A lone stray stood beside a busy highway. He desperately wanted to cross. He could sit, roll over, shake, lay and lots more, but he had never been taught not to do dangerous things like this. So he made a dash for the other side. Will he make it? Most dogs can do tricks, but the more structured training is what can really keep your dog safe. Structural training, including crate training, agility and house training with positive reinforcement, benefits both you and your dog.
Teaching your dog basic commands can avoid social and communication problems, as well as help your dog understand who is in charge. And positive reinforcement makes dogs friendlier with children. And even with positive reinforcement a dog will know when he did something wrong. One way to tell him is to gently “bite” his rump with your hand, the way a mother dog would. This way a dog will have good manners, but will not feel like he is forced.
Housetraining makes your dog easy to leave at home, as well as prevent a mess. It is safe in the car for both of you if he is in a crate, and the crate becomes a safe refuge in new places if he is introduced to it early in his life. An easy way to crate-train your dog is to smear cheese cream or peanut butter on the inside of the crate. Only when he is confident about lying down, and even sleeping inside the crate, should you shut him in, or he will fear the crate again. And you do not have to worry about a crate-trained dog chewing up everything as a puppy. Plus, a dog who is in a crate when his owners are not watching will be accepted more easily in hotels than one that is free to roam in the hotel room.
Agility is also important for all dogs. Leaping over obstacles, squeezing through tunnels, and running long distances fulfills a dog’s natural instinct to give chase and hunt. Even simple courses can improve coordination as well as strengthen the muscles and increase endurance time. A few cheap obstacles and household items can make a fairly good outdoor course, and for little dogs you can do the same indoors. Some ideas for homemade course are a tunnel made of two chairs and a blanket, a bridge made of a table and two boards (one on either side making ramps), or simply a stack of books to jump over. Whatever kind of course you have, agility reinforces basic commands, gives your dog something mentally challenging and is a great exercise.
Training your dog structural things like crate-training, housetraining, and agility is important when you need to leave your dog at home alone, take with you in the car, or need to give him a mental challenge. In short, structural training fulfills your dog’s natural instincts, makes him easy to trust with strangers and children, and gives his brain a workout. Structural training helps the dog and the owner live together while having fun.
Have fun training!