National Train Your Dog Month

January is National Train Your Dog Month .  

We have special days and weeks and months to draw attention to a particular cause that is in dire need for attention. Of course, obviously, Train Your Dog Month should be every month of the year but what puzzles me, is: Why on earth do we feel that we have to draw attention to something as enjoyable and captivating as dog training? Isn’t that like promoting chocolate? Why does dog training need promoting?

Aside from the obvious, that it would be unkind and inhumane to deny a dog an education, I think we need to promote dog training because dog training has such a miserable reputation with the general dog-owning public. Far too many people have a warped and misguided view of dog training, thinking it to be a boring and irksome task. And why? I think largely because dog training is presented so abominably in the media.  Now, I don’t want to sink to the easy-out of media-bashing-and-blaming BUT … it really does seem that the media has had a competition to see who could take a topic that is fascinating and exhilarating to the extreme, for example, children playing games to train puppies, and make a boring program. An impossible task you might think. But no…

With just a couple of notable exceptions, most television dog training programs are really pretty boring and some are downright fatuous  — repetitively presenting the same all-too-few facts with the assumption that either the viewing public changes channels every minute, or that they have the cumulative IQ of a Q-tip. Far too many programs severely underestimate the viewers’ intelligence. Some programs are quite unpleasant to people with their slurry of unreal “reality” snide comments and insults to dog owners and dog trainers. And some programs are adversarial to dogs, occasionally bordering on the unpleasant. I mean, why, why would we ever want to treat our best fiend like our worst enemy? Sometimes I feel like I’m on “crazy pills”.

I may be an Over The Top optimist, but I truly believe that dog owners desire a satisfying and mutually enjoyable relationship with their dog. Moreover, I think this applies to all dog owners — dog owners of different ages, different cultures, presumed differences in intellect and attention-span and owners of different breeds. As dog trainers therefore, our goal is to devise a multitude of different training techniques for teaching and motivating people from differing backgrounds and with differing views. All dog owners need to learn how to teach and have fun with their dogs but we must present the information in a myriad of ways.

Without a doubt, dog training is urgently in need of a media make-over and if network and cable television are not going to get to it, then it’s about time we did it here on Dog Star Daily. All we need do is present dog training for what it is.

Training is the very quintessence of the dog-human relationship. Training opens up communication channels. In a sense, initial training comprises teaching dogs English (or Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese, or whatever language we use) as a Second Language  — teaching the dog human words for doggy behaviors and actions. Surely we want our dogs to understand what we would like them to do and how we would like them to act. But even so, for the most part, dog training involves having lots of fun with our dogs so that we motivate them to want to do what we want them to do. For puppy/dogs especially, education is paramount. Lack of appropriate early socialization, training and motivation increases the likelihood that the pup will grow up to become yet another shelter dog.

Training is all about teaching dogs about the human way — our rules and customs — and especially, motivating dogs to want to be on our team . Dog training techniques are really no different than those we use to teach our children to read, to enjoy reading, to play football, or to ski, or to teach the wife to Tango.

When education is enjoyable, unpleasantness or physical force is simply unnecessary. We must all do our best to ensure that puppy/dog owners realize that science-based dog training is quick and easy but above all, that it is SO MUCH FUN! Dog training is the way you enjoy living with your dog.  It takes two to tango … whereupon, “one’s not half two, it’s two are halves of one.” It’s all about the relationship — doing things together and living together.

Products from Dr. Ian Dunbar