Back to School: 5 Reasons To Keep Training With Your Dog Past Puppyhood

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BeauIt’s that time again! Kids are stocking up on school supplies and prepping for the school year ahead, while us dog trainers are buying tasty treats and brushing up for a new session. And many pet parents are getting ready to enroll in those classes. Typically, when people think of dog training classes, they think puppies. We see a lot of people who stop training after puppy class, but there are so many reasons to keep working with your adult dog! Here are my top 5…

1. It’s fun!
For dogs, training is essentially a game. Your dog has to figure out what she has to do in order to get that treat/ball/attention, as in “what do I have to do to win this game?” Positive reinforcement training creates dogs that enjoy working with people. Not to mention how much fun it can be for the human! I love seeing a dog “get it.” If you have kids, they’ll most likely love teaching the dog new tricks too! Have you tried agility? Nosework? There are tons of options to keep things fresh.

2. It’s not too late to teach an old dog new tricks!
Like people, much of a dog’s brain development happens early on, so it’s important to begin training and socialization early (if you acquire your dog as a puppy). However, dogs are always learning, even as seniors. In fact, I recently taught my friend’s 11-year-old Old English Sheepdog to “spin,” a brand new trick for her. Now she’s a pro! Older dogs can learn new behaviors, but they may learn slower than a younger dog would. Still, learning new things keeps us sharp, both humans and canines alike!

3. It’s good for your dog!
For most of us, our dogs don’t have any “jobs” aside from just being a good pet. Depending on the breed, many dogs still have that drive to work – after all, most breeds were developed to DO something for us humans. Training is a great way to channel all that excess energy into something good, as opposed to destroying your shoes, for example. Giving your dog something to do, even if it’s just a few tricks here and there, feeds their need for mental stimulation and tires them out. In fact, even 5 minutes of training the basics (sit, down, etc.) can wear out your pooch plenty.

4. It’s good for YOU!
Study after study proves that spending time with our animals is good for our mental and physical health. We all know this to be true. Consistent training with your dog will also cause you to be less frustrated with your dog. Does he bark at the doorbell? Teach him that the doorbell means “go grab your stuffed toy,” or “go lie down on your bed and be quiet.” The more you work with your dog, the stronger his responses will become. I often see people who attended a puppy class with their dog, and are now back in class because now she “doesn’t listen” 3 years later. Consistent training with your dog can help you avoid this problem altogether!

5. Classes give you structure to achieve 1-4!
Working with with your dog strengthens the relationship between the two of you, so if you’ve adopted an adult dog, I would recommend getting in a class even if your new dog already knows the basics. Attending classes allows you to receive feedback from the trainer to keep challenging your adult dog. Your dog will have the opportunity to be in the same room as other dogs, which is something many of us don’t do past puppy class. The classroom environment also provides built-in distractions, which helps your dog develop a strong focus on you. Even if you’ve done class before, everyone can benefit in some way from a refresher!

I would LOVE to hear from you.
What kind of training do you do with your adult dog?
What benefits have you seen from working with your dog?
Is there something you and your dog could use some work with?

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Comments (4)

Julie

Agility has been my favorite continued training. Fun for human & dog; amazing to see a dog start to. 'get it;' and the skills translate wonderfully to general communication with your dog in the world outside the agility ring.

Helene

As a kid we had a family dog who was the BEST behaved dog I'd ever been around (to date) -- I'm convinced now that it's because my step-mom was so diligent in continued training. Love seeing the proof of that commitment here!

Anne Omland

I was just talking to my husband about this! Our dog is only a little over a year and I think he would love to get back to "school" to learn new tricks. Thanks for the validation that it's good for us both!

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