Dog Behaviour Advice - Dog Advice Articles
DIY Puppy Training Part 8 Error Tuition
Most people with a new puppy allow them almost total freedom in the home. Puppies use the house like a toilet as well as pulling at clothing and chewing furniture.
We fall into a very tolerant mode because who can complain at that lovely little face. Who would ever think it could be taking us for a ride in its canine need for learning to survive.
For those that keep their puppies indoors until 14 or 20 weeks they are not learning the necessary survival skills at the appropriate time. When allowed out into the real world they cannot cope because instinct no longer suppresses fear anymore as we see in puppies training at 8 weeks. What it does learn is only the boundary of its territory so all species outside it sees as potential enemies?
We often see the development of fearful aggression and then the owners’ resort to confining their pups back at home in case they harm someone. Doing this only reinforces the dog’s incorrect learning.
Walk down any street past homes and what do you so often hear and see. Aggressive dogs enraged barking charging up and down inside their territory. No one has ever written to me saying this is how it should be to protect his or her property. Any barking dog will deter the casual thief but for someone intent on stealing from you or your property a dog is not a problem.
For me I would never place a sign on the gate to say, “beware of the dog” it would say “take what you want but please do not kill my dog”.
I look at Kathryn Hollings dog Osito and see how friendly he is and yet what is a very old breed the Spanish Water dog is said to be genetically aloof towards outsiders.
He has been socialised since his second set of vaccinations and has not contracted any disease or illness and yet he has been everywhere imaginable. Been in lifts, on escalators, up and down iron circular stairs, been on buses, trains, in cars, in shops, banks, cafes, anywhere you can name you would normally go in a day.
This is socialisation but there is some training I have not yet written about and this is initiating a puppy to make errors. We all learn from our mistakes and if you do not make mistakes how do you know how far we can go. If you do not feel how hot a radiator can be how you can know how hot an electric ring is when it is on.
We have to forecast what might happen and make it happen but in a controlled condition. By doing this you train your puppy for what may happen instead of waiting for the incident to happen. I am not just taking about puppies but all young creatures humans take home as pets.
I use to breed ferrets and every year people would telephone me to ask if I had any young ferrets for sale. The next question was nearly always have I handled them properly. I could confirm that I and all my family and friends have played with then as they have played with my dogs and friend’s dogs as well as next doors cats my goat and lamb. The young ferrets at first would use their teeth but they lacked the power to bite. All we needed to do was to remove our hands slowly and the fussing stopped. Eventually they learned that if they wished handling and fussing biting was not acceptable.
This training did not stop my ferrets from becoming excellent predators of rabbits, and vermin but they accepted humans, baring the occasional TV Presenter, dogs, etc are not pray. In all the time I had ferrets not one has ever bitten me.
The training needed was to place my hands and fingers in with the young ferrets when they could not harm me and learn biting were unacceptable. To wait until they were older and when the bites hurt withdrawing my hand rapidly for protection would trigger the response in the ferret to bite me as I reacted in the same way as pray would.
The same applies to parrots, snakes, mice, rats, hamsters etc. I can remember a parrot that if you put your fingers too closes to the bars he would bite that drew blood. All because people had not properly handled him at an early age and for self-protection use their bite out of fear.
Correction of older animals when owners have tried everything they think they can, finally give up and call me to ask what they can do to stop such savage behaviour. Is it not better that people know about training at such an early age of a pets life when it cannot harm and it is assuming that the world is a lovely place and harmless. It is better to stop such problems ever occurring rather than having to find someone to come in and correct it at a later date.
So many people fail to think ahead based on correcting each problem as when and if it appears. Take for instance testing to see if you can remove the puppy’s food bowl for a moment. Osito was on the beach and found a fish. His growl at only 10 weeks was aggressive and he meant it that Kathryn should not to remove it from his mouth. He did not bite but Kathryn took it off him using the imitation of a dog’s gruff growl/bark.
She tested later him by trying to remove his food bowl. At first, he growled and pushed his head hard into the bowl to keep it tight on the floor. He lost and learned Kathryn is his leader, she can do what ever she likes. He now knows all food is hers as it is with any wolf pack.
I was walking with Kathryn on Altea beach one day and Osito picked up another fish head. I grabbed him and looked down his mouth to see a fish head smiling back at me. I held open Osito’s jaw and pointing his jaws downward out came the fish head. He did not growl and Kathryn says she walks Osito on the beach in areas where dead fish are probable and Osito may look at them but now walks away.
Imagine if the first dead fish he came across was when he was 14 weeks and when Kathryn would try to take it off him. By this time, he would have the power to defend his prize and bite her. He would succeed, Kathryn would back off with a hurt hand, and Osito would have learned biting his owner works if he wishes to retain anything. Trying to undo this learned action is not easy for owners unless they know how.
Talking to Kathryn the other day, she says she has not taken Osito out enough when it is very dark. During the day when he can see everything clearly, he is fine. Apparently, when he got out her car when it is very dark he barked incessantly at nothing. Only a squeaky toy quietened him down. Now Kathryn says she must take him out regularly whilst it is dark so he becomes use to it.
These weeks between 8 and 14 are crucial to a dog’s socialbilty training. A puppy’s inherent survival programming is to gather all information in order to survive and fear is heavily suppressed to only one rule of beware of anything coming directly towards it. All this changes from 14 or 16 weeks onwards and puppies become apprehensive of anything outside of its previous territory. Please do make good use of these early weeks.