Owning a dog is a huge responsibility and one of the problems that many dog owners experience is that they find that their dogs “misbehave”, or are overly boisterous, lack control and are generally much harder work than they imagined. It’s very easy to get swept away on a tide of emotion when faced with a cute face and brown eyes staring at you, pleading “take me home”.
Preparation for dog ownership
Lack of preparation for the time commitment involved and a full understanding of the responsibilities of dog ownership can spell disaster for what otherwise should be a wonderful relationship with, one of the most loyal companions that anyone could wish for.
Whether you are thinking of buying a puppy or an older dog, a quality time set aside to train your dog is an essential part of responsible dog ownership. Maybe you already have a dog that really is a bit of a handful – it’s never too late to start. All dogs have the capacity to learn, although some may be quicker than others. Quite often, as many trainers will tell you, it is likely that it is the owner who is more in need of some training than the dog! We have probably all been in a situation where we have witnessed a dog being thoroughly chastised, with its tail between its legs, and a ranting owner shouting and gesticulating at the dog. Anyone would think that dogs understood swearing! All a dog in this situation will learn is to be very afraid of its owner.
Training your dog doesn’t have to be about getting him do fancy tricks or dance in a coordinated fashion. Of course, fun tricks can be one aspect of having fun and learning with your dog. It can also be a great way of providing stimulation and exercise for your dog. Everyone probably has their own interpretation of what a well-trained dog is and for some owners, training their dog is also far more than just telling them to sit or come.
Benefits of training your dog
There are a whole host of benefits of good training for your dog and for you. Some of these may seem obvious – no-one would want a dog that runs away, soils the carpet, barks constantly or jumps up at young children. A dog that is constantly shouted at because it hasn’t been trained properly and has some of these undesirable behaviors will become an anxious dog that may display unwanted, worrying or unpredictable behavior as a result of their anxiety. In the worse cases, this may manifest even with aggression, cowering and worst of all biting. However, the relationship between a dog that has been well trained and its owner is truly a symbiotic one, which has huge benefits for both parties.
Jack Russell Terrier Freddie a good relationship between a dog and its owner will create a bond that is based on mutual trust and respect. As a result, a well-trained dog will undoubtedly be a happier dog. Think of how lovely it is to see an obedient dog that follows its owner, regardless of distractions and is given more freedom because there is that trust and understanding between them. In sharp contrast to the scenario of a poorly trained dog, that is constantly tethered, locked up or punished because they don’t know what is expected of them – AND it’s not their fault!
Approaches to training your dog
There are many different approaches to training dogs and much reference material is available from a wide variety of sources. Starting when the dog is a puppy is the ideal time and one of the best approaches is to seek a local training dog training program. These are available in most areas and are ideal for dog socialization and the basics of how to approach training your dog. More advanced classes are also usually available and specialized clubs who deal with particular dog breeds can also be very helpful.
Border Collie Sam on a lead it may be worth having a chat with your vet who could advise on the best type of training to suit the breed or temperament of your dog, or they may know, through word of mouth, some of the best local trainers. Don’t be put off if you think your dog really is beyond help! Many specialist dog trainers will work on a one-to-one basis with you and your dog.
Of course, it is unlikely that any dog trainer will work for free and this may be a prohibitive factor for you. Or you may simply not like the idea of going to special classes and want to train your dog at home yourself. It is important, however, not train your dog in total isolation. Good socialization is a key factor to effective training – it’s no good your dog sitting beautifully at the kitchen table if he can’t behave himself when outside and takes off after the nearest car, or other dogs!
Educating yourself, before you try and educate your dog, is a sure way of ensuring that you have the confidence to effectively train your dog. With all the available literature, you shouldn’t be short of advice and information about approaches that you could use.
Gone are the days of training dogs through punishment and fear. Dogs learn best through praise and reward – after all, their goal in life is to please. Most methods involve action-reward based strategies, such as with tasty food treats or clicker training based strategies. Repetition and perseverance are the key attributes required in training your dog, as well as patience. Maintenance and refresher training may also be required at intervals, especially in younger dogs.
Dogs just need that little bit of a helping hand to learn what is that makes you happy.