Puppies present a unique challenge. They're a lot of fun. But boy can they be needy and demanding. So many first-time puppy owners remark how unprepared they were for the amount of time a puppy demands their attention.
In fact, even experienced dog owners will often forget just how demanding a new puppy can be and, of course, every puppy is different.
Getting the balance right between giving your puppy plenty of time and attention without overburdening their ever-evolving minds is one of the keys to success in setting your puppy on the path to becoming a happy, healthy, well-adjusted adult dog.
We'll skip the terrible teens at the moment, that's a topic worthy of its very own guide!
In this mini-guide, we're offering 10 useful and practical puppy training, health and behaviour tips that will help you give your young dog the best start in life.
Your puppy and a new home
When trying to settle a puppy into a new home, providing them with a warm hot water bottle and placing a ticking clock in the room where they sleep will help to replicate the body heat and heartbeat of their littermates and can really help them to relax in their new environment.
Your puppy and the Vet
When taking your puppy to the Vet for its first inoculations, health checks etc, it is good practice to sit with your puppy on your lap and not have him or her on the floor.
Apart from being able to comfort and reassure the puppy easier in this position, you must also consider the fact that there may be a number of sick animals in the surgery and your puppy is vulnerable if they come into direct contact with infected animals that may also be in attendance at the same time as your pup.
Make a very deliberate effort to ensure your puppy’s trips to the vets are as fun as you can make them. Don’t allow your puppy to think you are nervous or concerned, instead, make a game and even take a toy to amuse the puppy with whilst they sit on your lap.
Private space for your puppy
Always ensure from the earliest possible moment that your puppy is given his or her own private sleeping place that is not used by anyone else in the family or another pet.
Your puppy will benefit from short periods left alone in his or her ‘den’ with you always returning to reward the pup when he or she is relaxed and quiet.
Regularly stimulate your puppy
Try to make sure your puppy has entertained adequately for short but regular intervals during the day. Long periods of being left unstimulated may lead to destructive or disruptive behaviour later in life.
Little games playing ‘fetch’ with the pup’s favourite toy will have the beneficial effect of stimulating the pup, increasing his or her bond with you and allowing the pup to expend short, sharp bursts of energy.
Don’t over-train your puppy
Remember, a one-year-old dog is, effectively, the same as a seven-year-old person. It is a good rule of thumb to keep reminding yourself ‘would I expect a three, four, five or six-year-old child to accomplish some of the tasks I am asking of my pup?’.
Manners, house-cleanliness and the very basics (including socialization) are all you should really seek to instil in your puppy until such a time, as they are mature enough to undergo a more formal training regime.
Puppies can deceive you into thinking they are ready for training but will ultimately ‘rebel’ against discipline as they get older, in K9 Answers Dog Training you will find out more about information.
Ensuring you have taught your puppy to respond to his or her name, what is and is not acceptable in terms of house-manners and establishing an uninhibited relationship with your pup is more important than any other discipline in the early stages of any dog’s life.
Put an end to biting or nipping
Owwww! Teach your puppy that biting or nipping is not a pleasant experience for you by reacting as if in pain to their playful nips.
Rather than scold the dog, let him or her know that nipping is not a pastime that you wish to engage in. Letting out an over-exaggerated expression of pain will more than likely shock the puppy into ceasing this behaviour.
You will be glad you put an end to this behaviour early on instead of confronting a ‘playful’ 2-year-old with a full set of adult teeth!
Set rules in your house
Decide early on what is and is not acceptable in your house.
If you don’t want your pup to use the living-room sofa as a raised dog bed when they get older then don’t encourage him or her to come up for fuss when they’re young just because they look sweetly at you and are small enough to pick up.
Don't encourage jumping up
Jumping up. All puppies love to jump out when greeting anyone. Rather than reprimand the pup, simply ignore the behaviour and wait until he or she settles down and is not jumping up before lavishing any attention on them.
Above all else, don’t encourage the behaviour by patting or praising the dog when they are in the ‘jump position' or you may run into problems as the dog gets bigger and views jumping up as an easy way to receive attention.
Naming your puppy
The puppy’s name will be with them for life, make sure they know it by associating it with all things pleasant and fun. In the same way dog’s cotton on in a very positive way to words such as ‘walkies’, ‘biscuits’ or ‘dinner-time’ they should be given the same association with their own name.
Too often the only time the puppy hears his or her name is when they have done something naughty. ‘Jasper, stop doing that!’ ‘Buster, leave that alone!’ It’s tough but try to ensure that you NEVER use the puppy’s name in a negative scenario only positive ones.
Instead of ‘Jasper, leave that alone!’ simply, ‘Leave that alone!’ or better yet ‘No!’. And instead of ‘walkies’, biscuits or ‘dinner-time’ try ‘Jasper, biscuits!’, ‘Jasper, walkies!’, ‘Jasper, dinner-time!’ Golden rule.
Your puppy should associate his or her own name with all that is pleasant and fun and nothing that is negative. The word ‘no’ is negative and it is enough to cover all undesirable behaviour.
Teach your puppy to come to you
From the moment your puppy comes into your life teach him that coming to you when called is nothing short of being the best thing in the world.
Puppies can’t resist humans who sit down on the floor with legs spread apart so, while they’re easily persuaded to come by this very simple gesture, make the most of it by using their name, sparingly, but making a huge fuss when the puppy arrives.
Try it at times when the pup is pre-occupied with something interesting and make coming back to you the most enjoyable and rewarding experience in the world for him or her. You will really see the benefits as the dog gets older.