Obedience training your Norfolk may be one of the nicest gifts you can ever give yourself ... and your dog.
Those individuals who have chosen to pursue obedience degrees (CD-Companion Dog; CDX-Companion Dog Excellent; UD-Utility Dog) can attest to the challenge of convincing a Norfolk that these titles are, indeed, worthwhile objectives. However, even if you have no intention whatsoever of competing with your dog, the advantages of formal training are numerous.
For one thing, attendance at a beginners' obedience class gets you and your dog out of the house -- together -- for some regular exercise. The daily training you do also serves to focus special attention on your dog. This can be particularly beneficial if your Norfolk tends to be a bit retiring (yes, it does happen!), or if there are other dogs in the house who somehow seem to get the lion's share of the attention on a regular basis. Dogs get a sense of accomplishment out of mastering even basic commands and they enjoy the attention training sessions bring.
Most any veterinarian will attest that an obedience-trained dog makes a better patient than one who is trying to bounce around the examining room with a frenzied owner in hot pursuit. The simple commands of stand, sit, down and stay are invaluable during the course of an examination.
Not only is it important to have a well trained dog when visitors enter your home, it's nice to be able to take your Norfolk with you when you visit other people. Again, being able to tell your dog to sit and stay in the presence of unfamiliar dogs or people -- in strange surroundings -- can make all the difference between a pleasurable visit and a social disaster.
It is possible to train your dog yourself, but one of the advantages of going to a formal class is that your dog becomes used to responding to your commands when it is away from home -- not just when it is on familiar territory.
In addition, a class is a great socializing process. Meeting other dogs and people helps acclimate your Norfolk to the "outside world."
A well qualified obedience instructor can help you correct any training mistakes you may be making. The instructor's function is not to train your dog, but to train you to train your dog.
In choosing an obedience class to attend, it's a good idea to check out the teacher's qualifications in advance, if at all possible. Ask to visit a class in session. Talk to the instructor and discuss the differences in training various breeds of dogs. A Norfolk has decidedly different reactions to obedience lessons than a Sheltie or a Shepherd or a Poodle.
Sound a bit like finding a nursery school for your child? The similarities are there! In any event, an obedience-trained dog is a happy dog ... they have happy owners, too. Have fun.
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