- Rules are Important
Dog’s like structure. It helps them to understand what is expected of them. Figuring out the rules is something important to do as soon as you get your puppy or even before hand.Schedules also can help immensely when it comes to training! Decide what your puppy is or isn’t allowed to do. Can it come on the couch, what about your bed? Is it allowed to jump up on you (this might be cute as a puppy but will you still like this when they grow up)? A common issue we see with dogs that are a bit unruly is a lack of rules. They are allowed to mouth (nip), pull and play tug with the leash, or jump on people. It is one thing to spoil your pets (sure give them treats, belly rubs, and toys, even let them on the bed) but it is not in our best interest in the long run to let them get away with inappropriate behaviors and have bad manners.
One of the most important things you can do is be consistent. Once your family has figured out the rules for your new pup everyone needs to be on the same page in making sure the rules are followed. No dogs on the furniture - this is just fine as long as EVERYONE makes sure the puppy stays on the floor, all it takes is your spouse letting the puppy up a couple times and now your new puppy is confused why they can get up some of the time and will keep trying to get up. The same thing goes for your cue words. Dogs are smart and can learn many different commands with multiple cues for the same thing. To create success in training a puppy it is best to start with one word for each command and make sure the whole family uses that word. For example if you pick the word Banana for Sit (don’t do this, honestly it’s too long and confusing!) and your spouse uses Potato (again, don’t pick this! Potatoes are amazing but not as a cue word) your puppy will be confused as to what they are learning and what is expected as the cue word keeps changing. The more consistent you are the quicker your puppy will pick up on cue words and appropriate behaviours.
- Crate Training
We are HUGE fans of crate training. First off, it is one of the most helpful tools in potty training. We believe puppies should either be right with us or crated (or in an xpen) when you can’t watch them. Puppies who get to wander free are more likely to go find somewhere to hide and potty. If they are crated, take them outside as soon as you let them out of the crate. Chances are your puppy will potty - make a huge party out of this. Pretty soon your puppy will learn outside is a great place to potty because their human makes it amazing and they get treats or belly rubs! We also love crates because they help keep your puppy safe (and helps keep your sanity intact). There are many wonderful things for puppies to get into - even in the most puppy proofed homes. Toilet paper to unravel, flower pots to dig in, slippers to steal, litter boxes to raid, kids toys to play with, table legs to chew, remotes to munch on. There is many dangers to getting into things - such as eating something poisonous (cleaners, certain plants, mouse poison, batteries in remotes or toys etc) or getting a blockage because they eat something they are unable to pass. Blockages can be deadly if not caught in time and they are definitely costly if you have to go to the vet for surgery to remove the item.
Bonding is something we believe is CRUCIAL in any dog-person team. You need to create a relationship with each other. Your new puppy should want to be around you! They need to think you are fun. Anyone who has taken a class with me knows my thoughts - you should be the best most exciting thing in your dog's world. I laugh, they laugh, and we all laugh together. As I have had many students say, we live in the real world where there are distractions how is that even possible. It isn’t - there will be situations that your dog finds distracting where you are simply not that interesting but if you work on your bond these situations will hopefully be few and far between and you will be able to get your dog’s attention back because they know you are pretty great too. How do you bond with your pup - play with them, train them, and simply spend time interacting and enjoying their company.
What is exposure? Exposure means to be exposed to new and different things. This can be new places (make sure if your puppy doesn’t have all of their vaccinations you are careful about where you take them), different noises, new dogs and new people. Exposure to something doesn’t have to mean interacting with it. Taking your puppy on a walk and letting it see other dogs is still exposure. We actually prefer this because it helps to ensure our new pup is neutral to new dogs but knows that they can’t always run up and play. Whenever introducing your pup to new things it is very important to make all experience positive. We want them to learn new things are GOOD and not scary. This also means not pushing you puppy to do something - if they don’t want to be pet by new people don’t force it as this can actually make things worse. Instead allow you puppy to be around the new person and see that they aren’t scary. We want to help our puppy through situations they might find scary without actually making the scary things become even worse. We prefer this over the “catchphrase” socialization. Society has come to take socialization to mean getting your puppy out there making friends with everyone and other dogs - and this is NOT how it was meant. Exposure to new things means you have a puppy who is not scared of new situations and that still engages and listens to you when around different and novel things.