You may be spending a lot of time on social media these days; I am too. I scroll through pictures of dogs, cats, and parents with their babies crawling, taking their first step, and feeding themselves.
The babies look cute eating mashed potatoes with both hands, as they get it all over their faces. That’s cute for babies but adults use a spoon.
There would be something really wrong with an adult feeding themselves mashed potatoes with their hands, yet with babies we don’t give it a second thought? Why?
Because the babies haven’t been taught to use a spoon. They don’t know any better. And once they do, they use a spoon.
It’s the same with our dogs. If we expect them to potty outside and not go on our expensive rug, we need to teach them that outside is the correct thing to do. That’s why training your dog is a necessity, not a luxury. If they aren’t taught what to do, they’ll make up their own rules because they don’t know any better.
Here's a link to a Facebook live I did recently as part of the Roanoke Valley SPCA's Humane Education series on why dog training is so important to the entire family.
Here are nine reasons why training your dog is so important.
1. Teach your dog what you want it to do.
Instead of yelling because it did something you don’t want, such as pottying on the floor show him what you want instead.
He doesn’t know any better and if it’s a puppy, their bladder hasn’t fully developed yet so if he knows to tell you he has to go out, by the time he does, he’s already gone on the floor.
2. Training helps prevent or solve unwanted behaviors.
If your dog jumps on friends when they visit your house or he barks when people walk down the street. Show your dog what it needs to do to get the attention it wants, without being a pest around your guests.
3. A dog is happy knowing what’s expected. Using potty training as an example, if your dog pees or poops on your expensive rug, chances are you’re upset and maybe yell at the dog. He doesn’t know what he did wrong.
But by training him to tell you when he needs to go out will make both of you happy. He’ll be happy that he can communicate his needs with you and you’ll be happy the rug is no longer being stained.
4. Train your dog to be safe
Having a solid recall (when the dog comes back to you) is vital to keeping him safe. Instead, he may run off into traffic or chase a wild animal and become lost.
A good “leave it” will prevent him from scooping up that onion you dropped on the kitchen floor (onions are toxic to dogs).
5. Training is fun and educational for the dog and human.
Training doesn’t have to be a drudgery like practicing scales on the piano for hours. Instead, training in short segments, such as 10 to 15 minutes 2 to 3 times a day will help reinforce that good behavior.
Even having your dog sit while you’re brushing your teeth is a training session.
Just like practicing scales makes you a better musician, consistent training makes your dog better at listening.
Many people have been learning new activities during the lockdown, such as a new language, cooking different things, etc. Dogs love to learn new things to and they can learn new things their entire lives.
It might take an older dog a little longer to learn, depending on the task. For instance, an older dog may be hard of hearing and not know what you’re asking him to do.
6. Training exercises their bodies and brains.
We want to make sure we stay in the best shape possible to live long and so we exercise. Exercise is good for dogs, too. It’s good for their brains and bodies.
7. Training develops a stronger bond between you and your dog.
Many people have fostered or adopted pets during this pandemic because they want a friend and have the extra time to be with them. Petting and playing with our pets releases oxytocin. . .the “feel good” chemical in our brains.
I think we can agree that a few minutes with our pets puts us in a better mood and improves that connection we have with them.
8. You can go more places with a well-trained dog.
I travel to dog sporting events with my dogs and we often stay in hotels. My dogs know not to potty in the room, tear up the sheets, or bark when they hear strange noises.
Chances are you got a dog to go places together, such as dining at an outdoor restaurant-not to lock them in a closet. And dogs like to be with their humans so it’s a win-win for everyone.
9. Training serves as a foundation for dog sports.
Maybe you want to do agility or disc or flyball or dock diving. Those sports are a lot of fun but it takes a well-trained dog to know how to behave around other dogs-and humans-in those situations.
So as you can see, training your dog is important to both of you so you can enjoy the many years ahead.
***If you just adopted a dog, we can help you train your dog. We offer one-on-one in-home lessons as well as virtual one-on-on lessons. If you’re working at home or at the office and want your dog to have a break, we can walk him for you. And when you’re going on vacation and need someone to watch your pets, let us know. We’re licensed, bonded, and insured and won awards in this year’s Best of Roanoke for Best Dog Trainer and Best In-Home Pet Sitting Service.***