No Training? Why Not?

Liz Palika
All dogs - even small breeds - can benefit from training.All dogs - even small breeds -
can benefit from training.

Many dog owners seem to think that dog training is reserved for problem dogs; dogs with severe behavior issues. Recently a dog owner, who was covered in muddy paw prints, told me, “Oh my dog isn’t that bad!” Dog training, however, should be a part of every dog’s life.

Rules Are Necessary

We, people, have rules that we abide by even when we’d prefer to ignore them. After all, who wants to wait in line at the grocery store when they're in a hurry? But we do it. Social rules make life more comfortable – and safer - for everyone.

The same applies to our dogs. Just as an adult dog will teach a puppy what the rules of play are, we need to teach our dog what rules we would like them to follow. When your dog understands those rules, life is much easier for everyone.

You can relax a little when your dog has had some training and you know that he understands your rules - when he’ll stay off the furniture and doesn’t chase the cat or raid the litter box. And walking your dog is a lot more fun when your dog isn’t dragging you down the street.

So Much Safer, too

Training also equals safety. If your dog can sit and stay at the front door then he won’t be dashing out every time the door is opened. Dogs who run out the door or gate could easily be hit by a car or become lost. Not only that, if your dog runs out the door every time it opens he could knock down guests at the door or scare someone walking past your house.

When you train your dog, you can help make life safer for him. A trained dog knows to pay attention to his owner and to look to his owner for guidance. If you drop a piece of chocolate to the kitchen floor, or worse yet, a pill, you can tell your dog to "leave it" and be confident he won't touch it.

Training Isn’t Boot Camp

Years ago, dog training was much like a military boot camp. It wasn’t much fun and that could be why some dog owners are loathsome to participate. But times – and dog training – have changed.

Dog training today strives to teach dogs what to do rather than emphasize what not to do. After all, yelling, “No! No! No!” may show the dog you’re angry, but it doesn’t teach him anything. However, when you can teach your dog what to do, learning is much easier.

For example, in years past, to stop dogs from jumping up on people, dog owners were taught to knee the dog in the chest to knock him down. Or they were taught to grab the dog’s front paws and hold on tight. These techniques might have made jumping up on the owner uncomfortable but they didn’t address why dogs jump.

Dogs jump up on us out of excitement; they want to greet us face to face. The easiest way to stop jumping is to teach the dog an alternative behavior – sitting – and then show the dog that all good things happen in the sit. He gets petted, praised, and gets treats when he sits. That is good dog training.

Training doesn’t have to stop with simply teaching social rules. Your dog can learn a sport or you may decide to do some trick training. Training can be great fun and it should be. What have you taught your dog? What would you like to teach your dog in the future?

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