People love their dogs. But one aspect of dog ownership that isn’t quite as loved is obedience training. A handful of years back, a study by the American Pet Product Association found that just 4% of dogs and their owners take a training class together. Thankfully, with the pandemic behind us, those numbers could start to improve. Especially with experts like Tera Dschaak-James, co-owner of Training Spot (trainingspot.us) and a certified professional dog trainer sharing the wonders of obedience training. We chatted with Tera about dog training, what to expect, and the positives it can have for you and fido.
Why Obedience Training is Important
Dogs are great learners of human behavior. Unlike the outdated and disproven leader-of-the-pack theory based on fear, dominance and punishment, dogs learn how to interact with their owners based on what does and does not work. According to Tera, proper obedience training establishes a healthy relationship and clear communication between an owner and their dog using positive reinforcement, consistency, and socialization.
“When dogs don’t get obedience training, they sometimes end up back in shelters or euthanized,” Tera said when asked about the importance of training. “We want to help a dog be bomb-proof.
Every pet parent has their ideal version of an obedient dog. Most would list sit, stay, come when called, and lie down among the basics.
Spotting Obedience Needs
A puppy develops their primary socialization from 3-16 weeks of age. If they are constantly around you during that time, you can have a significant influence on their overall behavior as an adult. However, for most families that isn’t always possible. That’s why obedience training is so necessary among dog owners.
A well-trained dog is often safe around people and other pets, won’t tear up the house when you’re away, and is happy to follow their human’s lead.
“You can spot a dog that needs training,” Tera added. “They don’t listen to their humans, bark, pull on the leash, jump on people, and more. Many pet parents want a calm dog in the house and out in public”
Tera says that spotting issues also comes down to body language. Yawning and licking their lips can indicate nervousness. Interactions with other dogs can highlight issues as well, such as showing too much reactivity or shaking off imaginary water after a confrontation with another canine.
Humans are the Key
The whole purpose of obedience training is for the dog to pay attention to, and follow, their human. Without human interaction, a dog doesn’t have a purpose or a pack. That’s why it’s vital the dog and their owner attend obedience training together.
“Owners want to take their dogs camping, to an outside diner or to the park without embarrassment. They don’t want to constantly manage their dog,” Tera continued. “Coming to class is wonderful, But it’s important that you continue to practice in your home environment and out in public.”
For obedience training to work, the dog owner must remain resolute with their commands and rules at home and elsewhere. The main ingredients for successful dog training are consistency, positive reinforcement, and patience, says Tera.
“Training a puppy is a lot different than training a teen puppy or adult,” she added. “But knowing what your dog is capable of at their age, being consistent, and staying patient with them is vital.”
While it is possible to hire a private dog trainer to curb a barking or chewing issue, once the expert leaves, it’s up to the owner to maintain the momentum.
“We must stop the practice of behavior you do not want in order to start training the behavior you do want”
As Tera explains, to get a dog to stop doing something wrong, you must show them what to do instead. And it can be done with positive reinforcement.
“Science has shown us that words of praise, treats and other rewards work better than shock collars or choke chains,” she stated. “But remember that every dog is different. One might need treats as a reward, while another will love time sniffing in the front yard or playing with you.
As a society, we’re taking our dogs out with us more and more. Bringing a dog along to a restaurant was considered taboo just a decade ago. Now, it’s common. Obedience training helps your dog remain well-behaved in those situations, allowing you to take them with you to more places and around more people.
“Don’t forget that your furry angel is still a dog. Don’t expect perfection. They are an animal and not a human. Obedience training can help, but it’s their dog-like tendencies that make them loveable.”
Coastal is Dog Central
Do you own a dog, cat, bird, or another well-behaved pet? Bring them with you to Coastal and check out the aisles of toys, treats, beds, bowls, coats, training tools, food, and more. While you’re here, try on a pair of boots or shoes in one of the largest footwear departments in the Northwest.