Spring is in the air and puppy fever will soon be burning through the veins of the best of us. Breeders flood the classifieds and shelters fill up with unwanted litters. Pet shops and rescues, perhaps even your neighbors will all have puppies just waiting for you to take them home.
As puppies flood the scene kids beg their parents and wives plead with their husbands. The temptation to take that cute puppy home is hard to resist. But wrapped up in all the puppy madness owners to be rarely consider life after the novelty wears off, which coincidentally seems to occur at about the same time that cute puppy becomes disruptive and unruly.
But you don’t have to be one of those owners. Instead you can choose to implement a few simple strategies that will not only set boundaries for your new puppy but also prepare them for training success.
Step #1: Don’t Overprotect Your Puppy
Protecting our new puppy is a natural human reaction, especially for us moms. We see a scared puppy and immediately feel a need to rush to their aid and rescue them. In like manner if our puppy reacts dramatically to our correction we instantly want to cuddle him and say we are sorry. But the tendency to protect our puppy is actually hindering their ability to be confident and obedient dogs.
If you were to sit back and just observe a momma dog and her pups you might be surprised at how “inattentive” she appears when her pups yelp in fear or pain. This isn’t because she doesn’t care for them. Rather she is teaching them how to self-soothe and build confidence in their ability to survive in the world.
When your new puppy arrives he is going to get scared and feel insecure in his surroundings. It’s only natural. But try to remember that your interference will do more harm than good. When your puppy shows fear simply step back and pay no attention. Let him explore on his own when he’s ready.
If your puppy likes to overreact to discipline don’t fall for it. Just go on about your business and follow through with what you expect your puppy to listen to.
Step #2: Your Puppy Is Constantly Learning
Perhaps your biggest advantage with a new puppy is their constant desire to learn. Once they arrive in their new home they are eagerly seeking a new master to follow and learn from. You can capitalize on this natural need by planning every interaction so that it sets limits and introduces training in a fun and simple way.
To begin set rules and expectations for your puppy with the adult dog in mind. If you don’t want a full grown dog sleeping on the couch then don’t let your puppy start off thinking it’s okay. If you want to take your adult dog on trips then start your puppy off right by taking him on frequent car rides and outings.
From day one use commands frequently and praise your puppy with every opportunity. For example your puppy will often sit automatically to wait for you. Take this moment to say good sit and pet them to show approval.
The same goes for when they head off to lay down. Praise them by saying good down and showing your approval. This constant affirmation for these behaviors prepares your puppy for easily learning what you want down the road when giving commands with expectations.
As your puppy gets older you will want to consider seeking help with dog training to ensure he grows into a well-mannered adult.
Step #3: Occupying Puppy’s Brain
The final step in helping set limits and prepare your puppy is through prevention. The majority of unwanted behaviors new puppy owners grow frustrated with, can be avoided all together by ensuring those behaviors don’t start.
This is best accomplished by keeping your puppy busy in a positive way. Always remember that boredom leads to a need to self-entertain and for a puppy this can be bad news. To keep your puppy busy purchase a variety of toys including those he can squeak, toss and drag around. Invest in a variety of “brain” toys that engage your puppy by hiding treats inside leaving your puppy challenged to retrieve them.
Allowing your puppy to build confidence, capitalizing on training opportunities and keeping your puppy busy you’ll be happy with your puppy far beyond the novelty. He will be ready for training and eager to please for the rest of his life.
Mikki Hogan is the publisher of MyDogDidWhat.com, a site that offers online dog obedience training through an active community and support system. She currently lives in North Carolina with her family and 6 dogs.