Why do we train our dogs? Of course we want them to have nice manners in the home and in public. We want them to come when we callâ€”for safetyâ€™s sake, if nothing elseâ€”we want them to let us groom them, and we want them not to destroy our stuff. If your dog is fearful, teaching basic behaviors (Sit, Down, Come, Stay) as well as tricks, such as rolling over and shaking hands, can have a higher purpose. Even simple skills such as these can help your dog cope with stressful situations and be less fearful.
TRAINING FOR LIFE
Positive-reinforcement training can change your dogâ€™s emotional state from a negative one to a positive one. In addition, if he knows that he can stay safe by performing a certain behavior, he will be easier to handle in potentially stressful situations. A relaxed pup is almost always more willing and likely to do what you need him to do in a given situation.
Veterinary visits are a good example because they can be frighteningâ€”vaccinations, restraints, syringes, and thermometers! When dogs feel uncomfortable or scared, they may freeze and then progress to struggling, fleeing, or fighting to get away. Even laid-back dogs may pose unique challenges if they are being examined in sensitive areas or are afraid of certain procedures, such as nail trims. Or they may need guidance in tasks such as remaining calmly in place on the scale or during an exam.
When your dog panics, it increases his own risk of injury as well that of yourself and the veterinary staff. It can also lead to fear of future veterinary visits. Thatâ€™s no fun for anyone.
When dogs willingly participate in their care, they are more relaxed and easier to handle. Often, training your dog gives you the ability to help him to cope with handling or procedures, and this makes both you and your dog less stressed. The calmer you are at times when your dog is stressed, the more likely it is that you will be able to help him. When the veterinary team sees that you are able to help your dog, they will be able to do a better job, too.
Take tricks, for example. They arenâ€™t just for show. They can be fabulously functional. The ability to focus on performing a particular behavior or trick can help your dog calm down in exciting or stressful situations because he is focused on the trick and not whatever he is scared of.
Training is one of the building blocks of a strong human-dog relationship. A training class is where you learn how to teach your dog, and your dog learns how to learn. In class, you and your dog learn to interact with other dogs and people in different situations. Even better, training is a way to communicate with your dog. It will become for him a familiar language that may give him comfort in certain situations.
Finally, training is one of the most important factors in whether a dog stays in his home for life. In a study conducted by the National Council on Pet Population and Policy, researchers found that 96 percent of dogs given up to shelters had not received any training. People and dogs who train together stay together.
In other words, if you want your dog to be your BFF (best furriend forever)â€”and we know you do!â€”training is the first step toward that goal.