I’d have a difficult time believing someone who told me Lucy, my hyperactive, mouthy puppy, would sit, stay and stop biting in under two weeks. I have seen celebrity trainers and been convinced their work was sorcery. However, after scouring the online world of puppy training, I have begun the journey of turning my monster into an exemplary student. Check it out!
Given I had no prior dog training experience, it was challenging to determine whether positive reinforcement or a discipline-based approach would be more effective. I do not find it appropriate to inflict physical harm or implement fear tactics when training; nevertheless, there are many people who disagree, using methods like electric shock collars and/or scruff-shakes (pulling on loose skin around a dog’s neck). Despite Lucy’s tendency to be overly mouthy, I did not want to utilize the aforementioned training so explored positive reinforcement methods.
I researched on YouTube and ironically, after pages of sifting, I wound up back to the first video I found, by Zak George, a well-known dog trainer (see my first blog post regarding this endeavor here). While, there were informative perspectives on help forums, such as Reddit’s “puppy101” subreddit, it was invaluable to have step-by-step visual tutorials that I could follow.
Two videos by Zak were particularly helpful: How to Teach your Puppy to Sit and Stay and How to Stop Puppy Biting. Both are thorough but not overwhelming, and contain easy-to-follow instructions. It didn’t take long for Lucy to grasp the concepts and I was pleasantly surprised by how receptive she was to the methods.
While exploring the aforementioned online sources, I couldn’t help but ponder the fact that, as a technology educator, I help my students learn digital literacy skills to effectively navigate the online world, and my experience is a prime example of its importance. We have access to a surplus of information, but must be able to form opinions and determine credible sources. As stated in Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century, “A focus on expanding access to new technologies carries us only so far if we do not also foster the skills and cultural knowledge necessary to deploy those tools toward our own ends” (Jenkins H., Purushotma, R., Clinton, K., Weigel, M., Robison, A., 2006). While there are many certified dog trainers, it doesn’t mean their training methods align with my own beliefs and it’s important I found an approach that resonates with me.
I feel inspired and committed to continue to train Lucy after my initial experience. I’m appreciative of my recent studies focusing on workflow, as they’ve pushed me to become more organized and focused on accomplishing my goals, including training Lucy. I suggest checking out David Allen’s Tedx Talk, The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, where he provides a reality check to procrastinators and scatterbrains who have too many things to do and use time constraints as their excuse for lack of productivity. He states, “If you’re trying to use your psyche to manage that mess [...] you get the result of two things that are the critical elements of self and organizational productivity. You’ll lose perspective [...] and/or you may be experiencing the results of what happens when you lose control” (2012). I can certainly relate to this sentiment, especially with adopting Lucy, and refining my own workflow will only benefit my continued efforts. For more information on David Allen’s workflow system, check out my previous post here.
I look forward to undertaking more advanced training exercises (i.e., proper leash walking, drop it) in the coming week. In the meantime, enjoy this video of Lucy showing off her one of her new skills.
Allen, D. (2012). The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/CHxhjDPKfbY
George, Z. (2014). How to stop puppy biting and don’t do these 5 things when training your puppy. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/1H1JGfzaW9A
George, Z. (2017). How to teach your puppy to sit and stay. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/DPNz6reMVXY
George, Z. (2014). How to train a puppy not to bite. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/m9KQegi4r8k
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