Getting Your New Puppy.
Getting your new puppy can be fun and exciting. You would have probably gone through the routine like this: You saw an advertisement on the internet or television, fell in love with the fluffy hair and cute little eye, and before you knew it, you have started making arrangements and next thing, you were headed home with your little puppy in your hands.
Most pet owners had this grand vision of cuddling at night with their puppies, playing fetch in the park, and taking easy long walks together. Hopefully, you are no different.
The reality is that these dream behaviors we fantasize about don’t come naturally for our puppies. There more natural tendencies would be to bark every single second, chew up your favorite footwear, and pee where ever they feel like it.
As puppies, these behaviors may look cute but when left unchecked produces a very bad adult dog.
Most people don’t realize how fast puppies grow till you have them, and the problem with having an untrained puppy is that they grow into an untrained dog.
That cute shoe chewing soon turns into destroyed furniture, that unchecked peeing on your leg turns to a large size poop on your sofa and that cute yipping turns into loud uncontrollable barks at wrong moments.
Basically, untrained dogs are not safe to be around. Every dog has the tendency to bite, even the trained ones. It is their natural tendency to do so, teaching your dog how and when to use their teeth as a puppy is important. While we expect our dogs to be a line of defense when out in the world with them, our dogs should also be trained not to be intimidating to people around.
Dogs that don’t fit into societal expectations are usually rejected, most end up homeless and if lucky find a shelter worse still they are put down permanently.
If you have ever been to a shelter home, you will know how miserable life is for most dogs there.
Basically, if you want the best for your puppy, you should train him or her on how to behave. This will help them to fit into the world easily and increase the likelihood that both of you will enjoy your time together.
Dogs have been with humans for a very long time. Some documentations estimate that dogs and humans have been together for more than 20,000 years. This is just to drive home the point that the dogs you meet today are geared towards having a relationship with you.
They probably do not know of any other way to live. Dogs cannot live in the wild. They need you to survive and hence their desire to please you in all things.
This makes them easily trainable, especially as puppies.
Dogs have something called social intelligence. This means they have the ability to read to some extent verbal and visual cues, and then try to change their behavior to suit the situation.
The good thing here is that each dog learns at their own pace and in different manners.
All dogs are trainable in this sense.
Puppies go through different stages of learning and development in their life cycle. Just like how human babies start learning to interact with their environment as they grow, puppies try to interact with their environment from eight weeks of age.
They try to mimic whoever and whatever they find in their environment at this stage. Having a well-trained dog around at this stage would be a big advantage.
If you don’t have a well-trained dog, no problem. Your puppy will just have to start learning from you. So be a little cautious about what you do around them at this stage.
It’s actually a lot of work at the beginning, but in the end, you and your dog will be happier for it.
One of the first and important things to teach your puppy is where and how-to relieve themselves. This is called housebreaking or Potty training.
The way a dog sees acceptable places to do their thing and how you see those places are different. To make it easier for you to understand. Peeing and pooping for them is a security issue while for you it is a private issue.
So, while you see places to do these things as limited. A dog looks around and sees multiple choices all around.
Hope you get the picture.
The good thing is that housebreaking your puppy should be relatively easy. Following the steps, I will give you, it will seem like a routine task in the end.
It is important to note that this is not the time for lovey-dovey stuff and cuddling with your puppy. Housebreaking involves the confinement of the puppy in a particular spot for some time.
It’s definitely not the time to be carrying him or her around (don’t worry there will be time for that).
This may seem like punishment to the uninitiated. But first, remember this, the basic nature of dogs in ancient times was to dwell in caves. Secondly, dogs with a structured lifestyle are known to be happier than those that do not.
Most dogs end up loving this training as they get to do something with their pet parents.
Puppy Housebreaking: Action Steps
1. The first thing you should do is to get a dog crate or kennel that is a correct fit for your puppy. When you are not engaging with your puppy actively in any activity. Your puppy should be in the crate. Allowing your puppy to run around freely at an early stage give him or her a sense of territorial authority which is hard to control as they get older. In addition to this most dogs would not mess up their crates by defecating in them. This is a sacred sanctuary for them and they dare not violate its sanctity.
The crate should be large enough for the puppy to stand, sit, and turn around easily. A crate that is too large will not make the puppy feel secure and one that is too small would just be too uncomfortable for them.
