When you think of dog training the obvious comes to mind: My dog is doing something that is causing me problems and it needs to be fixed. Maybe you have a puppy or a “new to you” dog and they need to learn how to live with you, or you them. Teaching dogs what to do and how to do it is better than allowing them to find their own way. You probably won’t like how they choose to spend their time.
Some dogs enjoy barking, digging, or running out the front door to explore the neighborhood. Other fun things they may come up with include: going to the bathroom in the house, eating the couch, chasing the cat, pacing, whining, biting you, getting in the trash, jumping on you, stealing your dinner, dislocating your shoulder on walks and a whole host of other behaviors. Dogs can be very creative when left to their own devices.
Dog training can help alleviate these problems, but that’s not the only reason to train them. You and your dog will benefit from training in many ways.
Here’s a few of my favorites:
- Mental stimulation – training uses your dog’s brain and gives them something to think about. It keeps their minds active so they’re not as likely to be bored. Bored dogs tend to find trouble.
- Structure– they have a framework in which to live. They know what the rules are and aren’t guessing what you want them to do. For example: Am I allowed to eat the couch? No, I am not! I’d better go chew on a bone because I am allowed to do that.
- Consistency – the same rules apply all of the time. Training helps all family members understand the rules as well. For example: If mom and the kids allow the dog on the furniture when dad is not home, the dog gets in trouble because dad finds the dog curled up on the chair on Saturday morning. Who broke the rule, and who gets in trouble are not consistent. This family needs to have a discussion about this rule and all stick to it to make it easier for the dog to learn this rule.
- Security – your dog will feel more secure because they will understand what to expect from you. The rules shouldn’t change based on your moods or how tired you are.
- Quality time – you and your dog will be able to have fun together, bond over shared experiences, and learn to appreciate and enjoy each other.
- Inclusion – well behaved dogs get to do more. They can be included in family fun and outings. Untrained dogs usually get left at home and put away when people come over.
I have had people tell me they don’t want to train their dog because they don’t want to be mean to them. This tells me they don’t understand what training is all about. Training has nothing to do with being mean, it’s about being fair. Trained dogs enjoy more freedom and a better quality of life. When people say their dog is good the way they are and don’t need to be trained, I wonder if they understand how training can improve their lives as well as their dog’s.