Dog Behaviour Advice - Dog Advice Articles
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Puppy Sociability Training Classes
Working as behaviourists, we see so very many dogs with problems. Because of this we can so easily see that if only the owners had received the appropriate training at the outset when they first brought a puppy into their house most of these are avoidable.
In addition, many owners assume that having previously had dogs they are then fully prepared to train correctly every dog they will ever own. Quite often we meet owners who admit they have never had a dog like this one and commonly label it a hoodlum or stubborn.
Such names are descriptions applying to humans and not to dogs. No dog thinks to act as a hoodlum yet dogs trying to attract your attention often received such a name. Dogs are not stubborn, as this would presume a dog actually wishes to defy the owner out of spite when in fact the dog just has never received the correct incentive.
Here in Javea we are finally beginning Puppy Sociability Training classes. Being behaviourists as well as instructors this does allow us the ability to provide all the training that an owner needs that is suited to their particular dog. Because we see the problems where for some dogs it has all gone wrong it is easier for us to recognise a puppy with these potential problems early and nip such tendencies in the bud.
This does have the advantage of saving the owner the need for any corrective training later on in the future. It is also possible that the training given to a puppy is more than adequate for everyday use and this has a saving of not needing to go to Obedience Training Classes.
Many Training Schools focus only on some achievement criteria similar to competition qualifications. Using this type of goal is the basis of the training that they teach. Training Clubs must recognise not everyone wishes to take up obedience training. Most owners only wish to develop a reasonable basis of control that any of us wish to see in our house pet.
Owners only want their dogs to come when called, walk without pulling, to be quiet when told, not jump up on people, sit, stand, down on command and stay when they are told and all aimed at working in the real world not in a competition. Add to this owners wish their dogs to share their world by being able to be friendly with everyone and have no particular fears that restrict a dogs sociability.
Ask yourself how many people you see that go to training classes where they train at competition heelwork yet once outside the training grounds revert to walking normally. Have you ever seen anyone walking down the street using competition style heelwork? Most people only need their dogs not to pull them along or get in their way as they walk. Does any training club actually teach owners to train their dogs to simply walk along by their side without pulling? When I walk Winston anywhere in a public place, I do not give him any verbal commands. I taught him to watch me and remain by my side on or off the lead. Only in the country do I allow him to walk further away from me. Is that not what most owners would wish for?
I agree many people are interested and enjoy competing but most people only wish to live in the real world with their dogs and where they are not causing a nuisance. Dogs must live by the rules of our world. It is not for us to live by theirs. The question is do obedience training clubs only cater for those who wish to learn this type of competition training. Most people who need sociability training just do not bother going and many end up with doggy problems.
We also have the problem if you consider that as most puppies are around 4 months old and the normal age for starting training was from 6 or 9 months old what do they do for the interim. Therefore, it is here there seems to be a lack of understanding of the needs of a puppy during this crucial period of training.
Where clubs advertised they hold puppy classes most often puppies simply came along to meet some calm dogs and allow them to play and meet other humans who would touch them and play with them. This is fine as far as this goes but such training is only a small part of the total needs to train a sociable puppy.
Therefore, what is going to happen to the puppies training between the times of entering our homes until the time of joining a dog training class? In my area it seems the only puppy training available at training clubs is providing the owners are prepared to commit to taking up competition type training when the puppy is old enough. Such a policy is restrictive to those owners who need sociability training.
Puppies do not put their training on hold during this waiting period so they are possibly learning all the wrong rules or at the very least what they can get away with. Once they do commence training, they may have already accumulated a multitude of problems in need of a cure. Not only this but the owner may have already lost his or her right to command respect from their dogs as their leader and so they turn up to classes with what they call the stubborn dog.
Training clubs must become aware that puppies need an appropriate type of training from 4 months along with teaching their owners the methods that they must practice at home. Trainers must be mindful there cannot be any gap in a puppies training or its development and they must introduce training ideally suited to new handlers and their young puppies. Not only this the training must be variable enough to take account that some dogs can be aggressive or dominant whilst other are timid as well as owners being different in their dog handling skills.
This begs the question of what is Puppy Sociability Training. Many years ago, the normal puppy class was simply for handlers and puppies to come along to a class for older dogs and watch along with other puppies. An instructor would sometimes offer advice and play with the dogs. When there was a break in training classes the puppies could then meet with many of the calmer dogs and allowed the opportunity to play.
The problem here was that it became one place and they met the same dogs each time. Sociability is everywhere with different humans especially children and lots of other types of animals. Limiting the puppies to just one area only added to part of the puppy’s territory. They could still act aggressively or intimidate in other areas they had never frequented.
Puppy classes in order to become effective need more safe and diverse environments. It is up to the instructors to look at other areas around them that fit these criteria to give the puppies the widest possible lessons in Socialisation.
The Obedience Training Class is a very restricted training environment to teach sociability so a much larger area needs utilising. Dogs must travel in cars, trains, busses, planes, boats, and go into town shops offices and even bars and outside restaurants.
They will have to meet cars, scooters, skateboards, bicycles and Lorries with all sorts of noises including banging doors, firework displays with even more people, children and most of all many other dogs and cats. Think what would happen to your dog if you turned a corner to find a Spanish wedding and confront for the first time the powerful fireworks that they use when the bride and groom exit from the church.
There is also a need for such extras like teaching sociability with cats, sheep, goats, rabbits, geese, bantams, and even ferrets. Many puppy handlers came along to my house to play in our field and to meet all my animals.
When we were teaching road sense etc, the owners would meet with an instructor in the city of York. They would then walk about with four puppies at a time in the pedestrian streets initially during the quieter times then gradually moving onto days where it was busier.
Most people including children love to see puppies so the walk in the city was relatively short in distance because so many people would ask if they or their children could stroke them or if their dog could meet them. All of this type of attention along with all the noises soon had even the most timid of puppy walking along happily wagging its tail waiting for the next meeting.
All owners of dogs want primarily socialisation training. The sort of competitions training usually taught at such training club classes is only for those owners who enjoy working with their dogs and wish to see how far they can train them. Training clubs do need to look at the priority needs of all dog owners and accept that competition style training is not very suitable to producing sociable dogs.
If more prominence were made to training puppies from 4 months upwards in all round sociability it is then up to owners when they have a reasonably social dog they can then choose to leave. For those who remain interested in competing can then continue to train.
Which is the most important training need for our dogs? Is it Sociability or Competition?
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Winston has now had his Rabies injections that cost 25 euros. We must now wait 30 days until he can have his blood test to check he has produced any antibodies. He seemed more settled this time at the vets so the injection was not as traumatic as like last time when he had his annual boosters. The blood test will be a different thing.
I have had a query regarding the need for a vet to certify that a dog travelling to the UK is free from worms and ticks between 24 but not more than 48 hours before entering the UK. Some advice I have received is that if you book a hotel on the French coast ask them to book you into a local vet within the correct time window. Apparently, the vets do not even bother to look at your dog yet their charges seem excessively high.
Do make sure they use the correct shaped stamp as arrival in the UK involves a vigorous check of your paper work. If the stamp on the certificate is round, you may find you have to wait to obtain a fax from the French vets of the certificate with the correct square one. I understand there are some improvements to the Pet Passport scheme coming in the future that may correct this particular problem.
If any readers do have any helpful tips like these that we can pass on to others and stop similar problems occurring in the future then please send them in. Let’s be careful out there.