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Train...don't blame

I am on a number of Labradoodle social media pages and I notice a reoccurring theme that is becoming more prevalent.

This is to blame the breeder, the neuter or the food for what is a training or socialisation need.

I will give you an example;

Social Media Post: My dog always barks at the postman, does anyone else's dog do this?

Answers include:

-Is your dog from the same breeder as mine because my dog barks at the postman too.

-Your dog looks like my dog, maybe they are from the same breeder, as my dog barks too.

-Maybe its the breed and the dogs colour, my dog is black and barks too.

-When did you get your dog neutered, it could be related to that.

!!!!! STOP !!!!! A dog barking at a postman (as an example) is absolutely naff all to do with the breeder, the breed, the colour or the neuter. This is 100% purely down to lack of socialisation and rewards based training by you the owner. By this I mean, all puppies should be carried out to meet the bin collectors, the postman, the DPD driver and the window cleaner. With each greeting for 8-14week old puppies this should be followed up with praise and a treat. Make people coming to your home a positive experience.

Stop shouting at the dog when they bark, you are only encouraging the behaviour.

Have a critical look at a volume of social media posts and see how the theme is to attribute a label to the dog, 'anxious, nervous, aggressive, stressed...' and so it continues, always blaming the dog, the breeder, the neuter, the food, the colour, anything except taking on responsibility as an owner.

I try and coach my owners to NOT blame the dog, to not attribute labels, but to always ask the why.

Dogs behave in certain ways because of the way the owner reacts to a situation, or the lack of socialisation/training/engagement.

Examples; My dog pulls on the lead, I need harnesses, head collars and any possible device to stop my bad dog.

So, how about starting off-lead heel work and on-lead heel work from when puppy is 8 weeks old in the garden, and attend training from 11-12 weeks old, plus utilise every walk as a training opportunity. Be proactive not reactive. Do not blame the dog for your lack of effort.

My dog barks at people with umbrellas and hats, he is so anxious.

Or how about starting off properly by utilising the key socialisation period to expose puppy daily from 8week old to hats, wheelchairs, walking sticks, scooters, joggers, cyclists, prams, livestock, umbrellas, sirens, cars..... This is why the puppy age of 7-14 weeks is called the Key Socialisation Period, because it is the optimum time to positively expose puppy to life. Yes, I know the puppy cannot go on the floor until the second vaccinations, so you carry the puppy outside every day to see the world.

Stop trying to attribute blame to the breeder, they have trusted you to do right by the puppy.

Stop trying to blame the neuter, when it is lack of training that is the issue.

Stop labelling the dog with human emotions. Instead build a relationship with your dog, and form a positive relationship through brain games, training and varied walks.

Be aware that your own emotions impact a dogs behaviour; a person who is calm, confident and relaxed will gain a more self-assured dog than the person who is highly-strung, anxious, stressed and/or overly controlling of all aspects of life.

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