Benefits of Dog Training – 14 Important Reasons to Train your Puppy or Dog

Owning a dog is an incredibly exciting journey as well as a real privilege. But things can go wrong without training, and tragically this leads to an increasing number of dogs being surrendered.

But training our dogs also has benefits for us, as well as our dogs. Read on to find to explore 14 benefits dog training.

Benefits of Training A Dog


Why train your dog?
What approach should you take when training your dog?

14 Benefits of Training your Dog:
#1 Your Dog Will Trust You and You will Trust your Dog
#2 Bonding with your dog
#3 Understanding and Speaking Dog Language
#4 Physical and Mental Stimulation for your Dog
#5 Enhancing the life of you and your family
#6 Safety of you, your family and others
#7 Safety of your dog and other people’s dogs
#8 Keeping your home clean and possessions safe
#9 Sociable and Confident Dog
#10 Dog able to make independent decisions
#11 Role-Modelling and advising other dog-owners
#12 Children’s development and the next generation of responsible dog owners
#13 Ensuring dogs are not surrendered or re-homed
#14 Making adopting a dog a possibility

Useful Links:
Preventing or Mitigating Separation Anxiety
Keeping your Puppy or Dog Calm at the Different Stages of Life

Why Train your Dog?

The benefits of dog training cannot be overstated. For a dog-lover getting a new puppy is one of the most exciting experiences that the world has to offer. But for a puppy or a grown dog if you opt to adopt, it is a potentially confusing and frightening world.

It is absolutely heart-breaking to look at the statistics and read stories regarding the amount of dogs that are surrendered by their owners, particularly during the various lock-downs across the world. These owners may not have done adequate research on a type of dog that would suit their lifestyle using a breed guide.

Or they have not invested the necessary time in training (and learning to train) their puppy or dog leaving them confused, frightened and disoriented as they are removed from their homes to a rescue home or even find themselves at risk of being destroyed.

If they are to be successful in this new world they need a guide that they can trust. Somebody who will show them how they should react to a range of situations. Somebody who will build their confidence, understanding and allow them to be able to develop independent decision-making skills as they develop into mature dogs. Without this in place a dog is very vulnerable in any number of ways.

All the potentially stressful situations involving a dog such as running away, fighting with another dog or barking excessively can be managed successfully through training. With the stress out of the way time can be spent on bonding with our dogs and mutually enriching each other’s lives as we begin an exciting adventure together that will last, good health permitting, a decade or more.

The following overview of the benefits of training will presuppose an approach based around positive reinforcement and not punishment. This means taking opportunities to show our dogs correct, alternative ways to behave in situations and reinforcing the reactions we desire with praise and attention consistently. It also means controlling and managing a situation to help our dogs as much as possible.

For example, if we don’t want our dog to steal food at a barbeque, we make sure that all that scrummy food is placed out of their reach or in containers. If we know our puppy or dog is nervous of strangers, ensure we make sure our guests come bearing a doggy treat to ensure that positive associations with welcome unfamiliar people can be formed.

In essence, punishment teaches a dog very little. They might understand that they are not to soil the carpet in the living room. But do they then know that it is also not alright to make a mess in the kitchen. Rather we should ensure we take our puppies outside and then give them high praise when they eliminate outside.

Benefits of dog training - Positive Reinforcement
Positive Reinforcement based around rewarding desired behaviors is the foundation of all effective dog training

What approach should you take when training your dog?

So the following benefits of training your dog will be based on an approach that based on the following key things:

  1. Use positive reinforcement – encourage alternative behaviors by use of rewards rather than punishment.
  2. Controlled management of situation/context creating the best conditions for your dog to succeed
  3. Learn dog’s language so you can be responsive to their ‘feelings’ to manage them and the situation

These do not need to be mammoth training sessions, short and often is most certainly best with consistent reinforcement by the whole family.

With this in place, the benefits for us is to having the most loving and devoted companion that we will ever meet. Let’s face it, not even a most beloved spouse will run around with excitement every time you walk in the door. Whether you are alone or in a family a beloved dog will place itself right at the center of everything you do to the point where you cannot imagine being without them.

But there are also so many rewards for us (as well as our dogs) along the way. So here is a full list of the benefits that we experience when we invest the time in training our dogs.

14 Benefits of Training your Dog:

#1 Your Dog Will Trust You and You will Trust your Dog

Successful mentoring gives everyone a good feeling. Earning the trust of either an animal or a person who is dependent on you is always enriching and highly rewarding. Especially when this animal or person is a cute puppy just wrested away from mother and siblings and in desperate need of comfort and security. Even more so if it is you who have brought them into a potentially confusing and difficult situation.

Imagine starting a new job and it is your first day. But there is no induction: no one has taken time to explain your role or the expectations and it is not clear what your manager actually wants from you. Even worse if that manager is grumpy or even angry with you because you then don’t understand what you are doing. At the same time you are resentful, confused and worried because you don’t know why you are expected to operate in this way.

This is what life is like for a puppy or a dog new to a home without a strong canine leader. Although we sometimes use the word ‘stubborn’ to describe dogs (for example Mastiff breeds can have the reputation for being slightly ‘stubborn’), dogs are never ‘stubborn’ and we must always be careful in interpreting their reactions in a ‘human’ way.

Dogs are social and gregarious creatures who fundamentally want to please the ‘pack’ around them and fit in. Every dog absolutely wants to be ‘man’s best friend’. But they need clear guidance and they require motivation in order to understand how they need to respond to a variety of situations.

If you are able to use clear instruction, along with positive reinforcement which focuses on rewarding the right behaviors with praise, attention (and occasionally food or treats), rather than just punishing ‘bad’ behaviors then you will gain the trust and confidence of your puppy or dog.

They will feel they have found their place in the ‘pack’ and understand the ‘job’ that you want them to do. The result will be a happy and confident new member of the family rather than a confused pet who is anxious or even frightened resulting in difficult, and even destructive, behaviors. In the worst case scenario even aggressive responses springing from fear and confusion.

Benefits of Dog Training  - Mutual Respect
Dog Training Creates an Opportunity for Mutual Bonding and Respect

#2 Bonding with your dog

Forming mutual trust with your dog is all part of bonding, and successful bonding is the absolute foundation of successfully introducing a dog into our lives and gaining the many rich rewards that flow from doing this.

It is true that a dog may be learning the job of being a good family pet, and we are learning how to manage our dog and ourselves to achieve this. But this job metaphor does not tell the whole story. There are working dogs out there, but the vast majority of us welcome these wonderful animals into our homes to be full members of our family.

Training your dog, and encouraging all human members of the family to join with this, is a tremendous bonding activity. But this is dependent on us using positive reinforcement activities. In simple terms if your puppy or dog sits or waits, then praise and/or treats will soon follow.

This makes sitting or waiting an incredibly positive experience for your dog through association and mutual gratitude and understanding begins to flow. It is also an act of social bonding where both parties accept ‘social’ conditions and expectations and recognize that they are in the best interests of all.

This is, after all, how we bring up our children, and how as parents we gain respect. Research has shown that close contact with our dogs raises oxytocin, otherwise known as the ‘love hormone’ in both us and our dogs reflecting mutual affection, but also offering a sense of well-being. For dogs being stroked, cuddled or just receiving attention raises the levels oxytocin.

For us the benefits are even greater (I generally find with dogs that whatever we put into the relationship, we get more back_. Here lies one answer to why studies have found that dog owners generally live longer and recover from serious illness more readily than non dog-owners, particularly if they live alone. Also having a dog reduces your stress levels and has been shown scientifically proven to reduce blood pressure levels [6]. More generally other studies have found that dog owners have statistically less visits to the doctors [7].

But an approach based around ‘punishment’ rather than ‘praise’ can jeapardise this bond, and leave a dog feeling insecure and confused. If a dog is shouted at for pooping on the carpet in the living room, then they may deduce that it is alright to do the same thing in the bedroom. This will lead to being shouted again, even more confused and frightened, and later down the line, this breakdown in communication can lead to aggression.

Rather a puppy or dog needs to be shown the alternative of pooping outside and heavily praised when they meet this desired expectation. A firm ‘no’ or the withholding attention from your dog will usually be enough for your dog to realise that they need to look for an alternative response or action.

We all need motivation a pat on the back. Well, a pat on the back or the head gives our dogs a tremendous feeling of well-being and acceptance. They know they can rely on you, and you are pleased with them and the bonds between you just get stronger. At the same time you create the platform for your dog to be a successful canine citizen at home and a relaxed, confident happy dog outside of the home.

Understanding your dog’s body language will help you be responsive and supportive to them as they develop through training and socialization

#3 Understanding and Speaking Dog Language

i) Understanding Dog Language

Learning a language is not only fulfilling but also very impressive. How much more impressive is it to learn the language not just of another country or culture, but a different species?

Learning the body language of your dog will enable you to be responsive to situations and support your dog in potentially stressful or difficult situations. After all everybody needs a ‘good listener’ to help in stressful situations. This will mean that you know when to reassure your dog or puppy or understand when they need space away from another dog that has bounded up to them, or small children or any other situation where they are not comfortable.

This will again help you to bond with your dog or where training needs to be focused. If your dog is wary of other dogs, signs of this may be their tales tucked between their legs or lip retraction. A yawn or suddenly laying on their backs are other signs that they are very anxious or even frightened.

Ensure you use positive association when they encounter an unfamiliar dog by supplying lots of praise and treats where appropriate. This will improve interactions but you will always recognize when your dog may have had enough and needs space.

If a puppy signals through her body language that she is nervous of being picked up ensure you reassure them and put a cue word in place to forewarn the puppy that they are about to be stroked or petted and gradually introduce them through gentle handling and then picking them up for short periods of time.

By listening to what your puppy is trying to tell you, you can respond appropriately and help them learn at a pace that is comfortable and constructive for them.

ii) Speaking Dog Language

Of course we cannot replicate the body movements and postures of a dog. But what we can do is recognize that dogs naturally in the wild not speak or vocalize with each other and would depend on the posturing as described above.

This means that in order to make our communication clear it is helpful to our dogs if we combine any verbal commands with physical gestures. If we ask our dogs to ‘sit’ and consistently use a gesture such as pushing our palms down then your dog will more readily learn this command. Although a little like learning to ride a bike without stabilizers, once learned they will be able to recognize just the verbal command based on memory and association.

Sometimes when you are learning another human language there are ‘false friends’, where the same word appears in two languages but means very different things often leading to some amusing misunderstandings.

In the process of bonding with our puppy and understanding them, it is important to be aware that some of the ways that we gesture or behave towards our puppy may mean one thing to us, and quite another thing to our puppy!

For example gazing adoringly at our new little bundle of fur and smiling may seem the most natural thing in the world to us, and we might expect this to make a puppy feel secure. But a wild dog or wolf baring teeth is a signal of threat, as can be a direct stare (as it can still in the human world in a number of contexts).

Similarly standing over a dog or puppy is another ‘threatening’ gesture by one dog to another. But this is a natural position for a friendly dog-loving human to adopt preparing to offer a welcoming pat to dogs they meet on walks.

This means if our puppy seems scared or worried we need to try to reflect on exactly how our body language may be interpreted. But dogs are clever and adaptable. Through consistent socialization they will soon learn how to interpret and respond appropriately in both human and canine interactions.

#4 Physical and Mental Stimulation for your Dog

This is true of all dogs but some breeds, particularly in the Herding and Working Group, do need a fair amount of both physical and mental stimulation. If you own a Border Collie, an Australian Shepherd, or a Rottweiler or Doberman, for example, these ‘workaholic’ breeds always really need a ‘job’ to do.

But all dogs will thrive both on the physical and mental stimulation that both training and interactive play offer. In the wild dogs will learn how to adapt and survive in the wild world by watching and observing the pack around them, and through play.

This means they are ready and willing both to be ‘trained’ to understand how to navigate the human and domestic dog world. Also all dogs as social animals are wired to want to get along with others in order that the pack will survive and prosper.

In other words they are eager to please and obedience training will offer them opportunities to learn and also to gain a sense of well-being in our approval. A dog may not fully understand why they must ‘sit’ and ‘wait’ at a road, but they will be happy to do this simply to gain the approval and praise of their pack leader.

But interactive play also plays a vital role in bonding with us, and as another avenue or opportunity for our dogs and puppies to learn how they should behave towards them. If, for example, a puppy or dog bites your hand too hard during play, you can exaggeratedly show pain or distress to help your dog understand that a ‘soft-mouth’ must be carefully employed in any game where there is a chance of their teeth meeting flesh with either humans or other dogs.

This interactive play is also an outlet for instincts and energies that dogs would depend upon for survival out in the world. The most obvious of these might be their hunting and chasing instincts. These can be redirected with all kinds of fetch and chase games that fulfil these instinctive drives and channels them towards a controlled game as opposed to your dog choosing to chase after squirrels, the postman or even another dog completely on the other side of the park.

Your dog will therefore gain your approval (the same kind of approval that a wild dog may gain in the pack from chasing and killing a rabbit) and with their energy expended become far more biddable.

It is said that the devil makes work for idle hands, but this is also true of paws. Sadly a dog that does not gain an outlet for the mental and physical stimulation gained from training will both be bored and not know how to live out their instincts in the human domestic world.

This can lead to aggressive and destructive behaviors in the home as hunting instincts are expressed on beloved and treasured items, such as sofa cushions and shoes. The confused dog is very likely to find itself punished leading to further anxiety and confusion and a downward spiral that can lead to a ‘bad’ or ‘naughty’ dog being surrendered.

Benefits of Dog Training - Enhances the life of the family
A dog will enhance the life of your family offering opportunities for quality time together and encouraging your children to develop skills such as empathy and responsibility

#5 Enhancing the life of you and your family

A well-socialized and trained dog offers a very exciting and joyous journey for any single owner or family.

Dogs are social animals and they act as ‘social catalysts’: this means they become a focus for the social life of the family nurturing a common interest. This is also true within a family and everyone can get involved in variety of dog-based activities within a household such as walking and playing in the garden.

These common activities should, if possible, include involvement in training and interactive play. Not only will your dog then gain the huge advantage of consistency in expectations and commands but also any children or partners can share in the huge sense of reward in caring for and supporting your dog.

This means a beloved family pooch becomes a source of family fun and smiles offering precious opportunities for family bonding away from any form of screen.

#6 Safety of you, your family and others

A dog who is well trained will also be less likely to present any form of hazard.

One of the most common causes of injury to dog owners is being pulled to the floor or caused to trip by a dog who is over-zealously pulling on the leash. Even if you are not pulled over ignominiously to the floor, a dog’s repeated pulling on the leash can also lead to wrist injuries [1].

For families with small children, once again the potential hazards include your child being knocked over or injured. Of course, accidents will always happen, but most can be avoided by careful socialization and training of a dog alongside the close supervision that should always be put in place when dogs and children are together.

As well as physical safety we also want to avoid any unpleasant or ugly situations with people that can be caused if a dog is not trained. It may be that somebody is walking a rescue dog that is still reactive to the approach of other dogs. If our dogs are not on the leash or do not respond to recall then we may be responsible for causing a problem.

We must also be aware that some people have real phobias in respect of dogs and it is our responsibility to ensure they feel safe and are not approached by family pet. Some people might be concerned and anxious of a dog approaching their children, particularly if this dog happens to be large. Although we know our dog is not aggressive or reactive, we cannot assume that other people will assume this.

#7 Safety of your dog and other people’s dogs

Everyone who is a dog-owner knows that, at some point, there dog will find itself in some form of scrape. But the ‘opportunities’ for this can certainly be mitigated or reduced if we thoroughly train our dogs and build mutual trust.

As noted above, if we have not got full control of our dogs, and they approach a reactive dog, this could lead to aggression. If the reactive dog is under control on a leash (perhaps a rescue dog), then we are fully accountable for our dog’s behavior. It is also possible that another dog may be ill or injured and your dog’s overtures to play or physical contact risks exacerbating this injury.

Another real risk of a dog with poor recall is that this dog could get lost. There is nothing more harrowing for a dog owner than thinking they have lost their dog. This might be a particular risk if you have taken your dog on holiday or are walking in an unfamiliar place.

It is also possible that some people may not be appreciative of a dog wandering in gardens and yards where they may not be welcome.

Other problems of not keeping your dog supervised may include them picking up and eating discarded food that could be very bad for them

#8 Keeping your home clean and possessions safe

Although dogs need training in many respects these wonderful animals do much of the heavy lifting for us and just need extra guidance.

This is also true in terms of toilet-training for a puppy or an anxious rescue dog. Dogs will not naturally want to soil anywhere near their safe place, such as a crate or a dog-bed and with your help and some training with positive reinforcement, your house can be kept clean.

In training a puppy (or new dog) a good place to start is to make sure that they go out every half-hour, building up to an hour. Every time toileting takes place outside remember to use lots of praise to reinforce this behavior. This means waiting with him until he toilets, and ensuring that puppy poo is a great cause for celebration with your little furry friend.

As noted above, training always works best if the whole family involved so different family members can take turns on this toilet duty and in praising the puppy which will also assist with the puppy bonding with everyone in the household.

Also be vigilant in allowing your puppy out at point where they might most need the toilet. This will include: first thing in the morning, around half-an-hour after eating, after any form of excitement including playing, or after they awake at any point in the day. Other signs that your puppy or dog may need the toilet include circling around sniffing the floor or even assuming a squat position.

This training can be greatly helped by management of the environment, ensuring that the new carpet, for example, is off-limits to the puppy or dog with a well-placed baby-gate.

In terms of managing your home environment more generally remember to ensure anything breakable is not within reach of the puppy. Also ensure that things that you don’t want chewed are put away or in an area ‘off-limits’ for the puppy or dog.

Developing A Confident Dog
Benefits of Dog Training Include your Dog Developing Confidence and some Independence

#9 Sociable and Confident Dog

Dogs tend to be a reflection of their upbringing and the even the character of their owners.

But a well-trained dog, who has a close reciprocal bond with their owner, is going to be more confident and sociable. If a dog has good recall, and has been socialized so as not to be aggressive or domineering in play, then the owner will be relaxed and your dog will mirror this sense of calm.

