January is National Train Your Dog Month.
That’s right, there’s a whole month devoted to training the family dog! We’ve all read the sobering statistics of the thousands of homeless pets, and despite all our rescue efforts, the number continues to increase. Although people give a myriad of reasons for turning in their pets, more often than not it comes down to an inability to manage or cope with a behavior issue that could have been alleviated or prevented entirely through early training and socialization.
You might be thinking, “but my dog is already trained” and doesn’t need any more training.” For some reason, there is a misconception that training is finite and has a beginning and a specified end. That is no more true about dogs than it is about people. There is always more we can learn. Here are some other misconceptions about dog training you might have heard:
1) Training is expensive. Professional dog training certainly isn’t free, but consider the costs of not having a well balanced, well mannered dog. A destructive dog can cause a lot of damage to furniture, carpets and other household furnishings and possessions. The cost of replacing those items can be exorbitant. Dogs with destructive chewing can also ingest items that become obstructed in their digestive tract. Surgery and veterinary bills can be very costly. When you consider the few hundred dollars you might invest in professional dog training classes, it makes a great case for the value and long term investment in your dog’s future.
2) Training is boring. Dogs love to learn, especially when the lessons are taught like a game. Everyone loves to teach their dogs tricks, but not as many like teaching their dogs good manners. Why not combine the two concepts and teach manners the same way you teach tricks? Not only will your dog love it, but you’ll love it too when you see him learning faster and complying much more willingly.
3) My dog is already “good.” A dog doesn’t have to be “bad” to benefit from training. One of the best perks of training your dog is the affect it has on your relationship. We sometimes forget that our domesticated dogs were originally bred to work alongside us. When we train our dogs, we give them a sense of purpose that builds a stronger bond with them.
Training a dog is a continual process and a works in progress. When we get a dog and start the training process, we embark on a journey together. This journey will have twists and turns, hills and valleys, both turbulence and long stretches of smooth sailing. There will be triumphs and milestones as well as setbacks. You will set goals, reach them, and likely set new goals. And all of that is okay because throughout the journey you will grow closer and your bond will deepen. Your partnership will blossom, and you will create a unique relationship that will enrich both of your lives. It will be something you will cherish forever and never forget.
Stafford business owner Laurie C. Williams is a television and radio personality and nationally recognized dog trainer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.