Dog Training Overview and Best Practices

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Dog Training

Dogs naturally want to please their owners; but without obedience dog training, they are unable to understand what you want. And without your direction, actions that are natural to them – chewing, barking, and even chasing the cat – may elicit screaming and cursing from you. Most of these natural instincts can be redirected to suitable alternatives, making both of you wag your tails with glee, (so to speak).

Effects of Dog Training

Proper training opens up the lines of communication between you and your pet. It also establishes the natural role of dominant owner and subordinate – not submissive – pet. Dogs are communal animals that historically lived in packs with a clear social hierarchy. Without establishing yourself as the leader of the pack, your dog may not take you or your commands seriously, which only leads to power struggles and headaches.

Obedience training will make life more enjoyable for both you and your dog. Fido will feel more confident without the frustration and confusion of misunderstanding his owner. You will have a well-behaved dog that sits to greet you and comes when called.

Whether you have a new puppy or are having problems with your adult dog, obedience training is the perfect solution. And contrary to popular belief, with enough patience, you can teach an old dog new tricks!

Working Dogs

Traditionally, most dogs were not companion pets, but rather “hired hands” – working for food and shelter. A watchdog warned his owner of approaching strangers. A guard dog protected his owner’s cart at the market. Sheepdogs kept the flock together and returned strays to the fold. Water dogs retrieved items that fell from the fishing boat or relayed messages between vessels. Hunting dogs tracked, pointed, cornered, or retrieved prey for the hunter. Sled dogs pulled their owners across the snow and ice. Draft dogs towed carts piled high with wares for their owners.

Most of these responsibilities have taken a backseat to the dog’s job of family friend, however some dogs still work for a living. The police and military train dogs for different functions within their organizations, such as detecting drugs or bombs, tracking suspects, or sniffing out traces of flammable gas in arson cases. Dogs also help out with the physically impaired as guide dogs, service dogs, hearing dogs, or therapy dogs. And don’t forget the dogs of Hollywood – Rin Tin Tin, Lassie, Benji and more recently all 101 Dalmatians, Eddie (the dog on Frasier, played by a Jack Russell named Moose the Dog), and Winn Dixie (from Because of Winn Dixie, played by a Picardy shepherd named Laiko). These dogs all learned desired behaviors through repeated attempts that were rewarded by their owners or trainers. Watch The National Geographic channel’s Dogs With Jobs to see some ordinary dogs with extraordinary jobs.

Even before dogs worked for humans, they worked together as a team. They learned how to live together as a group, and each dog knew his role within the pack. Young pups were rewarded for preferred behavior with playful games, food, or affectionate cleaning. Pups were also corrected for unacceptable pack behavior. These wild dogs even “housetrained” themselves to keep the den clean. All of this training was done without human instruction.

Every breed is capable of being trained. Dogs such as the border collie and the golden retriever are easier to train. In some breeds, such as hounds, the ability for quick learning has been minimized in order to strengthen the breed’s hunting and tracking skills.