January has been designated as National Train Your Dog Month by the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT). Launched in 2010, this national campaign aims to promote awareness of the importance of dog training for owners across the country. The month of January was chosen by the APDT for this critical topic of awareness because, historically, it is one of the most popular times for purchasing or adopting new dogs.
The vast majority of dog owners understand the importance of training their pup. Making sure your dog behaves well, both at home and in public, has many benefits – it can increase their confidence, improve the canine/owner relationship, and can even help to keep them safe.
The traditional definition of training a dog is simply ensuring that they can sit, lay and stay; these are the most obvious fundamental basic pillars of dog obedience training. However, there are other activities you can do to keep your dog motivated by teaching them a new skill – and it can be fun for both of you!
Why you should train your dog
As dog owners, we have a responsibility to make sure our dog is well-trained. It starts with a responsibility to ourselves, but we also have to think about others, too.
We should train our dog out of consideration for the safety and happiness of the people we live with. This is definitely the case if you live with elderly relatives or young children, but can also ring true if you’re unlucky enough to fall in love with someone who just isn’t as much of a ‘dog person’ as you are. Teaching your dog what counts as good behavior around your house – and what is not – is a great starting point.
If you have guests to your home, their visit is likely to be more pleasant if your dog is well-behaved, as opposed to your visitors falling victim to nipping or jumping.
Training also can ensure that our pups pose no threat, danger or nuisance to the local community. Whether you’re letting them outside to use the bathroom or taking them for a walk in a local park, it’s easier for everyone if your dog actually listens to your commands.
Perhaps most importantly, we owe it to the dog himself/herself. We have agreed to care for and love our four-legged friend. By bringing them home, we have committed to doing our best to give our pet the best life possible. Dogs are family members too.
Training not only helps to keep dogs safe, but it can also keep them mentally stimulated. Whilst basic obedience is necessary, we can also make their training enjoyable and rewarding by teaching them a new skill.
How to train your dog
If your dog has no obedience at all – or has a serious behavioral issue – then resolving that should obviously be your first port of call.
However, once you have the basics in place, there are a variety of ways to progress their training. These methods keep the training regime fun – for both you and your dog.
- Socialize them regularly. There are numerous benefits to socializing your dog – interaction with other people or dogs helps them to learn behaviors in a public setting. Even simple ideas like walking your dog in a new location (with new smells, new scenery, and new dogs) or bringing your pup to a coffee shop with outdoor seating are great socializing opportunities.
- Indoor games. Even on those miserable, rainy days, there are still things you can do inside your home to boost your dog’s training. Keep them mentally stimulated by playing games like ‘find the treat’ or utilizing one of the many brain games available. This focuses their mind and reduces the chance for them to become bored or destructive whilst in the house.
- Teach your dog a new skill. Have you always wanted to run your dog through an agility course? Perhaps you think they’d be great at tracking? You can sign your dog up for a specialized training class which can help them to develop their skillset and confidence.
- Take them to a group class. A group dog training class is a wonderful way to socialize your dog and teach them new skills. These classes take place in a controlled setting which means the socialization can be overseen by an expert, helping to prevent any negative experience for your pup.
Remember, simply working with your pup on a consistent basis and creating positive experiences for them is going to help them become a more well-rounded and well-trained dog.
Downsides of not training your dog
“My dog is fine inside the house and that’s all that matters. Sure, he chews on table legs and ripped up my couch last week – but he’s usually fine.”
“I get home from work late and I’m too tired to work with the dog.”
“Our last dog was fine and we didn’t do any dedicated training with her.”
“I don’t have time to train my dog.”
The aforementioned quotes are paraphrasing the jist of what our trainers hear on a regular basis, and are some typical reasons why an owner may choose to not work with their dog.
Owning a dog is a privilege and a responsibility, and it is important that we understand how pivotal their training is. If you don’t dedicate time to training your dog, it is more likely they will become destructive and develop behavioral problems. That isn’t good for you, and it isn’t good for them either.
Although we are all pushed for time nowadays, even allocating just ten minutes per day can be extremely beneficial for your pup. You can even make a short training schedule and stick to it.
Dog training is an all-year round activity
January may be National Train Your Dog Month, but it’s not the only month you should be motivated to work with your dog. We’re sure you’d all agree that dog training is something we should be focusing on throughout the year.
If your dog needs to learn its basic obedience, then this is the best time to start; if it has a behavioral problem, start taking steps to rectify it.
And if your dog knows all of its basic commands, why not train it on a new skill or hobby? You might be surprised by what your dog can learn – and how fun it will be for both of you!