Puppies are certainly a lot to deal with. They chew through countless pairs of shoes, steal food from your plate and are determined to go everywhere you don’t want to during a walk. Some owners find this behaviour endearing, but for others it can be a concern. How much of this behaviour is carried through to adulthood? If a puppy is naughty when it is small, will it grow up to be a badly behaved adult dog?
Dog owners everywhere, breathe a collective sigh of relief. There is evidence put forward in a new study that suggests dogs that are considered boisterous and hyperactive during their first year of life actually respond better to training later on in life. So what does this mean when it comes to training your dog? Should you still enforce discipline, or let your dog grow out of its early behaviour?
The ground breaking study:
It has always been thought that puppies that exhibit typically problematic behaviours are more likely to continue to be badly behaved as they grow up. The study, which was carried out by researchers from well-respected institutions including the Swedish National Defence College, Linköping university and the Swedish Armed Forces Dog Instruction Centre, shed light on some interesting findings.
Firstly, it found that dogs that are particularly boisterous are actually easier to train later on their lives. These findings are understandably a surprise, and completely counteract the school of thought in which a dog that is badly behaved will always behave that way.
So what does that mean for owners?
While by no means you should neglect training your dog, these findings may offer some kind of relief to owners who are tearing their hair out over their puppy’s behaviour. If you are finding your dog difficult to train right now, all hope may not be lost!
Of course, if you are concerned that your dog could potentially become violent or aggressive, you should always consult a qualified animal professional over what course of action to take. If your pup is just a little overly energetic though? It may be nothing to lose sleep over. Just keep up your good work, and provide your dog with the positive interaction that they need.
Another interesting piece of information found in the study is that dogs who are left at home for long periods of time are well suited to becoming working dogs, and actually respond better to training. The study does admit that leaving a dog at home can be counterproductive, as that itself can trigger behavioural problems, and could lead to your dog damaging your property.
While this finding is not particularly useful to those who are intending to keep their dog as a family pet for the foreseeable future, it does raise questions about how long a dog needs to be supervised for. Should more information come to light, it could help owners who are worried about leaving their dogs alone for a long time, such as if they are going out for a few hours or going on an aeroplane and taking their pet along with them.
Time to wait and see:
Of course, as with all new studies, these findings should not be taken as the gospel truth, and further research needs to take place. We still don’t know why a naughty puppy will grow up to be a better dog, but once that knowledge is revealed – it could revolutionise the relationship we have with our dogs.
Of course, if you are in any doubt about a change to your dog’s training, health, or day to day activity, always consult a professional. It’s worth keeping an eye out for any new data to emerge though, and it’s starting to looks as if an old dog can be taught new tricks after all!
Karen Jones is the Founder of Pets on the Move which specialises in the safe and comfortable relocation of animals when owners decide to move abroad