Recently, many of us from AnimalSense attended a seminar led by Ian Dunbar, the founder of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers and a pioneer in the positive reinforcement training method.
In debriefing with the other trainers after the seminar, it seems that the big take-away from this was the idea and importance of two things when raising puppies:
Ian talked a lot about how a dog with little bite inhibition and lack of socialization can increase the risks of a dog biting someone and causing damage. To illustrate what he meant, a story that sticks with me was where a woman came into her dark house to the phone ringing. Running to get the phone, she accidentally stepped on her dog’s hindquarters with her spike heel, puncturing the dogs’ skin. (Ouch!) In reaction to this, the dog reflexively turned around and bit her leg, she fell, and he then bit her in the face. Astonishingly, the woman had no marks on her from the bites. As Ian remarked, that is the best example of good bite inhibition. It is dog mom and siblings’, breeders and puppy owners’ job to continue to give the message about what proper bite pressure is so that by the time they are adolescents, the reflex is intuitive.
For socialization, Ian’s general thought is that a puppy needs to have positive experiences with 100 different people in the first 8 weeks and another 100 different people in the second eight weeks since it is, undoubtedly, a human world they are to live in. This is something that not all breeders or pet owners are making a priority, and Ian conveyed to us how important this message is in our early meeting with clients for the life of a successful, durable puppy.
Ian approaches his seminars with humor and storytelling from his many years of training experience in order to get his point across. I never get tired of listening to and learning from him. Don’t miss an opportunity to see him in person when it comes along!