PUPPIES!!!!…they are fun, they are work, they are exhasting, they are cute, they are fresh moulded untrained clay, they are your responsibility!
Puppies when starting out in their new homes need a lot of guidance. They depend on structure and boundaries because they dont have anything else to gauge. They likely left their mom and litter mates between 8 and 10 weeks of age and have no idea how to behave in a human environment without their moms guidance. Now you have taken over and it’s up to you to teach them! If you are offered a puppy before this age, run from the bredder or person who is homing or selling the pups. Pups need to be imprinted from their mom.
1. First things first. Get a crate. A crate acts as a comforting den for the puppy. It also is a great babysitter, potty training tool and teaches the puppy to be separate and independent. It also doesnt allow a puppy to get into mischief. Be proactive and set them up for success. Remember when you had/have a human baby and as long as their needs were met, sometimes you had to bear a bit of crying through the night? It’s the same process for a puppy. If you let your puppy out when they cry or bark (as long as their needs have been met) they will manipulate the situation! They are perfectly fine and safe to sleep through the night. Now, with saying this, some pups do get up throughout the night. It is NORMAL for them to get up 1 or 2 times to eliminate as they train. Their bodies need to adjust to new sleeping patterns and holding it. Their organs are still developing. Every puppy is an individual, but on average you will find they adjust relatively quickly. The key is CONSISTENCY and the crate helps tremendously.
2. Puppy exercise. How much? Puppy bones are soft when they are young, which is why you should not be letting your pup jump up and down stairs, off the couch, or rocks or over high jumps when little. In most dog sports they can not compete until 1 year or age or older. You do not want your pup to have any early injuries which will effect the bones, ligaments, muscles or tendons. Puppies are curious and will try lots of things but it is our job to make those experiences safe and positive. Their sense of balance is typically terrible so over time this gets better and the more you work with your dog to better balanced they can become. Agility when done safely can be great fun for dogs when doing age appropriate activities. Do not engage in bicycle riding or jogging with your puppy until they mature ( 1 yr or older).
3. Leash walking. Getting a puppy to walk nicely on a leash takes time and lots of patience. Most pups vmcan be encouraged by a persons enthusiast voice, toy or food reward. Think of it as a paycheque fir your pup. I get paid to do work…I think they should too! It will help bridge the behaviour you want and will give motivation. When on 6 foot leash, stick to the sidewalks and do not let them sniff or wander. This is an opportunity to bond and work closely with your puppy. When you have done a few leash walks then bring out a 20 or 30 foot long training line and go to a park or conservation land and let them explore, safely. Use food rewards and a bit of leash pressure directed to you to call them by name occasionally. But let them explore. Then back to structure when doing a leash walk on the 6 foot leash on the sidewalk or country roads. Let them potty before and after the walk. Just the experience of walking in a neighborhood or side country road will be enough to tire them out as you walk on getting them to walk with you. Remember, you are incharge of the walk. Not the puppy.
4. Social time. A lot of people assume a well socialized dog means lots of experiences with lots of different dogs or only doing group classes. This is NOT the case. There is nothing wrong with puppy play groups as long as they are run properly re size and age of the pups. Puppies do not have manners yet. They must learn to respect other dogs and unfortunately they can be a bit much for an older dog. I prefer dogs not to meet on leash. There have been way too many incidents of puppies seriously injured due to people saying their adult dog was friendly and instead attacking the puppy. And not always being the adult dogs fault if you let your pup jump all over another adult dog. A lot of this has to do with a lack of understanding dog body language cues and proper supervision. A puppy to be social means they need to be confident. Social skills really means they can handle cars, tractors, air brakes, garbage trucks, buses, camping, airplanes, trains, brooms, vacuums, birds, dogs, kids in wagons, kids running, horses, cows, chickens, people walking past, people jogging past, bicycles, wheelchairs, politeness in pet stores and other stores, car rides because a confident dog can handle whatever comes their way (new experiences). Bottom line is get your puppy out to various new environments, be in charge, supervise and advocate. Monitor them. The biggest mistake people do is they come to me and do not understand why their dog has developed reativity, when they took their dog everywhere when it was young. Theres they key “when they were young.” You have to keep at it for your dog to handle things as they mature, not just the first 6 months of a ouos life. You lose what you don’t use. 😉
5. Food. When you feed your puppy let them earn their meals so they understand that resource comes from you! You can put the food down and teach your pup to wait a few seconds before devouring their food. It teaches them the beginnings of impulse control and choice making. You can put your hands in your food, feed them by hand and take food away occasionally so they understand not to react negatively and resource guard. But be careful. Doing this too much can also cause frustration. So do not over do it. Be fair and set your puppy up for success. Chose their food wisely and watch calories. If your vet is telling you your pup is getting a bit big, adhere to their advice and watch their diet. The complications of dog obesity later in life is not fun for a dog, nor a positive for your bank account. Keep your dog active, exercise regularly, a proper feeding regimen, and mix it up with fun play (throwing a ball, tug, brain games), and long line exploring time.
6. Off leash activities. Be careful with this one. Many many many people want their dogs to be off leash trained. This means you have a dog that comes to you EVERY SINGLE TIME. I do not recommend letting any dogs off leash until they are at least 1 yr of age and have a solid recall and obedience foundation first. Why? Common sense should tell you why. Your puppy is young. Sure, when they are really little they dont necessarily have the confidence to take off and explore. What if they get scared and take off…as many young dogs do? When puppies start to age they get more cocky and confident. Your once compliant 10 week old puppy, now at 4 months wants to go further wat from you now and put everything in its mouth. Your 5 or 6 month old pup just saw a duck for the first time and takes off into the bush. Good luck calling them back. You are competing with mother nature. Food isnt enough to convince them otherwise. But if you had a 30 foot drag line, that situstion is avoidable. You would be prepared, you can control the outcome and no negative behaviour gets reinforced. What if someonexcones up on the hiking trail and your dog takes off to jump in them, nip at them or gets mud on their clothes? Just cause you have a puppy doesnt mean all people love puppies. Some cultural backgrounds fear dogs. Be respectful. Or worse a dog fight ensues because you couldn’t call your dog back to avoid a bad situation. What if a skunk wanders into your backyard? why is your pup lose to kill it or get sprayed. Again, be proactive. Set your puppy up for success. Reinforce GOOD behaviour so your puppy starts to think independently with your guidance and makes better choices. shave control of your puppy at all times and because responsible dog owner. 🙂
**These tips will help you get the dog you want one day. Adhere to these rules and your puppy will soon become a happy, healthy and well socialized dog that has been set up to be successful vs failure. A puppy can be a joy to own but it is up to to teach it how to become an awesome part of society as an adult.**
For more tips or training contact Good Doggy!