Bringing home a new dog is a very exciting time. While you may be overtaken with visions of going on walks and adventures together and enjoying a lifetime of snuggles on the couch, owning a dog requires more work than you might realize. Training is a non-negotiable part of dog ownership and is something you should be prepared to dedicate a fair portion of your time (or money) on. In fact, it is one of the most important things you’ll need to do as a dog owner.
Training provides rewards far beyond teaching your dog acceptable and unacceptable behaviors. Keep reading to find eight benefits of training your dog.
The 8 Major Benefits of Training Your Dog
1. Training Builds Your Dog’s Confidence
When you train a dog with techniques like positive reinforcement, you’re teaching it that engaging with you positively will earn it things it likes, such as yummy treats and praise. The more positive experiences your pup has, especially when it’s young and impressionable, the more eager it will be to try new things and embark on adventures with you in the future.
2. Training Forges a Strong Bond Between You & Your Dog
The time you spend training your dog will help strengthen your relationship. Dogs are not meant to be left to their own devices in your home or backyard all day. They thrive on connection, and training offers the perfect opportunity for you to bond.
The two of you will build a beautiful, trusting, and respectful bond that will last your pup’s entire lifetime. Through training, your dog will begin to look at you as its leader and become eager to learn new things from you daily.
3. Training Promotes Safety
Training will keep both your dog and your family safe. A well-trained pup that can listen to commands will be less likely to get itself into situations that could be hazardous.
For example, recall training will allow you to call your pup to you. This is an invaluable skill for your pet as it can prevent countless dangerous or even life-threatening situations. Imagine being in the wilderness face-to-face with a cougar and unable to recall your dog to keep it close by. That situation could end very badly.
Proper training will also keep your family safe. For example, an improperly trained dog will know better than to jump on seniors or children that visit your home.
4. Training Sets Boundaries
A trained dog will know how to respect boundaries in its home. When we speak of boundaries, it’s not just the territorial limitations we’re referring to. Though you may have specific areas of your home or yard you’d like to be off-limits to your pup, boundaries also refer to acceptable and unacceptable behaviors.
For example, a potty-trained dog will know not to urinate or defecate in your home. A dog that knows acceptable behavior will not tear up your furniture or walls, saving you money on home repairs.
5. Training Makes Outings Easier
A trained dog tends to be more friendly and easier to control than one that has not undergone any training at all. This will make any outing with your pup much easier on both of you. You can manage your dog in many different scenarios once it knows basic commands like stop, sit, and wait. A simple visit to the dog park can turn ugly if your pup doesn’t understand commands, especially if other pets there are also untrained.
Your veterinarian and groomer will also appreciate you doing some training with your dog. These people may be animal lovers, but they’re not miracle workers. An untrained dog can be incredibly challenging to care for and may make providing care for it dangerous.
6. Training Provides Mental Stimulation
Like humans, dogs need mental stimulation for their health and well-being. Mental enrichment fends off boredom, frustration, and anxiety, ultimately preventing undesirable behaviors, such as destructive chewing or scratching.
Like your dog’s muscles with atrophy without use, its brain also needs stimulation to stay in tip-top shape. Training allows your pup to think creatively and problem-solve, helping it flex its brain muscles. Studies suggest that adding a play session after training can boost your dog’s memory, too.
7. Training Is Fun
Most dogs enjoy learning new tricks and training, mainly because of the positive reinforcement (e.g., treats and praise) they receive during their training sessions. The key to ensuring your dog enjoys learning alongside you is using the proper techniques while you train. Reward-based training is, by far, the most effective way to teach your dog anything. Physical discipline will not only break your pup’s trust but can also lay the base for insecurities and aggression.
8. Training Stops Problem Behaviors Before They Start
Early training is essential to stop problem behaviors before they have a chance to develop fully. For example, it’s much easier to train a puppy not to chew your favorite pair of sneakers than to try and “untrain” an adult dog that’s already developed undesirable habits. Positive rewards-based training will teach your pet that it will get good things when it does what you ask it to.
Though training can be a long and challenging task, you must do it to live harmoniously with your dog. If you don’t feel up to the job, you can call in reinforcements to help. Check your local pet stores to see if they offer dog training classes, or use Google to find a local trainer to help you. You might also want to check out our blog on the best dog training classes to find online options that work better with your schedule.
Featured Image Credit: Tadogami, Shutterstock