Dexter and I train twice a day. Treats are only given as a reward for a task performed and even his meals are given as a reward for a command.
I believe that dog needs training. It is not an option or a trick. It is a mandatory part of healthy and balanced life for a dog and it’s owner/family.
Dogs are meant to be active and to perform a job. For ages, a dog was a functional partner for humans. They performed two primary jobs – hunting and guarding/herding. Only in recent history (about 100 years) people began to create companion breeds. There are still very few of those and predominantly all breeds originally were created to perform a job. Great Dane is a hunting dog. Doberman Pincher is a guard dog and terriers are fearless hunters.
Today, in our society, most people don’t hunt and guarding the property is not as essential as it used to be. Yet, we still get dogs that were created for those functions and they don’t know that the world has changed and the jobs they were meant to do are not needed anymore or have changed. The dog’s genetic drive and need is there, but is not satisfied!
This is where training plays a crucial role. Through training, we can give the dog an outlet for its energy, Failure to do that results in all too common issues of dog ownership and “bad” dogs. Destructive behavior, separation anxiety and fearfulness, and worst of all uncontrollable aggression are common problems and stress, frustration and in worst cases surrendering the dog or even putting it to sleep.
There are three main training regiments:
Obedience is not a dog doing tricks or maybe sitting down when the owner begged for five minutes. Obedience is solid and concentrated work; the owner and the dog being in sync. The dog should have a set of commands that are responded to and done instantly. If the owner said DOWN, that means the dog lays down imminently and stays down no matter what is happening and irrelevant of distractions or duration. I am not talking about competitive levels of obedience, but the tasks and consistency are the same.
The benefits of such exercise are boundless. You will develop a bond with the dog that will last a lifetime. The dog will trust you in any circumstance and will follow you through any environment or distraction. You will have trust and faith in your dog. You will have peace of mind that you can always have your dog return to you if there is danger (cars, other dogs or people) and that your dog will always safely follow you.
Lastly, with obedience training and exercising everyday, the dog will have a job to perform. It will exercise it’s mind and release the mental energy in a constructive and functional way. Best of all, it will give you an opportunity to spend time with your dog and to bond … instead of checking out those very important Facebook posts during the walk.
Obedience training should be done with all breeds regardless of size.
A basic Schutzhund BH routine covers all the necessary commands http://www.schutzhund-training.net/bh.html
Protection Work/Bite Work
Protection work applies more to large and medium breeds, especially those breeds whose purpose is to guard and defend property. Shepherds, mastiffs and bullys, schnauzers and many terriers fit into that category. Although, there are some little guys that love it as well.
Despite of what many people think, bite work does not teach the dog to be vicious or attack people. In fact, it does the opposite.
Protection work teaches the dog that there is a right time and wrong time to exercise it’s protection instinct. The dog learns when it is OK to bite and most importantly when not to and to let go!.
The dog develops confidence and a body of knowledge though which it can channel it’s protection instinct and to think through it’s drive. The dog learns to listen to the owner even through extreme pressure and excitement of protection work.
Many people don’t realize that the most important command in this exercise is LET GO/RELEASE. The dog learns to release the bite on command and learns to listen for that command no matter the intensity and excitement.
If it is not yet obvious, the benefits of this training in modern society are very important.
Aside the obvious ability to defend the owner and property, the dog learns the proper way of doing it. It learns that it has to be done on command and not just because the old lady with a walker looks weird. It learns how to turn on and off it’s defense and protection instinct based on owners command.
At the same time the owner learns what to expect from the dog. Most people, who have not done this training with their dog, panic when the dog gets aggressive or actually bites someone. When a person has done this exercise with their dog, they have experience of controlling their dog and have a good understanding of their dog’s abilities.
Last, but not least … It is a fun mental and physical exercise for your dog!
These forms of exercise are extremely fun. They are physically demanding and mentally stimulating for your dog. The training, just like obedience training, builds a bond between the owner and the dog. These exercises give your dog a job and a purpose.
There are many forms of these exercises … agility courses, fly ball, dock jumping, coursing and scent tracking.
All breeds can do it and will enjoy the physicality and fun of it.
So, in conclusion…
IF YOU ARE NOT TRAINING YOUR DOG, WHY THE HELL DID YOU GET ONE?!
Dogs need a job and mental stimulation! They want to work! Some need more and some need less, but they all do… from Saint Bernard to Yorkie.
If you don’t want to, don’t have time to, or just too lazy to do it … DON’T GET A DOG! Get a cat, fish or may be an XBOX to keep your self busy on the couch.
If you got a dog, then get out and train it and have fun with it. The love, the bond and the appreciation the dog will have for you is nothing like you’ve experienced before!