We have the worst job on the world! Its official! We have to cuddle puppies and give them kisses. Ha, only joking what is not to love about a warm squiggly puppy who likes to play and cuddle. Sometimes however we do see pups here at Positive Dog Training who are not so outgoing and can seem very scared of the outside world.
By the time a puppy comes in to us here at Positive Dog Training they are usually about 12 weeks old, and wow look how much has happened in that really short spaces of time.
In the space of just 8/9 weeks, they were born, gained sight, moved from feeding with their Mother to eating solids, played with their litter mates if they had any, hopefully were loved and cherished by their breeder and exposed to new sounds and sights, were taken away from all that was familiar and put into a car for the first time, moved into a new home with no litter mates to snuggle or play with , introduced to a whole new human family, older dogs and others pets such as cats and rabbits, brought to a vet for vaccinations and maybe micro chipped and that’s just some of what usually happens in the first 8/9 weeks ! For some puppies that come from let’s say, the not so responsible breeders they can be sold on to families at 6 weeks and younger. It’s really a testament to dogs’ wonderful character that they are such amazing companion pets for us humans!
So, how can you help your new puppy settle in with your family? One of the biggest things you can do is help instil confidence and support your puppy as they are learning to cope in this loud, busy smelly human world.
- Reward, reward, reward and eh did I say reward? Reward for every good thing that your puppy does. If they sit reward, if the wee outside reward, if they go to bed reward. What is rewarded get repeated. Let them know when they are doing things right, praise and reward, and then reward reward reward!!
- Rewards – in most training classes we use small pieces of food such as chicken or hot dog to tell a puppy “well done you “ but you can use treats or toys or even just lots of affection.
- Stop focusing on when your puppy does something you don’t like! – if your puppy chewed on your slipper or the iPhone cable, remember they did not do this on purpose or to annoy you. Make sure you put away anything that may even look attractive to your puppy and give them loads of suitable toys and treats to chew on.
- Decent exposure – Sounds and sights and smells, people young and old, men with beards, ladies with hats, bikes and buses and bin lorries, crying babies, football games in the park, the television and every other thing you can think of. No, I am not suggesting that you do this all in the one day or even the one week but do take some time to bring your puppy into different situations and reward them for being calm. **** AVOID INDECENT EXPOSURE**** Nope, not just talking about a dodgy man in the park in a mac, (but do steer clear of him as well) I mean do protect your puppy from being bowled over by over friendly dogs or even rough dogs. Do not let anyone hurt them, by pulling ears or tails. If you pup seems to be a sensitive type, do this all gradually or you could overwhelm them.
- Training – start as you mean to go on, it will make things easier on you in the long run and your puppy will know here he stands and will not get confused with what you want from him. If you don’t want your dog to share your bed when he/she is a big St Bernard adult, then start from when he is a St Bernard puppy. Early training and attending a well-run puppy training course will help set you and your puppy up for success in the future.
Puppies and indeed all dogs are great fun to have, am I cannot imagine my life without my furry friends to keep me company but do take the time to set your puppy up for success. Remember it is a really big commitment to take a puppy on, one who will hopefully out life the life span of your current car and definitely your new phone or laptop. Choose a pup that suits your lifestyle and circumstances and do your homework in advance.