The ever so tempting gift giving of a brand spankin’ new puppy can be the most joyous occasion for multitudes; and a complete nightmare for others. The intention is pure, loving, and gracious. But what was intended can take a drastic turn for the worse; which is why so many puppies find homes in local shelters or are simply abandoned come Spring time.
Puppies are wonderful! I’m in the art and business of assisting with the creation of these fabulous fluff balls. However, there is plenty of work and misinterpretation of the puppy’s place in the home, which leads to frustration, anxiety, and even anger when the puppy begins to mature.
Puppies poop, potty, vomit, tear into trash, chew on cords-shoes-clothes-furniture-carpet-toys-baskets, bark, whine, and when wet. . .track nice little paw prints around your white carpet. Yes, these little joy bundles have now become a nuisance. How did this happen? And most importantly. . .what in the world do we do now besides get rid it?
The answer is plain and simple. Go back to the beginning. Getting back to the basics of how to talk “puppy” and how to treat and train your puppy will get you going in the right direction.
1. Define your current problem areas. A few categories: Confinement issues, Jumping up, nipping/biting, chewing, digging, barking, potty training, door darting, command issues, possessive aggression (toys, food, people.) and leash walking. Define what problems are affecting you, your family and your lifestyle starting with the most severe and ending with the least severe.
2. Take a trip to the Vet! Before addressing any behavioral issues, you must first make sure the overall general health of the puppy is sound. Puppies can act out for many reasons in which physical problems is at the top of the list. Check on your puppy’s weight. Are they getting enough food? Do they have allergies to their food? If female, could your dog have a Urinary Tract Infection? How are your dogs ears, teeth, paws, and stools? All of these things can have an affect on behavior. Once all health issues are ruled out. . .carry on!
3. Recruit your team! Raising a puppy takes the entire family. Make sure everyone is on board with the rules and assists with enforcing them! Consistency is a MUST! When just one member of the family strays from the routine or rules, confusion sets in and you will lose covered ground.
4. Puppy proof the house! If you have not already done this, now is the time. Take each room, get low to the ground and think like a puppy. A puppy thinks much like a toddler without a diaper. Except, they only act or better yet, react to your correction and rewards. Whereas a toddler begins to know right from wrong. A puppy simply knows, “I get a treat for this and a smack on the nose for that.”
Things must be up off the floor- cords, shoes, baskets, pillows, boxes, paper, off limit toys, etc. If you don’t want puppy potty on your white new carpet. . .close off the room until you can fully train the puppy to NOT enter that room Yes, you heard me correctly. . .you can train your puppy to stay in certain areas of the house.
5. Wire Crate!!!!! To train your puppy properly, you MUST invest in the correct size wire crate for your breed. If potty training is your issue, you need a crate large enough for the pup to stand, lay, and turn around. Too large of a crate will allow him the opportunity to soil the crate. A potty trained pup can have a larger crate. Crates are a must when you have a destructive pup that needs a place to go when you’re not around or training. Understand. . .a pup cannot be confined all day or for more than 4 hrs at a time. Over confinement causes stress, anxiety, hyperactivity, and overall ruins your puppy. Use confinement properly and for short periods of time until training is successful. After that, the crate still serves a great purpose for many needs.
6. Outside advice! Grab a copy of Cesar Millan’s videos and books about puppy training. Cesar understands that in order to train a puppy, you must understand puppies and communicate on their level. They are a dog! Not a human.
7. Go back to crating in between potty, eating, and play times. You must spend time with your puppy each day! Let your puppy out to potty first! run around second, and then have eating time. After eating, love on your pup a bit then back in the crate until they need to eliminate. Once they’ve gone outside to potty/poop you can reward them with spending some supervised free time in the house. Show them the approved chew toys of the house and when you recognize bad behavior, correct on the spot. Once play time is over in the house. Back in the crate until it’s potty time again. This teaches them to hold their potty; potty on cue; eat on cue (from your hands) and play with appropriate toys. Crate time should be pleasant. The crate should have nice bedding, water, and plenty of toys. Preferably in a place near you but designated for the pup.
8. Basic Training. Get the pup on a leash and walk around your own yard. Go back to the simple commands of “sit” “come” and “stay” using treat rewards. Once these are mastered, you’re ready to move on.
9. Feed your puppy using your hands! Just dig into the puppy food with your bare hands (kids especially) and feed at least 3 times a day this way. Make the puppy understand that the food comes from the people (especially the children of the home). Food is both given and taken away from YOU! Food, toy, and people possessive aggression is NOT tolerated. If the puppy truly growls (not playing) correction is need in the same manner in which the puppy’s mother would correct. Command respect, loyalty, and submission from your puppy early on.
10. Attack only one or two problem areas at a time. Reward when commands are obeyed and proper behavior is noted. Ignore when commands are ignored and correct when poor behavior is observed. You will be amazed at the progress you’ve made and be happy you stuck with it!!! Friendships are made through trials and for the puppy- the road to success takes a good 2 yrs, is paved with potty/poop, kisses. . .ups and downs and ends with your best friend at your side.