Why Should I Train my Dog? The Importance of Dog Training and Where to Start?

By 27th September 2017Dog Training
why should I train my dog

If you’re asking yourself, ‘Why should I train my dog?’ then read on because this article is going to answer that question.

In detail.

Not only that, but we’re going to tell you where to start with your dog’s training.

The importance of dog training cannot be underestimated.

If you want to share a long and happy life with your dog, training him, giving him boundaries and providing him with the tools to succeed is of the highest importance.

The Life and Death of an Untrained Dog

The life of an untrained dog is very often a sad one. We tried to describe the kind life many untrained dogs endure, we couldn’t really do it justice.

Instead, we wrote it from a dog’s perspective.

I’m Max.

My life used to be perfect.

Every morning when I was a puppy, I’d wake up in the warmth amongst my littermates. 

Mum was never far away and when I was hungry and I’d go to her and suckle for my breakfast while she licked me clean and showered me with love.

When I was a few weeks old I was separated from my mum and my brothers and sisters. I was taken to a strange new house with new people.

It was scary at first.

I was passed around between two kids and their mum and dad. But they gave me a bed with food and water and they played with me all the time so I guess it wasn’t so bad.

In the afternoon I would chase the kids and jump on them and chew on their fingers. They used to laugh and their parents would take photo’s of us having fun.

They gave me lots of toys to chew on too, like shoes and stuffed animals.

I loved tea time because I got to lick the plates clean and the food was so much tastier than my biscuits.

Walkies was so much fun!

I used to rush everywhere and pull my owners to the park where we would run around and play. I wanted to go and say ‘Hi’ to the other dogs but for some reason, they wouldn’t let me.

I don’t know why, I only wanted to play.

Maybe they were scared…

Sometimes I’d have a poo in the corner of the dining room. My family said it was OK because ‘that’s what puppies do, he’ll grow out of it’.

Whatever that means!

When I started growing up things changed.

My family started shouting at me and I got in trouble a lot.

One day we were playing chase and I knocked the girl over when I jumped up. She started crying and I got shouted at. After that, they started to knee me in the chest if I jumped up.

It really hurt!

I was playing with the dad one afternoon and I was chewing on his hand like I always did. But this time he shouted at me, hit me and pinned me to the floor on my side. I don’t know what I did wrong but I was really scared.

After a while, they tied me to a chain in the backyard.

I wasn’t allowed in the house because I chewed on a pair of my owner’s favourite shoes. I got into trouble for jumping up for table scraps and if I went to the toilet in the dining room, they pushed my face into it and shouted at me.

I don’t understand, I was allowed to do all this when I was a puppy but as I was growing up I kept getting shouted at and hit.

No one walked me because I’m strong and I pulled and I barked at other dogs. My owners always pulled me away from other dogs. I thought it was because they were scared and so I barked to protect them. But they just shouted at me and yanked hard on my leash. 

That hurt too.

I was sad and confused. I just wanted to go back to my mum and littermates. Life was good back then.

But being tied up in the yard all day is boring and I’d have all this pent-up energy and frustration. So I’d bark and dig to entertain myself.

When my owners did come out to me I was so excited to see them that I’d forget myself and jump up them. But they’d knee me in the chest and shout at me for barking and making a mess in the garden.

I don’t live with them now.

Today I live in a cage surrounded by other dogs.

They bark and growl a lot so I do the same because I’m scared and I want to protect myself.

Every day people walk past my cage and stare at me, I don’t know who they are and they scare me, so I bark and growl at them too.

I’m going to be stuck here forever.

But there is one lady that I do trust a little bit.

She feeds me and cleans my cage sometimes.

She’s coming now in fact.

She has a lead!

We’re going for a walk!

I’m so excited! I’ve not gone for a walk in two years!

I wonder where we’re going?

Uh?

I’ve never been in this room before!

The lady is hugging me, I’ve not had a hug in so long and it feels so nice.

Wait!

Who is the man in the white coat putting this thing around my mouth?

I can’t open my mouth! I’m scared!

‘Ow!’ he’s just put a sharp thing in me.

What’s happening?!

I’m really tired.

I’m falling asleep.

No one can hurt me anymore.

The Shocking Facts About Untrained Dogs in Rescue Shelters

the importance of dog training

Max’s story is a tragic one.

But what’s even more tragic is the fact that it’s such a common story.

