Good Dog: The Importance of Obedience Training
Dogs are the best. They are free spirits who live in the moment, and that means whatever they want to do, they are damn well going to do it! Unfortunately this means they aren't always on their best behaviour, which can make things difficult for you. For some people, the thought of training their dog beyond the basics seems overbearing and controlling - you want a dog, not a robot! While this makes sense, it's also important to understand that not only does obedience training makes your life easier, it can also lead to a happier and more fulfilling life for your dog.
Dogs want nothing more than to spend time with their favourite humans. Anywhere you go, they want to go too, and you may be surprised just how many places you can actually bring them along. Having a well-mannered dog who knows how to greet people, walk on leash, and stay calm in stimulating situations, means that they don't have to miss out on those adventures. They can go for picnics, camping, baseball games or grab an ice cream, and you won't spend the whole time stressed out and apologizing for your dog. A well behaved dog is more likely to come along for the ride, and that's what they want more than anything! You can take them to the ever growing list of dog cafes in Hamilton! Even at home, a dog that knows not to jump up on visitors is less likely to get locked in a spare room when company is coming, and teaching your dog to go lie down in a specific spot when told makes life easier if the cable guy comes in, or if you get a package delivered.
Not only does training give your dog important skills, it also provides another opportunity to bond with them. Putting aside time each day to work on a new command or trick is fun and rewarding, and can give your dog great satisfaction in pleasing you. What's more, studies have shown that mentally stimulating activities can tire out your dog just as much as physical ones, in even less time. They learn a new skill, you get to bond with them, and when it is all done they curl up and have a nap. Perfect!
If you don't have a lot of experience training dogs, or maybe need to learn some new techniques, a professional dog trainer is the best way to go. The internet is an amazing resource with videos, articles and tutorials, but in the end nothing can replace the benefit of one-on-one training with a pro. Ultimately the one who is getting the training isn't the dog, but their handler. You learn how to communicate with your dog, so that you can go home and build those skills together.
So what sort of things should you be teaching your dog? You may be tempted to start big with some awesome party trick, but it's best to start with the basics. These are the foundation on which more advanced commands and tricks are built:
- recall (coming when called)
- leashed walking
- stand (handy when going to the vet)
From there, you can teach them to lie down in a designated area on command, have them greet guests at the door in a calm and friendly manner, ring a bell to be let outside, and even start working with them off-leash. The possibilities in what your dog can do are pretty much endless, and you'd be amazed how easy it can be to teach them almost anything once you learn to communicate well together.
Knowing that your dog will listen to you when the time comes opens up a world of possibilities to them and to you, and gives you entirely new ways to bond and spend time together. And there is nothing that makes your dog happier than spending more time with you.