Why Teaching Your Puppy Self-Control is Crucial to Raising a Canine Good Citizen
Awww puppies! Puppies are some of my favorite people! 😉
Puppies are cute, they are fuzzy, they have puppy breath and they sleep as hard as they play!
There is little wrong with puppies, except most don’t come with a lot of self-control!
“Self Control” is defined as the ability to control oneself, in particular one’s emotions and desires or the expressions of them in one’s behavior, especially in difficult situations.
- Will power
Most often, none of the above list embodies the idea of puppies, or most toddlers.
The big difference is that most people teach their babies and toddlers some self-control but for some reason people, often, don’t teach their puppies or young dogs to emulate any of those things.
Puppies Need To Learn Self-Control
Even toddlers who are poorly behaved are taught some impulse control. Without it, most toddlers would accidentally kill themselves by sticking fingers in sockets, swallowing objects or pulling furniture down on themselves.
The best toddlers are the ones who have been taught how to behave properly in certain situations, like church and other composed places.
That doesn’t mean they never get to go to the park or play in the mud, that just means that playtime and quiet time are controlled to some degree.
The same should be expected of our canine companions.
It is also crucial that they learn some restraint so that they don’t eat through power cords, swallow batteries, or swallow tube socks and other things they will need surgically removed (all of which I have seen).
The difference is that society feels that dogs are more dispensable so instead of teaching impulse control and spending time with their puppy to monitor them and teach them, they opt to euthanize or rehome after a few bad situations.
Also, people find it more difficult to spend time with the dog.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I know that your children deserve more time, more teaching and more dedication than your dog. But that doesn’t mean your dog doesn’t deserve a fraction of your effort, too!
Simply spending 5 sessions a day teaching your puppy and playing with him rigorously for 5-10 minutes a session is really all that you need!
The problem is that it is difficult for people to even devote a small amount of time.
Exercise Isn’t Enough
And, rigorous exercise is not enough.
Recently, I was musing with a client whose dog’s behavior has taken a turn for the worse.
She explained all the play and walks, but left out any kind of learning and mental stimulation or control work.
The pup was allowed to pull her to the park, pull her while on a run, and run like a nutball outside in the back yard.
So she was meeting the puppy’s need for physical exercise but was literally never meeting any of the puppy’s mental needs.
On top of that, the puppy was learning that spending time with her meant all-out anticipation and exhilaration with no control.
It was like she was conditioning that spending time with her meant NO IMPULSE CONTROL AT ALL!
That is not a great idea!
Even when I play with my puppies, I want to be teaching them to drop the ball on cue and to perform obedience commands on cue in order for me to continue to play.
Rarely, if ever, do I allow my puppy to act like a Tasmanian Devil with absolutely no control of himself.
Otherwise, I am living with a monster instead of raising my puppy to act like a good canine companion!
Mental Stimulation is More Exhausting
And, don’t worry!
You may think that a 1 hour trip around the park will be more exhausting for your puppy, but even if you can exhaust him physically, it won’t last long.
Because your puppy is a born athlete. His slow twitch muscles (those that allow for more endurance) and fast twitch muscles (those that allow for fast bursts like sprinting) will adapt much faster than your human muscles.
After a few days, that walk will barely impact him anymore!
But, mental stimulation will teach him control AND wear him out!
Add a game like the retrieve game to his obedience and you have the perfect recipe for a tired and happily mentally engaged dog!
Give it a try!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.