In our first article we discussed five things a new puppy needs. Those puppy needs included information on:
- Keeping him away from strange dogs until he’s vaccinated
- Potty training
When you have a puppy you will find it’s an ongoing and seemingly never-ending time of training and learning. You will both learn from one another. Your puppy will come to understand your body language, the tone of your voice and the words you say. You will come to understand your puppy’s body language, his ability to pay attention and whether he is picking up the lessons you’re putting down.
What Does A Puppy Need?
In this article, we want to discuss five more steps you should be taking to train your puppy to be the best companion he or she can be. Since this last article was written I have welcomed my new Border Collie, Senna, into the family. He will be the subject of many of the videos we share and you can enjoy his growth from puppy to adult with me!
What does your puppy need?
- Let’s talk biting and chewing. When your puppy is with his mother and his siblings, he is taught not to bite. His mother will nip at him when he gets too boisterous. He will learn his limits from his pack and from his mother. When you bring your puppy home, you have become his pack and it’s up to you to teach him that biting is not appropriate. Puppies will bite for any number of reasons – they’re teething, they’re tasting and they’re playing. You don’t want to quell your puppy’s natural instincts, but you do need to show him when, where and on what is appropriate for chewing and biting. When your puppy bites you, or a family member or your clothes you want to redirect his biting to an appropriate item like a stuffed toy or a chew. Say something like “no bite” when he is chewing your hand. Give him an appropriate item upon which to bite and chew then praise him when he chews that item. Redirecting your puppy from inappropriate behavior toward appropriate behavior should be praised. Positive reinforcement training involves praise and treats when your puppy does what you’re expecting of him. Ignore his “bad behavior” because if you give that behavior any attention, he may continue with it.
- Basic commands (sit, stay and leave it. Teaching your puppy to sit and stay is something you can do when you’re teaching her what her name is. Sit is an easy command for most dogs to pick up on. One way to teach this is to take a small treat in your hand, put your hand close to the puppy’s nose, then lift your hand over her head. Her butt will naturally hit the ground and when it does, say “sit” and praise her. Keep practicing this movement (treat above the nose) until she will sit when you say the word. You can also work in a hand signal in conjunction with the word to get her to sit without your having to say the word. “Stay” may be a bit trickier to teach her because she will want to move when you move (because she just wants to be with you!}). Be persistent, though. Get her into a “sit” then say “stay” while you take a few steps back. If she moves, go back toward her, say sit and stay, then move a few steps back. Treat her and praise her if she stays when you’ve moved away. Work up to the point where she will sit and stay even if you’re out of her eyesight.
- Crate training. I believe in introducing your puppy to his crate from the day you welcome him into your family. The crate will be your puppy’s safe space. The crate is somewhere you can leave your puppy if he has to be home alone where you can rest assured he won’t get into trouble or injure himself. Crate training requires patience and also requires that the crate be viewed, by your puppy, as a treat not a punishment. If you only put your puppy in a crate when you’re going away or when he has done something wrong, he will quickly equate it to punishment and will fight going in it. Put a bed, a blanket, a t-shirt with your scent and/or your pup’s favorite toy in the crate. Feed him treats in the crate. Offer him his dinner in the crate. The crate will quickly become “his” space and he will welcome time spent in there. You will also have peace-of-mind when you’re away that he is in a safe, secure space.
- Introduce your puppy to other pets in the household. I was recently working with a friend who’d just gotten a puppy. The puppy wanted so desperately to play with the older, male (much larger) dog in the house and the older dog wanted nothing to do with the puppy. I cautioned separate playtime, but also supervised time together. The older dog needed to grow accustomed to the new puppy. The puppy needed to find her way into the pack, safely. The two dogs were not separated, but they were supervised and when the puppy got carried away and the older dog had had enough, they were put into separate rooms with a gate up so they could sniff one another, but no harm could come to the smaller puppy. Eventually, because of the slow introduction, the puppy and the older dog are now cautiously playing with one another. They are fed in separate parts of the same room, along with the senior dog in the house and the acclimation is going well. If you’re introducing a larger puppy to a home with smaller animals like cats or smaller dogs, you need to protect the smaller animals from the playful puppy and you need to supervise the interactions. Teach the puppy that chasing the biting the smaller animals will not be tolerated by redirecting the puppy’s attention from the smaller animal and toward an appropriate toy. Have a phrase such as, “no chase” or “don’t chase” and when the puppy obeys that command, praise and reward him. With time and patience, your home will become one in which your pets will happily co-exist.
There is nothing like the joy a puppy brings to your life and to your household, but it is up to you to train him to be a dog you will be happy and proud to show off to friends and family!
Next time we will talk about puppy manners!