Obviously, your puppy is going to grow so you are looking at investing steadily into different crate sizes as they grow.
Well maintained crates can always be sold off online or in yard sells, whichever tickles your fancy.
You may also donate the ones you are not using again to animal shelters if you are feeling charitable.
2.At the beginning of the housebreaking training, it is important to have someone around the puppy while he or she undergoes the introduction. Leaving him or her alone immediately after you put them in the crate is compared to betrayal in puppy language (or abandonment). You want your puppy to feel secure in their crate with you around for a while.
The best time to initiate such a program would be a Friday night going into the weekend. This will give them ample time to relax in this new setting.
3.You will need to buy some training supplies to keep your puppy engaged. Your puppy would also need treats, a lot of them at least to keep your puppy intrigued with the crate at the beginning.
There are many kinds of treats available in the market, make sure you get one that your puppy can easily chew and most importantly healthy for them.
You might need to cut the treats into smaller pieces so that your puppy can enjoy them and you should put them in places not easily accessible by your puppy.
4.You will need some sort of stopwatch or timer. A cellphone is ok for this.
For those who live in an apartment, you should get pee-pee pads, there are also good bed grasses as alternatives to pee-pee pads.
These options only work well with small puppies and dogs. Large dogs would need normal options.
5.Plan a schedule for when you expect your puppy to relieve himself or herself.
Basic rules of thumb here a puppy can hold it for at least one hour for every month of age increase duration by an hour till one year.
This is just a baseline for your potty timing, depending on your feeding schedule for your dog, you can work in the potty schedules. Your dog would likely let you know when he or she is ready to tinker. Another thing is to also fix a timeline for the feeding. Twenty to thirty minutes is usually enough time.
6.Take your puppy to potty immediately after they have eaten. Choose the area of your lawn where you think best suits this purpose. Walk your puppy to the area and use your chosen command for him.
It can be something like “Potty Here”, “Go Potty” etc. Whatever you choose, make sure you use it only for the potty command.
This command will be so ingrained in your dog that it becomes part of his life every time he or she hears it. Remember, your dog does not understand human language, but he or she can decipher sounds.
7.Keep on using your chosen command until your puppy finishes. Once done, give him a little praise and wait a bit (about three to five minutes), if he doesn’t continue the process, take him back inside his crate or kernel. Wait for another ten to twenty minutes and try again.
8.Try and repeat the process once every hour throughout the day. Even if the puppy has not eaten. Make sure to praise him for each successful potty and some form of reward.
9.When it is time for bed. The puppies’ crate should be locked.
If the puppies are still young (orphaned), it is advisable to move the crate into the bedroom at night. This way, both you and the puppy get to feel a bit secured. Also, avoid feeding the puppy at night. You might need to still take him to potty later in the night, so choose a time suitable for this at night (set an alarm if it helps).
So that is the game plan. If you follow it as outlined above, you should have a potty-trained puppy at home in a matter of a few weeks. If their challenges, then you might just need to adjust your schedules a bit.
Keep in mind that your puppy is young and therefore is prone to mistakes. Do not take it out on him or her if they potty in the wrong place.
You will have to buy some floor and carpet cleaners and keep them handy for this kind of situations
As much as possible, be patient with your puppy, he or she is only learning, over time, they would understand and adhere completely to the guidelines being set.
You should not forget about crate training your dog properly. Most people erroneously assume that putting your dog in a crate or kennel is a form of punishment for the dog. This is far from the truth.
A crate is a dog’s private place, this is a place he or she would enjoy spending most of his or her time.
Crate training saves you a lot of headaches, especially those periods you may not be at home for example when you go to work or out of the house on other social activities.
Dogs feel comfortable in small spaces, their ancestors were living in dens so enclosed spaces don’t matter much to them. In fact, most dogs are so private that they would prefer their crates to covered so that outsiders can see within them.
Dogs also do not understand the concept of time (that is why routine activities are important in a dog’s life). We will get back to this later.
Crate or kennel training your puppy will save them from getting into lots of unnecessary problems. You get to avoid them developing bad habits and behaviors like climbing your furniture, digging into garbage cans, destructive chewing, etc.
They are also safe from consuming poisonous materials in the house, be it soap, shampoos, household cleaning agents medications, etc.
Puppies are more prone to this kind of danger because of their curiosity and eagerness to learn about their environment.
