Dr Rex Riggs gives a veterinarian's perspective on why you should train your dog or cat.
I bet many people don’t think of the health benefits of having a well-trained dog.
We see far too many hit by car dogs in our practice. Many of these dogs are running away from the owner and just dart across the street. A well trained dog also has a much lower chance of sneaking away and getting into toxic things or other dangers. Think of how far fewer dog fights we would see if our dogs were more socialized and trained.
Having a well-trained dog is less stressful for you and your dog!
From my perspective though, the most important aspect of training and socialization, for both dogs and cats, is that when they need medical attention, they will allow us to treat them.
Some of my favorite clients, and definitely my technicians' favorites, are service dogs. Service dogs are dogs trained to help disabled people accomplish daily chores. It is so easy when these dogs come in to our vet hospital. When we need to draw blood we say “paw”, and up comes a front leg for easy access to a vein. When we need to palpate the abdomen, we say “stand” and they stand at attention. When we need to take radiographs, we say “stay”, and they don’t move.
Boy is that nice. My technicians said if all our dogs were service dog they just might work for free. Ok…they didn’t say that, but it sure would make our job so much easier. The reality is all our dogs are not well trained like service dogs and some are… well let’s just say a challenge.
This is a huge problem in all veterinary hospitals. If a dog or cat, growls, hisses, scratches or tries to bite people, it is really difficult and sometimes impossible to handle them. Yes, we can sometimes muzzle them or sedate them, but that is far from ideal and often medically dangerous for the pet.
Untrained or unsocialized animals visit to the vet are so stressful to the animal, vet and to the owner. I know of many veterinarians that who refuse to see certain breeds and unruly animals because it is just too dangerous to the veterinary staff.
Unfortunately many owners, solution is to just stop seeking veterinary care for such animals. Then you need to ask, is that fair for the pet? Is the pet really being taken care of properly? Is the owner’s life enriched by pet ownership, or does it add more stress to their life? Why do you have a pet?
So please get your dog trained as young as you can so you and your pet can enjoy each other. Do your research when you are looking for a trainer. There are many so called trainers, who are either not trained at all or trained in questionable methods. If a trainer wants to use a shock collar, walk away. They do not train a dog, it just breaks the dog’s spirit. If they want to use them, have them put on the collar and have them shock themselves. Take a look at this YouTube video.
Just like anything else there are many theories on how best to train dogs. Keep an open mind and if it doesn’t make logical sense, it is probably is not the best way.
Dr. Rex Riggs grew up in Wadsworth, Ohio, near Akron. Dr Riggs is co-owner of Best Friends Veterinary Hospital in Powell, Ohio. He is also on the board of the North Central Region of Canine Companions of Independence, a board member of The Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine Alumni Society and Small Animal Practitioner Advancement Board at The Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine.
Dr. Riggs lives in Lewis Center, OH with his wife Nancy, their dogs Maggie and Ossa, and cat Franklin. Outside of work, Dr. Riggs is an avid golfer and cyclist, and enjoys travel and photography.