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Have you ever taken your dog out for a walk and it has misbehaved to such a degree as to have made you angry, frustrated and embarrassed. Maybe your boisterous pet has jumped up at someone and has spoiled clothing or frightened a child. Does it run after other dogs and refuse to come when it's called? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then you should seriously consider taking your dog to a training class.

Part of your dog insurance poilicy will cover you for public liability. The insurance policy will pay out if your dog injures someone or your dog cover may include the costs associated with car accidents caused by your runaway pet, but it is always best to minimise any chance of this happening by training your pet to behave correctly in the first place.

There is no doubt that a well trained dog is a happier pet. After all, your pet doesn't know it is doing wrong. It can be just as frustrated as its owner because all it knows is that it is getting punished and shouted at without understanding why.

Dog training is all about psychology and should always be tailored to suit the individual character of the dog. It has to be a very structured process and of course the owner receives an element of training in order that they behave in a manner that the dog can understand and obey.

Dog obedience training involves strict discipline and clarity of purpose. The dog must know exactly what is required of it and must also recognise the person giving the instructions as the dominant pack leader whose authority it will instinctively acknowledge. What do you want from the training? It may be sufficient for a pet to be able simply to walk to heel, sit on command and come when called.

Other dogs may require greater skills - consider seeing dogs for the visually impaired, dogs used in search and rescue, Police dogs, sheep dogs and the other uses for which humans rely on these versatile animals. They all have to be trained at some time. Most training systems are based around 'praise and reward'. The dog is repeatedly shown what is expected of it by its'pack leader'. If the dog is lavishly praised and given a small edible treat, it will soon recognise the command and, because it associates compliance with reward, it will instinctively obey. Dogs are by no means stupid and they soon get the message.

The initial training process is of course most effective if it is introduced when the dog is a puppy, but in fact you can teach old dogs new tricks - it just takes slightly longer. Depending on the complexity of the lesson to be learned, dogs respond to training surprisingly quickly. Most people like to believe that they are behaving in a manner acceptable to their fellows or 'pack' and so do dogs especially if they are obviously pleasing their owner.

If you think you and your pet would benefit from dog training, you will find classes available in every area of the UK. Do go to an experienced professional. Details can be found via the internet, the local phone directory or your vet. There are a number of dog training associations that run local classes. These include:

  • The Association of Pet Dog Trainers
  • The British Institute of Professional Dog Trainers
  • The Federation of Dog Trainers and Canine Behaviourists

The Kennel Club of Great Britain runs its ‘Good Citizen Dog Scheme’ which aims to promote responsible dog ownership. They will also provide sound advice on training and where to obtain it.

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