Basically, most dog kennels are made of these two types of materials, wire mesh, and plastic. Both are good choices depending on exactly what you will be doing with them for example; if you are traveling by air, there are specially approved airline crates for dogs and puppies and they are mainly made from plastic. Wire meshes are usually collapsible and light.
New puppies don’t easily settle down into their crates, you have to put in some effort to make the puppy understand that the crate is the place to be, providing puppy toys and treats in their crate is a good way to entice them.
Use your chosen command words like “crate up” or “inside” or whatever you chose. After some time, the puppy would start to understand that this is his or her spot.
Don’t be surprised if you are playing with them one day and then pick up your car keys and coat, and you find them heading to their crate.
You will know then that you have done a good job in crate training your puppy.
Some puppies would whine a bit when left inside their crate. Don’t worry about it that much, they are only communicating that they still want your company (you can also say they are being too clingy).
In fact, if they could actually talk, they will tell you to come into the crate and stay with them.
This is nothing new, puppies are always in need of company.
Just give some sort of comfort to the puppy and move on, you see, if you try to bend to his or her wish a bit, then the puppy has flipped the table on you.
It becomes the puppy that is training you now on how to behave instead of vice-versa
For puppies having a dog blanket in their crate is a thing of great comfort (till they get older). Some people leave behind a piece of their clothing so that the puppy can still smell them and feel some form of closeness to them even when they are not there.
Some people go the extra length of keeping some food and water in the crate for their dogs. I personally do not recommend this much because it can get messy and cleaning it up is usually a constant headache, but if it is something you are comfortable with, then, by all means, oblige yourself.
A cool way of making your puppy comfortable is to always have him or her around you. That means you should think of a way to have the crate or kennel placed in a strategic position where most family members or yourself spend more time.
The bedroom is usually not the place for this as most of us only think of this place in terms of resting and not really a place of activity.
If possible, place the crate somewhere close to the sitting room or a corridor. This strategic positioning helps the puppy to feel like part of the family. Remember, staying in a den is inherent in them naturally. They are already comfortable in the crate or kennel, now seeing other family members moving around and doing their thing in comfort gives a measure of safety and assurance that everything is ok.
If the dog crate doesn’t look nice enough in the area, you might need to dress it up a bit to give it a better aesthetic look. A piece of flat wood on top, draped with some form of cloth might be all you need.
They are so many ideas online for this. It doesn’t have to be something extraordinary.
A rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t leave a puppy in a crate for more than eight hours at a time. If you are at work, make time to come home and let him out a bit, if you can’t arrange with your neighbor or someone you trust.
There are even paid services for things like this. Walking your dog, feeding them, socializing them, etc.
This is part of the commitment you make when you decided to adopt your puppy.
On a final note, please don’t use the crate or kennel as a tool for punishment. Believe me, there are so many other ways of punishing your dog.
The main purpose of a dog crate or kennel is a place in which the dog knows is his or her accepted position in the house and should be his or her private spot of relaxation and reflection.
Using the clicker to train your puppy is one of the easiest ways to train him or her. Because of the centric approach to positive reinforcement instead of punishment, it is widely accepted as an excellent way to train our puppies.
The basics of this are quite simple. Whenever the puppy does something as at when expected. The owner clicks the clicker and follows it up with some encouragement or treats.
Clicker training is not limited to dogs, it has been used to train cats, lions, bears, pigeons, whales, and a large range of animals.
The training process is similar in most of these cases, you give a verbal command together with the clicker. Successful command completion is rewarded.
The commands are continued until the animal is able to carry them out without using the clicker as a reminder.
Now back to our dog, the clicker help to condition our dogs to do the things that we want them to do and avoid the things we don’t want from them.
Just bear in mind that the clicker is just a tool to help you in training your dog. It will only draw the dog’s attention back to you. The main thing is the commands and rewards.
Using the clicker in combination with other training has been shown to reduce the time it takes for the dog to learn significantly.
A clicker is a tiny inexpensive toy, which can be bought at any toy shop. You can buy a few at a time and keep them handy.
Involve other members of your family in training the puppy with the clicker. Involve only those you believe can be responsible enough to follow through properly.
In addition to this, you will need lots of treats to keep your training going well.
Clicker training can be used to teach your puppy lots and lots of things. Let’s start with something basic, teaching your puppy to sit down.
