Cool your jets grasshopper!

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When I am walking around our classroom space, observing the work being done, assisting a Team when I see a little hitch, I love hearing all of the sweetness, the loving words, the adoration, the encouragements. It’s a tender time when humans are learning how to connect with their new puppy, it can be a bit overwhelming for some, and by all measures, it is learning how to parent.

The foundation for everything with our puppies is trust, safety, and patience, and out of that comes willingness, and out of willingness you can build a strong learner, on both ends of the leash.

But patience for some reason is becoming a lost skill. Each year, collectively, I see less and less patience in our puppy classroom. There seems to be a need or a rush for maturity, mature behavior, adult understanding, even with puppies that have only been on the planet for twelve weeks or less. But really, in my observations, it isn’t based on a puppies age, but rather on human desire for the finished product, not the growing and understanding, together.

And just like the watch on a wrist, or the cell phone that displays hours and minutes, or the ginormous wall clock in a kitchen, time is constant, consistent, and does not move slower or faster because of a persons desires or needs.

Why is patience important? Puppies, just like all mammals, all living beings, need time to develop mentally, physically, and socially. They need age appropriate environments, small introductions to lots of things in a kind and considerate way, and experiences that tell them about their new life. They need time to learn how to solve concepts, reason, learn about their environment, to make sense of it all, and to form relationships. Puppies are true puppies for 6+ months, then dive into adolescents for about a year, and most don’t come into full adulthood until 2.5 – 4 years of age.

I think what trips some people up is that they truly want a puppy, the cute, furry, cuddly version, and then the real puppy comes home and is an eating, pooping, fast moving, destructive piranha. And so the strategy becomes, grow up, grow up fast, because this real version of a puppy isn’t going to work!

Growing up fast and skipping developmental stages doesn’t work, it just doesn’t, because time is time. This is an investment in a relationship. So, as I say often – Cool your jets grasshopper!

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STILL – When you feel yourself starting to say the word STILL, just choke it back down. Why? Because the answer from me will always be, OF COURSE.

My puppy is STILL chewing on me!

My puppy is STILL having the zoomies at night!

My puppy STILL chews on the leash!

My puppy STILL …

And I will always say, of course. Because your puppy is STILL a puppy and will do puppy things because that is what puppies do.

SHOULD – When you feel yourself starting to say the word SHOULD, just choke it back down. Why? Because the answer from me will always be, WHY?

My puppy SHOULD know how to sit at the door!

My puppy SHOULD should know how to tell me they need to go potty!

My puppy SHOULD know to not jump on people!

My puppy SHOULD know how to sleep through the night by now!

My puppy SHOULD …

And I will always say, why? Puppies are puppies and will be puppies developmentally, and they are counting on you to be their protector, teacher, manager, and social activities director. Time and consistency, that is what you SHOULD count on.

So clear your schedule, make your puppy your time priority, roll up your sleeves, put on old clothes, settle in, and enjoy being your puppies teacher. Learn to take a deep breath, learn to observe, learn to build skills, learn more, always learn more.

Nancy

13 comments

  1. The very first day of Magic’s adoption (he was 8 months old), I learned that he responded best to quiet commands, just a whisper sometimes. While we have had some trials and tribulations, I maintained the quiet, patient, approach with LOTS of praise!. I am the proud owner of an exceptionally well-behaved Border collie. He is just superb off-leash and very responsive to hand signals, one-word voice commands, or…just a look. We love your blog. Tom and Magic

  2. Very nice reminder. So much attempting to mold to our needs without regard to their needs. It seems to mirror the waiting lines for the right kindergarten to enhance the acceptance to Harvard, as well as the seeming contradictory tendency to helicopter and hover.

  3. I love your articles Nancy, you really hit the nail on the head, especially when dealing with human emotions and the human side of training! I find them so helpful for my own professional development, assisting me with my own puppy classes and behaviour work. Please may I use this one and the ‘two essentials for puppy ownership’ to pass on to clients? I will of course link anything used to you and your blog. Many thanks. Lesley

  4. So well put, Nancy! I deal with this every day in puppy class. I continually remind pet parents that their puppy’s first two years are crucial. They are depending on their hoomans to be kind, consistent and patient when teaching them how to live in our hooman world. I tell them it’s like building a space shuttle: it’s much easier to assemble all the proper equipment and install the appropriate systems while still on the launch pad, rather than trying to fix things once it’s been launched into space.

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