Here we are at the start of a new year. How did we get here so quickly? In this past year, I’ve had the privilege of working with some amazing people and their dogs. Sometimes, however, even with amazing people and amazing dogs, things don’t go as planned. Oftentimes a dog comes into the home and it’s believed that, “All will work out just fine”. But dogs being dogs, and people being people, it doesn’t always happen the way one envisions. This is one reason that the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) designates January of each year as “National Train Your Dog Month.” Read on to see why we train our dogs.
The goal is to bring focus to the public by helping the dogs in our homes thrive in our weird human world.
Perhaps you brought a new dog or puppy into your home this holiday season. If you did, you certainly know the joy of seeing a child’s face light up when that new puppy or dog appeared. If you’re proactive, this is the perfect time to start teaching and training the new four-legged family member how to negotiate our world. This important step is often overlooked, sometimes the dog just “gets it” and everything works out OK. But more often than not, around May or June I’ll start getting phone calls about a rowdy adolescent dog that’s creating chaos in the home. Worse than that, shelters and rescue groups will start receiving lots of owner surrender dogs due to problem behavior issues – this can be prevented when we train our dogs.
Bringing a dog into your home is a 10 to 15-year commitment.
We owe it to the dog to start training early and to maintain the teaching and training as a way of life. Training doesn’t have to be a chore. In fact, if done correctly using positive reinforcement, the training will be fun for you and fun for your dog. After all, that’s why we got the dog, right? A partner to have fun with and a dog that’s a joy to have around. Making training part of your every interaction takes a bit of practice, but once the two of you get on the same page the relationship really begins to blossom.
Just like us when we begin to learn, it takes some practice for our dogs to learn new skills.
What we consider important and even common sense to us may seem completely foreign to our dogs. Dogs dig, bark, jump, chew, bite, scavenge through the trash and more. These are common species behaviors, though we don’t want our dogs doing these things in our home. That’s why early training is critical. And it doesn’t end there. Just like us, once that new skill is acquired, it takes practice to keep the skill sharp. Maintaining training throughout the dog’s life is how we keep harmony in the home.
Let’s make APDT’s “National Train Your Dog Month” a success for our dogs in January. It’s a way of “being” with our dogs all year long. A way that helps us build harmony, trust and respect for both ends of the leash. Now let me go see about my 11-year old dog, Cody, and do a bit of training with him. He really does like it because We Make Training Fun!
Questions on Why we Train Our Dogs?
Brad Waggoner is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, a KPA Certified Training Partner (CTP), a dog∗tec Certified Dog Walker/Instructor, Faculty for the Victoria Stilwell Academy of Dog Training and Behavior and Partner of Cold Nose College in Murphy, North Carolina. He enjoys providing behavior consulting and training solutions to clients in the tri-state area of North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee, as well as offering educational opportunities for dog trainers and dog hobbyists throughout the U.S. www.coldnosecollege.com