Celebrate National Train Your Dog Month

Published: January 13, 2022
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Dogs instinctively give unconditional love, trust, and devotion. However, they don't inherently know how to behave. That is to say, they know how to behave like dogs: Chewing on things, digging up yards, rolling in filth, and making noise are all "normal" dog behaviors. However, they are undesirable in human homes, and pet dogs need to be taught behaviors that are acceptable as well as those that are not.

National Train Your Dog Month has been observed every January for the last nine years. It was established by the Association of Professional Dog Trainers to raise awareness about the necessity of dog training and to provide support and resources to owners who have been struggling with the process.

What Is the History of Dog Training?

National Dog Training Month may be less than 10 years old, but the history of training itself goes back much further. Dogs were first domesticated in approximately 8000 B.C. to help humans with hunting and farming. Domestication involved teaching dogs to transcend their natural instincts to behave in ways that were helpful to humans. Pet dogs today are far removed from their lupine ancestors, but they still have instincts that aren't always compatible with life in human homes, and the goal of training is still to teach them behaviors that are more appropriate.

Over many thousands of years, humans have trained dogs to assist with tasks such as hunting, guarding property, finding lost people or items, and assisting people who have disabilities with daily activities. The first dog training manual was first published in 1930.

What Are the Benefits of Dog Training?

Training can benefit both you and your dog in significant ways:

1.      Safety: A dog with behavioral problems can act out unpredictably. He could bite you, a member of your family, or a stranger. This could result in serious injuries and, depending on where you live, the law may require that you have the dog euthanized. Training also helps you protect your dog from dangerous accidents, such as getting hit by a car when running into a busy road.

2.      Peace of Mind: It can be stressful to live with a dog that behaves in unpredictable ways, not knowing what she is going to do next. You may experience tension and anxiety. Knowing that you can control your dog's behavior can help you relax, and knowing what behaviors are and are not acceptable helps your dog feel more confident because she knows where she stands.

3.      Home Preservation: It is not only violent behavior that is problematic in dogs. It is also destructive behaviors, such as peeing in the house or chewing on things. A well-trained dog knows to leave your things alone, or at least can be instructed to do so. Training your dog can save you money on home repairs and preserve irreplaceable objects that hold great sentimental value.

4.      Vet Care: Veterinarians are trained to perform medical examinations on all types of pets, but there is only so much they can do if the animal is uncooperative. Training your dog makes vet visits easier for everyone.

5.      Bonding: As you train your dog, you establish mutual understanding and trust. This brings you closer together with your pet and creates a stronger bond between the two of you. Training requires you to spend time with your dog and focus a lot of attention on him, which is what he wants more than anything.

6.      Mental Stimulation: Dogs are intelligent animals that need mental stimulation. When they do not receive it, they get bored and may start acting out in destructive ways. If you cannot always give your dog all the physical exercise that she desires, training and practicing commands and tricks can provide the mental stimulation necessary to keep her from getting bored.

What Do You Need for Dog Training?

The most effective dog training methods involve positive reinforcement. This means that, instead of scolding or punishing your dog when he does something wrong, you reward him when he does something right. Dogs are constantly learning, and eventually, he will understand that he gets things he wants when he behaves in a certain way in response to a particular command.

Rewards for good behavior include things such as toys and treats. A difficult training task should be rewarded with a more delectable treat so that your dog sees the reward as greater.  Some people employ the method of clicker training. They use a clicker device to make a distinctive noise before rewarding the dog. Eventually, the dog learns to associate the sound with a treat and the sound becomes a reward in itself.

Training a dog means establishing boundaries. To do that, you need to be able to restrict your dog's access to certain areas of the house. Kennels, pens, and baby gates are all effective barriers. You also have to be able to restrain your dog, especially when outside. This means that your dog must wear a collar and a leash, possibly a harness as well. A training leash is up to six feet in length, but when you start teaching your dog recall, you need one that is longer.

Dogs sometimes get confused by different contexts and locations. Even if your pet performs commands like "sit," "stay," and "lie down" perfectly while in the house, she may not perform them when outside. A portable mat helps give her a target to work on and provides a context in which she knows what to do. Once she consistently performs the commands in any setting, you can dispense with the mat.

Thanks to the internet, you can connect with professional trainers and other dog owners if you have questions or problems with the process.

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