Why We Don't Call it That!)

Updated: Dec 22, 2023

Obedience training and dog obedience training classes are popular choices for people looking to improve their dog's behavior. However, we don’t use the word obedience in our dog training. This is why:

Obedience means compliance with an order, request, or law or submission to another's authority. Historically, dog training often operated like this: trainers force dogs to obey strict commands and give out severe punishments for non-compliance. Tools like shock collars or prong collars became popular to enforce the authority humans believed they should have over their dogs.

Frankly, we find this whole idea frustrating, both from an ethical level and a scientific one. Dogs, like humans, build complex bonds with other people and animals in their lives. They have individual wants and needs that may or may not align with our own, and their behaviors have underlying functions and motivations. They don’t exist to serve humans. Dogs can become fearful or even aggressive when continuously forced to obey commands that feel unsafe for them.

Reframing Obedience Training

Let’s take a moment to reframe obedience training. We prefer to describe the skills and behaviors traditionally assigned to obedience as "manners". For example, walking nicely on a leash, greeting people without jumping on them, or sitting on cue. We use “manners” because it’s 100% human. Dogs don’t inherently understand these concepts, but humans think of these behaviors as polite. Manners emphasizes that we’re helping dogs to succeed in a human world. 

Do obedience training classes (or what we call manners training classes) really work?

Yes, they can improve your dog's behavior (aka give them skills to adapt to human life). Obedience (manners) training classes teach your dog basic behaviors, such as sit, down, come when called, and walk nicely on leash. 

While traditional obedience training classes use harsh corrections and punishment, our manners classes use positive reinforcement, a proven technique to teach dogs new behaviors. Positive reinforcement rewards desirable behaviors with treats, praise, or playtime, rather than using punishment-based methods. This helps them learn faster and strengthens the bond between you and your dog.

As a pet owner, it can be challenging to know where to start when training your furry friend. Group classes emphasizing positive reinforcement offer clear curriculums and professional guidance to help you and your dog succeed.

Long story short: if you’re looking for obedience training in Austin (or obedience training classes), you’re not alone! But we encourage you to reframe the concept of obedience or subservience to a manners-mindset where we give dogs the tools to collaborate with us in our human world.


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