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7 Skills that Every Dog Should Have

Obedience classes teach things like sit, and stay, but let's face it, many pet dogs don't use these skills very often, whereas, skills that are not neccessarily taught in basic obedience classes can have huge impacts on your relationship with your dog.


  1. Settle - Depending on the breed of dog you have, learning to relax and hang out may be a skill that requires training. Owners of high drive, or anxious dogs, may find that living with their constantly on edge, pacing, watchful, dog is far from enjoyable.

  2. Wait at doorways - With six dogs, doorway manners is a must. I don't want my dogs blasting through doorways, and if I open a door I want my dogs to wait quietly until invited in. I teach this as an automatic behavior, and use each dog's name as a release word.

  3. Recall - This is a big skill even in basics and puppy classes, yet, the number of dogs that really can't be trusted off-leash shows how few people take the time to ensure that the recall works even as the bunny bursts out of the grass, or the deer scatter over the hill. Recall training must be practced and proofed until you can rely on it 100% of the time.

  4. Quiet - Nothing jangles the nerves more than a dog that barks incessantly, or suddenly leaps to their feet carrying on like a lion is in the yard every time a squirrel farts outside. All puppies go through a barky stage where they learn how to start barking, but can't quite figure out how to stop! This is normal. What is not normal is a dog that spends its days in a state of nervous tension waiting for any trigger to explode into raucous barking

  5. Door Manners - it's not just bursting through doors that can be problematic. Doors cause dogs a lot of stress, they lock them away from desired actions and places (squirrel chasing, running outside), and allow in people who cause big feelings (you and your family, the favorite neighbor, the hated UPS driver). All this emotion can lead to behaviors such as scratching or chewing at the door, barking at the door, jumping and joyfully assaulting strangers and family alike.

  6. Multi-dog manners - Living with multiple dogs includes the risk of disagreements, and we need to help canine family memebers establish polite behavior around such things as petting, coveted objects, sleeping areas, and dinner. Jealousies and resource guarding, if not addressed right away can escalate to disruptive and dangerous inter-household aggression.

  7. Attention-seeking behaviors - While jumping up on people is often addressed in puppy and basics classes, many people still struggle. Jumping up isn't the only form of attention seeking; dogs can crowd us, put paws on us, demand bark at us, and indulge in other behaviors we would define as 'pushy' and 'rude'.


While no dog will ever be rehomed because it doesn't sit on cue, or even walk politely on leash, many of the behaviors discussed above can damage our relationship to the point where our dog's life becomes smaller, or we grow resentful and the quality of our life with our pet is affected.


These skills are easy to instill in new pets and puppies, and knowing them will increase the joy that our dogs bring to our lives.


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