Over Training a Puppy – Should I Have Said Something?

I'm not one of those people who can walk up to someone and hand out advice.

It's perhaps a by-product of my treat people how you like to be treated approach to life. Translated, that means I don't like people giving me unsolicited advice because I can be just a smidgen on the defensive side. Again, translated that means I'm what you might call an arrogant know-it-all who would rather fall off his bike 20 times rather than let someone show me the correct way to pull wheelies whilst riding backwards on the handlebars. (Pro tip: don't ever let me have access to the pencil on pub quiz night. If I think I've got the right answer, no way is that eraser seeing any action despite protestations from all around that Chihuahua is NOT the capital city of Mexico ((I know now, it's Mexico City – learned the hard way)) It's my own problem, nobody else's.


Digression. Apologies.

I saw a really sparky young Springer Spaniel puppy – about 4/5 months old I'd reckon – being trained at the park. Heart warming stuff, a dog actually being trained by conscientious owners.

Dog was loving it.

He/she was being taught to retrieve, come back on the whistle, retrieve, come back.

Loving it.

My nerves starting jangling though, after an hour the pup was still hard at it. Much less sparky.

I debated whether to go and make conversation but then I stopped myself.

One of the quickest ways to ruin a dog's interest is to do too much. This is particularly true of pups.

They're like clay when they're that age. The bend and shape so easily. They can even give you the false impression that they're almost full trained before they even hit 6-months old. Then they reach 9-months and it's as if they've had a personality transplant. Nothing to panic about, they just go through what we might call a rebellious stage where they test the boundaries. But the issue of training boredom can actually be implanted at quite a young age. Not only does the novelty wear off, they can actually regard training as a chore. The spark, the inherent drive and willingness to do things for you can indeed wane.

For me, I'd only ever do very short (under 10 minute) sessions with pups. The aim being to re-create an Alice Cooper concert (leave them wanting more).

That's easy said when you happen to be training plenty of dogs (and getting paid for it). Short, sharp sessions with the pups then move on. When you have a new puppy though the temptation is strong to just keep going. It's fun.

For me, I look at dog training in the same way as building a house. The platform you put down needs to be well dug so the house doesn't fall down after just a few years. In my view that means doing short, enjoyable early sessions and not sweating the more serious stuff until the dog's old enough to really grasp it. Pups can often mislead us. They look like the foundation is down but it's a mirage. If nothing else, simply having a dog that is responsive, sharp and exited to see what you're doing by the time you get down to the 'proper' training is success.

Don't get me wrong, as with people, there are very gifted exceptions. Like youngsters who can pass their GCSE exams at 9-years old. But generally, the learning process is fairly well defined (link: about puppy development stages).

Back to the Springer.

I decided I didn't want to impose. I enjoyed seeing someone who was so obviously enjoying the training of what was obviously a very responsive, eager young dog. But it did make me twitch seeing the pup go for so long, if for no other reason than I've seen it before and I have some experience of where it can inevitably lead.

Question is: should I have said something?

Oh yeah, I have no problem taking advice from ANYONE (provided it was ME who asked for it in the first place!)

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1 Comment » for Over Training a Puppy – Should I Have Said Something?
  1. abby brown says:

    Yeah of course you should!! but you could just say how much you enjoyed seeing the pup learning, but that he looks exhausted now, HINT HINT, i know what you mean though, advising (or holding back with) family members has got to be the hardest !!

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About Me
Ryan O'Meara
Ryan O'Meara is the founder of Total Pet Publishing, a former professional dog trainer, current publisher of K9 Magazine, author and commentator on social issues relating to dogs and business. He is a World Animal Day ambassador and one of the co-founder's of the leading UK dog adoption website DogsBlog.com.
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Ryan O'Meara

Total Pet Publishing : K9 Magazine : ViVo Media

My name is Ryan O'Meara.

I am the publisher and editor-in-chief of K9 Magazine. I founded Total Pet Publishing, a specialist media company deciated to pets and pet owners as well as ViVo Media, a hyper-local media venture. I am a former professional dog trainer and author of three books, Clever Dog (life lessons from man's best friend), Newshounds and Amazing Dog Facts & Trivia.

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Over Training a Puppy – Should I Have Said Something?