Disclaimer: I hold zero responsibility for other people or their pets.
Throughout my ‘internet journeys’ I have discovered many forums and message boards revolving around puppies. The majority of these online mingling sources for canine owners have a member-participating help section. I have also noted that the vast majority of the threads on these forums are in regard to puppies not listening, not learning commands, and doing or not doing something their owner woud like them to do or not do. What I find most interesting is that the vast majority of dog trainers, dog experts, and veterinarians are not focusing on the main reason the dog or puppy doesn’t listen or train well. They say the dog is aggressive, or slow-learning, or has an attention deficit problem (a topic in and of itself worthy of another composition). In any case, what they’re not looking at is the root of the problem.
People who are planning on adopting/purchasing a puppy should first make sure they have a sound, stable, and peaceful homelife. Homes that have a peaceful, loving, and agreeable environment turn out better trained, more obedient, and emotionally sound dogs.
You do not need to bribe your puppy with treats (and you shouldn’t) in order for them to listen to you, learn from you, and obey your commands. What you DO need to have is the desire to have a peaceful home, put that desire into action, and make sure that the other members of your household do the same.
Do you nag at your spouse, children, family and friends in your home in front of your puppy?
Do you have a tendency to raise your voice to your spouse, children, family or friends in front of your puppy?
Does your attitude often rear it’s ugly head via your voicebox?
Does your spouse, children, family or friends display these tendencies while in your home?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you have NO business buying or purchasing a puppy. You may say the two (family life and puppy rearing) are unrelated. I beg to differ.
If you yell at your children, nag your spouse, raise your voice on the phone with customer service reps, or get in arguments with your neighbor…it is very likely your puppy won’t even perk his or her ears when you give them a command. Why? You sound and act no different than you do on a regular basis. If your puppy begins to bite your hand roughly, and you say “No! No bite!” (or whatever your command is) and puppy doesn’t listen to you, nine times out of ten it is because your puppy has NO idea that you mean business. Why? Because you sound like that on a regular basis to everyone else in the house!
If you make it a priority to always speak to everyone with a soft-spoken tone while in the presence of your puppy, then when you do sound harsh when you say “No! No bite,” your puppy is very apt to think “OH! Mom or Dad doesn’t like it when I do that!” … and they’ll stop.
The main reason some puppies learn things better than other puppies, is because those puppies have a sound, stable, safe, and peaceful home environment. They are therefore more receptive to voice tone training.
a) Speak softly and in a gentle tone to everyone in your home, at all times, even your pets.
b) Speak excitedly and gleefully when praising your puppy for pottying or while learning a trick, etc. Anything your puppy does that pleases you, make sure you squeal with delight and say GOOOOOOOD PUPPY! Clearly you’ll want to replace the word ‘puppy’ with the puppy’s name. Doing this will make the puppy gleeful and excited as well, and they will know naturally that you are very pleased with them.
c) Speak in a low, firm, raised tone (not yelling, yelling is never acceptable) when telling them NOT to do something. If you always adhere to the first suggestion (no raised voices when in normal conversation), then your puppy WILL automatically know that you mean business when you do raise your voice firmly, and he or she won’t do whatever it is they are doing that you do not approve of. Keep in mind that puppies are exactly that; puppies. They DO forget things. Simply keep with it, and keep repeating the command until they learn and understand. If they repeat it the following day, do NOT get aggrivated or annoyed with them (your puppy can sense this and it blows the whole learning process). Stay patient, but firm… “No! NO bite!”
DO NOT OVERSCOLD YOUR PUPPY!
This is something I see all too often; people scolding their puppies for the most ridiculous and asinine reasons imaginable. What is even more sad is that there are trainers out there who actually will teach people how to scold their puppies not to do these things. What SHOULD be happening, is people trainers coming into these homes, and teaching the owners how not to do things.
Overscolding a puppy teaches the puppy that virtually every move they make is angering their master, whom they wish to please. It is very emotionally stressful and painful for a puppy to be scolded nonstop, especially when what they are doing is YOUR FAULT, not theirs.
“Puppy chews on my undies, socks, shoes, and other clothes!”
This is a common complaint, and a common ‘help’ topic I’ve seen. What people don’t seem to understand (for whatever reason) is that this is NOT the puppy’s problem. This is the OWNER’S problem. Clothing should be in one of three places:
chest of drawers
This is something that should be taught to all human beings when they are children. This is something everyone should already know; where to keep clothes? I learned that in kindergarten, folks. STOP blaming your puppy for chewing your shoes. You’re the one who didn’t put them in their proper place; the closet with the door closed. Clean up your house and stop scolding your dog for your lack of good housekeeping.
(if puppy is chewing your shoes or clothes while you are wearing them, that is different. The same “No! No bite!” command should be used. It has the same effect and the puppy knows what it means.)
“Puppy knocks over and/or gets into the garbage bin!”
Once again; your fault, not puppy’s. If your puppy is getting into the garbage then you must have given him or her a very good reason to do so! Where does garbage belong? Well, if it is food, then it belongs outside in an outdoor garbage collecting bin. If it is diapers, they belong outside in an outdoor garbage collecting bin. If it is recently removed soiled cat litter, it belongs outside in an outdoor garbage collecting bin. You should be emptying your indoor trash cans at least once per day, and taking them outside anyway; puppy or not.
We are God to our puppies. “…Lead me not into temptation…” STOP leading your puppy into temptation. Remove the temptations and they will not exist. There is NO excuse for the scolding of puppies in situations like those listed above. These situations arise because you aren’t taking responsibility for your home. Therefore, “put your big girl panties on and deal with it.”
Last but not least, when your puppy is doing anything that you don’t approve of, take 2 to 5 seconds and use the very knowledgable brain the Lord gave you, and ask yourself, “Is this my fault or the puppy’s fault?” I can guarantee you without reservation or hesitation that virtually 99.9% of the things your puppy is doing that you do not like…you are at fault for. If this be the case, don’t say a word to the puppy. Simply walk over and remove the obstacle (whatever it may be) that you caused, and be done with it. Then; scold yourself and make a resolution not to do it again. After all…isn’t that what you expect your dog to do?