When you first get a new puppy, the chances are that you are really going to have your hands full, both in terms of helping your puppy to settle into their new home and due to the sheer amount of information that you will need to take in and research in order to bring your puppy up properly!
Well-behaved, responsive and obedient dogs are not simply created overnight; a lot of work goes into the process, and puppy training and management is an ongoing process that doesn’t let up! If you feel as if you are suffering from information overload when it comes to trying to work out what is best for your puppy and how to manage them, the last thing you probably need is another set of opinions and yet more advice!
However, if you simply bear in mind these seven essential tips for raising a well-adjusted puppy, you should find that the whole process goes a lot more smoothly.
There are over 500 different breeds of dog in the world, and they are not all created equal! Different types of dogs and even different breeds have different intelligence levels, motivations and ways of learning. Research the type of puppy that you own, establish their history and intelligence levels, and work out their natural areas of aptitude in order to tailor your expectations and training protocols to fit their abilities. Training a dog like a Basset Hound or a Bulldog is very different to training a Poodle or a Border Collie!
Regardless of whether your puppy comes from a breeder, a rehoming shelter or anywhere else, making the transition from one environment to another can be very challenging for a young puppy, particularly if they are leaving their canine family to join a human family for the first time. The issue is greatly exacerbated if your puppy comes from unknown origins, or a puppy mill or pet shop too. Take into account the upheaval that this causes to your puppy, and the fact that they will not be aware of your expectations, and need time to settle into a new environment with their lifelong family.
Allowing your puppy to get away with something one day but trying to stop them the next day is the path to destruction, so be consistent with your puppy from the very first day that they join you in your home. Obviously you will need to give some leeway while they learn about issues such as toileting and settling down on their own, but don’t let your puppy sit on the sofa when they are new to your home if you later intend to forbid them from doing this!
Training takes up a lot of time and energy in the young puppy’s life, and in yours as well. So much is written about how to train puppies, the importance of ongoing training and ensuring that you train your puppy every day, that simple play and silly times can easily be overlooked! Your puppy is the equivalent of a human child, and they will not thrive and bond with you properly if they are not allowed ample opportunity to play and be silly on a daily basis, as well as learning new skills.
Incorrectly socialised puppies make for poorly adjusted adult dogs, and not exposing your puppy to a wide range of other dogs when they are young is a sure fire way to store up problems for yourself later along the line. Ensure that you take your puppy along to group socialisation classes and group training as soon as they have had all of their vaccinations, and make plenty of provision for your puppy to be able to meet other dogs and learn about canine interaction.
You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar, so the saying goes, and this is never more true that when training a puppy! Positive reinforcement training is the most effective globally recognised puppy training method, and concentrates on rewarding good behaviour rather than punishing bad behaviour. Getting stressed, angry or frustrated with your puppy is totally counterproductive, and will not help your puppy to learn.
One of the core elements of puppy training and the one that can make the ultimate difference to how your puppy turns out, is how you deal with any challenges that come up along the way. Whether this takes the form of a sudden and inexplicable period of disobedience, or problems teaching your puppy to go to the toilet outside, every dog owner will run into at least one snag during their puppy’s first year with them.
Behavioural issues and other problems are the easiest to deal with when the puppy is young and the problem has not become established, although it might not seem like this at the time! If you find that you have hit a bump in the road or are not sure how to deal with a problem, take a step back and reassess your responses, and ask for help if you need it.