My job as a dog trainer is to help people avoid behavioral issues in their dogs or help them improve behavioral issues if they already exist. I receive many calls from new puppy owners who want to set their pup up for success. I receive many calls from owners who have just adopted a new dog from a rescue or shelter, and they want me to help the dog transition in a healthy way. I receive many calls from dog owners who are struggling with serious behavioral issues and want to feel peace again, but there is one type of dog owner that rarely calls, the owner of a naturally compliant dog.
Sometimes we are lucky enough to have a dog that just “gets it.” They stay close by, respond when we need them to, breeze through potty training, and overall have few to no issues. They didn’t require training because they figured it out on their own.
I’m thrilled to hear about these dogs because it is nice to hear that dog owners can enjoy their life with their pup, but I also warn them of the dangers of doing ZERO training with any dog. It is just as easy to make mistakes with a naturally compliant dog as it is with other dogs. Because dogs go through stages in their development, the y change over time. Some dogs develop anxiety from lack of structure for many years. Some dogs develop fear from lack of advocacy over many years. Some dogs develop food aggression from lack of boundaries over many years. It is very possible for good dogs to take wrong turns.
With that being said, whether you are raising a new puppy, a shelter or rescue dog, a dog with behavioral issues, or a naturally compliant dog, training should be part of their development. Training is not about teaching your dog to put its rear end on the floor and offering a treat. Training is about building a language that allows us to communicate with our dogs for their entire life, not just when they are struggling. By being diligent with this language building and consistent with our instruction, we can avoid many pitfalls down the road, and help these naturally compliant dogs reach their highest potential.