Why Dog training is important
From the day you pick up your four-legged friend, your companion for the next 10+ years, you want the best life together. You imagine hanging out at the beach together, going to coffee shops and breweries together, hiking together, and just enjoying life together. Dogs want that kind of relationship with us, too, but they aren’t born knowing how to live with us without conflict. For example, they don’t know that peeing and pooping wherever they want isn’t acceptable or that chewing up the couch will make us angry or that all food they find doesn’t belong to them. This is why we need to train them.
Ideally, dog training should start as soon as the puppy finds its way to you, around 8-10 weeks old. Training at this age should be focused on socialization more than basic manners skills like sitting or waiting to go outside. A puppy’s critical socialization window lasts from 3 to 6 weeks. It would be unethical to give someone a 3-week-old puppy, so our window of time is reduced to 8-16 weeks. Many people believe that socialization means getting their puppy introduced to as many dogs and people as possible. What it actually means is that, in addition to people and dogs, the puppy gets exposed to different sounds, textures, smells, objects, and novel things in a way that results in a positive outcome. Common things that should be introduced early to puppies include vacuum cleaners, Roombas, different surfaces, objects that move when touched or interacted with, etc. This also includes early desensitization to grooming equipment, medication delivery (eye drops, ear drops, syringes, etc.), as well as handling by groomers or veterinarians. Training during this very special period of time will help puppies develop into well-adapted adult dogs.
Not everyone gets a puppy; some people get an adult dog from a rescue or shelter. When we introduce a dog into our homes, there is an adjustment period during which our new dog will have to settle in. As they settle in and get comfortable with our habits, our task is to teach them how to live in harmony with us. We may have to train them not to jump on people, not to rush out the door, not to chase small animals, not to eat food off the kitchen counter, and not to pull on the leash. Compassionate, force free dog training is essential in guiding dog and carer to work together to achieve a stress-free companionship. Of course, there’s a fun side to dog training. It’s not just for teaching your dog how to live with you. Dog training also includes training for sports like agility, herding, field work, nose work, and flyball, just to name a few. You can also teach your dog tricks or how to be an actor for commercials. All of these training activities provide your dog with mental stimulation, an essential component of every living being’s development. Mental stimulation will tire your dog out in a way that physical exercise alone cannot. It is part of a well-rounded exercise curriculum.
Dog training doesn’t stop just because you’ve met your goals with the behaviors you want to teach. Just as you must frequently tend your plants to keep them healthy, you must also maintain your dog’s training. Your dog’s behaviors that result in a satisfying relationship with you should frequently be rewarded to maintain your worry-free partnership. Dog training should be incorporated into your dog’s daily routine as part of their exercise regimen. Regardless of whether you adopt a puppy or an adult dog, dog training will be an integral part of your life to benefit both you and your lifetime companion.