by Guest Blogger Renee Will
This is the first of what will become a monthly guest blog by Renee Will, Training Director at Two Brown Dogs Canine Consultants and fellow member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT). In honour of Train Your Dog Month, Renee has compiled a list of reasons why we should make time in our busy lives for our dogs. If you have a question you’d like to submit for future a future training column, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The person who submits the answer selecetd for our monthly training column will recive a prize from Prairie Dog Dayare and Two Brown Dogs.
#10 Because It Is Fun
Most of us have dogs to do things with. Whether it is walking for fun or exercise, dog sports or cuddling on the couch we want to be with our dogs. Training is one way for you and your dog to get out once a week, break up your busy schedule and commit to having fun. Add play into training and use play to teach your dog to behave in a way that is compatible with your lifestyle. Look for activities and classes that incorporate play and leave you wanting more.
#9 Because It Is Polite
Barking, lunging, pulling dogs are not polite. They frighten children and adults who see them as being out of control which gives all dogs and owners a bad reputation with their silly behaviour. Their antics are not cute and generally these dogs do not want to play because they do not know how. They want to bark and climb all over the person or other dog and make a nuisance out of themselves. A well-trained dog is a pleasure for everyone.
#8 Because It Is Safe
Everyone is at risk from unmanageable, untrained dogs. Dogs do not need to be ‘aggressive’ to cause damage and pain. A child knocked over by an unruly dog that the owner cannot control is no less scared or hurt if the dog is ‘friendly’. A driver that swerves to avoid a loose dog and has an accident doesn’t really care if the dog just wanted to run over to the dog park. And a dog that flies through the windshield onto the road in a fender bender likely would have appreciated its owner being more responsible and restraining it in the car.
#7 Because It Is Required
City by-laws expect all owners to take responsibility for their dogs’ actions. Dogs are required, among other things, to be leashed and owners are required to pick up after their dogs. But how many people can pick up when the dog is spinning around on the end of the leash? How many people can safely control a dog that has never been trained to walk on leash? Watch the number of people running behind their dogs trying to keep up and you’ll get an idea … not very many.
#6 Because It Is Smart
Setting a few rules and boundaries for your dog through training creates a positive environment for the dog that is calm and consistent and helps the dog to be able to figure out what comes next. Dogs are not human beings even though we sometimes treat them that way. They are animals; they are often fearful in strange and unfamiliar situations and they cannot generalize well from one situation to another. This means that just because they behave in a certain way in your home, they will not necessarily behave that way if you drive across the country to visit family. Training is structure you can take with you. A well-trained dog is more likely to be able to cope with change because at least the expectations for the behaviours it has been trained for stay consistent.
#5 Because It Is Cheap
Training and obedience classes may seem like an unnecessary cost in today’s tougher times. But compare the cost of a training session, $50.00 to $80.00 for several weeks of instruction, to the cost to you and your dog if your dog gets loose doesn’t come when called and gets hit by a car, or eats something that makes it sick or worse, or gets into a fight with another dog, or injures someone. You potentially face huge vet bills, maybe a lawsuit and possibly the mandatory euthanasia of your dog. Training costs are short-term for very long-term gain.
#4 Because It Is Sociable
Dog classes are full of people who think just like you. Many of us have people in our lives that just do not ‘get’ why we want to be around dogs so much. They do not understand the nature of our relationships with our dogs. Dog school people get it. They are all there for similar reasons to you. Dog school is a great place to meet like-minded people with good ideas and to learn more about dogs and their owners.
#3 Because It Is Tiring
A tired dog is a good dog. Classes exercise you and your dog physically and mentally. There is always something to be thinking about, paying attention to and keeping an eye on. Dogs need to be mentally as well as physically tested. Behaviours like digging holes, chewing, and generally wrecking the house are often related to not enough stimulation. Training can and should be stimulating and involve physical activity and mental challenges. Trick training is one of the things you can do for your dog that accomplishes both.
#2 Because It Is Healthy
Physical and mental stimulation, reduction in blood pressure, improvements in mood, greater socialization and decreased loneliness are all documented positive effects of owning dogs. Training that involves you with your dog on a regular schedule can only help.
And the Number One Reason to Train Your Dog
#1 Because It Is Friendship
Dogs are our best friends but too many of us do not include our best friends in our lives often because they do not behave in an acceptable way. As a result they end up in backyards, on tie-outs, and in shelters or foster homes. Training is such an easy way to help your dog to be the kind of best friend you want to always have with you.