Dog attacks: Sheffield puppy trainer says early training is key to safety
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Meera says: “With safety at the forefront of every dog owner’s mind, particularly in the current context of multiple Sheffield dog attacks, it’s never been more important to teach your puppy good habits from a very early age.
"Sadly, the dog training industry is not regulated, and many puppy owners incorrectly believe they need to use pain, fear or physical force to teach the puppies what they want them to do in the name of safety.”
According to Meera, these aversive training techniques do not encourage good behaviour, yet they contribute to a puppy who is a ticking time bomb - ready to explode at any time and potentially hurt those around them.
Meera says “I have worked with a lot of puppy owners who panic that their puppies are behaving aggressively due to their nipping and biting – particularly at around four months of age, when their adult teeth start to come in.
"Nipping and biting are common puppy problems, and as an owner, it can be difficult to differentiate what is “normal” puppy behaviour, and when there are reasons for concern.
"If a puppy owner is concerned about potential aggression, there really is no time to waste before booking help from an accredited, force-free puppy trainer.
Here are Meera's top three tips to keep your puppy safe from being attacked, or attacking another dog, this Summer
1) Learn to speak puppy. Puppies communicate through their body language and behaviour. If you don’t understand what your puppy is trying to tell you, this is your sign to seek professional support. Communication is key to avoiding putting your puppy into stressful, high-risk situations that could have dangerous consequences.
2) Train, don’t blame. It’s easy to blame your puppy when things don’t go to plan. It can also feel scary if you’re not in control, with increased risk to those around you. If you plan to let your puppy off-lead, this is incredibly irresponsible and dangerous without adequate training.
3) Offer choice, don’t demand control. Given the opportunity, the majority of puppies and dogs would rather back away from a stressful situation or a fight, than see it escalate. Owners who regularly suppress their puppy's choices are more likely to contribute to aggressive behaviour in their pups, as their dog has been left with no other choice but to bark, growl or bite.
With the Summer set to be a scorcher, and with thousands of dog owners flocking to Yorkshire beaches, parks and booking dog-friendly holidays, there has never been a better, or indeed, more worrying time to be a responsible, safe and cautious dog owner.
About: Meera is a professional puppy trainer, accredited with the Institute of Modern Dog Trainers. She is also the author of Practically Perfect Puppy and Other Lies. Based in S5, Longley, Sheffield, Meera offers private 1-2-1 puppy training packages, and small-group puppy training classes.