I listened to her explain that she has no idea why her 9-month-old golden retriever has started biting people. She went into length to explain how she socialized it.
‘Ever since it was 10 weeks old I took it to the dog park and puppy classes. All the dogs played with it and ‘taught it manners.’ Everyone petted it. We would go for walks and I would let everyone pet it. She would get so excited when she saw a person it was hard to hold her.
She was especially excited to see the grand children. She would race in circles, peeing because she was so excited. We did everything. We taught her to let them take her toys and food. We let them carry her around. Everyone did alpha rolls.
We played sirens, dog barking and lightning sound tracks for 30 minutes at a time, every day.
We took our puppy everywhere, the beach, soccer games, and for walks in the city. OH – and the challenges we made. Our gauntlets were just as hard as the Working dog ones on Youtube, but we made her do it.
And we fed her lots of treats while she was doing all this so she would associate everything scary with food. We did everything the books said.’
Some of you will be nodding your head and smiling.
Others (probably professional breeders and trainers) will have broken into a cold sweat.
Mental Development Stages – Teaching a Puppy to Fear and Fail
First, let me discuss mental development stages. At10 – 13 weeks old this puppy should be receiving mental stimulation, calming training, and being taught to follow. That is it. You have an opportunity to build new behaviors over the ‘primal’ behaviors.
What did this woman do? By challenging this puppy to hard challenges, she was teaching the puppy to fail. She was teaching the puppy that working with her was not fun.
Letting other dogs bully and dominate a puppy teaches a puppy that it is okay to bully and dominate other dogs. And, you won’t see this until your puppy is old enough to show aggression. When the encounter isn’t fun, then your puppy is learning fear.
A puppy that is forced to engage with people, when the puppy doesn’t want to, teach the puppy to fear people. Fear becomes aggression. 1+1=2 It is simple. Teach a puppy to fear and you have an adult that either runs, or fights. IF the puppy growls we punish it. Great! Now you have NO warning of an imminent attack. The dog will go from ‘staring’ at a person to biting them, with nothing in between.
All that hyper behavior the puppy showed was fear or flight. IF the puppy wanted to meet the people it would have been calm, its tail would have been low and wagging. It wouldn’t have been trying to ‘get up higher’. The puppy wouldn’t have peed. These are all signs of ‘over arousal’. Here is the progress from over arousal to aggression
- Over arousal (a chemical response to anxiety and fear) >
- Uncontrolled emotions – increasing the chemical response >
- Unwanted and uncorrected behaviors >
- Practicing aggressive behaviors like jumping, lunging, pulling, barking, ‘getting height’ >
- Adolescence introduces the adult hormones that change puppy behaviors into adult behaviors >
Dog still doesn’t want to meet the puppy but now it is bigger and stronger, so instead of enduring the stress and fear, it now makes a small nip. There is a lot of drama, but the person bitten withdraws. The dog learns that biting will make unwanted people leave it alone.
Aggression becomes a ‘coping skill’ for fear and stress
Other articles in this series:
- Behavior then obedience: Why I don’t Socialize Pt 2
- Puppy Socialization – You Can Do More Harm Than Good
- What is Puppy Socialization Pt 1
- What is Puppy Socialization
- Raising a Working Breed Puppy – Frustration Tolerance vs Impulse Control
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First 10 Days Your Puppy Comes Home
Puppy Primer – Stop Puppies From Biting
Puppy Primer – What is the Most Important Command?
Puppy Primer – Potty Training
Puppy Development Schedule