In past posts, I have discussed the benefits of group dog training classes, private dog training and dog sports for non-competitors. Aside from the type of training you choose, there are benefits simply to training your dog. Yes, even if your dog is already relatively well-behaved.
Most people think dog training is only needed when you have a problem you want to correct. But there are many other reasons to train your dog!
- Training with your dog is one on one time that helps strengthen the bond between you and your dog. Studies show that most dogs relinquished to shelters and rescue groups have had little or no training. In part, the issue that results in the dog being given up is a lack of connection to the dog.
- Training is the best way to PREVENT problems from developing. Knowing Zuzu as well as I do, I could list several problem behaviors I was able to prevent through training. Had she lived in another household and not received the same training she did here, she very likely could have ended up relinquished due to issues that easily could have developed without the proper guidance.
- Training is a great opportunity to burn energy. If you have a high energy dog, this is especially important. Regardless of energy level or age, though, all dogs need some activity. Just like humans, we need to stay healthy and that involves a variety of activities.
- For smart dogs, training is essential to help provide an outlet for the mental stimulation needed. Many of the dogs I work with get into trouble because they do not have constructive ways to use their brains. Even those dogs who are getting a lot of physical activity can still get into trouble if they don't get to use their brains.
- For older dogs, training is a great way to keep them stimulated and learning new things. We tend to let things slide with older dogs because they tend to not get into as much trouble. We figure they don't need it. But they do need to keep using their brains to stay mentally fit. And you might find they still enjoy it!
- Fend off boredom. Some dogs like the same routine day in and day out. Others can get a little bored with the status quo. Much like humans! If your dog gets antsy when there is not some novelty in his or her life, then some training might be a great way to keep things fresh.
- Training is a great way to get to know your dog better. And to help your dog get to know you better. The better you know each other, the better you relate to each other and understand each other. I love that I know my dogs well enough (through training and other shared activities) that I can often know what they will do next or what they are thinking. That comes from spending a lot of time understanding how they process information during training sessions.
- Training is another shared activity to go along with things like walks, traveling, dog park visits, hiking, snuggling on the couch, and other activities that best friends share. Shared activities enrich our lives and our relationships.
- Training is another shared activity that you can share with your dog and other friends. Both Romeo and Zuzu had shared activities – training classes, walks, play dates, etc. – with friends during puppyhood and adolescence. While it was shared with me, it was also shared time with friends they made. Some of my best human friends are the folks who have the best dog friends of Zuzu and Romeo.
- It's fun! Of course, you have to train in the right way for it to be fun, but who doesn't love to have fun?! Training should be done in short and easy enough sessions that no one gets overly frustrated. And training should be focused on positive reinforcement, not punishment.