Why is Dog Training Important

A Special Note For First Time Dog Owners

If you’re a first time dog owner, congratulations! 

You’re about to begin the journey of a lifetime with your new pup. It should be no surprise that when you bring a dog into your home and family for the first time there’s a lot to learn. 

Much like raising a human child, dogs similarly require a hands-on period of learning and education about the world around them, how to tell what behaviors are okay and which are against the rules.

Is Dog Training Even Necessary?

You may be wondering, “is dog training even necessary? Aren’t dogs animals that instinctively know what to do?”

Dogs, although domesticated, are members of the canine family and are close relatives to wolves, coyotes, and jackals. They share many of the same instinctual behaviors and drives that their more wild cousins depend on to survive in the great outdoors. But those same natural tendencies don’t always jive well with our modern lifestyles of suburban and city living.

In our society, we have certain expectations regarding animal behavior, dogs in particular. If left to their own devices, untrained dogs often exhibit antisocial behaviors like aggression toward people or other dogs. 

No one wants this and it can cause endless problems for you as a dog owner and will impact your pet’s life and health as well.

A great definition of what dog training is at the root goes, “dog training is the act of intentionally communicating with a dog.” 

In other words, dog training is the process of working with your dog to emphasize certain desired behaviors and to de-emphasize unwanted ones. Typically this is done with rewards based training, where an owner will reward a dog with treats, verbal praise, physical touch, or playtime. 

Using Rewards With Your Dog

One method of training a new behavior is to offer a reward for each instance where your dog is obedient. As your training develops you can become more varied with the rewards you give out. Many trainers forget to decrease the frequency of rewarding with a treat during the course of training and it undermines the entire process.

Training with treats is an excellent technique, but too many treats aren’t healthy for a dog’s constitution and your dog will begin to expect a treat offering every time they follow one of your commands. 

Can you imagine having to have a treat ready each time your dog sits, stays, comes to, or gets in their crates? No way! That would be way too many doggie snacks to hide in your pocket!

The Top Three Reasons To Train Your Dog

The best dog owners take the time to educate themselves as much as possible on how to care for their pets. Here’s a breakdown of the top three reasons to train your dog and how dog training helps you to provide a happy, healthy, safe, and loving home to your newest family member.

Training Your Dog Keeps Them Safe

At a certain age, it became plainly obvious to you that cars speeding down busy streets were dangerous and getting in front of one could quite possibly end your life. 

You may believe that you’ve always thought this way, but it’s likely you were cautioned repeatedly starting early on in your life to always look both ways when crossing the street, wait for a signal to cross, and to hold hands with an adult.

Just like you were taught gradually over the years to avoid dangerous situations before you could navigate the world with more freedom, your dog needs to learn how to protect themselves and avoid harmful situations. 

Although many dogs are on-leash anytime they are out of the home, there’s always that small chance that some unforeseen situation can occur and your dog finds themselves loose outside in an unenclosed space. 

An untrained dog is that much more likely to ignore their owner’s command to heel and run into danger. 

Training your dog to avoid traffic and other potentially dangerous moving objects (like remote control drones, toy cars, or bicyclists) will keep them safer and keep you out of the ER at your local animal hospital. 

Another form of danger that dog training mitigates, is the possibility of your dog eating harmful materials or foods. An important part of dog training is giving your dog discipline and firm boundaries. 

As much as we want to reward our dogs for doing the right things, there will be times when we must strongly caution them against engaging in behaviors that may danger their lives.

Every dog owner at some point will find themselves correcting their dog when they begin sniffing around an appetizing piece of trash. 

Even many of the best trained dogs cannot resist an interesting smell, but your dog’s desire to adhere to the boundaries you’ve set will stop them short of digging in for a meal.

Educating your dog on the simple “do’s and don’ts” of how to get by in the people-world will go a long way to helping them acclimate to life in your home and will allow them to romp around with more freedom and independence. 

Training Helps To Socialize Your Dog

Teaching your dog how to be safe also extends to other dogs and people too. Dog training works to socialize your dog to their fellow canines and the humans that love them. Everyone has a different comfort level around animals, especially ones they’re meeting for the first time. 

