January is National Train Your Dog Month, but you should incorporate dog training into your every day life! In honor of all those well-mannered furry children out there (or the rowdy ones who need taming), I have compiled a list of reasons you should train your dog. Here are some things training can do for you and your pet...
1. Ensure safety first
When our dog was a puppy, we trained her to wait for a simple command, “OK,” before she took a treat from our hand, or began eating her meal. Now our two-year old can give her a treat without us worrying about her nipping his fingers. She waits for the command, then gently takes the treat from his hand. Teaching the leave-it command has saved us many times from situations where our pup beelines towards a non-food item that could be dangerous for her to ear.
2. Strengthen relationships
When you use positive reinforcement with your dog, you are building trust. It may sound simple to train your dog to wait for a command before taking food, but to train your pet to listen for the command in every setting requires a solid relationship between you and your pooch. Summer will not take food from anyone unless she hears the command, “OK,” and when she is offered food without the command, she looks to me for reassurance.
3. Improve communication
There are simple commands you can use throughout your day that only take a few minutes here and there and can encourage communication between you and your dog. Before your dog goes outside or is let out of the crate, ask him to sit. As mentioned before, use the command “OK,” or “release” before giving food or treats. “Leave it” is a helpful command to use when walking outside so you can ensure a quick, energizing walk instead of ending up pulling on the leash the entire time.
4. Encourage natural rewards
Teaching your dog commands that you can use throughout your normal routine will allow you to reward wanted behaviors positively. When your dog is asked to sit before being let outside, the natural consequence, being let outside, follows and you don’t have to ruin his diet by rewarding with treats.
5. Keep you on a routine
Dogs thrive on routine. When they know what’s coming next, they can be better behaved. Try to feed, exercise, and play with your dog the same time every day. When it gets to be “lunchtime” for our dog, she begins pacing around her doggy diner, anticipating her next meal. She has come to expect it around the same time each day. After dinner, she knows the leash will come out and we’ll take a quick walk around the block. Building in playtime each day is important too, especially during the winter months when it is hard to get outside because of the cold and you have to get creative indoors. Tossing a soft ball down the hall for a quick session of fetch can ensure your dog gets his blood flowing and heart rate up for a little while.
Follow through with basic training!
So whether your dog is an obedience school drop out or the teacher’s pet of the class, it is important to follow through with some basic training at home. Training your dog ensures he knows what is expected of him. Our pets cannot do what we ask of them if they do not know what we want. So, have realistic expectations, be consistent, and reinforce the right behaviors, and you will ensure a happy, healthy relationship with your pet. Remember, even the best trained dog can get into a sticky situation that results in unexpected vet bills. Get a quote to protect your pup with pet insurance!