According to the ASPCA

Dogs that are sent to rescue shelters every year.

Dogs that are euthanized because they can’t be re-homed.

Of dogs in rescue as a result of problematic behaviours.

(Figures are from the US, we couldn’t find any relating to the UK but still, this shows the scales of the problem)

The Benefits of Training Your Dog

the benefits of dog training

There are many benefits to training your dog and it’s not just you that benefits, your dog does too.

Here are some of the benefits your dog will enjoy;

He’s Less Likely to Get Hurt or Become Ill

A dog with a good recall is much less likely to run off and get hit by a car or finding himself in other kinds of trouble.

He’s Less Chance of Getting Hurt or Poisoned by Eating Something He Shouldn’t

Dogs with a good ‘leave it’ or ‘drop it’ are less likely to chew, eat or swallow items like electric cables, shoes or poisonous foods like chocolate or onions.

He’ll Have More Confidence

When a dog has been properly socialised, he will have the confidence to interact with other dogs and people instead of being fearful or anxious.

He’ll Spend More Time Off Lead

When dogs come, sit, lie down, and stay when asked they get to spend more time off lead to explore, play and have fun.

He’ll Get to Spend More Time With You

Dogs that lie down and settle reliably always get to spend more time with their owners because they are more welcome in social environments like dog-friendly pubs, your friend’s houses and they often become part of the fun.

He’ll Just Be a Happy Dog

An obedient dog won’t spend his days being shouted at, locked away, hit, or left at home. He’ll get to spend his days with his family having fun, going out for walks and living the best life that you can provide for him.

How you will benefit;

You’ll Spend Less Money on Vet Bills

Dogs that don’t run off or chew things they shouldn’t are much less likely to get hurt or become ill. That means fewer costly trips to the vets.

You’ll Enjoy Going for Walks

Your dog won’t pull you around when he catches a scent and you’ll trust that he’ll come back when he’s off lead.

Your Favourite Shoes Won’t Get Chewed Up

Dogs that are taught to chew the right things (like proper chew toys) won’t turn to chewing your shoes or other belongings.

You’ll Suffer Less Embarrassment

Or have to apologise to the people your dog jumped up or knocked over.

You’ll Spend More Time With Him

You’ll take him everywhere with you instead of leaving him at home because he knows how to behave.

You’ll Spend More Time With Him

You’ll take him everywhere with you instead of leaving him at home because he knows how to behave.

You’ll be Less Stressed

Dogs that don’t know how to behave are stressful to live with, but you won’t have this problem. You’ll share a life with your dog that is filled with love, respect, and fun.

Where to Start When Training Your Dog

where to start when training my dog

Many books say you should start training your dog at 6 months old. The advice being not to start training too young, that you should let your dog ‘be a puppy’.

Other high-profile dog trainers and authors say you should start training as soon as you bring a puppy (or older dog) into your life. After all, a six-month-old dog that has no manners can be a problem!

So which is it?

Training a Puppy

Your pups first month at home is the most crucial period in his life in terms of his development.

This super short time frame will determine whether he will become a well-mannered, fun and friendly companion or an anxious, anti-social or fearful dog.

Therefore, it’s really important that you start to train your puppy as soon as he comes home.

By keeping his food and water in a specific location and establishing times for food, bed, and toilet, you give your pooch structure to his days.

Many people will tell you the first things your dog should learn are commands like sit, stay, lie down, etc. While these are all important commands, there are certain things your puppy must learn at a very young which are vital to his wellbeing, his safety and that of others, and for the integrity of your home. If these concepts aren’t learned early on, you could have serious problems as your puppy grows into an adolescent dog.

Socialisation is the Most ‘Urgent’ Priority

A well-socialized dog is a joy to spend time with, both inside and outdoors.

Anti-social dogs, however, can be difficult to control, stressful to be around and potentially dangerous.

You’ll need to keep your puppy indoors until he’s at least 3 months old has had all of his jabs so dog on dog socialization will have to wait a little while.

Much of that development will have already happened as he grew up with his mother and littermates.

During this time it’s your job to teach your dog to enjoy being around all kinds of people – especially children, men and strangers.

While it’s possible to live with a dog that doesn’t like other dogs, a dog that doesn’t like people can be a real danger so it’s imperative that you teach him to enjoy human interaction.

