Dog Training & The Amish

I was recently watching a show on television.  The show was about a group of Amish and Mennonite youth who left their homes in rural, small town America and went to live in the Big Apple.  The show was chronicling what their lives were like once they got so much freedom.  Freedom from rules, freedom from supervision, etc.  The whole point of the show was to marvel at cultural differences and to study the characters of those who are raised in one setting and then dropped in another.

The show reminded me of another show that I once saw about Amish Rumspringa.  Rumspringa is a time when many Amish youth leave their homes and some of them become very rebellious and wild and depart from the values they learned growing up.

You may be wondering what, on earth, this has to do with dog training.

First off, let me start out by saying that I have no opinion on the Amish faith.  My comments here are not directed towards their doctrine, their beliefs, or their ideals.  What I want to comment on, however, is what I call ‘Canine Rumspringa’.

You see, many people understand the value of supervision when it comes to their young puppies.  They get this 8 week old bundle of trouble and they set out on a program of supervision, care, and training.

Dog Training- ‘Canine Rumspringa’

Unfortunately, though, many of these same dog owners find that it is difficult.  In my company we get many new clients when the dogs are six months old to a year.  At this time these dogs are on their ‘Canine Rumspringa’.  The dog owners, once diligent with training and supervision, have essentially stopped and now they find their dogs rebellious, insolent, disobedient, and worse….just like many of the Amish teenagers who leave a sheltered life for the first time.

Now, I don’t pretend to know how to raise an Amish teenager.  Is it a good idea to raise a child with structure and rules only to abandon those rules in one fell swoop?  I doubt it, but it’s not my culture so I’m not going to judge.

I will tell you this, though, with 100% certainty.  Dog owners who give their dogs too much freedom too quickly will almost always regret it.

Dog Training- Too Much Freedom

When I talk about too much freedom too quickly what I refer to are actions like:

- Allowing a puppy free reign of the house when the puppy isn’t fully house trained or doesn’t have complete understanding of what is okay to chew and what isn’t.

- Taking a dog off leash in the front yard, park, dog park, or trail without having first off-leash trained the dog.

- Leaving a young dog in the back yard all day while the owners are gone at work.

- Allowing a young dog the freedom to play with children or other dogs without supervision.

These types of activities, amongst others, tend to lead to dogs with aggression issues, house training problems, destruction, obedience deficiencies, and more.

Raising and training a dog is all about going one step at a time.  A dog masters one thing and you move on to the next.  Too much freedom too quickly and you end up with a rebellious, disobedient dog.  Proper dog training requires a plan that you stick with long term.