You have welcomed a dog into your life and you want the very best for him. You fulfill his needs with food, toys and attention. Training is also an important need for your dog. It helps him know how to be a good companion and family member. A well behaved, trained dog is a joy to be around.
It doesn’t matter what your dog’s age is when you start training, it’s time well spent. A foundation of basic behaviors-sit, down, stay, come when called- can be taught easily with consistency and practice. A practice session should be kept short-5 minutes, 2-3 times a day. A total of 15 minutes! Your dog will start to understand what you want in one or two sessions.Those behaviors can lead to having your dog lie down on his bed quietly while you eat dinner or automatically sitting when a visitor arrives at your home.
The first thing I worked on with my young dog, Geo, was lying down when a person approached him. The point is if he’s laying down when a person is near, he won’t be jumping on them. I also routinely work on his recall, coming when called. This is for safety reasons-if he slips out of his collar, calling him away from an oncoming car or an approaching stray dog. Because I spend so much time practicing come when called, I was able to call him off while he was chasing a deer! Training your dog to come to you when called could save his life.
Since you are going to have your dog for many years, a few months of consistent daily training will pay off for a happy home. Taking a group class with your dog is an inexpensive way to learn the skills you need to train your dog and will help him learn to pay attention to you while in a distracting environment. You and your dog might be better suited for private lessons. The benefit of private lessons is you and the trainer customizes a training plan that works best for you and your dog.
Think about what would be enjoyable for you and your dog. Do you want Spot to take a walk with you without pulling you down the sidewalk and then lie on his bed quietly in the evening? Maybe your dog is naturally calm and enjoys people-you might want to volunteer as a therapy dog team. Maybe you and your dog like staying busy, there are many dog sports you both can compete it-agility, dancing with your dog, rally obedience, tracking, nosework –to name a few.
Training is a partnership, you both will learn and it will strengthen your relationship. You need only to commit a few months of consistent practice teaching your dog skills he needs to be a good friend. He’s part of your family so why not give your dog a good education. Think of training your dog as a road trip with exciting twists and turns. There is no telling where it might lead.