What Is a “Trained” Dog?

white and black dog face resting on his paws on a white mat

The idea that a dog has been ” fully trained” always raises an eyebrow for me. Training (in my opinion) is more like having a healthy diet, or working out routinely. Saying your dog is “trained” is kind of like throwing your sneakers in the trash bin and saying “I’m exercised.” There’s no definitive end to training, it is a daily process that nourishes your dog’s need to solve problems and be presented with new challenges. 

Sharper Image Robot

There are so many wrong perceptions of training. Many people think that training is simply about teaching dogs to respond to words like “sit” or “down” or “leave-it”, but it’s so much more. Other people think that it means sending a dog to a four week boot camp, where dogs learn to submit to human authority. That’s definitely not it. Some think training is about creating a robot – programming the “perfect dog” that will never dig where they shouldn’t dig, bark when they shouldn’t bark, jump when they shouldn’t jump, and chew where they shouldn’t chew. But that’s not right either. (Though I think they might sell one of those at Sharper Image.)

Authentic training is about acknowledging the fact that every dog (just like every human) has their own set of challenges. Some dogs become fearful of loud noises and others become anxious when they’re left alone, Some dogs become hyper-territorial of their space or their valued resources. Training is just another word for teaching. It is about improving communication, it is about strengthening your bond. Mostly, it’s about helping your dog to become happier and healthier and better adjusted to the world around them so that they can get out and do more. How are you helping your dog unleash their full potential?

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