There are some obvious reasons to train your dog: to teach him sit, lay down, not pull on the leash, why else should you train your dog?
Dog training can have amazing effects on your dog’s personality, confidence, and energy level. It also gives people – including children – confidence around dogs. People who train their dogs feel more bonded with their dogs, and if you watch them with their dogs, their dogs are more bonded and responsive to them too. They also feel less stressed with their dogs – at home, at the vet, on walks, meeting other dogs and people. Here are a few of their stories….
Liam used to be very leash reactive. He looked like a crazed, aggressive dog when he saw another dog – from as much as 100 yards away. But when he met dogs off leash in his back yard he happy and relaxed with most dogs. Brenda needed Liam to be calmer when he saw other dogs, and desperately wanted to be able to walk him with other dogs. We set out to desensitize him to seeing other dogs – we showed him seeing other dogs was no big deal, and we counter-conditioned him seeing other dogs by showing him that seeing dogs on a walk was a good thing – it made hot dogs appear! Over a few months Liam went from doing barky, scary threat displays when he saw a dog on a walk, to a dog who saw a dog and calmly looked at his mom for guidance and reward. Liam learned to not only walk with other dogs, he started to enjoy it and was even able to help other leash reactive dogs to settle as well.
Bella used to be afraid of people. Strangers made her nervous and she was reluctant to go near them. To help her, we taught Bella
some basic cues – Sit, Down, Touch, Stay, and Leave It – and rewarded her generously for doing these behaviors on cue. Learning these basic cues helped Bella relax and feel more in control of her environment – in her mind I think she thought she had figured us crazy humans out: “I sit, and they give me a treat, or open a door, or take off my leash – it’s so easy to get these people to do things for me!” In reality, all we did was make Bella’s world more orderly and predictable. We did most of this training while Bella was in daycare without parents present. I knew Bella was getting more comfortable with me, but the real break through came when Bella showed her parents her new people skills. During my handover session with Bella and her parents, my assistant Eryn walked into the room. Bella had never met Eryn before, and she walked right up to Eryn to greet her and turned sideways and politely asked for pets. Through training, Bella learned basics commands and she gained confidence, and we were thrilled!
When I first went to Maxi’s home she was a frantic little dog. She seemed to be going in 3 directions at once – and nipping everything in site. Maxi was anxious and nervous, and showed it with her mouth and by jumping on people. We taught Maxi that doing Sits, and Down, and Touches, and Stays made her ball fly through the air, treats appear out of no where, and petting and love come her way. In one week, Maxi went from anxious and frantic to focused and calm. Her Mom started hand feeding her and making her work for food, ask politely to get on the couch, and ignored any impolite or pushy behavior. I think it showed Maxi that there was nothing to be anxious about, Mom had the world under control, and Maxi blossomed. Maxi isn’t a perfect dog, but her progress in 1 week was fantastic! Her Mom is thrilled with her and feels much more in control of her home, and her dog, who used to be too excitable to sleep on her bed, now rests calmly at her side each night.
I can’t promise every dog will have transformations like this, or as quickly as some of these dogs did, but I can promise you this: training your dog and working with your dog will teach you and your dog to understand each other better, will help you (and often your dog) feel more confident, and it is a great way to exercise your dog’s brain, which can tire a dog out more than a long walk. Training should be fun and rewarding, for both dog and human. Give it a try, you just might love it!
Pepper’s Paws, LLC provides in home dog training in Chester County, PA. We also teach Basic to Advanced Manners classes and offer in house dog training at Dogtopia of Chester Springs.
Head trainer Deb Murray, CPDT-KA is certified by the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers, an AKC Evaluator, a Doggone Safe “Be a Tree” Presenter, and a Distinguished Graduate and Mentor Trainer for the Catch Canine Academy.