Why is obedience training important?
Whether you recently adopted a pup or have loved one for a while, you might wonder if you should enrol your pet in obedience training. The easy answer for most dogs is yes – especially if they haven’t completed a basic course yet. “Any dog can use training,” says dog trainer, Nicole Ellis. “It provides mental stimulation and helps grow the bond between you and your pet.”
But while every dog can benefit from training, some need it more urgently than others. If you spot the following behaviours – which range from fear-based to boredom-based and everything in between – it’s time to enrol your dog in obedience training as soon as possible. Just a few hours of training a week could boost your dog’s confidence, challenge his brain, and help him feel more at ease in his daily life. And who doesn’t want that?
They snarl or growl when you get too close to their possessions
Ever reach down to throw a toy your dog loves only to have him snarl at you in return? Or get too close to his food and get a similarly scary reaction? That’s a behaviour called resource guarding, and it occurs when your dog believes he’s protecting something highly valuable, says veterinarian, Dr Alett Mekler.
Unfortunately, this behaviour could escalate if you inadvertently teach your dog that when he wants something, he can get it by showing his teeth. According to Dr Mekler, this behaviour definitely warrants a session with an obedience trainer, who can teach a command like “leave it,” then offer a reward when your dog listens. “When the cue is given, the dog knows it is worth giving up the resource because a jackpot bonus is on its way,” she says.
They bark…a lot
Excessive barking is a common behavioural issue in dogs – and it could be caused by a range of factors. “The first step is figuring out the cause,” says Ellis. “Are they protecting the house from what’s outside? Are they scared of what’s outside? Are they protecting you? Are they just vocal dogs and this is a job they’ve given themselves to do?” From there, a professional trainer can help you plan a course of action.
Ellis says the solution could be as simple as giving your dog a new job to do besides barking. For example, you could train him to go to a specific part of the house if he hears someone at the door. Or, you could teach him to play with a mentally stimulating toy during a time he would normally bark. A trainer will be able to offer solutions that work for your dog’s specific situation.