When bringing home a new dog, aside from providing shelter and nutritious food, proper training is the single most important part of optimizing your relationship with your new puppy or dog. New puppy owners too often downplay the importance of training their new puppy, and as a result do not maximize their bond with their dog. Training does so much more than create a more well behaved dog; as it also enhances the role of the dog within its family. For a perfect example of how training could have made for a better life for a dog and its adoptive family, all you have to do is think of someone you know with a very unruly dog. Because it jumps all over the company and steals food right off people’s plates, the dog has to be confined somewhere while there are guests in the home. When the owner tries to walk the dog, its more like the dog walks the owner dragging him down the road. If the front door is left open a crack, the dog bolts and gets loose. A situation like this is detrimental for both owner and dog. Being social creatures, dogs have difficulty coping when sequestered from their families, especially when the social merry making can be heard right in another part of the house. It is simply lousy for the dog to have to be put away. The owner misses out on providing the dog with a social event that were it well behaved, could thrive in and thoroughly enjoy without distrupting the guests. Bolting out the front door leaves the dog susceptible to getting injured, lost, or stolen. And last but not least, the vet visit is often traumatic for the dog, owner, vet, and vet clinic staff. Some untrained dogs even need to be sedated before the appointment, or the office visit would be otherwise impossible.
Training a dog properly accomplishes the following:
- The dog learns its place in the family, and is more readily accepting of it. Being descended from wolves, their social infrastructure relies heavily on dominance and submission. While we don’t adopt dogs to be our little slaves, we have to establish authority over them to assure that they do not become a danger to themselves, other people, or other animals.
- Positive reinforcement (the hallmark of any good training program) builds the dog’s confidence, making them less likely to be fearful or skittish. This is especially important when they have to go through unpleasant, or scary situations like the vet, the groomer, or the boarding kennel.
- Enables the dog to remain with its family when guests come over, making them truly a real member of the family.
- Housebreaking, of course, allows the dog to roam freely throughout the house, further establishing its postition as a truly real family member.
* And please, folks, let us always remember that a dog is never too old to begin training. No matter the age, a dog can ALWAYS benefit from proper dog training. You CAN teach an old dog new tricks.
At this point, there should be no doubt that training your new dog not only enhances your enjoyment of your new dog, but it also increases your dog’s quality of life and emotional well being. The question is, where is the best place for one to obtain good training for their dog or puppy? Well, let’s start by seeing what options you have available, and I will tell you the pros and cons of each.
- Hands on puppy class with a certified dog trainer: this is the most preferable venue, as the trainer is there to guide you and correct any mistakes you may be making. If something in your demeanor or technique is not working, the trainer is right there to recognize the problem, correct you, and even demonstrate the right way. Most vet offices have business card of good trainers in your area. The drawback of a hands on trainer, however, is for some folks it is simply too expensive and cost prohibitive.
- Buying a training book: for those who cannot afford a hands on dog trainer, this is a good alternative. There are alot of great books out there for this purpose. They can be found both online and at book stores. The drawback to this venue, however, is that people with poor self motivation and short attention spans (the type that tend to not finish what they start), often quickly give up, especially if they have a more challenging pupil.
- Downloading training streaming video lessons from a dog training website: this is probably the best option for the person that cannot afford hands on training, but has too poor self motivation or short attention span for a book. I have even seen some where you can download the first training lesson free without any commitment.
Here are some tips on seeking a good dog training program, be it hands on, book, or streaming video:
- Positive reinforcement only. Do not accept any training that uses any negative motivation. Spiked or barbed collars, striking the dog at all are not only but counterproductive to the goal you wish to achieve.
- In the case of a hands on trainer, ask to sit in on a lesson. This should not be a problem, especially if the trainer has complete confidence in the service he/she provides.
- With regard to books or streaming video, favor products that offer a free sample of the product, be it an excerpt or free download of first lesson; and of course, choose a program with a money back guarantee.