Is your dog a pleasure or a pain?
Well trained dogs are happier and easier to manage, meaning you both will get more pleasure out of the relationship and build a better bond.
You want that, right?
A dog that is fun to have around and both social and well behaved means you can have friends over without fear the dog will jump up, carry on and misbehave and you can also take your Furrkid out as part of the family and all enjoy the experience.
The most efficient and effective way to train your dog is to take him or her to obedience school. Most, if not all, schools start the real obedience from around 16 weeks of age. Prior to this many schools offer puppy school/kindy to teach your new addition just how to get on with others.
I have spent a fair bit of time at training school as both a dog owner and observer as well as pet good supplier. I often saw owners of the small dogs freak out when a larger dog came to say hi.. these dogs are still pups, they want to make friends too and didn’t ask to be big dogs - its their lot in life.. if you are the owner of a tiny Chihuahua or foxy or similar and a puppy Shepherd or Rottie comes to say hi, keep your eye on your baby but the trainers keep an eye on things too and if the big guys get a bit too rough, they are quickly corrected and moved on to play with others.. your baby will be fine.. its all part of learning. Your baby might go hide for a while but eventually curiosity will prevail and it will be out again to join in the fun.
Obedience does require not only the training classes but a bit of homework - it is not all “beer & skittles” there is some work to do. Reward based training is the most positive way to teach. A small treat/encouraging words for good behaviour works far better than ranting and raving at your dog for something you dislike. Ignore unwanted behaviour, no eye contact and definitely NO treats and pup will learn fast that they should cease the action. They want the treats and kind words - they want your love and approval. They learn fast.
So what are the benefits from taking your dog along to obedience training?
Closer bonds - contrary to what you might think, dogs do like structure and rules.
Well trained dogs are happier and easier to manage. This means you both get more pleasure from the union and that bond grows.
Well trained dogs are easier to manage - basic effective commands like sit/stay/drop and heel are taught and make the dogs easier to control. This makes it easier to take it out and be part of family activities.
I had to care for this dog in my petsitting and it was NEVER taught to heel. It pulled and pulled and not only exhausted itself but me as well.. my arms ached from constantly trying to keep it from choking itself and it was just the worst pet sit ever. I vowed to not ever care for that dog again and haven’t as it was clearly the most unpleasant walk and outing I have endured. They had never taught it to heel and walk calmly beside them and the poor dog could not possibly have enjoyed it either despite being out in a lovely park.
A badly behaved dog, through lack of disclipline ( no, not hitting or yelling, just the positive reward training) makes it difficult for you to take your pet on family day trips and is left home alone and bored.. we know bored dogs can lead to destruction … gardens, washing on line, etc etc..
You get a social, friendly dog - Socialisation isn’t just for the dog - owners often get a lot out of meeting other owners, chatting and catching up and the dogs are fun for you both.
Many dog obedience schools provide more than just the classes of basic obedience. Merchandise, agility training for those who want to see how far their dogs can go, social outings, exhibitions and competitions.
How do you know a good school?
Vets will know the good ones in their areas but also friends who you consider have a good dog, will be able to tell you their experiences and where they went. Go along without your dog and just watch, see what the trainers are like and ask questions of those there.. speak to the trainers after classes and often they will tell you to bring the dog for free to try it out.. a try before you buy thing I guess.
Classes should be stimulating and engaging- not just for the dog but for you too.
No matter if you have had dogs all your life and done the obedience thing before with your current dog or a newbie pet owner, there is always more to learn. New trends and ways of doing things sees you on your toes.
Dogs will be dogs and despite training and being a generally well behaved dog , temptation can be strong. A confident cat just meandering down the road can be too much for them sometimes and pursuit is what they set out to do. A dog that comes on command and/or drops can save potentially being hit by a car. Have heard many a story from dog owners with well trained dogs that the training has saved their pet from disaster. This takes time and patience but as you can imagine, well worth it.
Now for the but…. Dog training can take time - some dogs are all about play ( eg Boxers) and will take more work to get them where you want them to be. Early mornings on the weekends - very hot and very cold, wet days when bed or aircon is much more preferable, will not seem like fun. I recall this with my sister’s German Shepherd. She was often away but we wanted the dog trained so I took her along to classes in Melbourne. Freezing cold and wet, I often came home with more mud on me than on her- all for the greater good I said.
If you persevere, a year or so of doing this will give you a lifetime of happy years with your dog and some great times out and about doing family things.
Failure to train your dog, even in simple commands can lead to a very stressful and difficult life with your dog and many have given up and surrendered the dog as too difficult to handle. Not very fair huh?
Its not to late to teach your dog basic commands if you have been less than vigilant in this area - an old dog can learn new tricks but you need to be consistent and patient.. a lot easier to do if you start from puppyhood.
So, what are you doing next weekend?
If you know someone with a pet that could benefit from this post, why not share it with them?