It isn’t that uncommon to hear people, especially at dog parks, express the feelings and/or sentiments of ‘letting older dogs’ put their puppy in it’s place. Usually it’s the high energy, performance, working line puppies that are often the brunt of this philosophy. Maybe, just maybe, if another dog really scares them enough, they will settle down.
I know in our community it is a statement uttered freely, and because of this I think there is a level of being desensitized to it. Isn’t that how it works? If enough people say it, and enough people hear it, than maybe there is some truth to it?
SOoooooo imagine if you will, a Mother with a young son getting out of their car and walking hand in hand to the play ground. The mother notices a group of slightly older kids that are playing rough and are pretty bully like, four letter words, hard stares, sneering, and snickering. Nothing friendly about them. But the Mom thinks, hmmm this might be good for Johnny to go and play with these kids, they will put him in his place. Even though Little Johnny is scared and is pulling away on his Mom’s hand to go back to the car, the Mom drags him to the play ground, and makes him be with these kids. Johnny’s Mom stands there and watches calmly as Johnny gets harassed, pushed, punched, knocked down, and made fun of. When she feels he has had enough she calls him to get going. “Wasn’t that fun? Now maybe you’ll go to bed when I ask you too”
It would be hard to really imagine this, I personally have never seen this scenario with humans, most mothers I know would never, NEVER do this to their child, me included. While there might be some, we’ve all read the head lines, it would be in the definite minority, because those are the Mom’s who go to jail. I would bet there are more nurturing Mom’s out there that choose safe environments, watch their young children carefully, and would not stand there and watch their child get harassed, beat up, and bullied in the name of ‘school of hard knocks’.
BUT, this is very real and it happens everyday all of the time to our puppies! Replace Johnny with new puppy, and playground bullies with older dogs. Puppies that have been on the planet just weeks, WEEKS, are often subjected to this type of purposeful pummeling, arranged by their owners. Surely if they are rolled onto their backs, growled at, bitten a little, chased, and snarked at, they will learn to be perfect, be put in their place, and it will ALL BE GOOD?! I’m really not sure where the correlation has come from, I don’t see it, but it is alive and well.
And to add insult to injury, it is most often family pet owners who are really looking to raise a nice, neutral, easy going, all around dog that do this to their puppies. Not all of them, but many. And this is actually the first step in creating a a nice array of behavioral problems that most family pet owners are not equipped to deal with. Conflict, reactivity, fear, barking, and lack of trust in their owner/person, are usually just the starting line up.
Most all of my friends that are dog sport competitors would never put their puppy in that situation or condone ‘the school of hard knocks’. Most competitors want to train and work with their dogs, they don’t want to modify behavioral problems that could have easily been avoided with thoughtful choices. They vehemently, intensely, fervidly, passionately, guard their puppies safety. And these are folks WHO have the skills to work through behavioral problems, but choose safety, well matched play friends, and appropriate environments first and foremost.
Puppies, like any young living being on the planet, depend on a nurturing and safe environment so they can thrive. Puppies, when they leave their Mom and litter mates, come into a home and really have no idea why they are there, they just end up there and have to figure it all out. Just imagine how strange that would be. YOU know you are getting a puppy and bringing him home, the puppy has not a clue. You become their source for food, water, shelter, and safety. Imagine how much trust a puppy has to have when they arrive in your home?
Then life lessons, life skills, teaching positions, and socializing all start. You are in fact framing how they will see their world with you. Everything you expose them too, interact with, and do together starts to create a bond. You start socializing to people, places, things, events and other well socialized dogs on a daily basis. Wouldn’t it make sense to do all of this learning and teaching in safe environments, create a positive emotional response to life with you, and a relationship worth trusting?
I don’t believe puppies need to go to the ‘school of hard knocks’, no animal for that matter. It is up to the owner to always look out for their little beings safety.
Cheers to puppies! I love everything new about them, all of their antics, playfulness, snuggling, hissing, and spitting. They make me smile and laugh, and remind me love comes in all forms.