I like Brenda Aloff a lot.
I particularly like that she implements a lot of impulse control exercises in her early puppy training. It is an aspect that is often overlooked when raising a pup. She also encourages trainers/puppy guardians not to let other people interfere with the learning process and she is very protective of inappropriate interactions.
A client recently got a lab puppy and I have the opportunity to raise this pup or let’s say have a huge influence on how this pup is raised.
The puppy is now 3 months old and would never think of jumping up to get attention and affection just because her sit earns her everything she wants and has been highly rewarded! It is really wonderful and amusing …she races up to people and sits and looks up!
Recently I was walking her down the street and a woman ran out of a store: “Oh what a cute puppy !!!!!”she screeched. She immediately told me that she had a dog of her own and invited my little student to jump up by slapping her hands onto her thighs. The puppy hesitated : she was getting ready to sit but this person clearly confused her.
I wanted to wait the pup out, let her think it through..I could see she was doing that…and then praise her highly for sitting. Out of the blue this stranger took it upon herself to reach down and place the puppy into a sit!
I caught her in mid action and blocked her with my hand and in a very stern voice said:”NO! PLEASE don’t do that!”
It was an incredible moment for me. I was so furious with that woman.
When I was apprenticing I had been taught to place the pup into a sit. Even though I have moved so far away from that coercive way of teaching , in that particular moment I experienced how invasive and WRONG and punitive that move is. How impatient people are with dogs.
More and more I realize that if I cannot elicit a voluntary response from the dog I have not allowed it to happen.
I also understand Brenda Aloff’s attitude more deeply. It has nothing to do with snobbery , simply with protecting the puppy and your relationship with the puppy. Maybe I am overly sensitized but I thought this stranger could have ruined so much. The mutual trust I had built by constantly rewarding the puppy for sensing what was expected of her but at the same time allowing her the time she needed to learn.
So, I am grateful for the experience because it made me more aware.