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Can you please stop hitting that puppy?

That’s what I asked the woman with her 10-week-old Golden X puppy.  I had just left Ahimsa to go get lunch and was about to turn right. Instead, I saw this woman and her young daughter up ahead with a puppy.  Cute! I thought, followed immediately by a mortified, “oh my Dog, did she just hit that puppy?”  She smacked it 3-4 times and then it moved away, and she hit it some more, probably yelling at the same time. I couldn’t hear her from inside my car.

So I barreled over there in my car and slammed on the brakes beside her.  “Can you please stop hitting that puppy?” She looked up, slightly embarrassed, and tried to excuse the hitting, since the puppy had just jumped up and bitten her child.  I told her that there were lots of great ways to get the puppy to stop biting, and I’d love to show her.  But of course, it’s hard to be receptive when a perfect stranger comes and criticizes you from their car window, so she politely walked off. At least she didn’t yell at me.

Was my request enough? I didn’t have time to mention that her puppy is not a bad dog, that almost all puppies bite, and that if she keeps hitting her dog, her child will probably do the same, and she’d end up with a real bite instead of a puppy bite.

I’m terrified for that puppy and the family, but I think she may have been one of our new students, so there’s hope. I recognized the Freedom harness that we sell at Ahimsa.  The puppy was young enough that she’d probably gone to only one class.  Maybe she hadn’t watched the videos that were emailed to her about biting. Maybe she just needs to be shown what to do. Our trainers will hopefully have a chance to convince her that there are better ways to keep dogs from biting kids. For starters, we teach bite inhibition, Leave It, Touch, tiring out the puppy with exercise, having kids play with dog by dragging toys on ropes so they’re further away, and teaching kids to Be a Tree (fold “branches” – arms – and turn away), among other tools.

Sigh.  I hope this puppy’s family comes around. I hope you don’t train using intimidation with hands, collars, or shock, and if you do, please stop hitting that puppy!