Follower's Question: We recently adopted a puppy from the Humane Society. Our best guess is that he's a Boxer x Shepherd, but that's really just a guess. He's currently 14 weeks old and we have had him for almost two weeks.
Training him is going decently. His place training is coming along nicely, as is kennel training, and he listens to me pretty well. He does have a bit of a stubborn streak and will ignore me at times, but I also realize he's still new to our house and adjusting. We have a lot going on with three kids at home and two cats, so it's a busy household and he's often being trained with background noise coming from other rooms, etc.
He's highly food motivated, so it's tough to get him to work without food rewards. But I've been removing them more and more and he seems to be learning that they are the exception instead of the rule.
The big problem I have is not with the dog, though, it's with my partner. He agreed to let me take the lead with dog training because I'm home on maternity leave currently, and will be working from home for at least the next year. I told him that means he needs to get on board with the style I'm using, and he agreed.
However, I've noticed that he is consistently undermining my training methods by being more authoritarian, using strong physical punishments, and overall acting pretty aggressive in the way he interacts with our pup when taking him out to the bathroom, assisting with place training, etc. Then he will turn around at the end of the night and pick him up like a baby to cuddle on the couch.
I've explained to him some of the concepts I'm working with and the approach I want to take, and he agrees when we talk about it, but the message doesn't seem to be sinking in. He's still going about things the same way he's done in past, and I don't know how to get him to work with me instead of undoing the hard work I'm putting in with our boy all day.
Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Jeremy's Answer: To be totally transparent...couples counsel is way above my pay grade! I say that somewhat joking, but not completely. To me, consistency is key in training a dog, particularly young ones. I think people and dogs often thrive on structure. When I say consistency, I mean both with the dogs and the handlers. That means being consistent in behavior expectations and then consistency with those around the dog. Sounds like that's the issue.
Our workshops are a perfect example of this. We work with handlers for 3 days with the understanding that our objective is to train the trainers more than the dogs. Inevitably, the dogs improve in that short amount of time, but its primarily because of the changes that takes place by the trainers. That being said, you two need to be on the same page or its completely unfair to expect that pup to live by two sets of rules and do well. How you get that message across to him could be a million different ways, and depends on a lot of variables, but I think its critical in order to make it work.
Wish I could help more, let me know if anything comes up.