Dogs and people have been working together to survive and thrive for thousands of years. While we might not know exactly why or how this relationship started, we sure are happy it did! As humans and dogs learned to communicate with each other, people then began to guide their dogs’ behavior. This helped the two diverse species live and work together. Today we call that process training and it’s still very important.
Training encompasses many aspects of a dog and her owner’s life, from housetraining to teaching the dog to stay off the furniture (if that something you want to teach), as well as walking on a leash nicely and coming when called.
- The Basic Obedience Exercises. The standard basic obedience exercises include sit, down, stay, come, and heel. Most group classes also teach leave it (ignore that), sit for petting (rather than jumping on people), and problem prevention/solving.
- Crate Training. Teaching a dog to relax, sleep, and stay in a crate is a wonderful skill. Not only can this aid in house training but it can help prevent problem behaviors when the dog isn’t supervised. A dog who’s comfortable in her crate can also be more relaxed when caged at the groomer’s salon or the veterinarian’s clinic. It can make travel easier, too.
- Leash Training. When a dog can walk nicely on the leash without pulling, not only is it safer for the dog but it’s also safer for the owner. Too many dogs have hurt themselves because they are constantly pulling and too many owners have suffered from hurt arms and shoulders—maybe even being knocked off their feet when their mastiff sees a squirrel. Dogs may want to pull out of excitement and habit, but they can be taught to walk nicely with slack in the leash.
- Manners at Home. Living comfortably with a dog means the dog needs to know where to relieve himself and where not to. The dog also needs to leave trash cans alone, to chew on her toys and not your shoes, and to give the family cat a lick once in a while but not to chase him. When the dog understands what her rules are at home, then she can relax. If she doesn’t know but gets yelled at for misbehavior, she’s going to be confused and perhaps even afraid or angry. Training and communication can ease that uncertainty.
- Social Manners. No one enjoys that dog on a walk who’s pulling on the leash while barking and lunging at everything she sees. People walking their own dog cross the street to get away from these poorly mannered dogs. Good social manners mean the dog, out in public, will walk nicely on the leash, won’t jump on people, and won’t lunge and bark at other dogs. A dog who has good social manners is going to have more variety in her life, too, because it’s fun to take her places.
All Dogs Need Training
All dogs, no matter what their job or purpose in life, need training. Granted some dogs need significant training; dogs who guide the blind or alert the hearing impaired definitively need specialized training, as do dogs who work with the police or military. But even your couch potato dog needs some training.
Training and communication can help establish a relationship between a puppy and her new owner. A newly adopted dog and her new owner will benefit from training as they get to know each other. An adolescent dog in the throes of teenage angst will thrive with training and her owner will appreciate it, too.
Training builds relationships, increases communication, teaches the dog what rules are important in her home, and how to behave out in public. The process of training teaches the dog’s owner how to communicate with this individual dog and the dog figures out how to learn. Training really can be a fun, wonderful process.