So introduce your puppy to as many people as you can. Hold puppy parties and invite your friends, neighbours, work colleagues and their kids. Make him the star of the show, pass him around so he gets comfortable with being handled. Let everyone hand feed him and teach him the basic commands like sit and lay down.

Don’t overwhelm him, do it in a controlled way. Invite a few friends one day, your neighbours the next, work colleagues on another day but get as many people as you can to come and meet him.

Bite Inhibition is the Most ‘Important’ Priority

The most important thing you can teach your dog is to have a reliable bite inhibition and develop a soft bite.

No matter how well behaved, every dog has the potential to bite other dogs or people, whether it’s during play (very common), through fear or through pain.

No matter how well socialised a dog is, accidents can happen.

A child standing on your sleeping dog’s paw for example. When a dog feels pain, shock or fear, a natural reaction is to lunge, snap or bite.

The seriousness of the problem you face will often depend on how bad a bite is. If your dog has a reliable bite inhibition then the teeth might even touch the skin. If he has never been taught bite inhibition and his teeth cause damage, you could have a serious problem on your hands which in the worst case could result in your dog being euthanized.

Bit inhibition MUST be taught during puppyhood because it is really difficult to correct when your dog is an adolescent.

House Training

Before you give your new puppy the run of the house, he must first know the rules.

It’s up to you to teach him what those rules are, otherwise, he’ll let his imagination will take him all over the house while he passes the time.

Rugs will become toilets, chair legs will become chew toys and your curtains will be perfect for playing ‘tug’ on.

If you allow your puppy to make these mistakes he will quickly wreck your home.

What were once accidents will soon become habits and the problem will only get worse as he grows bigger and stronger.

Teaching your puppy good habits from the day she comes home will be more fun and less stressful. It’ll save you time, potentially a lot of money and reduce the chances of a problem dog being sent to the rescue shelter.

House training includes; toilet training, chew toy training, crate training and how to be comfortable when they’re left on their own.

Training an Older Dog

There are literally MILLIONS of dogs in rescue shelters all over the world. So, before rushing out and getting a puppy, it’s worth at least considering adopting an adolescent or adult dog.

Oftentimes we view dogs in rescue shelters as ‘problem dogs’ when in fact, many of them are very well mannered with excellent training and just need a home with a family that loves them.

Yes, there are definitely advantages in raising a puppy and moulding him into your ideal companion (if you know how).

But adopting a well socialised, well-tempered rescue dog provides the benefit of being able to skip those first, often daunting few months of puppy training. Especially if you work and don’t have the time for that level of commitment.

Just be sure to get to know as many shelter dogs as you can. Walk them, spend time with them, and introduce them to all of your family members and other pets (if possible) before making a decision.

It sounds cruel but you want to enjoy your dog and he should enjoy you. Living with a reactive, anxious or aggressive dog can be stressful, even dangerous. You don’t want to find yourself in this position.

If you have adopted a nervous, anxious or fearful dog, you might need to give him a bit of time to get used to you and learn to trust you. In cases like these, it helps to get as much information as you can about the dogs’ history;

  • Where did he live?
  • How many people did he live with?
  • Did he share his home with any other animals?
  • Did he suffer any abuse?

Finding out as much as you can about his previous life will help you formulate a plan and figure out how much you can work him.

An older dog’s past treatment and experiences can make training much more difficult. The need for rehabilitation in older, rescued dogs is quite common and reforming behaviours without knowing the psychology behind them can be next to impossible. In cases like these, we recommend you hire a qualified, experienced dog trainer / behaviourist.

Be Ready for a Lifetime of Training

Dog training isn’t a ‘one-time’ event.

Once you’ve taught your dog how to sit, it doesn’t mean he’s going to sit on command for the rest of his days.

Expecting this of him will only set you both up for failure.

Instead, think of dog training like any other training – the more you practice, the better you and your dog will get. So be prepared to practice and reinforce your dog’s training regularly throughout his life.

Not only will he be a better-behaved dog, but your relationship as a result of the trust and respect you build up over time will get stronger and stronger.

Why Should I Train my Dog: Our Conclusion

why should I train my dog

If you ever wondered ‘Why Should I Train My Dog?’, then we hope we have answered this question for you.

It’s an essential part of being a responsible owner and it takes time, patience, and commitment.

The benefits to you and your dog are huge; living a long, fun and happy life together.

We hope you understand the importance of dog training. The more time and effort you put it in at the very beginning, the bigger the benefits will be as your dog grows up.

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