Every breed of dog was developed for a specific job. Some dogs were bred to pull sleds or wagons while others were bred to protect and guard. There are terriers who were bred to go underground to kill vermin and sporting breeds who were bred to point game and retrieve the fall¬en bird or rabbit. Hounds were bred to trail game, either by scent or sight. Herding breeds were used to gather and drive sheep and cattle. There are even breeds which were developed solely to provide companionship for people. While some of these breeds had jobs which required the dog to work closely with humans, other breeds worked without direct contact with their handler.
Few dogs, regardless of breed, actually do the job they were bred for to earn a living these days. Most are companion dogs and the behaviors that make a dog a good companion must be taught. Even those breeds whose original jobs re¬quired them to work with their hand¬lers need to learn what behaviors please their owners. One of the major reasons dogs end up without a home is that the owner was unhappy with the way the dog behaved but failed to train the desired behaviors. For today’s pet owner, some of the behaviors associated with a particular job, such as vermin hunters digging, may not be acceptable and these behaviors will need to be modified and man¬aged.
A companion dog must be a good member of the family. This means that the dog must be house-broken. The dog must be taught not to jump on people and alternative behaviors to destructive chewing or digging must be trained.
A companion dog must be a good neighbor. It should be quiet, unless there is reason for barking, and should not disturb the neighbors. It should remain at home, out of the street and neigh¬bors’ yards.
Training your dog streng¬thens the bond be¬tween you and your dog. Training in¬creases the enjoyment, companionship and satisfaction you receive from your dog and train¬ing keeps your dog safe and happy.
Training teaches the dog to behave in ways that please you. Dogs are social animals and need to be provided with structure and boundaries. Training provides that structure and teaches the dog what it can and cannot (or should not) do.
Training includes basic obedience, such as sit, down, stay, come and walking politely on a leash. It also encompasses house man¬ners, such as not soiling in the house, not jumping on people, not bolting through doors, not begging at the table, and so on. Training teaches your dog polite man¬ners in public, such as sitting to be greeted by friends and strangers. It may also mean teaching your dog to jump, go through tunnels and navigate the other obstacles on an agility course. Training can include many activities which allow you and your dog to spend time together.
Training should start early! As soon as your dog comes home it is ready to start learning the rules of the household. Training methods that emphasize the positive and minimize corrections can be used on dogs of all ages – from puppies to adults. The old adage “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is simply not true. All dogs can be taught good manners, although with older or rescue dogs it may take longer to modify old behavior pat¬terns.
Training should be consistent. It is therefore important to involve everyone in the family in training the dog. Small children may not be able to do the actual train¬ing but they can be involved in reinforcing good behavior. Older children are great at teaching dogs tricks. Getting the children involved in training the dog helps the dog understand the pack structure of the family, and may help to prevent potential problems.