If your dog doesn’t know that they’re not supposed to jump on a stranger or shouldn’t nip at their hands then they’re putting themselves at risk to get hurt or to hurt another person. 

No one wants this and as a dog owner you must understand that your pet is your responsibility and to purposely not train your dog is careless and could have serious consequences. 

It’s not fun to talk about, but oftentimes dogs that bite people, even accidentally, are ordered to be put down if the person who was attacked presses legal charges.

Additionally, training your dog to behave around people and other animals helps them to form good habits. Almost 1 in every 3 households own a dog and at some point whether on a walk or at the dog park yours is going to run into theirs. No one wants to be the owner of the dog that antagonizes their playmates or snaps at a fellow owner when leashes get tangled.

By helping your dog get comfortable in the presence of other animals and people who aren’t in your immediate family, you help them get better accustomed to society and prevent the emergence of aggressive or anxious behaviors.

Sadly, behavioral issues are one of the major reasons adopted dogs are returned back to shelters, and in many cases these issues could have been resolved by some dedicated training.

The effect of socialization training also impacts how your dog will behave when left alone in your home and gives them rules to abide by. Dogs are not meant to be always leashed or confined to a crate and a well-trained dog can typically be given free reign to roam around the home or enclosed yard during the day.

It’s up to you to decide where those boundaries lie. Some owners insist on keeping their dog’s off the furniture while others are happy to let their pets take up residence at the foot of their beds. 

Ultimately it’s your call, but if you let your dog make the rules, don’t be surprised if you return home one day to find the cushion of your favorite chain strewn about your living room. 

How Training Improves Your Bond With Your Dog

One of the best reasons to train your dog is that it actually deepens the bond you share with them. It’s all about getting to know your pet better! 

Despite what some dog owners think, training a dog doesn’t diminish the expression of their natural personality. 

If anything, it allows your dog to better become his or herself and get along with the people and animals around them. 

Another common misconception is that dog training is about positioning yourself as the “Alpha pack leader.” 

While it’s key to maintain control of the relationship you have with your dog, the best training does not come from a place of fear and intimidation, but rather from communication and leadership.

Every dog is going to learn a bit differently and at a different rate. Some important training lessons, such as where they should use the bathroom and when or to keep still when asked are going to be harder for some dogs than others. 

Ask any experienced dog trainer and they will tell you that no two dogs are alike in this respect, but no matter the personality or breed, training is effective when done right.

Hiring Professional Trainers And Obedience Schools

Many new dog owners wonder whether or not they should hire a professional trainer or enroll their dog in an obedience school. This is a personal question for both you and your dog and hiring a professional should never be seen as a sign of failure as a trainer.

As we’ve stated earlier, no two dogs are alike and we don’t always know what prior experiences a dog has had before coming into your ownership. This is especially true when you’re adopting rescue dogs who’ve dealt with neglect and abuse. 

Rescue dogs may require a lot more sensitivity and time than dogs coming straight from a breeder. They also may exhibit some behavioral issues that you aren’t equipped to deal with, where a trainer who’s had thousands of hours of experience working with dogs may be able to help.

There are also the human lifestyle factors you have to consider. You may not have the ability to devote as much time or energy to working with your pet as you’d like. Perhaps your work schedule or childcare routines prevent you from having dedicated training sessions.

Trainers and obedience schools can be a useful support system for you while you’re teaching your dog the basics. Not all training needs to be in person, there are many dog trainers now who offer remote support via video chat and Youtube is full of recorded DIY training videos from renown trainers.

Whatever you choose, make a plan, and if it’s working, stick to it. Consistency is key to forming habits in both humans and dogs and your pet will thank you for it.

Train For A Life Of Love And Happiness

In truth, dogs are constantly learning from their environments and the people and animals they’re interacting with. Every experience positive or negative informs how they will behave and react to future situations. If you fail to train your dog, the world will train them for you and you, your dog, and everyone else in your life may not be so happy with the results.

It’s important to remember, dogs are highly intelligent creatures and have been living and working alongside humans for centuries. There’s a reason why they’ve earned the moniker “man’s best friend,” and a great part of that has to do with dog’s receptivity to proper training.

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