Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Dog Training Education

I am a good dog.  I don't jump on people or pee in the house.  I don't bark or run out of the yard.  But I also don't like to walk on a leash.  I have a big back yard to run in.  Why would I want to wear a leash?  And I don't always sit when Mom tells me to.  So I guess I'm not a well-trained dog.  Mom used to have dogs like me that she took to shows and they were well-trained.  But I'm not a show dog.  I'm just for play.  So I guess it doesn't matter if I'm well-trained - does it?

Actually, it does.  I am not leash trained because I rarely leave our house except to go to the vet.  And then, Mom puts the leash on me, but she always carries me so I don't actually walk on the leash.  But she still trained me a little.  She taught me to go outside to do my business.  She taught me that it's not nice to jump on people.  She taught me not to run out in the road even though we live in the country and there isn't much traffic.  And she taught me to sit still for pictures and to wear the silly things she makes me wear without fussing.

Learning to do all this may sound like hard work.  You're right.  It was.  But it was also fun!  I got to spend special time with Mom and she would give me treats when I did things good.  Who doesn't like treats?!  And Mom and I have our own special friendship now that she doesn't have with Dad's dogs.

You might think you don't need to train your dog.  But even if he is like me and doesn't need lots of training, you should work with him.  We want to learn.  We are eager to please you.  We just need you to show us what you want us to do and how you want us to behave.  And teaching us to follow simple commands like "sit" and "stay" may actually help keep us safe.

There are lots of different theories on how to train your dog.  Mom said we aren't going to discuss all of them here.  She said she was more interested in the "why" instead of the "how."  Too many dogs are taken to shelters because their owners don't train them and then get mad at them when they don't behave.  But we are no different than your children.  You teach them right and wrong.  Why don't you teach us too? 

Some people think training should only consist of rewards and positive reinforcement.  Others say it is not only okay, but necessary, to discipline your dogs when the misbehave.  Mom has never hit me but then I am a good dog.  Regardless of what training method you choose, it is important to teach your dog how to behave properly for your household.  You must decide what behavior is desired and teach it to your dog.  For example, Mom has a friend who thinks we should not be allowed up on the furniture.  Her dog is trained to stay off the couch.  But Mom says the couch is for me to sit on and look out the window when she is not home.  She has a cover on it that protects it from getting dirty.  She does not care if I jump up there to sit or sleep.  In our house, that is acceptable behavior.

There are lots of places to learn how to train your dog.  So go to the library and get a book.  Buy a DVD.  Look online for information.  Enroll you and your dog in training classes.  But do train your dog in the basic things he needs to know.  You'll both be happier.

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