I know I have been talking so much about training your dog to be his best self so that both of you can enjoy each other’s company. Like many other things, moderation is the key. Having said, there’ll always be some owners who get carried away by over-training their Shiba inu puppy.
When a dog is over-trained such that he can do elaborate, circus-quality tricks, I wonder if the owner truly wants a companion dog for himself, or keeps the dog for self-entertainment and/or amaze his friends, colleagues, and family.
Many, many years ago, I knew a bachelor who would get his dog to perform “stunts” whenever he has a date over at his place. Of the few tricks I witnessed, the one that scared the heck of me was when his Fox Terrier did a 360-degree backflip on marble flooring. Luckily the dog didn’t land flat on the floor. Does this mean the dog never had any mishap while perfecting his trick? I doubt so. Sensing my displeasure, the owner rewarded his dog with a tiny piece of jerky treat. Moments later, I stood and left…forever!
Obedience Training. Tricks are different from obedience training, which is essential for dogs so that they will not endanger themselves or others. Getting your dog to come when called, sit, lie down, stay, heel, relieve on the right spots, not destroy furniture and belongings, and behave non-aggressively are the fundamental training for an average pet dog.
Agility and Flyball Training. Agility training is nowhere near circus training tricks either. The same goes for flyball training. Sure, the dogs are required to perform a series of obstacles such as jump through tires, hurdle over horizontal bars, and climb on-ramps. But these are done with close supervision under trained personnel. A good trainer will guide the owner on the proper use of the equipment and always stress safety before speed.
Working Dogs Training. Of course, not all dogs are born to work, some breeds thrive only when provided a job. Working dogs require to perform rescues, drug and bomb detection, guarding, patrolling, scouting, tracking, obedience demonstrations, herding, and guiding need. These are far more specialized and demanding training. Again, these dogs are trained by specialized skill trainers.
Police dogs are trained to the toilet on command rather than stopping in the middle of a building search or while apprehending a criminal!
But pet dogs are not working dogs. It doesn’t matter if your dog is a part-time therapy dog in aged homes, getting him to perform elaborate tricks to gain a few cheers is unnecessary. Every time I see a dog that literally does cartwheels, walks long distances on its hind legs, and struggles over tightropes when ordered to, I wonder if I am not witnessing a case of animal abuse.
Even if your dog enjoys the tricks, you should not do them if they pose any danger to your dog’s well-being. Walking on hind legs or forelegs, for instance, can strain a dog’s back, and your dog has no way of speaking up to tell you that his back hurts.
Train your dog within safety limits. Always ask yourself if you are really teaching your dog something for his own good, or only to entertain yourself. If in doubt, avoidance is the better option than risk injuring your dog.