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Bad Puppy

It’s no surprise that puppies are alot of work and are expected to misbehave. They are still learning the rules but as an owner it is hard to maintain composure. When Tate knocked over a plant in the house, soil went everywhere on our light colored carpet.  I yelled “No no bad puppy!” I had to put him in a time out in his crate because a) he was barking as I tried to clean it up and b) I was furious at him. While some may say, you shouldn’t send your dog to their crate as they may associate the crate with a bad experience, I also knew he couldn’t get away with not knowing it was wrong. On the contrary, I also give him his kong stuffed with treats in his crate too so he associates the crate with a positive experience.

It takes alot of patience to train a puppy. We’ve been going to puppy obedience class for nearly a month at Petco and he is learning his basics sit, stay, come, down. The biggest behavior issue right now is that he barks at people and other dogs while we are walking on leash and sometimes nips or bites me. This behavior even has a diagnosis called “leash reactive dog.” Needless to say, walking Tate can be a stressful experience.

According to the internet the three common reasons for barking are 1) to alert you 2) to let you know that he’s uncomfortable and wants more distance from dog or person or 3) to say hello. I’m not exactly sure of his reasons for barking but there are many solutions depending on who you ask. But deescalating the situation and having him focus on you vs. the other dog/person make sense. I need to condition Tate in the presence of other dogs at a safe distance and keep his attention on me. I can give him treats so he associates dogs with wonderful things.

The animal humane society advises “correcting” the dog and sees yelling, jerking the leash, grabbing the dog as adding to the dog’s anxiety level because the dog perceives the owner’s tension. But we’ve been told  by our trainer Colin at Petco to block his view and wait until he’s calm. However, we aren’t yelling just redirecting him until he’s calm/submissive so maybe it isn’t exactly punishment as it is  a “time out” or refocus.

I’m not exactly sure what will work but it’s frustrating not being able to bond with Tate during walks. There are times when he is friendly to people and won’t always bark but with dogs he will inevitably bark nine times out of ten while he’s on leash. At the dog park, he is better off leash but he annoyingly barks at other dogs if they aren’t playing with him. 

I’m sure this feeling of helplessness isn’t uncommon and like raising children you have to try different methods and just hang in there in good times and in bad.

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