A Pup Is Not A Small Human

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There’s a great difference between training children and training dogs. As our children grow it becomes possible to reason with them. They come to understand what is fair and unfair. Kids develop an innate understanding of democratic decision-making. They understand that conditions may apply.

Three strikes and you are out is a situation kids learn to live with but dogs never do. Your dog does not have the ability to learn through abstractions. We wish they did but they’ll never develop democratic ideals. Yes, some dogs have the most amazing generosity of spirit but that’s within an individual’s personality, not an inherent characteristic of dogs. Dogs are naturally possessive, naturally territorial and sophisticated observers of hierarchies. Dogs are natural opportunists and will take advantage when they can. In your relationship with your pup forget about consensus and democracy. Don’t be bossy but rather be that natural leader. Dogs respond to confident leaders. Handle routinely. Groom every day. These activities are, to a dog, obvious signs of leadership. Above all, be consistent. Never underestimate your dog’s ability to notice your inconsistencies and to chisel away at them.

If your pup is shy or lacks confidence take extra care. It needs special attention. Shy individuals benefit just as much from socialising as do gregarious ones but introductions to the sights, smells and sounds of London need to be monitored more closely. Don’t overprotect a shy dog. Protecting it, for example from visiting children, will only increase its apprehension when visitors arrive. Ask the kids to be less noisy. Tell them to avoid eye contact with your pup and give them food or toy treats to leave in a trail and eventually to give to your pup. Do the same outdoors. Control your natural inclination to comfort when your pup is frightened by a noise or movement. If you pick it up and mutter soothing words you’re teaching it gets a reward when it shows signs of fear. If you have a shy pup it’s always useful to mention this to us. We may recommend you get a little extra professional help to ensure that shyness does not develop into lifelong fearful behaviour.

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