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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I highly recommend Ciara! She treats her client’s dogs like her own and is an outstanding trainer. My dog came home from her 2-week board and train with skills and manners I couldn’t have taught her. Ciara then trained me on how to maintain the training and is always available afterwards for questions.
Ciara was the trainer for our dog, Alfie, who was adopted from a shelter and came with no manners. He excelled at leash pulling, counter and table cruising, had no impulse control and needed a high-quality education. Ciara was able to supply that and he is now a joy to be around! His manners are impeccable, walking him is an absolute pleasure, and the countertops and tabletops are now safe. She also discovered that he had a severe lack of confidence and did a lot of self-confidence building with him. She taught me what to look for in his body language when he is getting stressed and how to help him work through that stress in a safe and healthy manner. Even after getting him home, Ciara and I are still in touch and she is answering questions and giving suggestions when I sent her updates. Ciara and her staff truly care about the dogs in their care, and the facility has always been absolutely spotless every time I’ve been there. The property that they train on is absolutely gorgeous, as well! I highly recommend Ciara and her facility to anyone who is looking for either a two-week board and train program or even just obedience classes. You will be amazed at what your dog will learn!
Our friends gave us a beautiful labradoodle puppy last year. She has the sweetest disposition, but our attempts to train her were inconsistent and ineffective. We were fortunate to get an appointment for her with Off Leash K 9. Now we have a beautiful, sweet OBEDIENT labradoodle! I take her for an off leash walk every day and she is perfect. Off Leash K9 gets 6 stars on a 5-star rating system from us.
OLK9 Training is the way to go!!! I have a 2 year old Beagle that knew one or two commands… but would not hold commands, he always pulled on the leash, and he also loved to jump on the furniture/people. I chose to do the 2 week board and train, and I would recommend this training package to everyone. Ciara done so well with Memphis, and Memphis loved her. To see what all she trained him to do in only 2 short weeks is absolutely amazing. She really cares about each and every dog that comes through her training, and you can see that just by talking to her. She turned my 2 year old stubborn Beagle into a very well behaved dog… when I take him out now people are always complimenting on how well behaved he is. A big thank you to Ciara for all your hard work.
Ciara and Off Leash K9 were fantastic! Francie went from completely unmanageable to receiving compliments on her behavior. She did a complete 180° after just the first session. I highly recommend Off Leash K9 to anyone thinking about training their pup.
I am a medical student on student loans. I also happen to be a dog owner (who loves her pup more than anything). A few months ago, Molly ran outside at a friend’s house and ran around a moderately busy neighborhood area in Birmingham until she allowed me to catch her. I immediately started researching dog training. My biggest fear would be her getting hit by a car or running away. I was skeptical because Molly was extremely timid. I knew she was smart, I easily taught her a few very basic commands, but she would only perform them in the comfort of our apartment, when she wanted to. She is also a stubborn pup.
I found OLK9 online, and emailed Ciara. I got a response quickly with a detailed explanation of services, videos of dogs she has trained, and more information. The cost is a big investment, and it sounded incredible, but I wanted more information before I made a commitment. I brought Molly out to Ciara’s land and spent almost an hour talking with her and having her show me the training facility and explaining how she trains and what she guarantees. I put a deposit down that day.
Fast forward to today: I am absolutely THRILLED with OLK9, Ciara, and my incredibly well behaved and trained Molly. I cannot say enough good things. It was worth every penny and more. I didn’t know that being a dog owner could be more fun and truly stress free.
I went on a 4 mile hike yesterday with Molly, and didn’t put the leash on her once. (Keep in mind that 2 months earlier I ran a mile down the side of the same mountain -not on a trail- after Molly). Even when I wasn’t keeping her in a heel command, she would wander up ahead a little bit but stay within eye sight, all on her own accord. She is such a happy pup with her new freedom and is having a BLAST. When I think of having Molly for her lifetime, and the fear that is now gone of her being hit by a car or not coming when called, I would do the same thing over again in a heart beat. I wholeheartedly recommend OLK9 (and in particular Huntsville) to anyone who is a dog owner and is considering training. Molly is thrilled with her new freedom. I am ecstatic about the quality of her training. And it is so apparent that this is not just a job for Ciara. She truly cares and has a passion for what she does and the dogs she trains.
TLDR: do it. You won’t regret it.