Last week we talked about conditioning, its definition and how we use it, along with consistency and routine, in training puppies to obtain the results we want in positive puppy behaviors. In short, puppy training is conditioning.
So, what happens when there is a lapse or breakdown in training?
Often after a few weeks or months after “Gotcha Day,” we receive emails relating episodes of unwanted puppy behaviors that are remarkably different from the behavior first exhibited when puppy arrived. Puppy moms and dads are distressed to see excessive chewing, destructiveness, unwillingness to go in the crate, jumping, and other typical yet upsetting puppy shenanigans. They are perplexed and unhappy to see the recent developments and they write seeking our advice.
Gentle Readers, it is often the case that a lack of rigorous follow through on the recommended puppy training schedule as listed in our Pup Academy Handbook (and/or New Puppy Go Home Packet) will lead to this predictable puppy free-for-all! The unwanted behavior is, in fact, a result of the unintentional training that puppy has received at your hands. It is the barometer of your effectiveness as a trainer, because an interruption in training will ultimately cause setbacks and regression.
It is not our objective to place blame or cast judgements. In fact, we are so happy that you reach out and seek help! We simply want to emphasize and remind you how important consistency and routine are to having a well balanced pup. Our top and highest priority is the well being of your puppy! A puppy who is exhibiting unwanted behavior is a puppy crying out for structure and boundaries. So, if this is something that you have experienced personally to any degree, there are three questions to ask:
- What can we do differently?
- How are we not meeting our dogs' needs?
- Is there anything we are forgetting to do?
When there is unwanted behavior, it is the best habit to go back to basics and see what has changed in the environment or in our attitude. For example, perhaps a crate has been moved too much, or from its original location in the home, if there is crate hesitancy or resistance. If the puppy no longer uses their litter box, has there been any change to the litter material? Has puppy’s schedule been changed, or ignored? Are we writing down and using the puppy schedule chart in any of the Go Home Packets/Booklets? Have we stopped keeping track of crate times, nap times, training sessions or feeding schedules?
Sometimes by reviewing the basics we can find clues to how to correct and get back on the track to Super Pup Status. It may take a little longer to reintroduce basic wanted behaviors, reinforce them and make them stick, but with patience and reliable consistency, you will be able to recover lost ground and time. After all, your puppy wants nothing more than to please you and have good clear boundaries. Dogs instinctively understand hierarchy and their place in it! A successful trainer takes the knowledge of dogs and uses it to their advantage in order to set their pup up for success. Remember there is no embarrassment or shame, just learning experience. As a parent, how many of us took the diapers off too soon and had to wait a week or two before trying again? Each dog is different and they learn at different rates. We have confidence that the bond between you and your puppy will result in many good memories and pleasant experiences for you both as you grow together in affection and love navigating the first few months of puppydom. We are here for you along the way, with a wealth of educational resources at your virtual fingertips. If more help is needed, we have you covered too! Drop us a line and let us know.