Age and Training - Related? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 2 (permalink) Old 05-10-2017, 03:35 PM Thread Starter
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Age and Training - Related?

Do you believe that, "He's just a baby," is ever an excuse for a dog to behave poorly?

My question is more about various peoples' opinions than an actual question I want a straight answer to. I'm not talking about a VERY young puppy (to me this means 16wks and under), but I think that around 20 weeks, "He's still young," is no longer an excuse for your dog to:
A.) Ignore you completely
B.) Not know or follow any basics commands, such as "sit", at least some of the time
C.) Have poor manners in general

I ask this question mainly because I have an 8 month old puppy, and I do not believe that at his age, it is acceptable for him to ignore me while out on walks (or at any time, really), drag me down the street, or yank toward other people or dogs. I expect him to sit when I ask, drop whatever he has in his mouth when I ask, and not terrorize the neighbors who are walking past on the sidewalk. I have friends who say that I am expecting too much of him at this age.

Now, my puppy is in no way perfect. He has his faults. For example, he can be dog reactive. If he sees another dog and I don't react fast enough, his fur will go up and he will start barking. Every time I comment on one of his training faults to a friend, I am always told the same thing. "He's just a baby." Or even worse, "He'll grow out of it."

I think that a dog is capable of having a good "heel" and "sit" as early as 4 months. Obviously some dogs mature more slowly, but I think it is entirely possible. I do not believe that, "He's a baby," is an excuse for a dog to have no manners or training. Up to a certain age, it makes sense for a puppy to be highly distractible and not be able to do much in the way of formal training, but to me, after 5 months of age, saying, "He's a baby," is no longer an excuse, or at the very least, you are pushing it.

At what age do you consider that excuse no longer viable?
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post #2 of 2 (permalink) Old 05-10-2017, 06:25 PM
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I don't think your expectations are unreasonable for an 8 month old. Although if another owner has not been as diligent with training as you have they will certainly not have the same level of obedience that you do with a dog of the same age. I wouldn't use "he's just a baby" as an excuse for poor behavior, but rather a reminder to keep expectations reasonable, based on the developmental age of the puppy, especially with regards to housebreaking and attention span.

Training is a process, and it takes time. But I would not expect my 4 -5 month old puppy to ignore me completely because I spend quite a lot of time working on developing focus from a young age. I would expect my puppy to know his/her name, sit, down, watch, come, touch (targeting), find it (look for treat on the floor), have some impulse control, and at least the beginning of leave it, stay, and polite walking on a loose leash. None of these will be fully generalized to all circumstances yet, but around the house in a low distraction environment they'd be pretty reliable. Again, that's because I do a lot of training for all those things. We would be working on manners, but that's not going to be perfect yet either.

An 8 month old puppy isn't really a baby anymore, and I would never expect my dogs to just grow out of anything without some effort on my part. By then there could be a whole host of issues starting to crop up that could have been prevented with earlier intervention. So I guess my answer is if someone isn't putting in the work, then it's never appropriate to use age as an excuse, because that's not the reason for poor behavior, the lack of training is.
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