I have something shocking and startling to share with you, so please have a seat.
Are you situated? Are you ready?
You are living with an alien.
Take a minute to let that sink in. I know it can be difficult to accept, but it is true. That bundle of furry joy at your feet might as well be a little green creature from Mars.
Dogs and humans are completely and utterly different, in every way. As a species, dogs and humans approach life from two vastly different perspectives: humans are forward-thinking, whereas dogs live in the moment. Humans are a verbal species, whereas dogs communicate more with body behavior cues. Humans have a moral code which may (or may not) dictate how they interact with one another, and even the world around them at times. Dogs, while possessing social norms for how they interact with one another, lack a moral element to their interactions. Humans can talk themselves into making the same mistake over and over again, whereas dogs will only do something if it works for them...and they are always looking out for their best interest.
Dogs also do that whole smelling of each other's butt thing. Humans, generally speaking, don't participate in this activity to the best of my knowledge.
Suffice it to say, you are indeed sharing your daily life with a living, breathing, thinking and feeling creature who is entirely and completely non-human. It is for this very reason that dog training is so important. Not so you can dominate this creature or place them under your thumb. Nor are you trying to make them more human by training them.
No, dog training is a means of opening up a dialogue between you and your dog. A translator of sorts. Dog training allows you and this little furry alien to better understand and comprehend one another.
This meeting of the minds will lead to less conflict. Less conflict results in more peace and less stress, which allows you and your dog to develop a closer relationship and bond. All of that to say, sharing your life with your dog will be more enjoyable and not leave you at your wits end.
Basic dog training gives your dog the tools to navigate the landmines that are associated with living in a human world. Superb dog training will give you the ability to better hear your dog. When you can really comprehend what your dog is saying in a given training exercise or interaction, that is truly something special.
So, why do you need to train your dog?
The same reason you teach your children to speak. Or help a stroke victim to walk and talk again. Or learn a new language before moving to a new country. Training is educating your dog about the human world and how to be successful in it. It is also building your relationship as their caretaker, guardian, teacher and partner. Whether your only goals are peacefully hanging out with your dog at home, or going to the national competition in the dog sport of your choice, dog training is crucial to the success of both you and your canine companion.
So, what are you waiting for?! Get to working with that little alien of yours.
Dianna L. Santos has been training dogs professionally since 2011. She has done everything from teaching group training classes and private lessons, to specializing in working with fearful, reactive and aggressive dogs, to being a trial official and competition organization staff member.
Following a serious neck and back injury, Dianna was forced to retire from in-person dog training. But she was not ready to give up her passion! So, she created Family Dog University, Dog Sport University, and Scent Work University to provide outstanding online dog training to as many dog handlers, owners and trainers possible…regardless of where they live! Dianna is incredibly grateful to the amazingly talented group of instructors who have joined FDU, DSU and SWU and she looks forward to the continued growth of all these platforms and the increased learning opportunities they can provide.