Want a puppy that is able to function in our society and mature into a well-adjusted adult dog? If the answer is yes, steer clear of the tools and techniques listed below, as well as any trainer, that tells you to use them on your puppy.
Puppy training can certainly start at 8-weeks-old, in fact, it should. Puppies are little sponges, ready to soak up the world and the information in it. Because of this, it is crucial that aversive techniques, tools, and harsh punishments are not used on puppies under 6-months of age.
Trust is earned, not given. Be worthy of your dog’s trust, no matter their age.
If a trainer advises you to do any of the following to your puppy that is under 6-months of age, run for the hills: snout grabbing, ear pinching, paw squeezing, scruffing (grabbing the extra skin on its neck), fur tugging, poking, head thumping, forced submission, alpha-rolling, rubbing their nose in urine/feces, punishing potty training accidents, leash corrections or anything else along those lines.
Any of the above suggestions illustrates a trainer that is not educated in canine development or modern dog training.
I’ve heard heartbreaking stories from clients about “trainers” using choke (I include slip leads in this category), prong, and shock collars to train puppies under 6-months of age. Dog training 101 with any credible certification program drills into trainers that you do not use aversive tools or techniques on puppies under 6-months of age.
Teaching the leash is a skill for both human and dog. You do not administer leash jerks or electrical shocks with the expectation that the puppy will learn anything good about the world or walking on a leash for that matter.
Leash jerks and electrical shocks do untold damage. It’s likely that you’re training that puppy to distrust you and the environment around you, causing behavioral issues that will manifest later.
Avoiding these tools and techniques does not mean it is a free-for-all for the puppy. You control every aspect of that animal’s life – the onus is on you. Implementing management and structure are mission critical, as well as ensuring the puppy gets plenty of exercise, appropriate play, and positive training.
Thankfully, there is a change of the guard in terms of how most professionals approach training dogs. Look for trainers that are members of associations like the Pet Professional Guild or the Association of Professional Dog Trainers.
Those who hold to the “old school” or “as seen on T.V.” training methods still have a stronghold and are causing undue harm and behavioral issues that often manifest later. Avoid this type of training like the plague.
Photo credit: Anoir Chafik, 37597-unsplash.jpg