Training a puppy with manners in the real world isn’t easy.
Can I be honest about a subject that has frustrated me for years? People who get a new puppy are faced with a bewildering array of puppy training advice; unfortunately, a large part of it will completely sabotage their efforts to raise a dog who is a joy and not a headache to live with.
Sorry, but it’s true, get puppy raising wrong, and you’ll regret it for about 15 years...
Good luck if you are searching the internet for help training your new puppy, there is so much nonsense on the web about puppy training it boggles the mind. Videos and courses abound, no doubt produced by well-meaning souls who yes, love dogs but are clueless about what makes them tick.
For example, the current trend of 100 % positive reinforcement dog training? In theory, it sounds warm and fuzzy but as someone who has trained and handled puppies and dogs for over 30 years knows, can leave the new puppy owner afraid to discipline their puppy in any way and can result in an out of control puppy who thinks the position as leader of the pack is up for grabs. (Your puppy doesn’t really want to be Alpha in your family, but instinct will lead her there if you don’t take the top spot lovingly but firmly from day one).
(No wonder the shelters are overflowing with dogs that their frustrated owners gave up on in despair).
My goal as a dog breeder has always been to give my puppies a great start so that they grow up to be delightful family companions, but sadly, many puppies, for whatever reason, lack of any kind of basic training. If your new puppy arrives not having been introduced to puppy basics like crate training or house training, you, the novice puppy parent will soon be scrambling to help your puppy catch up on the learning that might have been missed as a baby. Even puppies that have the benefit of good early training can get off track almost immediately if you don’t continue working to show your puppy how to behave.
Your job isn’t for the faint of heart: Helping your puppy gain the skills to grow into a polite and mannerly adult dog.
The truth? Dogs not only understand leadership, they crave it. They thrive on knowing that someone is in control and that they don’t have to be. It’s your job to be the leader of their human family so your puppy can relax and depend on the people to help her learn the rules that help her grow up to be a mannerly and fun to live with canine.
More truth? This never never never means being abusive or cruel to your puppy! But when did telling your puppy “No” or using mild discipline become cruel? Your baby puppy’s momma used the perfect balance of love and yes, occasional firm corrections to teach her puppy how to live peaceably in their little pack. Your puppy still needs a careful balance of praise and discipline to learn how to interact properly with the humans in her life, or she’ll never become the dog you dreamed of having.
This book was written to help confused puppy owners who are struggling to gain the skills to raise a mannerly and fun to live with family companion.
Spend some time perusing training videos on Youtube and you’ll come across an extremely popular dog trainer who is shown tearing cardboard into small pieces and flinging them at the puppy he is supposedly training. The owner sits with a frozen smile watching in dismay and the puppy? She’s pulling long strips of material off the wicker couch as the camera rolls, and the “trainer” laughs and rolls his eyes (I hope he’s a bit embarrassed at his dismal results!).
This video has over a million views , no wonder the shelters are overflowing with dogs that their owners finally gave up on in despair…
Another search on Youtube for “How To Stop Puppy Biting” (search that term for over 18 million results!) and you’ll find a popular slightly wacky young “celebrity” dog trainer who spends an enormous amount of time letting puppies chomp down on his hands and arms with footage of the bleeding bites and scratches. Some of his videos are fairly helpful but the exceptions are glaring. One episode shows him rolling on the floor with a half-grown chocolate Lab puppy. The puppy is biting very aggressively, lunging to snap at the trainer’s face, even mounting (rude!) while the trainer laughs and jokes with the cameraman “I’d so like to body-slam this dog, in the most loving way of course!”
The problem with this video is that allowing a puppy this large to bite and literally knock an adult over, is what happens when the trainer packs up filming for the day and the family’s 5-year-old tries to interact with this biting, out of control puppy? Enthusiastically using lunchmeat to distract the puppy from chewing him to pieces, he cheerfully tells the viewer that of course children should be protected from potential injury by the family pet, what a woefully inadequate result of an expensive training session. Sadly, examples like these are the norm for the dog training industry in 2019.
So What should you do when your puppy is using her razor-sharp teeth on your hands or is otherwise unruly and out of control? Most current puppy training guides will instruct you that you are forbidden to use any negative reinforcement at all but instead tell the puppy parent to:
”Leave the room until your puppy calms down.”
“Hold your hand still until your puppy lets go, then give her with a toy.” (Really??? Both painful & ineffective, ouch! Doesn’t this somehow teach the puppy that she’s rewarded for biting since there’s no verbal direction included?)
“Redirect your puppy with a toy.” (While offering a toy makes sense, why not offer a toy after telling your little alligator “No bite!” Noooo!” Then hand your little “Baby Jaws” the toy with a “Good Baby Jaws! Goooood girl!”)
It’s not my goal to tell you to completely disregard every training method out there. Hopefully, almost all of them will occasionally have helpful tutorials or videos. My job is to help you learn to balance all that positive reinforcement with equal doses of common sense and loving leadership added to whichever training method you choose.
You’ll have better results and your puppy, a much greater chance of growing up to be the best dog you’ve ever had!