Recently, I was out skijoring – a fantastic winter sport where a skier is attached by a bungee line to her dogs, who are harnessed and allowed to pull to their heart’s content. It was a beautiful winter's day, and I was enjoying the exercise and a spy thriller on audio-book, one of my secret vices. You would think that I’d be out skijoring every day all winter, right?
Pretty much the only reason I bothered to put on my rather constrictive ski boots (they’re like zippered up concrete), find all the lines and gear and put on the skijor belt (which looks very slightly like a baby’s diaper, to be honest) was because I joined something. I joined a fun race online – and what’s more, I paid to participate. And as much as I’ve enjoyed every single ski this winter, adding those meager kilometers to my score card is an embarrassingly important reason I’ve been out so much. Anyone who signs up - and then attends - an exercise class while blithely ignoring that dusty stationary bike will understand this phenomenon very well. So...
1. Join a class because you will actually train your dog
Unless you are a dog training fanatic, it’s hard to set aside the time to train your dog. Just as weightlifters need reps to build their lifting muscles; dogs need reps to build their "behavioural muscle". In class, you will spend a good solid hour training your dog, and in a very hard and distracting environment to boot.
2. Join a class if you have a puppy
If you have a puppy under the age of about 16-20 weeks, get thee to a well-run, safe puppy class today. Puppy classes may provide some basic obedience, but that’s always an extra. Puppy classes will help your puppy to be the safest, happiest, soundest adult dog they can be. This means socialization opportunities with the humans in class, meeting safe puppy play-mates, and more. You don’t need to believe me on this one: see the statement on puppy socialization from the dog behaviour gurus at American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior. Read more about socialization here, here, and here.
3. Dog training has changed dramatically
You took a dog class in 1994 with your dog Salt-n-Pepa… how much could things have changed?
A lot. There has been a sea change in dog training – the science of animal learning has flourished, and dog’s cognitive abilities are much better understood. Classes today are faster, much more fun, and much safer. New dog training techniques put your dog’s welfare at the forefront. We get better results than the ol’ jerk-your-dog-around-on-a-collar classes did, and we use techniques that make your dog an eager, delighted participant. (To find a dog trainer who uses modern and positive techniques, check out this blog).
It's as easy as one, two three
Your life, and your dog’s life, will be better when he’s trained. A well-trained dog is welcome around your guests and in your car for running errands. He can come on hikes and run beside bikes and generally co-exist with you contentedly. And isn't furry but enjoyable companionship why you got a dog in the first place?
In the Manitoba/Saskatchewan Parkland and looking for classes? Check here for our next series of classes: http://store.kristibenson.com/