Posted by Mike Trevena 02/18/2019
How easy is it to raise a puppy into a well mannered and well behaved companion?
It’s hard, really hard!
In fact, it’s hard for a skilled trainer to achieve a desirable result let alone somebody who has little experience. For the average family, it is almost impossible to raise a puppy into a well rounded dog. There are simply too many variables.
Below, we offer a fact based insight into the realities of taking the puppy route and towards the end, our opinion on the only way to nudge the odds greatly in your favour.
Here are the steps you need to follow and the issues that you need to overcome;
This is usually where it all goes wrong. People read a description in a book, online, listen to public opinion or base their decision on the breed of dog they had when they grew up or what they like the look of. In almost all cases, the decision is made upon a generalisation of a breeds ‘temperament’ with far too little understanding. Dogs are all individuals and putting them into breed specific boxes is majorly flawed. We have found that 90% of all puppies born grow into an adult dog which creates compromise in the owners life. In almost all cases, the owner has not ended up with the result they believed they would get. Simply buying a dog of any breed and expecting it to behave how the book says it will is to be avoided at all costs. You need the right puppy from your breed of choice rather than any puppy from the right breed! Selecting the right puppy though, is your next problem
Rather controversially, we don’t believe that the actual breeder makes much difference when it comes to getting the right dog for your home. In fact, most breeders are aiming to produce something completely different to what you require. It’s highly likely that the right puppy for you is the farthest from what they are looking for. Regardless of the breeder and their aims, you don’t want a puppy who will be a field trial champion or a crufts winner, you want a well mannered, calm, obedient and fun companion. Almost all breeders are simply trying to produce the next crufts winner or the next working trial champion. You have a completely different set of characteristics that you should be looking for. In every little, there will be one, maybe two puppies that suit your needs and whilst not guaranteeing success, make a good candidate. Find a breeder who is caring and has a good track record of supplying the type of pet you want, do not be fooled by champions in pedigrees etc. One mans meat is another mans gravy.
Do as much due diligence as possible. Do they have online reviews? Do they seem concerned about your suitability? Have you dealt with them before? Have your friends purchased a puppy from them that has been the model dog?
Selecting the right puppy is always a gamble, especially in todays past paced world. It is impossible to see even the slightest insight into a puppies temperament until they are a minimum of six weeks of age. Unfortunately, instead of most breeders wanting to give their puppies and the new owners their best chance, their motivation is on getting the whole litter spoken for as quickly as possible rather than waiting to assess the puppies for best fit. Also, because most purchasers are happy to select a puppy blindly and good breeders being very popular, it’s almost impossible to find available puppies over six weeks of age and, even if you do, do you know what you are looking for? Most advice out there on supply selection is flawed. If you want an insight into what to look for, get in touch for a no obligation chat.
How many difficult dogs/puppies have you successfully trained? I’m not talking about about teaching a biddable and eager dog to roll over or sit on command. I’m talking about how many dogs have you taught to come back when chasing a Rabbit toward a road or how many dogs have you cured of separation anxiety? Most pet dog owners who have a well behaved dog picked the puppy that was destined to be easy and require little training rather than actually being good at training it themselves.
To effect positive change in a dogs behaviour takes most dog trainers much longer and far higher levels of persistence and obsession than the average owner has and they still rarely get great results but rather reach a position which requires management instead of cure. Any skill takes many hours of dedication, deliberate and correct practice and good coaching to achieve a useful level and training dogs is no different. They say it takes 10,000 hours to achieve a proficient level of ability in most skills, and, take it from me, most professional trainers don’t have 10,000 hours under their belt let alone most pet owners.
When you get a puppy, you have no idea what it’s going to throw at you. There are around 100 common behavioural issues that dogs display and ignorance is not bliss. If you haven’t got experience of solving a wide range of dog training issues then the chances are that you will experience a high proportion of the possible outcomes and struggle to overcome them.
Ninety percent of puppies born grow into adults which the owners struggle to manage and have to plan their lives around (we have the stats to prove this). This in itself proves that the training the average owner has access to is far from sufficient. If dog professionals were so good at giving the average owner they desired then there wouldn’t be so many of us. So many people earn a living from selling their services as a dog trainer. These people make a substantial percentage of their earnings from revisiting clients. Do you have time to see a trainer week in, week out to try and overcome your dogs behaviour?
Nearly all dog training is done in a reactive manner, meaning that its not until it goes wrong that people try and put it right. A much better, but unavailable approach is to proactively work towards a number of temperament based goals. It doesn’t matter how well trained the dog is, if its temperament does not match your lifestyle or handling ability then chaos will ensue!
How do you mitigate all of the above issues then?
Well, our first suggestion would be to select a young adult dog instead. By 10 months of age, a dog shows what it is in terms of temperament and health. Simply purchasing an older dog at least allows you to choose your demons wheres the puppy route is like a luck dip, you don’t know which problems you’ll get or how bad they will be. At least with an adult you can see what you are getting. The dogs we supply at WKD are the rare 10% of dogs which don’t display these many potential issues but, even if you don’t get a dog through us, simply picking an older dogs gives you much more insight.
If you are absolutely dead set on the puppy route then the best approach is to try and find a breeder which keeps their puppies until after 6 weeks of age before assigning them to their new homes. Also avoid buying a puppy from an ‘exceptional pedigree’ which is in direct conflict to your needs. For example, a puppy bred from field trial parents has been bred for field trials. Unless you want a very high energy dog which has a high desire to hunt then this pedigree brings problems rather than solutions.
Likewise, a puppy from champion show parents is bred to look good rather than be a great pet. It’s hard to avoid breed or show champions and they dog have the advantage of usually being fully health tested so don’t discount them completely. It more important to understand how trainable the individual bloodlines are when trained by novices rather than selecting a puppy from a line which requires hard handling. No breeder I know of has started to make the change towards breeding puppies based on the parents ability to amazing pets in todays world. Most breeders still breed dogs very similar to the ones that began the breed with no consideration for the change in our requirements as owners.
So, if you can’t pick the perfect puppy and most dogs grow into one which the average owner manages to train into a well mannered ‘go ‘anywhere’ companion then you are only left with one option which guarantees a high level of success and that is our approach to selecting and then proactively raising a slightly flawed puppy to be the ideal dog.
Our approach is only possible because of our in depth understanding of what the majority of dogs do which is difficult to manage, why they are motivated to do it and why the average owner struggles to cope with the issue or unknowingly encourages it.
If you were to pick 90% of puppies from a litter and take our proactive approach which is based around tweaking 29 character traits up or down based upon your requirements in a simple and time efficient manner you can avoid so many of the potential issues. To this successfully will take some time, persistence and learning but nowhere near as much as it would to undo what has already gone wrong.
We know what to look for when picking a puppy and how to help you mitigate the risks and then how to raise your puppy to be the companion that other owners would love to have ended up with. If you aren’t in a position to have one of our fully trained companions then, our approach to selecting and raising a puppy is the very next best thing.
For more information, get in touch
We offer a four week residential training course, where your dog will come and stay with WKD Trained Dogs. We will teach your dog general obedience to ensure they behave correctly in your home.Meet our WKD Team
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