To accurately describe the importance of obedience training, one has to look at the consequences of omitting it from your dog’s life: Aggression by your dog towards you or your children, destruction of property, and the most dangerous of all- the venting of frustration through biting!
You may ask, why do dogs react that way? What is it that causes the dog to “turn” on the owner like that? (Actually, in those cases it’s more like the owner inadvertently “turning” on the dog through their lack of knowledge about canine behavior.)
That answer is simple – The Dog has no choice in the matter!!
Let me show you why.
It is also important to know that obedience training is a lifelong process. Yes, your dog learns the basics in a few weeks, but the practice has to be kept up – the more you practice, the more obedient your dog becomes.When a dog is born, it enters this world with some rules of pack behavior embedded in its brain. From that moment onwards, it’s being trained by its mother, litter mates and other pack members. Dogs from day one of their life know one thing- The Pack as a unit, its support system and behavioral rules and limits.
Now at eight weeks the human comes along, moves the puppy out of this environment and expects it to automatically know that it is not o.k. to chew the slipper or dig up the flower bed, jump up on people and so on. It is very confusing for the dog, because his world has been turned upside down and the rules he knew don’t seem to apply anymore.
Remember, dogs do not know English or any other human language. Our words are just sounds to them, so we need to teach them in their “Language” what our words mean. In addition to all of these confusing and sudden influences, many people wait up to six months or in some cases even a year before they teach their dog anything. Imagine the level of frustration that builds up in that time.
To the dog owner’s defense, it is not always their fault; many professionals actually tell them that they have to wait six months before they can obedience train their dog. In my opinion, the reasoning behind this is somewhat misguided, since in nature, their training starts right away. As soon as your puppy is fully vaccinated, you can start its obedience training. It is being done all over the world, and for good reason.
We can view the unit of canines and humans in two ways – a family or a pack. Dogs cannot make this distinction; they see themselves and us only as a pack
This is the point where everything goes wrong – Dogs cannot live without a pack leader, and if no human steps up and becomes the pack leader, then the dog will.
If your dog sees himself as the pack leader, then you have a world of problems. In a pack, the leader goes unquestioned, which means if you do something contrary to his wishes, you will get corrected for this action the dog way – with a growl and/or a bite!
Some of you may say “But I am the one feeding him, so I should be the leader”, but it doesn’t work like that. Just like in the human world, leadership is something that needs to be earned, so merely dropping a bowl of food once a day is not enough.
This is where obedience training comes in. It does two things: one, it teaches you how to be a pack leader and two; it teaches your dog the rules of YOUR pack. This ensures that there are no misunderstandings between species, and no frustration on both sides and therefore no “accidental” injuries or even deaths.
This brings me to another very important point – Minors should NEVER be left unsupervised with their dogs.
Due to the immaturity in children, they may do something, that your dog will not tolerate, no matter how well trained it is. And with children’s small size and low height, the consequences of this are often devastating. You should include your children in the training process, so that they too can learn the dos and don’ts of your pack.
It is also important to know that obedience training is a lifelong process. Yes, your dog learns the basics in a few weeks, but the practice has to be kept up – the more you practice, the more obedient your dog becomes.
This does not mean that you have to spend hours every day training your dog. If you can spare a half hour throughout the day for your dog’s training, you are well on your way. You should however, exercise your dog before training, so that he can drain some of that pent- up energy and become more receptive to what you are trying to teach him.