Training your dog is absolutely essential. Tempting as it is to leave your dog to get on with things and find out about the world in his own time, you are just setting both you and your pooch up for a fall.
The quality of life your dog has and the enjoyment you both get from your relationship is utterly dependent on how well you prepare him for living in a human world.
An easy way of seeing how important training your dog is to its health and happiness (and your sanity) is by comparing a trained dog to an untrained dog.
The Life of an Untrained Dog
An untrained dog runs the risk of leading a very miserable life.
An untrained dog won’t know that he isn’t meant to beg for food at dinnertime, so will spend lots of his time locked in a crate or another room so he doesn’t bother the family whilst eating.
An untrained dog pulls on the lead so much that people don’t bother taking him out for walks any more.
An untrained dog doesn’t know he isn’t meant to pee on the carpet, so spends all his time in the garden or the cold utility room.
An untrained dog barks and jumps and knocks people over, so people don’t come to play with him.
An untrained dog chases after animals and doesn’t know how to be gentle around children, so he ends up staying at home whilst the family goes out and enjoys themselves.
Not much of a life, huh? Compare the untrained dog’s life with that of a well trained dog.
The Life of a Well Trained Dog
A well trained dog gets to sit in the same room as his family whilst they eat because he isn’t whining or begging for food.
A well trained dog gets the run of the house because he can be trusted not to pee where he shouldn’t.
A well trained dog gets lots of exercise and walks because he isn’t yanking your arm off as he walks.
A well trained dog can run around and play off the lead, because he knows when to return to his owner and understands how to be polite around other people and animals.
A well trained dog is a part of the family, who does things with the family. He gets to go on adventures and rarely, if ever, does things to embarrass himself or put himself or others into danger.
Which dog would you prefer to have in your life?
Can Dogs Learn How To Behave By Themselves?
All behaviour is learnt so, technically, yes. Whether the behaviour your dog learns by himself is good or bad is a whole different ball game.
Dogs tend to repeat behaviour that results in reward, which includes anything from a “Good boy” to half a sausage from his human or a chewed up small animal or treats snaffled from the dog biscuit tin. Dogs are all about the ‘ends’ and not the ‘means’.
Chasing a bird or rabbit is fun – plus quite tasty if you catch it.
Chewing on the sofa makes your dog’s teeth feel good when teething – what a great reared!
Biscuits are SO tasty, even when your dog has to knock off the ceramic treat bin from the counter.
Dogs, with the best will in the world, can be pretty dumb if left to their own devices. It is your role as his owner and trainer to make him see how his behaviour have consequences that aren’t wanted by the people around him.
Your Dog is a dog. And all dogs are born with natural instincts and drives that result in behaviors undesirable to humans and could even be dangerous for your dog and those around him.
Your dog will always follow his natural instincts and learn how to behave in ways that are rewarding to him. In order to avoid ongoing behavior problems though, it is essential you give him some guidance on how to behave WELL.
Dog Training: What Exactly Is It?
Dog training is essentially the sum of two parts:
- Teaching your dog to do thinks that wouldn’t naturally occur to him to do, like waiting to cross a road.
- Teaching your dog not to do things you really don’t want him doing, like chewing the furniture or snaffling food from counter tops.
Dog training is about allowing your dog to still be a dog, but putting some boundaries down to keep him, you and others safe.
It is also about teaching simple commands that will keep your dog out of trouble and keep those around him happy and comfortable.
Training usually starts with house-breaking your puppy, then moves on to basic obedience training before stepping up to more intense training programmes, including recall and ‘ad-hoc’ rules. Wikipedia gives a great overview of what dog training is in their dog training article.
What are the Benefits of Dog Training?
There are a variety of benefits in training your dog. The main one has to be enabling your dog to navigate the human world around him.
The most valuable benefit, however, is safety. Training your dog can help him, you and those round you interact safely and without fear.
Keeping a dog who knows a few basic commands out of trouble is much easier to do than with an untrained dog. Seeing oncoming danger and preventing issues or accidents with a simple command is much less stressful than the alternative.
Your dog can be taught to leave harmful or poisonous substances.
He can learn not to jump up on vulnerable people.
He can be taught not to chase cars or furry things!
The Importance of Dog Training to Your Pooch
Here are just some of the benefits your dog will enjoy if he has been trained effectively:
- Reduced chance of physical accidents, e.g. no running into moving traffic or jumping into the unknown.
- Less risk of poisoning or choking through knowing when to leave harmful food and drink.
- Wider exposure to new experiences as he is well-behaved in new situations.
- Less anxiety and more trust when left alone or with a pet-sitter.
- More time off the lead to run around and just ‘be dog’.
- Less time being told off for bad behaviour.
The Importance of Dog Training to You
What’s in it for you? Well, here are the best bits about training your dog when it comes to you reaping the benefits.
- Fewer accidents equal fewer vet visits.
- A leisurely, enjoyable walk with your dog, instead of being pulled and tripped over all the time.
- Not having your garden dug up or your furniture chewed.
- More options for dog sitting when you need to go away.
- Less red faces and apologies to people your dog has annoyed.
- More time with your dog, because being with him is fun and safe.
- Reduced stress levels associated with looking after a disobedient dog.
Training Creates a Stronger Bond Between You and Your Dog
Training gives you and your dog extra time to bond and build a strong relationship. Praising and rewarding your dog for doing things right not only makes him feel good, but you feel good too.
As your dog associates doing things right with feeling good, he will gradually WANT to do things the right way. If you are happy, he is happy, and completing the tasks you set him makes EVERYONE happy!
It’s a win-win situation.
Training your dog is a non-negotiable if you want to lead a stress-free and safe live with your furry friend.
Whilst training takes time, effort and patience, the rewards are amazing. You get to be happy, your dog gets to be happy and you both lead more fulfilling lives together.
Hopefully, having read this article you now understand why you should train your dog and are now excited to learn about the ‘how’ and ‘when’ sides of training.
The Dog Training section of this website is well on its way to becoming a one-stop resource to help you and your dog during training. Please check back often as we continuously update our pages with new ways of thinking and additional information.
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