I am a dog trainer. I help people raise their puppy into a well-mannered adult dog. I also help people teach their not-so-well-mannered adult dog some manners. To me, training a dog isn't an option, it's a necessity. Because January is Train Your Dog Month, I wanted to take a step back from all the how-to posts and talk a little bit about why you might want to think about teaching your dog to do stuff.
A dog who hasn't been taught basic manners can be an out of control dog sometimes. An out of control dog can be a liability – even if he’s friendly. And it’s just not fun to live with a dog that isn’t trained. You need to teach your dog to become a better behaved dog -- he won’t learn these skills by himself.
The mantra of dog training used to be “make the dog do it right” (which wasn’t fun for the dog or for the trainer). Over the past thirty years, training has evolved. There are more trainers today using dog-friendly (and effective) training styles. Old-fashioned training methods focused on punishing the dog for bad behavior. Today’s modern dog trainer focuses on rewarding the dog for good behavior, thus encouraging that good behavior to happen again and again.
When using these new methods, people find themselves laughing and enjoying the time they spend with their dog, not looking for all the mistakes he’s making. It becomes a lot more fun to work with your dog when you’re having fun. Even working on “boring” things such as sit and down can be fun if you work with your dog, instead of against him. Another way to bring fun to training is to work on a few tricks. Who can resist a dog that plays dead or speaks on cue?
Because dogs are an important part of our everyday lives, we need a well-behaved dog. Because they are getting more freedom and going more places with us, it’s important that we teach our dogs basic manners. Manners = more fun with your dog!