There is no excuse for getting rough with your puppy or dog. Alpha rolls (forcing a dog on her back), scruff shakes (picking a puppy up by the back of her neck and shaking her) or muzzle grabs (cupping your hand around the dog’s muzzle in an attempt to discourage mouthing) are never acceptable. The only thing they potentially teach your puppy is to be fearful of you, which can pave the way for future aggression.
Friendships between people are based on realistic expectations of who the other is (and is not), and it’s the same with our dogs. When a new dog enters our life, we can choose to create a deep, lasting friendship with that animal, or to let things drift into irritation and remoteness. The type of relationship we develop depends on our capacity to understand and meet our dog’s needs, based on realistic expectations of what is possible. Relationships are like a dance, and when that dance works, the relationship grows and endures, and enriches our lives in many priceless ways.
*Blackwell, E., et al. 2008. The relationship between training methods and the occurrence of behavior problems, as reported by owners, in a population of domestic dogs. Journal of Veterinary Behavior, 3 (5): 207–217; Herron, M. E., et al. 2009. Survey of the use and outcome of confrontational and non-confrontational training methods in client-owned dogs showing undesired behaviors. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 117: 47–54.
This article first appeared in The Bark,