A couple of months ago, my fiancé, Samantha, and I had the bright idea - OK, it was mostly my idea - of adopting a puppy. You know, so it could give us some practice for when we are ready to have children. Taking matters into my own hands, I filed the adoption papers unbeknownst to her and before we knew it, we were holding Lucy, our soon-to-be daughter. Fun fact: Truth be told, her shelter name was “Rihanna Lonestar” and was part of a litter, all given pop star names. Let’s be real, how could Samantha say no? Look at that face! It was love at first sight and so the story goes, the rest was history.
Although Lucy seems quite intelligent, she is a bit spiteful. It’s not that she doesn’t understand, it’s that she may or may not want to actually listen when being told to sit, stop jumping, or stop nipping us. We love her dearly, but the time has come to start her training regimen. What better way to learn proven techniques then to dive into the online world of puppy training? Luckily, for my latest assignment in CEP 810, the graduate course I’m taking, I was tasked with choosing something to learn, solely utilizing help forums and YouTube. Therefore, over the next few weeks I’ll be tapping into videos and discussions on how we can get Lucy to finally mind her manners. More specifically, my goal is to teach Lucy bite inhibition, sitting and staying.
To provide some context, adopting a dog as opposed to purchasing one from a breeder can pose certain challenges. Puppies are oftentimes removed from their litter too soon, before they have the opportunity to learn bite inhibition. As Debra Horwitz, DVM, states, “Puppies start to learn bite inhibition with their littermates. If Puppy A bites on Puppy B too hard, Puppy B will yelp. If that doesn’t work, Puppy B will leave. This sends the message to Puppy A that its bites were too hard and if wishes to continue to play, it needs to be gentle” (p. 4). As Lucy was only eight weeks old when we adopted her, it leads us to believe that her mouthiness is a result of being removed from her litter too soon paired with our lack of knowledge and initial training.
Besides the fact that I’m eager to attain the necessary skill-set to train Lucy effectively, I’m also looking forward to sharing my experience, becoming part of the participatory culture mentioned in “Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century” (Jenkins H., Purushotma, R., Clinton, K., Weigel, M., Robison, A., 2006), which was part of my weekly readings for CEP 810. The text states, “Students should discover what it is like to contribute their own expertise to a process that involves many intelligences, a process they encounter readily in their participation in fan discussion lists or blogging” (p. 21). For many years, I have been a consumer of content via help forums, however I’ve rarely contributed. Don’t get me wrong, as a singer songwriter and organ donation advocate, I’ve produced and published creative works in hopes to inspire others, but when it comes to providing advice, I can’t say that I’ve been part of this so-called culture. As learning is an iterative process where we all must give back to keep it ongoing, I must do my part. In James Paul Gee’s essay, “Digital Media and Learning: A Prospective Retrospective,” another insightful read from my graduate class this week, he mentions, “As newcomers advance, they are encouraged to contribute back to the group (family, community, social group, institution, or culture), based on their learning” (2013, p. 6). My puppy training endeavor will challenge me to be a consumer and creator, hopefully serving as inspiration for others to share their own experiences.
Certainly, this will be challenging, but by taking on a growth-mindset and with the help of online communities of dog trainers, I’m confident I’ll reach my goals. Wish me luck!
Gee, J. P. (2013). Digital Media and Learning: A Prospective Retrospective. Retrieved from http://jamespaulgee.com/pdfs/Digital%20Media%20and%20Learning.pdf
George, Z. (2014). How to train a puppy not to bite. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/m9KQegi4r8k
Horwitz, D. (1999). Counseling pet owners on puppy socialization and establishing leadership. Veterinary Medicine, 94, 149-156.
Jenkins, H., Purushotma, R., Clinton, K., Weigel, M., Robison, A. (2006). Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century. Retrieved from http://www.newmedialiteracies.org/wp-content/uploads/pdfs/NMLWhitePaper.pdf