Your New Puppy! How to start?
Congratulations! So you’ve e decided to take the plunge and become one of the majority of our community and get a pet! Your new puppy will give you unconditional love and happy times for a long and healthy life.
There are a number of things that I usually discuss and many of those things I’ve probably gone over in the examination. If you’re like me and sometimes forget, I have written this to help guide you through some of the trials and tribulations of puppy hood. I have my own ideas and certainly they are not the be all and end all of growing up with a puppy, so I encourage you to read books on puppy care as well. Some of the books that I like are “How to be Your Dog’s Best Friend” by the Monks of New Skete; and “Good Dog” by Deborah Wolfe.
When I was in Vet School, I decided that it would be a good time to have a puppy… if only I knew then what I know now! I decided to get one of those intelligent breeds, a Border Collie. I was fairly active and I thought that a run every two days would suffice him. Was I in for a shock! Two or three good periods of exercise daily was all that he needed otherwise he would stare at me with those brown eyes and speak to me, until I took him out! He taught me well! I encourage you to read all you can about the breed you have chosen and this will go a long way into understanding how much activity is right for your pet.
Since that time, I have been lucky to have relationships with a Great Pyrenees ( who are very loving and loyal, sweet and protective, but guard a whole neighborhood!), a bossy toy poodle cross, and a lovely Standard Poodle.
In reading this, my hopes are that YOU can teach your puppy well, instead of the other way around!
A) Bathroom etiquette- Depending on the situation, there will be a specific place in which you may want your new puppy to eliminate.There are two common methods that this can be done.
Crate training- this method teaches your puppy that he/she has a spot that is very important. This spot is the den ( no, not the den in the house!). The crate can be a place of rest for your puppy and should be encouraged to go there to sleep and to eat. By making this spot for that purpose, there will be no mistaking where the pet will eat and sleep. The good thing is that the pet will therefore try not to use this as its place of elimination. As a rule of thumb, your puppy can hold it for 2+3=5 hours. This means that every 5 hours, you should take the puppy out to go to the bathroom when he/she is 2 months old. If you take the puppy to the spot that you want him/her to eliminate, then the puppy will continue to go in this spot. The trick is to make sure you wait till the puppy goes to the bathroom give it a command, then give it praise, or a cookie after it goes to the bathroom. Whenever the puppy is alone in the house you must put it in the kennel and close the door. This sort of forces it to stay in its den and there won’t be any tempting spots to go to the bathroom. You have to be sure though that you don’t leave the puppy for longer than five hours at this stage.
2. Paper Training- This entails putting the puppy onto paper whenever it has to go to the bathroom. The object is to catch your puppy in the act and to gently lift it to the paper and then reward it. In this manner, the puppy will soon understand it must do its business on the paper. When this is mastered the next step is to move the paper’s position closer to the door and soon the puppy will use the paper at the door. Then the paper is removed and the puppy will go to the door and can be let outside to do its business. This method is more involved and you must be very diligent in the act. It is slightly more difficult to learn this way but is very possible. The advantage to this method is that if you are away for long periods, you can leave the puppy in a room and it will usually use the paper instead of anywhere else. There are puppy-training devices called puppy training pads which are treated with a scent that you can put in the places you’d prefer it to go. These should be available at your favorite pet store.
3. Puppy pads - A large number of clients , leave their new puppy for any length of time, in a large enclosure with a kennel in the enclosure. This allows the pup to use the pad but still maintain a clean den for rest.
B) No Biting! This lesson is known as teaching bite inhibition. Again, consistency is the word here. When puppies play hard they usually get so excited that they often begin to nip at the person with whom they are playing. This happens in puppies when they are together as a litter. When a puppy is bitten it will shriek in a high pitched sound and the offender will stop. This is what you must do when your puppy bites. You should shriek loud and high pitched and then it will stop, look up at you and wonder “what did I do?” Then you must walk away from it and ignore it for a few minutes until it settles down. Keep repeating this as often as you need to (this is also known as the “bitch yelp”) and this unwanted behavior will subside. Between 2-4 months, they learn this very important lesson… so don’t lose this window of opportunity!
C) Socialization- I encourage you to sit with family and friends and to pick up your puppy and coddle it and pass it around a circle. This builds a trust with humans that are important at this age. One rule… no dropping!! Trust can also be built by giving things to the puppy and taking them away and then returning them. This can be done with its food as well as toys.
Puppies should also have socialization with other safe dogs at this early stage. (Safe meaning healthy dogs).
D) Touchy feely lessons-Touch your puppy all aver its body and get it used to being tugged on (gently) then give it praise. This allows you to teach it that a tug once in a while at it'’ fur or tail or ear is OK. Children are forever tugging at puppies and you should get it used to this so it’s not a shock when it happens for real. The other thing you could begin doing at this point is to open it’s mouth and give it a command such as “open” or “teeth”. This again will allow the puppy comfort in having this done so that if you wish to brush teeth, it won’t be such a chore. It is also useful in case you have to quickly take something out of your puppy’s mouth as they usually pick up the strangest things!
It is also a good idea at this stage to begin cutting toenails. Not every body is comfortable with this but we can show you how. Remember that repetition of these things leads your puppy to feel more and more comfortable with these procedures.
There are a number of things that you will learn as you progress with your puppy. The above mentioned books will offer you valuable insight into training techniques. I suggest that you also look into puppy kindergarten classes, which allow socialization with other puppies. This is important as our community grows. There are lots of other dogs out there and I feel it’s important to teach your puppy how to play well with others.
We hope you find these tips useful. They are only a guide to help you through some common problems experienced at this young age.
Early Training Tips
Begin training as soon as you get your puppy. They learn very rapidly but their attention span may be short. Allow 10- 15 minutes twice daily for this.
2. Training should be conducted at home when the environment is quiet. Once the puppy responds in this situation, you may move to other less quiet situations in which there may be a few more distractions. Puppies need to be trained in differing environments
in order to reinforce the commands.
3. Learning occurs more rapidly if there is one person training the puppy at first. Once the puppy has learned the commands, have other members of the family train with him so he responds to them as well. Train the puppy using one-word commands to “come”, “sit”, “down” and “heel”. Try not to use the puppy’s name in association with the command. It is sometimes too distracting to the learning process and slows it down.
4. Reward the puppy as soon as he obeys the command. Timing is important. Give as rewards food, touch and praise (praise is the best if you can accomplish this as there may be times in the future that you need the puppy to do something and it is best if he doesn’t always expect food as a reward). Once the response is learned, you can give rewards intermittently which quickens the response and makes it more permanent.
5. If the puppy fails at any level of training, stop and don’t reward. Start the training at a simpler level. How consistently a puppy responds to a command is a result of the degree of training. If the puppy does not respond in an exciting environment or to your satisfaction, then more training is required.
6. Be patient and never punish. The opposite of a reward is “no reward” i.e. if the behavior is ignored then there is no attachments to it. Punishment usually interferes with the relationship of you and your puppy so care must be taken to avoid this. If the puppy does something naughty then a distraction is warranted with a command that will follow, then a reward.