The only way dogs will know what behavior is acceptable and what behavior is not acceptable is if someone takes the time to train them. Dogs need to learn what is expected of them, and people need to be consistent and clear in those expectations. Your dog will be a happier member of your household and your community if you teach him how to behave. Keep in mind, though, that just because a dog is trained, it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t need supervision, instruction, and boundaries. A dog that is allowed to roam outside a fenced area or off of a leash is in danger, whether he is trained or not.
What is an “educated” dog?
The American Kennel Club (AKC) presents the guidelines for good dog behavior (i.e. “educated” dogs) in its Canine Good Citizenship program. According to AKC’s program, a canine good citizen will:
- Readily accept a stranger
- Sit politely for petting
- Have good appearance and grooming
- Walk politely on leash and through a crowd
- Sit down on command as well as stay in place when told
- Come when called
- React appropriately to other dogs and distractions
What are the benefits of having a dog that is “educated”?
- A dog that understands his boundaries will know what is expected of him and therefore will have fewer anxieties, resulting in a happier and healthier dog.
- If dog owners in the community take responsibility for their dogs’ behavior, the community will respond positively by allowing certain privileges to “canine good citizens,” such as access to off leash beaches and parks.
How does my dog become “educated”?
- Carefully select a dog obedience class instructor or private instructor who is knowledgeable about different types of training methods. A good obedience instructor will communicate well with people and with dogs. Find out what training methods are used, and ask to observe a class or training session.
- After investing your time in dog obedience classes or private instruction, practice with your dog daily for brief periods. You will develop and maintain a strong relationship with your dog by using positive reinforcement and by being consistent in your expectations over the long term. Your dog will become a well-regarded member of your community.