I’ve never raised a child, but I have witnessed the miracle of birth when I whelped three litters of puppies.

This is Brandy and her 9-day old puppies. Their eyes have not yet opened, and their ears are not fully developed. But, they have learned to use their nose to find mom and their source of food. They have learned to use “touch” to find one another after a satisfying meal and to stay warm by snuggling together.

This is Mother Nature, or instinct at it’s best. Brandy is not teaching them anything here. She is calm and relaxed and not micro-managing her pups.

However, she is communicating with the puppies with her body language. She is standing up so she doesn’t crush the puppy beneath her. She is not dotting over the other two pups to stay close to her.

She is letting them learn through trial and error. This is a training session.

 

The pups are now 4-weeks old. They have full use of all their senses, and they are developing their coordination skills. They have distinct personalities and are learning how to act and function in a pack structure. They are also learning how to work out their differences.

The pup on the left is playing rough and he’s growling. He is a little too full of himself and he’s escalated his energy to borderline bully behavior.

The one on the right let out a little “hey, that hurt” kind of yelp. The pup on the right started to move forward so the “aggressive” pup stood up to prove it is bigger and stronger and more dominant.

Well, Brandy didn’t like that!

“Uh oh! Momma is gonna whip me now.”

As soon as Brandy approached, she began to discipline the exuberant pup. She hovered over her child in a very Dominant position. The pup is on his back in a very Submissive position.

Brandy is not using excessive force. She is not barking (yelling) or showing any out of control/frustrated behavior. She is simply using her calm and relaxed body language to communicate to the over-excited pup, “Settle down.”

Brandy is showing Pack Leader qualities.

This whole series of events lasted about 20 seconds. That was a training session!

Brandy didn’t let undesirable behavior go uncorrected. She didn’t use the excuse, “He’s just a puppy; he’ll grow out of it.” She didn’t try to distract him with a cookie or praise. She delivered a swift correction with just enough discipline to get her point across. She wasn’t heavy-handed.

She was confident, calm, and most of all: FAIR. And the pup understood!

Which brings me to this picture. 

This is a 5-month old pup. After leaving the comforts of her pack at 8-weeks old, she also left behind a life of structure, rules, and discipline.

What happens without a Pack Leader to continue teaching a puppy? The puppy begins to make its own decisions which are often undesirable by their human families, such as jumping, biting, and demanding attention.

This picture demonstrates how I am mimicking the action of her mother. I am calm, relaxed, and most of all: FAIR.

I’m not driving the puppy into the floor with force. My right hand (extended index finger) is simply preventing her from tucking her tail between her legs in fear. She doesn’t need to be afraid. I’m not going to hurt her.

My left hand is lightly resting on her neck. Notice how her hind leg is up in the air – looks just like the puppy’s leg in the picture above, who is being disciplined by Brandy.

It’s a sign of submission. “Yup, I got it. I’m waving the white flag.”

Am I asserting my dominance? Yes. Is the puppy being submissive? Yes.

Is this cruel or harsh treatment of a 5-month old puppy? Not at all.  Is she too young to understand what I am teaching her? Nope.

Does this form of training make sense to her. You better believe it.

And, living in a household with rules, structure, and fair discipline is going to make her a happy, well-behaved puppy, and a much-loved dog for many years to come.

So, it is NEVER too early (or too late) to train your dog. Your dog will thank you for it 🙂

Teaching People and Helping Dogs.

Peter