We have all heard this saying, however do we apply it to dog training? I talk to lots of lovely people that have been struggling with a behaviour their dog is doing that is unwanted. Anything from barking, aggression, guarding, pulling on lead, running away etc. The conversation usually progresses with me asking how long this has been going on for, and the answer is usually many months or even years. Now please understand this isn’t coming from a place of judgement – I am here and ready to help anyone when they are ready for help, however there are many problems that if some training had been done in the early days, then these problems would either not have happened, or certainly wouldn’t have escalated so far.
Last night at puppy classes, we talked about food guarding. Now none of the puppies had shown this behaviour, so we spent time explaining some simple training games to use to make sure it never happens; prevention rather than waiting for it to happen and then dealing with it. Putting in the training before the problem arises. We know lots of behaviours that our dogs are likely to do (chasing, scavenging, jumping up etc) so it’s our responsibility to set them up for success.
It doesn’t matter how many dogs you’ve had; each one is unique and each one will have different challenges to your previous dog. Also, trust me, ‘rose tinted glasses’ kick in here too as people always say “the last puppy wasn’t anything like this one.” I always agree with this, because as I said, each dog is different, however please understand your situation is likely to also be different. You are not in the same life stage as you were before. Maybe you are older, you now have children or maybe they have now left home (or just aren’t interested in helping anymore), maybe your working pattern is different, or it’s a different breed. There are so many reasons why I recommend that you spend time training your dog, so that they can understand what manners and behaviours you want from them. Training is a lifetime job that means you will continually need to update your skills and knowledge. Dog training is constantly changing, as science keeps showing us different, more effective ways to train. So I encourage you to keep up to date and not just rely on what you have previously done before.
Finally, please note that not all trainers and classes are the same. Please know that punishment is NOT OK and NOT required to train any dog. It doesn’t matter what breed you have or what problem you are trying to solve. Research your trainer and make sure they use kind and science-based training skills so you and your furry friend will be in the best of hands.