Recently the BBC aired a 2-part program called ‘6 Puppies and Us’, which followed the development of 6 puppies and their new owners during the young dog’s first year.
On the whole, the dog loving community were up in arms about it – disgusted by the way the puppies were being brought up and the people who had chosen to welcome them into their homes.
There were definitely some low points. Not least with the veterinary nurse who recommended that the owner of Byron the Poodle x Beagle, should use a pet corrector to deal with his puppy biting.
But out of all the puppies, he was the one that probably had the worst deal. Whilst none of the owners featured were expert dog trainers, they did all at least adore their dogs. He more than all the others was a good, if slightly sad, illustration of why it’s important to love the dog you’re bringing home.
However, having spent a little time reflecting on both episodes, I think some good things might have come out of it.
Lovely Ralph the Weimaraner x Vizla, demonstrated BEAUTIFULLY how important it is to supervise puppies during house-training. And the puppy trainer’s advice about how to deal with some of the problems they were having was excellent, would have been lovely to see more of her :-)
Pretty Jess the Border Collie, made it clear what she thought of her young handlers attempts to teach her to ‘Sit’ by shying away from him and not coming back directly afterwards. Ideally the BBC could have followed it up with a lesson in how best to do it, but Jess’ behaviour spoke volumes to me.
Tiny Stewie didn’t manage to dispel any stereotypes surrounding gay couples reasons for getting a dog ;-), but did serve to illustrate why the balance needed between copious love & affection and training is so important. You get what you accept!
Shaggy Lola the Labrador x Poodle was a shining example of how dogs can change lives, even if the journey there isn’t always plain sailing. The dog trainer’s perspective in this case was valuable, explaining that it is often the owner on the other end of the lead which creates problems.
Handsome Stan the Mastiff x Rottweiler flew the flag for gentle giants everywhere, showing clips of how they’re often quite sensitive puppies despite their size, and how it’s possible for big dogs to be friendly, sociable adults. Just loved the play between Stan and his brother, lovely to see :-)
The trouble with knowing something about a topic that’s put onto TV in this way, is that people tend to assume that anyone getting involved would have a similar knowledge base to your own.
The trouble is, that’s just not the case. There is no dog license that requires new owners to pass any sort of test such as is required for learning to drive a car.
And whilst the owners featured could have definitely done more to prepare and sought out more help when the puppies did arrive – the portrayal wasn’t so off the mark as dog lovers would like to believe.
These weren’t stupid people. It’s just people don’t know what they don’t know. And being judgemental with people doesn’t encourage them to seek you out for help and advice.
I like to have the following quote in my head when meeting anyone new to dog training for the first time:
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Albert Einstein
As a result of the program, I’m considering offering discounts on home visits with my team and I, to puppies under 16 weeks old. This would be something that our friends at the veterinary surgeries in the area would be able to offer to new owners when they meet them for 1st vaccinations.