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Training Myths Debunked

Training Myths Debunked

by Beth Ostrowski-Parks, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA


So you just acquired a new dog or puppy and you know that you must provide him with food and water, but did you know the dog's first greatest need is companionship?  That's right, companionship trumps food!

In order for your dog to get this companionship throughout her life you must train her. In order to explain this further let me list some myths or ideas that some people have when they first get their dog.


MYTH:  “We should just let dogs be dogs. Training is cruel and unnatural.”


There are some people that feel this way, but I have a strong argument for training your dog. We cannot invite a dog into our homes and let him "be a dog" without teaching him some human rules. Otherwise, why not let him eliminate and defecate all over the house?  After all, this a dog being a dog. Or how about letting him chew your new chair leg or bite your neighbor? These are all normal dog behaviors, yet we call them behavior problems because they are happening in our homes. Without proper training, a dog will do all these things and more! Besides, dog training is not cruel or abusive if you use the right methods.   At It's PAWSible!, our methods are very gentle and we teach you to use your voice, body postures, praise and food to get your dog to do what you want him to do.


Thought:  "Our puppy is so cute that we don't mind him jumping or sleeping on the couch for now. We'll change the rules later."


Remember, these puppies are going to grow. They are learning from us whether we are intentionally teaching them or not. That 15 pound puppy will expect to be allowed on the couch and on your bed even after he grows up. A 70 pound dog jumping on visitors is not usually welcome by your friends and neighbors. However, unless we train our dogs not to jump, they are going to do it. This is an excellent example of a behavior that will get a dog banned to the backyard and tied to the doghouse. You must decide early what the rules are going to be and stick with them. A dog does not understand "sometimes." He understands "always" or "never."


MYTH:  "There is no need to socialize my dog, I don't plan on taking him anywhere to see people or other dogs."


Even if you don't think you will be out and about with your dog, you get one chance to socialize him and that is when he is really young.  You may be really sorry if you don't take advantage of your socialization period. 

Group training classes are a great way to introduce your dog to people and other dogs and most people just don't realize the importance of socializing a dog. However, if you don't train during the first year of your dog's life, you could have a real behavior problem on your hands called aggression.  Often, this can be prevented if the dog is properly socialized.



MYTH:  "You can't teach an old dog new tricks"

For those of you reading this that have adult dogs, it is never too late to begin training. I have many dogs that come to be trained beyond the age of 5 years old. Yes, some learned behaviors may be hard to change, but the owners will see some major differences once training has begun.

Dogs are meant to be man's best friend and they are very content in that position. If you don't make a commitment to train you could be risking your dog's first greatest need . . . to be with you!