Puppy Series: 5 Sure-Fire Tips to Keep Your Puppy Occupied

If you’re one of the lucky few K9 Magazine readers who’ve recently acquired or are thinking of getting a new puppy, congratulations! You’ve done your homework, selected the breed that best matches your lifestyle and now K9 Magazine can keep you fully abreast of all the important things you will need to know about raising your puppy into a happy, healthy, well behaved dog.

In part two of our puppy series, we’ll show you how to keep your new dog’s attention focused on anything other shortening the chair legs and rewiring the household electrics.

All of the games and skills discussed below are designed to contribute to both the fun and the positive upbringing of your puppy. These energy-producing exercises act as building blocks that make advanced training easier and enhance the bond between owner and puppy.

Grooming Practice: Starting grooming procedures at an early age.

This will teach your puppy acceptance of hands-on treatment over all parts of his body and emphasizes relaxed "stays." Grooming also assures the owner of dominance as nails are cut and teeth are cleaned, as the puppy learns to be quiet and tolerate-these "house-cleaning" techniques.

Puppy Series: 5 Sure-Fire Tips to Keep Your Puppy Occupied

Hide & Seek: This game is fun for owners and puppies alike and helps teach your puppy how to come.

Here's how:

1. Put your puppy on a sit-stay or have someone else hold his leash.
2. Hide behind a nearby tree or, if inside, a piece of furniture.
3. Wait five seconds, then call him excitedly.
4. When he "finds" you, praise him with lots of love and a tidbit or ball.
5. Make each hiding place a little harder and a little farther away. Sometimes return to your puppy and end the game at that point so he will not think he always has to leave to get you near him.

Find The Toy: To teach early discrimination by smell.

1. Loosely tie your puppy's lead to a chair leg, or preferably have someone hold his leash.
2. Let him watch you put several objects on the floor: a can, bottle, box, telephone. Use a glove or just barely touch these articles when placing them on the floor.
3. Go back to your puppy, take his favorite toy and hold it in your hands for several seconds, and let him watch as you throw it in with the other objects.
4. Release him and tell him "Fetch!"
5. When he does, praise him lavishly.
6. As he gets good at selecting his toy, use one of your well-scented gloves or socks and put it with similar objects that are unscented. Pretty soon scent discrimination will be an understood part of his life from your viewpoint, not just from his viewpoint.

High Jump: At first, try just walking over the jump with the puppy at your side.

If that works, fine; if not, put your puppy on one side of the jump and get on the other side. Use a piece of food to coax him over. If you have a leash on the puppy be sure to keep it loose when he jumps. You never pull a puppy (or a dog) over a jump.

Remember, we’re not aiming to break the Olympic high jump record. Puppies bones and joints are incredibly delicate in their first few months and you must be extremely careful to ensure physical games are very easy and never taxing for the pup.

The Name Game: Your puppies 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.

Playing lots of fun games and associating the puppy’s name with them will not only keep them occupied and mentally stimulated, it will provide an invaluable link between their name and the concept of enjoyment.

Remember: Don’t over-train your puppy.

A one year old dog is, effectively, the same as a 7-year old person. It is a good rule of thumb to keep reminding yourself ‘would I expect a 3, 4, 5 or 6 year-old child to accomplish some of the tasks I am asking of my pup? Manners, house-cleanliness and the very basics (including socialisation) 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 more advanced training than they actually are but will ultimately ‘rebel’ against discipline as they get older. 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.

We'd love to hear your own tips - please post and share!

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