There are several facets to being a responsible dog owner. Fundamentally, you need to ensure that your dog’s most basic needs are met – they need food, water, exercise, and a safe place they can call home.
One overlooked aspect of being a responsible dog owner is making sure your dog is trained to a level that ensures it can live safely and harmoniously alongside us. Whilst last month was designated as National Train Your Dog Month by the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT), at DogMore Academy, we actually believe that every month should be National Train Your Dog Month. Dog training has so many benefits for you, your dog, and the relationship between the two of you. Whilst it is good that a campaign raises awareness of the importance of training your dog, we should recognize that this is an activity we should be doing for twelve months of the year – not just one.
In this blog article, we are going to highlight some of the major reasons why dog training is one of the most important components of owning a dog.
Training makes life safer for your dog
Dogs are instinctive creatures. They are unable to weigh up the risk/reward of each scenario – in other words, dogs can’t rationalize in the same way as humans can. Instead, we have to teach them to help them to understand the difference between the behaviors we want them to continue performing, and those we would like them to stop doing.
If there is one major reason to train your dog, it is that it could literally save their life. Imagine a scenario like this. Let’s say that you live on a busy road or in a subdivision with a constant flow of traffic. Because you haven’t worked with your dog to ensure they have a reliable recall, they never return to you when called. What’s going to happen when your dog bolts out of the front door or escapes over your backyard fence?
In this example scenario, the chances of the dog safely returning to you and escaping injury are significantly increased if they have been trained accordingly. There are countless other situations (think about interacting with people or other dogs when out on walks, or encountering a wild animal) where the risk calculation improves because of good dog training. Even if we can’t guarantee how our dog will react in any given circumstances, through consistent training, we can at least increase the chances that they will remain safe and healthy.
Builds a strong bond between you and your dog
We’ve written previously about the importance of building a strong relationship with your dog. This is fundamental to our overall approach to dog training.
Regardless of if you’re teaching your dog to perform simple obedience commands, doing advanced off-leash training with an E-collar, or specializing in a discipline like search and rescue or detection, any type of training will help to further your connection with your dog.
There is an obvious correlation between the amount of time you spend with your dog and the amount you will learn about their behavior and how they interact with the world around them. Every training session will move you closer towards your training goals, whilst often revealing something new about your dog’s behavior.
Teaching new skills provides mental stimulation
When we talk about exercising our dogs, we’re often likely to think about physical exertion – for example, taking them for a walk or throwing a tennis ball. However, as much as keeping our dogs physically active is important, we should also ensure our dogs are mentally agile, too.
Without mental stimulation, it is easy for dogs to become destructive as they seek to alleviate their boredom. A training session is a great way to redirect their energy towards something positive! This works for dogs of all ages, sizes, breeds and training levels. Even if your dog already has a basic grasp of obedience commands, consider aspects of their behavior that you can work on with them.
When working with your dog, keep the sessions relatively short to ensure your dog is able to maintain its concentration. Your dog will become less receptive to the training if they are exhausted.
Training makes it easier to take your dog out in public places
An important benefit of dog training is the control it offers you as an owner. This makes it far easier – and less stressful – to take your dog out in public.
Although you may most commonly see the benefit of dog training when you take your dog out on a walk, it can actually help in other situations, too. Having a stable, well-behaved dog can make visits to the veterinarian or the groomer so much easier for everyone involved. If your dog is used to interacting calmly with strangers, it increases the likelihood that they will behave properly during your next vet or grooming appointment.
You can even practice playing with their paws and teeth so they become familiar with the sensation – whilst this activity may not scream ‘dog training’, it could actually make your next veterinarian appointment far less stressful.
Dog training is rewarding
In any aspect of life, seeing your hard work materialize into tangible results is gratifying – and it is no different with dog training.
Whether you’re teaching the first commands to a new puppy, or working with a dog who has been part of your family for years, there is something immensely satisfying about seeing the transformation in your pup. Not only is it satisfying, but it will improve your quality of life, and the quality of life for your dog.
“But really - do I have to train my dog?”
We’ve probably all encountered a dog owner who dismisses the importance of dog training. They’re usually the ones who are being dragged along on walks, or yelling at their dog to return to them from halfway down the street.
As dog owners, we have a responsibility to ensure our dogs are trained. This responsibility extends in many different directions – it benefits our neighbors, fellow dog owners, other dogs, and the community as a whole.
Most of all, dog training benefits our dogs and the relationship we build with them. Ensuring your dog has adequate training should not be optional. As a responsible dog owner, training should be an activity that you look forward to.
Investing the time to train your dog will make life less stressful and more enjoyable – for both of you.