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Why Dog Training Isn't Compulsory!

Sally Gutteridge
I’m not a dog trainer! I was once and I wasn’t particularly good at it, I didn’t quite believe in it. I wanted my military dogs to enjoy life, my assistance dogs to be able to fully be themselves and I want my own dogs to be as much in charge of their own lives as possible. So I had no deep belief in creating soldiers or compliant helpers, I just wanted them simply, to be able to be dogs – In short, I was in the wrong job!

If you love training your dog and your dog loves it too, I’m not speaking to you here. I’m speaking to the people who think they should constantly train their dog, because they think everyone else does so it’s the right thing to do. That’s a worrying way to live and absolutely awful for our self-esteem.

To be candid, life with your dog doesn’t have to be structured or specific to rules and lessons. Training is one of the ways we can meet the needs of a dog and use their mind, It’s also used to teach new things and prevent/change behaviour problems but it’s not the only way. You can put the following lifestyle into place and never have to do any formal training at all.

Understand Dogs.

This is where you may need to put in the effort to learn something that may be new to you. What do dogs mean with their body language? Why do they yawn when they are not tired, how can we tell if they are happy and how can we tell if they are unfulfilled? We should all know a little dog language if we live with a dog, it goes with the territory.


Observe your dog to see what he needs, how you can help him and why he’s making the choices that he does. Observation is the biggest part of canine communication and one which we often forget to use. By watching your dog carefully and using your knowledge, you will often work out the reason for any specific behaviour, then use that to naturally change his behaviour if you want to. A dog will always repeat anything that provides a consequence that he likes and appreciates, change the consequences and your dog will change his own behaviour.

Communicate and Set Boundaries. 

Forget about all the old rules and make up your own. If you like a cuddle with the dog on your bed then do it. If you like to share your food with your dog then that’s fine too but there is one stipulation to this, you set boundaries and maintain them consistently. In other words, your dog must know where he stands, otherwise you’re not being fair to him. Decide what is and what isn’t acceptable within your relationship with your dog and create an environment where you both understand those boundaries.
Provide stimulation of every kind to meet your dog’s needs. 

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