Very common context for this important discussion regarding training your ME dog or not:
1. Personally, I believe that it is irresponsible to NOT train a dog. The conventional wisdom is: either you are training a dog or it is training you!
2. The more special attention a dog requires, the more important it is not to “baby” it. Do it with a factual but non-emotional approach. Compassion also means helping to give it good coping skills. “Spoiling” is neurotic.
3. Basic training and good household citizen training should begin the day you bring your dog (whatever the age!) home. Behavior can soon get out of hand. Dogs are opportunists. Mine are quite cunning and one is able to premeditate with aplomb! (My Leonberger). The most loving thing you can do for a dog or a kid is to train them to be delightful to be around so that if something happens to you, they will be easily rehomed/adopted.
4. Barking excessively is obnoxious to everyone. My dogs bark as much as they get away with, which I find rude and obnoxious myself. When I am there, they will stop when redirected and rewarded with effusive praise. Telling them “no bark” is not very effective. Bark collars are helpful, but they know whether they are wearing them and — they are opportunists! Sometimes being an obnoxious neighbor can be physically threatening to a pet.
5. Trained dogs are welcome in more places than untrained. Nice to take one or two with you when you can.
6. If one of my dogs soils my house (even a regurge in an unwanted location), it is MY fault. I have control over where they are allowed to go and when they go there.
7. Training is our obligation. Our dogs love order, routine, and mutual respect. Basic training is both the best way to build all that, and the best way to a close, fun relationship with a dog as well as the best guarantee that if an emergency arises, you have enough control over your dog that he/she will obey you and it might save his/life or avoid serious injury.
8. Dogs with mega-e need additional training such as not picking up food from the floor, trash, or yard, sitting vertical, etc. Basic obedience is the first building block to that. Your dog needs and deserves all that and more.
9. I will not offer suggestions on training methods, other than to say that all of the methods out there, if done correctly, may be effective. Different dogs learn differently, and I have probably used them all at one time or another. Some are vastly misunderstood, and some are used incorrectly by self-proclaimed trainers and given a bad rap. There is NO single “right” way to train a dog. For many, an eclectic mixture of methods works well. If you can afford it, a class taken at a local park, a PetSmart, or better yet, a couple of one on one home sessions, works well. There are good books and DVDs to get you started. The only caution is to be careful of dogs pulling against a too-constricting collar, use of treats, or of trainers not well equipped to handle a so-called “aggressive” dog (also often mislabeled).