Tails in Puppy Training

I’m going to put this out in the open… I’m a cat girl. I grew up with a cat and I loved her to pieces. I got her when I was 10 years old and I trained her all by myself. Yup, I showed her the litter box. Training done and done.

Now, Tom is a dog person. His family has always had dogs, but he was never involved in the training process. Jake uh ohSo, with the mix of both our experiences, we really have no idea how to train Jake into the therapeutic dog he needs to be.  His disposition and temperament are great. He’s super smart. Every doggie puzzle I buy, I need to return because he figures it out in seconds. But at the same time, he’s also a puppy, and puppies are crazy! He loves to destroy his toys, he loves to chew on our laundry & slippers, he loves to tear paper, he loves to bark at people walking by the window, he loves to pull on his leash, and he loves bird poop.  For me that translates to… I can’t trust him with his toys and I always need to supervise. I always need to put our stuff up high (including shoes and slippers) and close doors when I’m not in the room.  I immediately file my papers and keep to do lists far out of his reach (including moving my office chair when I get up from my desk). I close the blinds when I can’t manage the barking. I’m working with a trainer on loose leash walking. (Never use a choke chain. There was a study in Germany where 50 dogs were trained with a choke chain. At the end of their life, autopsies revealed 49 dogs had major neck, head or back trauma. SCARY). I have NO clue what to do about the bird poop situation. We leave in Marina Del Rey; Home of the bird poop.

I love Jake, but this training process is so frustrating  (And we are so lucky because we have each other. Some people have to raise their puppies alone. Poor single dog parents… I feel for ya! ) As first time dog owners, I really don’t know who or what to turn to.  There are so many training theories out there. Currently, Jake in enrolled in obedience training. The whole six week course is based around positive re-enforcement training. He gets a “treat” for the behavior we like, and an “uh-oh” for the behavior we don’t like.  But then, we’ve got eight years of The Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan recorded to our DVR. His practice is based around the “wolf pack” and that humans need to be the “alpha” pack leader. His believes that a balanced, respectful dog get exercise,  discipline  and affection in that order.

So, Tom and I juggle around those two particular thoughts, and although, Jake seems to be “getting it” everyday. I can’t help but wonder… what exactly is discipline? There is a thin line between punishment and discipline, and there are no school of thoughts that claim punishment is good for the dog. So, what  do I do when Jake is running down the stairs with my gym sock? He knows he’s not allowed in the hamper, that’s why he starts running immediately after grabbing the sock, but the positive re-enforcement of giving him a treat to drop my sock is driving me nuts. We do this a million times a day! It’s become a game… I swear. Or what do I do when he’s off the leash playing ball in our local hangout spot, and he starts running towards the poop tree. (It’s a tree that houses a ton of marina birds and beneath the tree there are bird dropping everywhere. It’s disgusting). Honestly, I can scream “treat” all I want, but unless I have Sashimi, he’s not coming back. In both cases, saying “uh-oh” doesn’t work…not even a little. So, really, how do we discipline and correct his behavior?

I’ve turned to my friend Google and the results have been pretty confusing.  According to Stanley Coren, Ph.D,  in his article that was published in Psychology today, he claims that punishment is not an effective way to change behavior. He claims that certain forms of discipline actually cause aggression. WTF! He uses a chart of an earlier study to prove his case.

dog training punishment dataScary, I don’t want my puppy to turn aggressive, but then I found this article that claims the squirt gun, is

is a form of positive punishment. Hmmm… but according to the chart about 20% of the dogs in the study responded to the water spray with aggression. Ugh! So, what should we do? I think we’ll try the squirt gun and report back to ya!!!

 

Thanks for reading…

Aki

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