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Training leads to happier pets and a more comfortable home. Dogs, like most people, view relationships as a social hierarchy. If you are continually at your dog's beck and call whenever he wants a treat, affection or play time, he will soon believe he is in charge. Training sets some ground rules so you can have fun with your dog without worrying about aggressive behavior.
Training also requires time, but it's an investment that pays dividends over your long-term commitment. It strengthens your bond by providing both of you with the tools to communicate effectively with each other. An obedient dog is also a safer dog. A dog that knows to come immediately when called is in much less danger if he escapes onto a busy street or gets into a fight than one who doesn't.
By training your dog, you take on the role of teacher. Just as with a child starting kindergarten, the teacher's attitude determines the student's success. During training sessions, it's imperative that you maintain a positive attitude. If you're grumpy, your dog will pick up on that and won't learn to trust you. Obedience training is an exchange – good behavior for love and affection. If you don't hold up your end of the bargain, neither will he.
Make sure to be patient and consistent. If you only enforce commands some of the time, you will only confuse him. If your actions teach him that you're only serious about commands when it's convenient for you, he will only follow them when it's convenient for him!
Start training when your puppy is young. Just like people, this is when dogs' minds are ripe for absorbing information and they want your approval. Also, teaching your dog good habits before he's had time to learn bad ones is much more effective than shaping ingrained bad behaviors.
Attending obedience classes with your dog, taking part in dog groups and clubs, or hiring a trainer is a fantastic way to get specific instructions on raising an obedient dog. Experienced trainers can ascertain individual needs of your family and your pet. Dog trainers and experienced pet owners also train people by giving hands-on demonstrations and feedback on techniques you can't get from a book. To choose a trainer, ask for recommendations from your veterinarian or friends who have completed courses and enjoyed the experience. Ask to sit in on a class before signing up to make sure the training methods are positive. Local dog clubs, dog breeders and vets may also recommend websites for finding a trainer who is right for you and your pet.
Kiera Wiatrak is an editorial intern with Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine.