Is Your Dog Well-Trained Or Well-Behaved?
Recently, my friend got a new Boxer puppy named "Rosie", and she was SO excited for me to meet this puppy so that I could see how amazingly trained the puppy already was.
Little did I know what I was in for...
When I got to my friends house, Rosie was barking when I rang the doorbell and then immediately began jumping up on me when I walked in the door—as a dog trainer/behaviorist, I obviously notice and examine these behaviors more so than most people!
I then let my friend take the reins entirely as she wanted to show me how “well-trained” Rosie is at only 3 months old.
Once Rosie stopped jumping on me, she began chasing the cat around the room.
My friend was very eager to show me everything she had been working on with Rosie, so she called Rosie’s name.
Rosie did not even look back at my friend, and just continued to chase the cat around.
My friend went over to Rosie and tried to grab her, but Rosie then thought it would be fun to play a game of “You can’t catch me.”
I couldn’t help but laugh a little at my friend, who kept telling Rosie to “come” while Rosie was running in circles around her.
So my friend went and grabbed the bag of treats, which immediately got Rosie’s attention.
My friend commanded Rosie to sit, lay down, shake, touch, and wait—and Rosie performed every one of these commands with flying colors.
My friend then said, “Can you believe how well-behaved of a puppy she is?!”
That's when it hit me.. So many people confuse and mix the meanings of 'well-trained' and 'well-behaved.'
Just because Rosie is well-trained with the commands my friend taught her, does not mean she is well-behaved.
In fact, I would definitely say that she certainly is not well-behaved AT ALL.
I explained this to my friend the exact same way, and went over all of the behaviors that I had just witnessed from Rosie, which would not be categorized under the title of a “well-behaved” puppy.
We shared some laughs, I got the approval from my friend to write this post, and most importantly, my friend learned to understand the difference between a well-trained puppy and a well-behaved puppy, and how important the latter is.
Now, I am going to give you the same explanation and advice that I gave my friend.
There are so many dog owners who are exactly like my friend—they think that the key to having a well-behaved dog is teaching the dog as many tricks as possible.
Any dog can do a trick for a reward.
Just because your dog knows how to do a variety of tricks in order to obtain a reward, definitely does not mean that your dog is 'well-behaved'.
I am not only a dog trainer, but also, more importantly, a dog behaviorist for this reason.
Anyone can train a dog to do a trick for a treat.
The hard part is understanding their behaviors and how to change them.
As a behaviorist, I am able to understand a dog’s behavior, connect with the dog, and work with the dog in a way that is unique to him to help him achieve the highest level of good behavior that is possible for him.
After separating this distinction between behavior and training, I think that Rosie is the perfect example of a dog who is 'well-trained', but not 'well-behaved'.
Rosie did very well performing her tricks on command, but misbehaved in other areas, such as jumping up on me and not coming when her owner called her.
If I had to choose, I would most certainly choose to have a dog who is 'well-behaved' rather than 'well-trained'.
The good news is.. you do not have to choose! You can absolutely have a dog who is both 'well-behaved' AND 'well-trained' if you're equipped with the correct skills and knowledge, and put these into action consistently!
However, one of the biggest mistakes that I've seen with my clients is that simply training a dog to perform will NOT solve his behavioral issues.
Just because Rosie knows how to shake, does not mean she doesn’t jump up on people.
Using this example, it seems as though they are two completely different things, doesn’t it? That's because they are!
Where should I start?
First off, you need to focus on having a 'well-behaved' dog before having one that is 'well-trained'.
Rehabilitating your dog and working through unwanted behaviors is the most important, as well as the most difficult part of raising a dog. It is up to you to teach your dog what is appropriate behavior and what is not appropriate in every single area.
A new puppy has so much to learn, so it's important for you to tackle this task of teaching him what is appropriate and what is not immediately!
Focus on getting your dog to listen and respect you, on crate training and potty training, on leash walking, and the appropriate way to interact with other dogs and people before jumping into teaching your dog tricks!
Be very aware of ANY behaviors that your dog displays that you do not want him doing long-term and nip them in the bud immediately.
Many people allow their puppies to exhibit inappropriate behaviors (such as jumping up on people) just because they are only puppies and think that they will grow out of it.
This couldn’t be further from the truth!
The longer you allow your dog to perform a behavior (whether good or bad) the longer he will continue to perform the behavior and the harder it will be to make him stop this behavior.
As a dog behaviorist, I have extensive experience working with dogs who have a variety of behavioral problems, and through my experience, have developed the skills to work with each dog in a unique way, to solve each behavioral issue.
I realize that it isn’t as simple for most dog owners to know how to solve their dog’s behavioral issues, but that’s why there are dog behaviorists :)
Understanding that every dog is special and unique is the first step to understanding how to mold a dog into being 'well-behaved'.
For a comprehensive step-by-step guide on how to raise a 'well-behaved' AND 'well-trained' member of your family, check out "The Puppy Training Handbook" Training Program!