A few weeks ago I was in my car waiting for my pizza to be done so I could take it home. A woman walks past my car with her dog, a lab mix, on a flexi lead. She had a baggie of poop in one hand and she was holding the leash with the other. Two blocks ahead, and on the opposite side of the road, another dog was walking in our direction. The lab mix started to bark, pull on the leash, and started spinning around his owner. The owner in her struggle to control her dog, ended up with the baggie of poop all over her. I wanted so much to jump out and run to her, help, and hopefully leave her with a few tools to prevent that from ever happening again. It doesn’t take much to make a big difference in your dogs behavior, but most people don’t know where or how to begin. Even worse, most people change their lifestyle to accommodate their dog’s unwanted behaviors.
Training your dog offers several benefits; here are five of them.
1. It could save your dog’s life. The more time you spend working with your dog on commands, the more likely you will have voice control over your dog. If something horrible should happen, you have the ability to get your dog back to you safely. Your dog is less likely to bolt or slip out the door and run away if you have worked with your dog on preventing this. If they do manage to escape, you have your recall command to safely call your dog back to you. If for some unfortunate reason, you had to place your dog in a shelter or rescue, a trained dog is considerably more likely to find a new home, than a dog that has never received obedience training.
2. You get to take your dog with you to more places. Your dog will be welcome in far more places, environments, and situations if they have been taught some basic manners. When you have guests over to your home, you won’t need to banish your well-behaved dog to another room, or crate, for fear that they will embarrass you. You will be able to take them camping, hiking, to public parks, public beaches, pet stores, groomers, and even to hotels or other businesses that allow dogs
3. You will develop a stronger bond with your dog. The process of bonding with your dog begins as soon as you bring them home. If you have a young puppy, the process is usually very quick, but if you have adopted an older dog, bonding might take a little more time, especially if the dog has been mistreated or is grieving his previous owners. The initial bond with your dog is a tentative one; you don’t know each other very well yet. To strengthen that bond, you must spend time with them and do things together. When you do, you learn what makes your dog tick, and how to teach them, work with them, and play with them. Your dog learns how to respond to you, what makes you happy, and what makes you angry. As you do things together, you build respect and trust, and the relationship you have deepens.
4. Training allows you to understand your dog. The more time you spend with your dog, and more bonded you are with your dog, the better understanding you have of what their needs are, and what they are trying to communicate with you. You will start noticing things like the position of their ears, tail, body, lips,etc. All of these small things add up to knowing your dog better, and the need for a translator (trainer) is diminished.
5. Both of you will live happier lives. From adog’s perspective, being able to be in the home all the time, go with you when you leave, meet new and interesting people, being more confident, having closer relationship with you, and being understood, means a happy dog. The happier your dog, the less likely they are to develop behavior issues, which means a much happier life for you. You can avoid many stresses by not altering your lifestyle to accommodate your dog’s issues.
When done in a way that both you and your dog enjoy, there is no downside of dog training. Invest the time into your sidekick now, so your relationship can reach its full potential.