Humans have always trained dogs to be obedient. That what we’ve been thought since the beginning of time. In the past, canines’ first main function has been hunting, pulling loads, herding, assisting the military, etc. However, as years have gone by, dogs have become our loyal companions. Nowadays, more and more dogs are fostered for one purpose only. To keep us company and shower us with unconditional love.
However, even though times have changed, there are people that still feel the need to train their dogs to be obedient.
This is something that we shouldn’t be asking ourselves. Especially not if we see our dogs as family members. I mean, let’s think about it. These days, dogs are more family than some family members or friends. We spend all of our times with them, we fall asleep next to them, we wake up with them by our side, we eat with them, we confide in them. We literally let them be a part of every single moment in our lives. So, to talk about dogs being obedient is like thinking about forcing our siblings or parents to be our slaves. Doesn’t seem so nice, does it?
So what if they are animals? That doesn’t mean that we are superior to them just because we are human beings. And it certainly doesn’t mean that we have the right to treat them the way we want to. Dogs too are living creatures with needs, wishes, and emotions, even though you cannot always see them or feel them.
So, when we try to train them, we actually neglect those feelings. We neglect their needs, their wishes and we turn the animals into robots. Especially when we incorporate unhealthy, aversive methods for teaching them to behave in a certain way. That includes collars, leash jerks, prong collars, and any other gadget that Is created to instill stress, anxiety, and fear in the dog.
The only acceptable, nonviolent, and also fun way to train a dog is perhaps through the reward-based methods which instead of punishing the creatures, gives them the motivation to learn something.
Another very important thing that we must never ignore is the fact that those wild behaviors in our dogs that we wish to suppress in the first place are in most cases a direct consequence of our failure to meet their needs. Just think about it. If a dog doesn’t get enough exercise, for example, it will most likely find another way to burn off the spare energy. They will chew off your favorite shoes or break a vase. They are going to behave the way they feel. Which brings us to this next conclusion.
When dogs manifest fear, we have to do everything in our power to teach them how to cope with their fear or simply remove the things that they fear if that is possible. This is especially important if we have a very busy and loud household that can ultimately affect the creatures in a very negative way. In such environments, dogs need to have a safe place, a comfort zone where they can isolate themselves and just relax.
And in the end, the only question we should be asking ourselves is,
“Is my dog happy?”
“If not, what can I do to make it happy?”
Ultimately, there are plenty of activities that you can do for your dog to provide it with what it needs and make its life more meaningful. The only thing that really matters when choosing your activities is paying attention to what your dog finds entertaining. You can walk in different parks, buy it different chew toys every once in a while, play until you are both dirty, train for threats, and so on. If there are sill any behavior issues that you can’t do anything to put under control, you should seek help.
Still, it is my personal opinion that we should not be so quick when it comes to diagnosing our dogs before we’ve tried everything in our power. In most cases, behavior issues in dogs are caused by a lack of attention and affection. Dogs that are happy and have everything they need don’t manifest such states. They are simply happy. Happy to be around you. Happy to do anything with you. Happy to have you not as an owner, but as a friend.
So, let’s stop talking about obedience, and let’s focus on making our dogs happier instead.