When sharing your life and home with a dog or puppy, obedience training is critical. Experienced dog owners, veterinarians and dog training experts all agree that a well-trained dog is a secure and happy dog. Since dogs are pack animals, they strive to find their place in the pack. This is a natural instinct for them. Since we bring them into our homes, we become their pack, and a bond is created between us and our dogs.

Obedience training for your dog will strengthen that bond. This is essential to gaining respect from your dog. When your dog views you as the “alpha dog,” you are respected as the leader of the pack. Without that respect your dog will view you as an equal and there will always be some sort of struggle for dominance. This is normal behavior for your dog and can manifest itself in many different ways, but as humans this is essentially what we view as “bad” behavior.

In addition, a well-trained dog is much more trustworthy and reliable. Thus, an owner is more confident leaving their dog alone when necessary and in general giving him more freedom in the home and in other situations. The owner can anticipate how a well-trained dog is going to behave in any given situation. Everyone wins when your dog is well behaved, secure and comfortable with his position within the family pack.

Once you are established as the pack leader, your dog will automatically feel more secure. To his doggy brain, the pressure is gone as to who is going to provide for him and the rest of the pack. He will relax into what he sees as his role in the family. This will result in your dog feeling and acting more calm. This in turn means he will be more well behaved because he will really listen when you speak.

Good obedience training must include voice-control training. This consists of teaching your dog to respond to your voice only — no hand signals, no clickers, no eye contact, — no matter how distracted he may be and whether he is on a leash or behind a fence. This is crucial because the occasion may arise when your dog accidentally slips out of his collar as you walk along or while playing. If you are near a busy street, your dog could run into traffic. Another scenario is that the door to your home could be accidentally left open and your dog wanders out. These are just a few examples that could end in tragedy.

However, with a dog trained to respond to voice commands, it is just a matter of calmly and firmly giving him a command to sit, stay, come or wait, depending on the situation. It only takes one time for a dog owner to realize the value of having voice-control over their pet.

Additionally, dog parks are increasingly popular, and most insist a dog be under voice control at all times in order to use the facilities. Don’t allow your dog, and you, to be cheated out of this great opportunity for exercise and socialization.