If you own a dog, you naturally understand his basic needs for food, water, and medical care. Nowadays, training is widely accepted as another need for dogs that is almost as important as their basic needs.
After all, training ensures a highly obedient dog that comes on command, sits on command, and waits for its master’s command, which the dog obeys without a glitch.
If this is how you see dog training, you might be surprised to learn that there is more to it. Here is a list of the most common benefits of training your dog.
- You get to learn. There’s a common misconception that your dog is trained when you take your dog to dog school. Though a dog does learn a lot at dog school, dog owners are trained as much as their dogs. As a dog owner, you learn how to communicate with your dog, how to read his intentions and behavior patterns, how to transmit your messages to your dog and get him to respond. You learn all the basic concepts of training a dog. You can then take the training further on your own, if you desire, or train other dogs by yourself. Training with other dogs offers some benefits, however.
- Your dog learns social skills. Sounds fancy, but in practice social skills allow your dog to behave properly in certain situations. Your dog gets used to other people and other dogs, which is crucial for the development of young dogs, and also ensures that your pet won’t bark at a passerby, won’t panic and pull on a leash upon seeing a squirrel, or jump on your guests. Well-trained dogs can be taken almost anywhere, such as a family trip, garden party, jogging class or opera house—you choose.
- You have more control and safety. Training your dog to sit or to come when called isn’t just a trick for amusement. It provides you with a tool to control your dog’s actions. Obviously, the ability to call your dog back ensures that he won’t run away and into trouble. He won’t chase people in the park, and if he does, you will be able to call him back. Also, giving your dog something to do ensures that your dog isn’t doing something inappropriate instead. For example, if your dog barks at a mailman, command him to sit (the dog, not the mailman) and, if he keeps quiet (the dog, again), you can praise him to reinforce the good behavior. As you progress and teach more things to your dog, you develop a strong repertoire of tools to use, which improves your overall communication with your dog.
- Your dog has less obedience problems. Trained dogs have less obedience problems than non-trained dogs—and there is a logic behind this. Trained dogs communicate with their owners better, which makes it is easier to set boundaries for what is and isn’t allowed. More importantly, regular training sessions are physically and psychologically demanding—in a good way—which means that dogs receive necessary stimulation and attention (a lack of which often causes behavior problems in dogs).
- You and your dog are active. Dogs are active animals, and in the wild, they would spend most of their waking time tracking and hunting food. Of course, you don’t want your dog to indulge in rabbit chasing, especially if the rabbits are imaginary but appear to “live” under your lawn. Regular activity, such as training, gives your dog enough real things to do, so he does not need to “invent” other activities by himself. Of course, training is only one of your options—you can also take your dog for a walk or throw and retrieve a ball—but training is the one activity that exercises your dog’s brain the most. And, as a side effect, you get active, too.
The ultimate benefit of training is happiness. For whom? For both of you. Owners get a well-behaved dog that responds to their commands and can be taken almost anywhere without concern.
In return, dogs also have happiness; they get to meet other dogs, receive their owners’ attention, and have something to do.
After all, despite often thinking otherwise, we are all happier when we are doing something productive instead of doing nothing or chasing something imaginary.