Living with your new puppy
Now that you have brought your puppy home the fun can begin. It’s the moment that you’ve been planning for and looking forward to – but then within a short while of being in your home he may have pooped on the carpet, drawn blood from every member of the family with his razor sharp teeth, knocked your cup of tea off of the table and pulled threads in the curtains! By this time you are beginning to wonder if you have been sold the dog from hell and you are frantically trying to cling to the memory of what life was like before he or she arrived! It’s usually at this point that you recall a magazine article you once read stating that dogs were excellent at lowering stress levels! What the article failed to mention was the route from puppy to teenager to the adult dog and Man’s best friend.
Things that you need to do before you puppy arrives home…
Check that you have time to spend most of the day with the dog, they will require regular meals, opportunities to go to the loo at least every 2 hours and as they are social animals will require interaction. Make sure that your garden is totally dog proof. Be certain that you want the commitment of long walks twice a day come rain or shine when the dog gets older. You will need a chew proof bed for the dog, with something soft inside, plenty of equipment for clearing up mess, food and water bowls, and a good quality puppy food. Cow’s milk, human breakfast cereals and other dietary supplements are not necessary if you feed a good balanced diet. The basic rule of thumb here is you get what you pay for. Try to feed a food that is as natural as possible, there is a big move towards BARF (biologically appropriate raw food) feeding for dogs, but if you want to feed raw read up on it first, there are good quality complete dried foods if that is what you choose, but check out the ingredients before you buy; high levels of ‘animal derivatives’ and grain or potato are not good for a dog.
It is worth seriously considering the purchase of a crate for the dog – this is a wire cage construction that will usually fold flat, it provides a safe den for the dog particularly if an old towel is draped over the top. It also is a great help with house training and gives you the opportunity to have some time out when you need a break. NOTE: The crate should be introduced by feeding and playing with the dog inside it and then encouraging him in there when he is tired, once the dog is asleep in the crate then the door can be shut and you will be able to close the door on the dog every time after that. Now that the dog has a ‘bedroom’ of its own it is worth noting that it should always be a safe haven for the dog and never a place of punishment i.e. “Get in your bed, you bad dog.” Any dog should not be crated for prolonged periods of time or safe den becomes prison cell.
One final thing you may need to be sure you have before your puppy arrives is plenty of patience!
Things you should do:
Give plenty of praise and reward when something is done correctly.
Set your dog up to succeed – they will very quickly pick up on it if you are disappointed – the key to success is fun.
Make yourself jolly and interesting.
Take some time out if you begin to lose your temper, try to stay calm and in control
Remain relaxed when out walking, use a soft collar or if your dog pulls try a headcollar such as Gentle Leader.
Use reward based training methods, if used correctly this is the best way to train and develop a strong lifelong bond with your dog.
Let out a high pitched yelp if your puppy bites at you, be an actor, let him know it hurts, then turn away and ignore him for around 20 seconds. It isn’t an instant cure but if you are consistent pup will get the message that this hurts. Consult a trainer for more persistent problems or if the behaviour is happening with adult teeth.
Take your dog out regularly to relieve himself, pay particular attention when he has just woken up or been fed. Set an alarm clock so that you don’t forget!
Praise the dog and choose a suitable command (ie widdle) when he is going in the right place.
Watch for any signs that your dog may be thinking of going to the loo indoors get there first and calmly take him out.
You can place puppy training pads on the floor near the back door, these have a scent that encourages the dog to use them and they save a lot of clearing up, but you will have to retrain the pup to use the garden. Warning these are impregnated with a scent that encourages the dog to use them, if you already have older dogs they may think it is a good idea to use them as well!
Clean regularly soiled areas with a strong smelling detergent or a special odour neutraliser.
Place obstacles over regularly soiled areas as dogs like to use the same place.
Remember it took you quite a while to be potty trained and it will for your dog!
Things you shouldn’t do:
Hit your dog, for any reason – even with a rolled up newspaper it is unkind and unnecessary and could have a detrimental effect on your relationship.
Use a choke chain, there are many kind and effective methods to help with dogs that pull that do not risk damaging the dogs throat.
Push and shove your dog into position when training use food and gentle encouragement.
Give in to attention seeking behaviour – for some dogs any attention is better than none.
Feed the dog from the meal table.
Reprimand house soiling as this can lead to anxiety problems – try to stay one step ahead of the game.
Rub your dog’s nose in its mess – he won’t know why you are doing it and can cause the dog to have anxiety problems.
USEFUL POINTS TO REMEMBER
Dogs do not speak English it is up to us to familiarise them with the phrases we want them to learn. Dogs have no notion of when they’ve been bad and certainly don’t plot to annoy you on purpose!! However, they are extremely sensitive to our moods and body postures so next time he hides away from you just remember he won’t have a clue why you are shouting or what you are shouting about!!
©Lesley Collinson 1997 revised 2013 and 2016