We spend a lot of time talking about dog training and the benefits that it provides to dogs who are having behavior problems or issues. Many times, we have found that a strong and healthy relationship between a human and their dog equates to a balanced and well-behaved pet.
Like any relationship, a certain amount of work is required to keep the relationship healthy and prosperous. Dogs are very understanding, and forgiving, creatures, but they also crave quality time with their human counterparts. People don’t often think of dog training as an opportunity to connect and bond with their dog. More often, we have people that want to solve issues like:
- How to respond to reactive dogs, or aggressive dogs;
- what to do if your dog is not responding to their name;
- or, if they are pulling on the leash or resisting a leash.
This is mainly because when people think about dog training they think there has to be a problem in order to seek out training.
So, what if your dog is already well behaved?
What if you don’t need to train them for anything?
First of all: Congratulations!
You are extremely lucky to have such an amazing dog. Not needing training for your dog generally means one of two things:
- You are lucky enough to have an impeccably behaved dog who never makes a mistake.
- You and your dog just coexist very well, and you don’t mind the few times that they do make mistakes.
Either way you are very lucky, and you should make sure to reward yourself and your dog. One way to do that is increase the amount and variety of activities that you take part in together. One of the easiest ways to mix it up is to sign up for some training workshops or sessions.
Second: Why should you invest in dog training to build a stronger bond with your pet?
This is a fair question. If your dog already does what you want them to do, what is the point?
The number one reason is: It’s fun! Training is an amazing way to bond with your dog in a way you never have before. You get to know each other so much better, and learn new things about each other, even if you have been together for years.
Recently my main canine training partner, Tyler, tore her ACL in her back left leg. She went through surgery and was on strict crate rest for two months. Tyler and I do tons of obedience work, tricks, agility, and a lot of hiking. During this two month hiatus, I really missed my training partner, and I definitely noticed our relationship change.
She was slower to respond to cues from me, and wasn’t nearly as engaged with me. After two months, she was cleared for normal activity. We were thrilled and I even took the rest of the day off to go hiking with her. Two days after that, she tore her other ACL. It has now been about 4 months since this whole ordeal began, and I can definitively tell you that our relationship has suffered.
Third: Young Or Old, Dogs Can Always Learn New Tricks
Don’t get me wrong, we are still solid. She still does what I ask her to, and we still greatly enjoy each others company. I credit a lot of this to the large amount of training we have done together in the past. But, there was a time when we were working together that she could almost read my mind. I wouldn’t have to do much for her to pick up on what I was looking for. That has definitely gone away.
Recently, as her healing progresses, we have started working on some behaviors that don’t require much movement from her. Mostly we have been focusing on her being able to lie on her side on cue:
Tyler is working on laying on her side. The goal is to teach her to hold this position for her check up X-ray in September without her having to be held down.
Posted by Meggan Porter on Thursday, August 27, 2015
It is amazing to me how much our relationship has changed even from a few short sessions. She is much more aware of me and the behavior cues I am displaying toward her again, and I’m starting to see my training partner come back. It’s a huge relief.
That’s great. But, what specifically would I work on with my dog in training?
The beauty of working with a dog who has no behavior issues, is that you can train whatever you want! You can learn a new sport like Rally Obedience, Agility, Treibball or Disc Dog. You can earn your Canine Good Citizen certificate together and work on becoming a Therapy Team. You could even learn some fun Tricks to show off to your friends. Even a simple Foundations class can help you learn a lot about each other and start connecting more as a team.
It’s a tricky thing for us to wrap our heads around. We hear “dog training” and just assume it’s for dogs with problems. Everyone can learn, and it can lead to a much deeper relationship with your dog. You will be amazed at what they can show you not just about themselves, but also about you.
Walking My Owner by Pedro Ribeiro Simões