Reward is great for overcoming puppy challenges

I was scanning a social media site recently when a picture of a beautiful young Belgian Tervuren caught my eye. The owner of the 6-month-old pup was looking for a new home for the rambunctious dog. Apparently, the stubborn adolescent stage of puppyhood was wreaking havoc with the human caretakers.

The website post explained that the dog was not house trained because it was an outside dog. The owner admitted the reason for rehoming was because she was unable to give the dog the necessary time needed for training. The young woman indicated the dog would not listen to her, acknowledging that it was undoubtedly because of her lack of consistency working with the puppy.

She said the pup had grown up on acreage with young children and large animals. However, as the mother of two toddlers, training a puppy was too overwhelming for her at this time. Many of the comments attached to the post recommended local trainers that could help her work through the challenges associated with a pup entering adulthood.

I appreciated the woman’s candid explanation of the situation but felt sadness for the dog. Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon occurrence. People will happily take home a cute, fluffy puppy, but as soon as the animal begins showing signs of behavioral growth, they deem the challenge too difficult and get rid of the dog.

This situation actually compounds behavior issues in young dogs. Not only is the animal experiencing hormonal growth changes, the life it has known throughout its short existence now deviates. If the dog is lucky, some caring individual will adopt the spirited pup. But oftentimes the animal ends up in a local shelter.

Raising a puppy is challenging. Teaching a young dog to conform to your routine while they’re developing their unique personality can be a formidable experience. Human intervention is a requirement at this time if you want a dog that will adhere to your lifestyle in a manner that is pleasing to you both.

They need guidance and boundaries as they develop into adulthood. There is a big difference between disciplining a dog and teaching a young animal manners. Disciplinary actions are typically a result of bad behavior often derived from an absence of the owner. Bored pups will often find something to occupy their time.

It does takes a firm hand at times because a young dog will often push the limits. Screaming and yelling at them for something wrong is typically not effective; it makes them fearful. Teaching them the word no, however, is necessary to provide the parameters for a healthy relationship.

Consistent, positive rewards for good behavior is a much more effective course to take when training a pup. Say no only once, and then remedy the situation immediately. Turn the bad behavior into a positive encounter by changing the scenario. You will find that offering positive reinforcement to good conduct will get you much further than derogatory, negative discipline.

To the young lady looking to rehome this beautiful dog, I ask that you reconsider finding her a new home. Perhaps if the energy you are putting into social media looking for a different caretaker for the dog was spent on teaching the young pup good manners, you would realize what a gem you have.

The bond you create with a dog is an awe-inspiring relationship, especially when you have to work through the tough times to get to the point where you really enjoy each other’s company.

Charlé Thibodeau has been a passionate pet caregiver for more than 30 years. If you have a pets question you would like Thibodeau to answer in her column, email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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