It’s almost April and perhaps the time of year when the most puppies are born. They are so precious, so cute and cuddly and so very entertaining with their antics. Everyone pretty much expects to have to house train the pup and deal with some destructive chewing and they usually deal with this the way they always have in the past, the way their parents did or what their friends tell them. Maybe, if they are motivated, they sign up for a puppy kindergarten class to try to obedience train their pup.
If the family is really dedicated and responsible and pursues the training until they get it right, even if they have to switch trainers to find one who is effective, then those dogs have far greater chances of becoming life long beloved family members.
But all too often, people are haphazard about puppy training and then get frustrated and give up. They blame the dog; they may think that it’s because the dog is stupid or because they themselves are not “alpha” enough. This slippery slope goes downhill fast as the pup reaches adolescence and becomes increasingly rowdy and difficult to control….not unlike teenagers who have grown without having learned some self control and been taught that society has rules of acceptable behavior.
Some owners give up around 6 months and some hold on until 10 or 11 months, but if you go to a shelter and see the beautiful young faces so eager to meet you, they will be mostly adolescent dogs with no training and a diminishing chance of ever finding a forever home.
Shelters and rescue groups spend a lot of money on veterinary care and meeting the physical needs of the dogs, and a few have volunteers who try to socialize and teach some basic manners to the bewildered and over stimulated inmates in hopes of finding homes. In the end, not enough funding goes into training, behavior modification and public education. So the vicious circle, revolving shelter door self perpetuates.
If you are a puppy owner or know a puppy owner, you could save a life by passing the word that puppies are easy to train. Puppy training is a balancing act between training and good management. Puppies are really really intelligent. They soak up training like sponges. BUT, the part of their brain that governs self control is not at all up to speed yet…it’s still developing. So management is the bulk of what you must do to raise a great pet. As the training continues and the pup’s brain grows and new levels of development gradually allow the pup to accept more “responsibility” for doing what you’ve taught it, your dog will begin to have more manners. But you need to allow for this process to take place and make sure your expectations are aligned with nature’s developmental tempo.