For many, the term “dog training” has become synonymous with parlor tricks: Sit, stay, roll over, shake, play dead, hand me a beer… They’re fun and they can definitely be part of any training program. Who doesn’t want to impress their friends — especially dogless ones who are always bragging about how smart their kids are — with a repertoire of impressive behaviors? Pooping or peeing on cue, in particular, will inspire envy from anyone with a child that hasn’t yet been toilet trained or who can always be depended on to have to go potty 5 minutes into any car trip.
But training is so much more. It is essential to:
- Safety. You may think your dog would never run into traffic — until she does, at which point it’s too late to wish you had trained her to respond immediately to a recall. And if your dog bites a stranger or two, he might be confiscated from you and euthanized.
- Communication. The goal of good training is to let your dog know what you expect from him — and vice versa. The better you understand each other’s signals, the deeper, and the more deeply rewarding, your relationship will be.
- Friend maintenance. You might not care about your dog’s bad dinner manners, but others won’t necessarily appreciate your pup jumping up on the table and grazing from their plates. (Of course, depending on your cooking skills, your dog may be appreciated under the table, performing the classic function of dispatching unsuccessful culinary efforts.)
- Happiness. Yes, that’s a big burden to put on any activity, but for a dog that lives in fear — and that includes many who behave aggressively — training can ease the sense that the world is a great, big threatening place. We humans know the world is a great big threatening place but when our dogs are happier, we’re happier. And that’s a lot.
I’ll get to Frankie’s specific training goals, and the ways we’re working towards them, next time.