Many people seem to be under the impression that obedience dog training is somehow "unnatural" — something people make their dogs do to win points at dog shows. However, this attitude couldn’t be further from the truth. We don’t live in a natural world. When man domesticated dogs thousands of years ago, we had to give Rover a few rules so that we could all peacefully cohabitate in the cave. Most dog behavior problems can be prevented or solved if people put a little effort into dog training. Whether you learn from a class, a book, or a friend, training your dog is reasonably easy if you just look at it from the canine point of view.
Dog training would be a whole lot easier if dogs understood all the nuances of human speech, but they don’t. Obedience commands work as a common reference that both you and your dog understand. After you’ve taught a dog to "sit," you both know what’s supposed to happen when you give that command. The key to training is consistency. Use consistent commands. Don’t say "sit" one time and "sit down" another time. Rover will be confused. Be consistent with your rules as well. If Rover was allowed to nap on the sofa yesterday, it’s unfair to expect him to understand that today when your finicky Aunt Martha is visiting, napping on the sofa is not okay. Everyone in the family needs to agree on the commands to use and what is permissible and what is not. Then stick to it.
Another key to training is that it should be fun. If you tell Rover to "sit" and he does, you want to make Rover think that parking his rear end on the ground was the greatest thing he’s ever done. Praise him lavishly and make a fool of yourself. Most dogs will think all this attention is pretty cool. Once Rover makes the connection that just sitting down makes you so happy, he’ll be thrilled to do it again.