Obedience training is vital for such a large and strong dog.
Learning basic commands like “sit” (wait for me to start moving again), “stay” (stay where you are until I come back), “heel” (walk beside me, on-lead, without pulling), and “come” (also known as “recall”; come to me when I call the word and make this gesture) are extremely valuable, especially if your dog will be associating off-lead with other dogs, or if you have young children.
Modern obedience training is run in weekly small classes in a park, are fun for both dog and owners, and greatly enhances their bond. Typically kids over the age of 10 can attend and participate (depending on the trainer’s rules).
Dogs should start attending obedience classes from 3 months of age, but it’s never too late to start! We recommend continuing obedience classes until at least 12 months of age, though attending for longer will result in huge benefits for the life of your dog. It is essential to spend a few minutes every day at home to reinforce the class learning.
Puppy preschool provides useful socialisation opportunities (meeting other people and dogs in a positive environment) for puppies, tips on grooming and care for your dog (but beware of the hard sell for dried food if run by vets – you know better!). These early experiences have a life-long benefit. Puppy preschool can start as soon as you take your puppy home, as all pups in puppy pre-school are required to have been vaccinated.
Over four weeks, one night a week, an expert gives tips on grooming, washing, feeding, exercising, playing and living with your dog, and most importantly pups get supervised socialisation and a few simple obedience lessons (this is not enough training for the dog, but it’s a pleasant start).
Puppy preschool usually runs for four to six weeks, one weekday evening a week, in a group of perhaps seven other families with puppies.
We strongly recommend attending Puppy Preschool, but it must not be considered to be all the training the dog needs!
Commercial dog obedience training
Over the past few years, there has been a large increase in commercial dog training companies (for example, Four Paws). These tend to be good quality, and valuable for the dog. They all practise positive reinforcement (usually food-based, sometimes only praise-based) training, and have a series of levels dogs can grow into.
But they are comparably expensive – $15 to $25 per group session, once a week.
Obedience club dog training
Obedience club dog training is run by teams of experts in not-for-profit clubs around the suburbs. See a full list of Victorian clubs to find one near you (dog authorities in other states will maintain similar lists).
Club-based obedience training costs about $70 a year, to attend once a week in local parks. Much cheaper and just as good as commercial training organisations, we recommend this approach.