Dog Training, What is the Difference Between Working and Pet Dogs?

by Mary Haight on March 30, 2012

An Australian Cattle Dog herding merino sheep ...

An Australian Cattle Dog herding merino sheep at Cambden, NSW. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dog training for sport and competition should not be limited to working dogs. Companion dogs need to experience their own innate talents.  Have you seen the YouTube video with the dog who herds chairs when the family is out? Maybe you have been on the receiving end of a dog who is really smart and learns how to open the refrigerator door, or worse, the front door. Dog training for sport and competition helps channel these behaviors and energy in a positive way, engaging the dog’s natural drives, and changing his behaviors at home.

Dog training exercises your dog’s brain, offering a quality of life much different, more goal-oriented from free-wheeling it around at the dog park. Training actually makes high energy dogs more tired than that romp will – trying to figure out what is being asked and responding successfully is a workout. There’s no difference between the needs of a working dog and a pet dog in terms of allowing them to discover and use their natural gifts. There are many sports and games available for all types of dogs like rallys, dock diving, scenting competitions – you get the idea.

When you find yourself with a behavior problem, your dog can be telling you he needs an outlet that will satisfy his instinctual drives. You might not have a pronounced problem at home, but it’s smart to think about training your puppy or dog earlier rather than later. It takes much less time and effort to start off on the right foot right away. Training is not only a gift to dogs to do work they were bred to do, it’s a gift to you to understand and gain a deeper appreciation of the special talents that belong to particular dog breeds.

Kelly Gorman Dunbar, Animal Cafe’s Dog Training Correspondent, spoke with San Francisco trainer Sandra Mannion about dogs who find themselves in trouble due to their natural behavioral inclinations. While owners often think in terms of getting rid of a behavior, like escaping, jumping on or herding people, behavior, according to this interesting discussion, is something to be directed in such a way that produces a positive outcome.  Behavior and energy can’t be suppressed. If this approach is applied, what is suppressed artificially will often come out in unexpected, undesired ways.

To hear more on training companion dogs for sport and competition head over to Animal Cafe!

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