Many dog owners, with or without children, liken their relationships to their pets as children. The same principles in teaching your children good behavior and manners are transferrable to training your dog: consistency, patience, discipline and proper authority, and proper rewards.
Unfortunately, far too many dog owners train their dogs inadequately. In other words, the dog is spoiled. Even though parents know that spoiling a child eventually acts against the best interest of the child, they don’t apply this same philosophy to the training of their dog.
Just as teaching your child to look both ways before crossing the street is in the child’s best interest, training is in the dog’s best interest. Yes, it benefits you as well. Proper potty training prolongs the life of your carpet. Other training prevents shoes from being chewed, houseplants from being eaten, or spares houseguests from being jumped upon, humped, or crotch-sniffed.
The training that might save your dog’s life involves the basic commands of come, sit, stay, heel, or proper use of a negative command not to act on instinct, such as bolting out an open door, running across the street to chase a child on a bicycle or to confront another dog, or fleeing wildly in a thunderstorm.
Every veterinarian has had to pronounce a dog DOA because the dog escaped through an open door in pursuit of freedom, and did not heed any command to stop, stay, or come back and was hit by a car. Most vets have had to perform expensive surgery because the dog was not properly trained to stay out of the garbage or not eat anything it could fit in its mouth. Proper training might have prevented or lessened the seriousness of these situations.
Training has several advantages for the relationship between owner and dog. Dogs are pack animals and need to have an “alpha dog” to follow and obey. That alpha is YOU, if you train properly. If there is no alpha dog, or your dog is the alpha, your relationship will be marked by conflict and strife.
Training fulfills a dog’s need to obey and please. Asserting your authority, and giving the dog someone to obey and please increases the owner-animal bond, making your relationship with your dog stronger and more fulfilling for the both of you.
Whether your dog is like a child to you, or if it is simply fulfilling the role of “man’s best friend” and good pet, you’ll both be happier the better the dog is trained.