On Missing The Imprint Stage Of Puppyhood
[From a previous e-mail which questioned why I recommend that dog owners don't try to train their dogs in a group class setting]
Yes, I understand about the imprint stages [two week stages from birth to 4 months of age in which a small amount of exposure will have a lasting affect on the dog's socialization to it's surroundings] but not everybody lives in the ideal world of getting their puppy at 6 to 8 weeks of age.
[The imprint stage when dogs learn dominant and subordinate behavior with other dogs. Missing this stage, or having a negative experience during this stage, can cause dog aggression later in life].
What are you then suggesting happens? There are a lot of people out there that don't know the first thing about dog training. So, all of these theories are great but how would that help somebody that comes to you when their dog is a couple of years old and displays canine aggression?
Here's the deal: I don't have a lot of time to go into detail as this is a subject that could end up being another book. But to fix this type of thing, you need to:
#1: Establish yourself as the pack leader so that the dog respects you and what you say.
#2: Build a strong sit and down stay.
#3: Teach the dog that he must hold the positions around other dogs. It's your responsibility to make sure that the other dogs do not jump on him.
#4: With some dogs, the aggression can only be controlled. Other dogs will get comfortable enough, over time being around other dogs, that it will be eliminated. It really depends on the dog.
#5: The problem with group classes is that there is too much going on for your dog to really learn. Plus, the 10-on-1 nature means that YOUR instruction is lacking. It's a good environment if the dog is ALREADY TRAINED... as you can take advantage of the various distractions. [During the proofing stage, that is]. But for teaching the dog... no way!
And you don't have to trust my opinion. Just look at the caliber of training that you'll find with dogs that come out of group classes. They're substandard compared to dogs and owners that have worked just a few sessions with a competent dog trainer.
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