Whether you live in the city of Charlottesville or farther out in the country in Staunton teaching your new puppy good manners and how you expect it to live in your home sets the stage for your relationship. It is so important to start teaching your puppy the rules and boundaries from day 1. This is probably the most challenging aspect of puppy raising for many families because they get a new puppy with the expectations that the puppy will be lots of fun, love to cuddle and be loved on, and will take only minimal effort to train. The phrase, “Love is not enough” is 100% accurate when it comes to raising a puppy. Raising the perfect puppy is all about setting yourself and your puppy up for success right from the beginning by being proactive, setting up good management systems, and being patient but persistent. In the final part of this blog series, I will lay out the last piece of the foundation on which you will build the perfect puppy.
Freedom, or the lack thereof
When your puppy is not in his crate or in an x-pen he should always be on a leash and/or tethered to you. Being the leader means you are the one who makes decisions, controls resources, and dictates what to do at any particular time. Puppies need a ton of supervision and guidance while they are maturing and learning. Allowing your puppy free reign in your home is only setting them up for failure. Tethering is an easy way to keep tabs on your puppy, quickly prevent problem behaviors and guarantee safety and control. Decide before you even bring your puppy home, what behaviors you want from your puppy and what behaviors you don’t want your puppy doing and then use that to create structure and boundaries in your home. Better yet, consult a professional dog trainer for advice on how best to do this.
Correcting problem behaviors
Stopping unwanted behaviors like inappropriate chewing, house training accidents, play biting and jumping up should be started immediately after bringing your puppy into your family. It is going to be infinitely easier and faster to correct these problems if you are always supervising your puppy and he is within quick reach. We want to teach our puppy as soon as possible what behaviors we like and will allow and what behaviors we don’t like and won’t allow. Being consistent about which behaviors fall into each category is really important. If one day you are yelling at the puppy for chewing the rug, but the next you are too busy cooking dinner or watching the kids to notice the puppy chewing the rug, it is going to be very difficult to stop the unwanted behavior. So my best advice, which is probably sounding redundant at this point, is what I mentioned above and what we already discussed in the house training part of this blog series: if you can’t supervise your puppy, use the crate!
Meeting their needs
Puppies have specific needs that must be met for them to become happy, healthy, balanced members of your family. Sleep is at the top of the list if we go by percentage of the day required to meet a need. Puppies need between 18 and 20 hours of sleep each day. Creating breaks for the puppy to rest by putting him in the crate throughout the day is extremely important. Obviously puppies also need food and water every day. The importance of using mealtimes as training opportunities where you practice engagement and focus on the handler (a.k.a. YOU) cannot be understated! If you want a puppy who pays attention to you in all types of environments you should not be feeding your puppy out of a bowl. The food should come directly from you and it should be earned by asking your puppy to do something that works that little brain of his. Exercise is another daily need that can vary somewhat from puppy to puppy depending on age, breed, and temperament. Play is a great way to meet your puppy’s exercise needs for the day. Games like tug of war and fetch can also be used to teach your puppy impulse control and commands like “drop it”. Play can likewise be an outlet for prey drive and instinctual dog behaviors. Walking on-leash not only helps a puppy burn off some energy but it is more importantly an essential leadership exercise, bonding activity and training opportunity. Finally, puppies have a social need that must be fulfilled. All of the above examples are perfect for meeting a dog’s social or pack drive. Spending quality time interacting and working with you is key to your puppy and you building a healthy relationship. Providing for you puppy’s needs, creating rules and boundaries and making sure the time you spend together is significant to him will ensure your puppy knows he can always look to you for guidance, support and all the best things in life.
I hope you enjoyed this blog series on Raising the Perfect Puppy. For help with raising YOUR Perfect Puppy, contact me today as I would be thrilled to work with you and your puppy!