By Mary Anne Miller
You are so excited. You have brought home a new puppy! He is wandering around the house, nose to the ground, and is probably nervous and scared. He will, more than likely piddle on the floor in his excitement especially if your home holds other animal scents. However you came to acquire him, there are a few essential things to understand regarding puppy training and behavior.
Lay down on the floor on your stomach. Call him over to you. You can at this point call him “Puppy.” Puppy should come running. Take a deep whiff of that puppy breath, it is Nirvana and it doesn’t last long. Puppy breath vanishes when the puppy matures. Let him smell you, he may try to chew on you. Tell him firmly- “No!” This should startle him out of the behavior. Let him explore you, climb on you, smell you. Then slowly sit up offering him your outstretched palm.
Puppies like to play. This little one is going to be quite active. Left to his own devices and given the run of your house, he could quickly turn your home into a disaster area. You will need to seclude him, but don’t seclude him behind a solid door. Use baby gates, and section him off into a room where there is traffic. Don’t isolate him. He will be having accidents until he gets the hang of going potty outside, so make sure you put him on tile and not carpet. If he is really young, you will want to leave comfort items for him; snugglepuppies, rice heaters, a battery-powered alarm clock wound up and stuck inside a sock, a night light, and a radio playing low.
Your puppy should be at least eight weeks old. Any younger, and you will find that you will need a great deal of patience working with him. He will be in separation anxiety. You want to set up an open bed with lots of soft padding. Spread newspaper or puppy pads on the floor for his doggy mistakes.
Puppy training does not mean scolding your puppy when you see him peeing on the floor. Don’t take his nose and rub it in his waste telling him no. That ends up creating a confused puppy. He just followed what nature told him to do, and now you are telling him that this is something bad. He won’t understand. Proper puppy training method would be if you see him peeing or pooping on the floor let him finish then take a cloth and wipe it up. Wipe the cloth on the newspaper or the puppy pads to create a scent post. This will guide him the next time he has to go.
After you feed him wait 3 minutes, then carry him outside to do his business. Watch him carefully and when he goes to pee say loudly “(his name) Go Potty!” He’ll eventually pee on command if you keep this routine up. After he finishes, play with him. Say his name over and over and run with him. He needs the activity level with you as badly as you need the interaction with him. Establish yourself as Alpha from the very beginning. Yes, puppy training involves play and lots of it!
Dogs are pack animals, and this puppy has been wrenched away from his pack. Now you are his pack. You establish Alpha by not letting this puppy run your life; you set the boundaries and maintain them with a cool, kind even-tempered manner.
In puppy training, puppy names are important. Keep your puppy names to at least two syllables. It is easier for the dog to understand “Kenai come!” Instead of “ Kenai-Spiritalker Champion come!” Roll the names around in your mind, and see if they fit the puppy’s personality before deciding on a final name.
Introduce your puppy to unfamiliar objects, bearing in mind that any object is unfamiliar to a puppy. If you have children, use your kid’s toys that talk. Set them up and watch his response. You don’t want a fearful puppy; you want one that will investigate the object or the noise even bark at it. One of the earliest commands for the puppies in our home is “No Bark!” They learn it quickly. You want them to bark at strangers, and noises outside, but not when you accidentally drop something on the floor.
After your puppy is vaccinated, teach him how to walk on a lead. It is preferable to put a young puppy in a harness, and not a collar. What we do is we use both. We put a harness on and a lead, then a choke collar and a lead. So now, the new puppy has two leads, a collar and a harness. As you walk, he will pull, or rush ahead of you. You want to first tell him firmly “Heel” and pull him back gently on the harness, he will again plunge ahead, as he is excited, so this time you pull on the harness/lead, and also the lead/collar. One gentle but firm tug of the leads to the command of “Heel!” When he comes to your side, praise him. He is young, but he will catch on. Consistency is the key!
It is advisable that you enroll your puppy in a pet obedience course. Make sure when you sign up that they require all dogs in the class to be vaccinated, and proof of these vaccinations provided. Otherwise, you could end up with a very sick puppy. Puppy training is very important to follow through with. At the end of the course, your puppy will be verbally and visually trained.
IF your puppy is vaccinated, let him travel with you. You want him accustomed to other people and places, this makes him less fearful. Should your puppy get car-sick, take him on small journeys (only 10 minutes from your home). Before you leave, give him about a tablespoon of active culture yogurt (plain) it will settle his stomach. Carry damp towels with you in case his nerves overcome him and he gets sick.
Get him accustomed to the carrier, dog crate or dog cage. Provide him a safe place where he can “Go to Bed!” Once inside, even if he has been “bad,” don’t yell at him, or God forbid hit him. Never hit your puppy. His bed should be a safe place where he knows he can stay.
There is so much to puppy training. But the most important points to remember is to train with firmness and kindness. Don’t lose your patience. Don’t hit your puppy and play… play… play…with him. Playing is an important bonding time, just like going for walks. This is a rewarding companionship you are entering. Training your puppy in the correct manner will result in a happy, healthy, animal that will want to protect the person he has grown to love.
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