Dogs are gregarious creatures who will generally love to play with other dogs. Good, consistent training will mean that this can happen routinely without any causes for concern.

#10 Dog able to make independent decisions

If a child at school is routinely shown ‘how to learn’ and not just ‘what to learn’, a magical thing happens and they become confident independent learners, able to pick up things without the intervention of a teacher.

The same is also true of dogs who are routinely trained. If they understand how they should behave in specific circumstances, they will also begin to apply this understanding to new situations. Dogs will engage in a variety of social interactions and situations using their problem-solving skills informed by their training and socialization.

An increasing body of dog trainers encourage the offering of choices in play and training with your puppy. Choices could include what toy to play with or occasionally a choice of route on a walk.

This will result in a dog able to make independent decisions such as when, or if, to approach a dog out on a walk, and to be more successful in any ‘treasure-hunt’ or scent-trail activities and games.

Benefits of Dog Training - Role-Modelling in the Park
Another benefit of dog training is role-modelling to other dog owners and exchanging training tips

#11 Role-Modelling and advising other dog-owners

Unfortunately not everyone has done all of the necessary research on breeds and training. Possibly the early socialization and training has not been put in place.

Being a confident dog-owner with a well-behaved dog does not mean that you have to be simply an object of envy out on a walk. Of course, it also important not be judgemental of others, unless the behavior of their dogs is aggressive or highly problematic.

But what you can be is a natural font of dog-wisdom for those in need of some help by explaining what worked for your dog. Explaining exactly why your dog comes back to you immediately. You can describe how your dog has learned to be always focused on you rather than the many wonderful distractions the world outside offers our canine pals.

Even very accomplished dog trainers will acknowledge that they are learning all of the time, so an exchange of ideas is always welcome from those who have formed their ideas through good practice in training their dogs.

You never know but you may be passing along some of the many benefits of dog training that we have explored in this article.

#12 Children’s development and the next generation of responsible dog owners

The idea of role-modelling good canine leadership will not just be passed around the park, but also through the generations.

By raising children with an understanding of how to care for, respect and train a dog you will be creating the good canine leaders of tomorrow. Also by encouraging children to actively participate in the training of your dog you will be equipping them with a huge range of skills, such as developing empathy, reflecting on how to guide and support others, and how to establish successful routines. Thus you will be providing a precious opportunity for your children to develop, as well as your puppy or dog.

This means more owners who will train their dogs to high standards, and ensure happy and comfortable homes for the beloved pets.

What a wonderful gift to bequeath to the future!

#13 Ensuring dogs are not surrendered or re-homed

All of the benefits mentioned above really lead ultimately to this overwhelmingly important benefit of training your dog.

As mentioned dogs come to us wanting to please, eager to be part of a pack and family, and equipped to adapt to our way of life. They only require some empathy, compassion and a gentle but firm approach to training them how to navigate this new world.

But without this guidance being offered, an increasing number of dogs find themselves being surrendered by their owners, which can be incredibly traumatic for them, and depending on how they have been treated, may even lead to them not being suitable for re-homing.

It is a real pity perhaps that we are not obliged to train, or learn how to train our dogs, before being allowed to take on this huge responsibility (and wonderful opportunity) of owning a dog.

But in training our dogs, and managing their environment appropriately, we know we are giving these brilliant animals the best chances of a loving forever home.

Benefits of Training A Dog - ensuring dogs are not surrendered and adoption
For me the overriding benefit of dog training is ensuring dogs are not surrendered. If you know how to patiently train a dog adoption also becomes a viable possibility.

#14 Making adopting a dog a possibility

Dogs are incredibly resilient and adaptable. Even if they have had a bad start and a difficult experience with owners who were not right for them, with patient and skilled guidance they can flourish in the right home, and all dogs deserve a second chance.

If a dog has been surrendered there is likely some emotional baggage and behavioral traits that will need resolving. In being well-versed in training, and showing compassionate empathy in this training as well as firm direction and consistency, you will prove the best person to give this dog everything that they need to finally find a successful home.

It is always good to ‘opt to adopt’ and charities will be greatly helped by those ‘experienced owners’ who are ready and willing to nurture an adopted dog.

Separation anxiety, particularly in the wake of the Covid pandemic and associated lockdowns, is one of the man reasons for dogs being surrendered as it can lead to apparently dirty or destructive behaviors. Please feel free to click here for advice on how to prevent or mitigate separation anxiety.

For advice on keeping your puppy or dog calm at the different stages of life, please click here.

Be the first to write a review

Leave a Comment