By Fran Buell, APDT
Bare Paw Dog Obedience
This time of year brings new growth of plants, warm weather and the birth of all kinds of animals, especially puppies. Spring also is when people are deciding to bring a new canine into their household.
Puppies come in all shapes, sizes and colors. Puppies also come in all types of temperaments. When you decide to select a puppy, be sure to check out where they are from, what their parents are like and if they have been properly socialized. Do not take a puppy home that has been taken from its mother earlier than six weeks.
Whether you choose to buy a puppy from a pet shop, through an ad in the paper, or from a breeder, shelter or rescue, get as much information as possible about the puppy.
Once the selection is made, it is time for you to be a responsible owner. One of the things a responsible owner does is prevent bad habits.
Prevention, easier than correction, is the name of the game when raising a puppy. Here are some techniques that help to prevent bad habits from developing in your new little friend.
Grooming: Start grooming immediately. Handle and rub his feet, and look in his ears and eyes. Generally give him an overall checkup. If he struggles to get free, do not release him. This only trains him that struggling wins freedom. Tell the puppy in a stern voice, "Stop it." Immediately give praise when he calms down. Sometimes you have to wait the puppy out, but eventually he will calm down. Then let him go. This will show him that being patient and quiet is his quickest route to freedom.
Coming when called: One of the worst things you can do to a pup is to scold him when he comes to you. A typical scenario is you find something chewed to pieces. You say, "Bosco, come here." When he arrives, you scold him. Bosco learns that coming to you when called is a mistake, so he doesn't come the next time he is called because he remembers what happened the last time he heard his name.
Chasing him will also teach him the wrong response. Chase games are a lot of fun because the pup soon learns that running away gets you to follow him. Always praise your puppy when he comes to you, no matter what he has done to upset you.
Playing: Rough games encourage rough behavior. Tug-of-war, wrestling and other rowdy forms of play develop assertion and aggression. What is a cute and feisty 3-month-old pup is a scary 90-pound adult dog. It is best to stay away from those types of games and play calmer ones like fetch or teach the puppy tricks.
Jumping: Petting an eagerly jumping pup is hard to resist. The reminder is that what you teach a pup, you are teaching an adult dog. Do not encourage a puppy to do anything you do not want an adult dog to do. This means do not pet or pick up a puppy that jumps on you as a greeting. Let him calm down, put him into a sit, then pet or pick him up.
Chewing: Dog toys and rawhide chews are the only objects puppies should be given to chew. If you allow him to chew on an old shoe, how is he supposed to know which one is his and which one is yours? A shoe is a shoe to a puppy.
Feeding: It is important to get your pup used to being touched while he eats. Stroke him for a few seconds when you put the bowl down. For the first month, walk up to him while he eats and toss an extra special treat in. Talk to him and reach down to touch him and move the bowl a little and give another little treat. This way he will learn to love it when you approach his bowl.
Barking and whining: It is important not to pet or pick up a whining or barking puppy. This almost automatic human response to soothe the upset pup is seen as praise by the pup, leading to more of the same later in life. When the pup stops whining or barking, praise him. He will soon realize the quickest way to your heart is through silence.
Handling: Get your puppy used to all kinds of handling early. When you pet your pup, be sure to gently grab his skin, hold his tail for a second, and lift up his feet one at a time. Always be gentle. You do not want to hurt him. If you handle him on a regular basis, the pup will take the accidental grabbing and pulling that a child may do in stride. Supervise children and dogs at all times. A pup has sharp teeth and can leave a bad bite on a small child. It is also important to teach children in the home how to handle a puppy properly and gently.
Puppies are great fun. If you are selecting one for your home, following some of these basic suggestions can make it even more fun to bring a canine companion into your home. Questions? E-mail email@example.com. Happy training.