It is something that will help the puppy to understand who the alpha is in the relationship and the proper way to behave if he or she wants attention from you.
Teach Your Puppy to Sit with Clicker Training
1.Start with selecting a command word that you would want to use. Most people go with the word “Sit”. Choose whatever suits you.
Also, choose a hand motion that will go with the command. A normal downward movement of the hand with an open palm will do. As with the word command, you can choose whatever hand motion you want.
2.Now just give the command and the hand motion at the same time to your puppy. Do this repeatedly (I am assuming this is the first time) till he sits. If he needs assistance to sit please do that for him.
3.Immediately your puppy sits, click the clicker, and give him a treat. This shows that something right has been done. You are trying to associate him getting the right thing done being equivalent to getting a reward.
4.Repeat the training commands and hand gestures with your puppy for some weeks. This needs to be done regularly as your puppy will obviously not get it immediately.
5.After some days of training, stop giving the puppy treats as a reward for a task well done. A pat on the back or simple praise would suffice at this instant. This is to let your puppy start getting used to carrying out the commands without expecting rewards.
6.In the end, you are looking at a situation where your dog should be carrying out your command nearly instinctively without any expectation. When he starts to pick up cues from your body language even before you say the command, then your job is done in this instance.
As you can see, there are so many things we can teach our puppies with the clicker, sitting, lying down, stopping, going to their crates, etc. These can all be accomplished without you having to punish your puppy or abuse them psychologically.
Puppies in the real sense are just like kids. They easily react to positive and negative emotions around them.
The basic tenets of good training are, when the puppy does something right, he gets rewarded and praised.
When he does something wrong, you ignore him totally.
These repeated acts of only acknowledging only the positive things he does would only make him work harder to do those things.
They live and long only for our attention.
At that young age, puppies learn new things easily. If you are persistent enough, you can train your puppy to do incredible things. The more time you spend training him, the more amazed the two of you will be at the capacity of things he can do.
Taking your Puppy for a walk.
It is one of those inescapable things you must do with your puppy. Teaching your puppy to go on a walk with you. This has to be done with leashes and most puppies and even adult dogs do not like leashes.
Most puppies still cherish their newfound freedom so much, that they tend to wander in their own direction different from where you would normally take them.
They want to explore their environment more and are intrigued by every little. This is where you come in. You have to strike a balance between where you are going and his or her ability to explore the environment.
So where do you start?
The first thing is to buy an appropriate leash for your puppy. It has to be the right weight according to what your puppy weighs.
The next thing is to choose an appropriate collar for him. Some people like to use harnesses. Whichever you choose is ok.
As a rule of thumb, choke collars are not acceptable for any breed. The possibility of harming even full-grown dogs with it is high.
Most puppies are small, so a simple collar would do, in most cases, harnesses would be a little much, they can come in handy when the puppy gets older.
The main thing is for you to be able to enjoy your walk with your puppy.
After getting your leash and making sure it fits with your puppies’ collar, next thing is to make sure that the puppy does his potty at home before you set off.
If he forms the habit that walk time is time to potty, then you will be left in a situation where you might always need to clean up after him (and be carrying poo around) instead of enjoying your walk.
Make sure he does the potty at home, but to be on the safe side, carry a paper bag in case things don’t go well.
When starting your first walk, you can make it short. A five to ten minutes’ walk at first is ok. You can increase gradually from there.
Training Your Puppy to Walk On a Leash
1.First, decide on the side which you want your puppy to be walking on. This is your side which he will be on in every walk. Make sure you are comfortable with the side chosen. It’s a lifetime thing.
2.Start the walk with your puppy. As you move along when he begins to pull the leash. Make him stop and sit. Reward him for obeying the small command then start all over again.
3.Repeat step 2 for each time your puppy tries to pull you along.
4.As you progress, allow your puppy to move off the path a bit and check out his surroundings. As long as he doesn’t try to pull you along
5.When your puppy keeps at a good pace with you, praise and reward him. Remember you need to remind him of the things that please you.
6.As you go on your walk, you will obviously meet other people and their dogs perhaps, this may cause your puppy to be anxious and misbehave. Try and reassure him that everything is ok and that you are there with him. If he still keeps acting up, put him on the sit command, and wait for the person to pass.
7.You will always pass some kids when walking your puppy. Now, kids are always interested in puppies, there is something attractive about those tiny feet, running around. It is best to teach your puppy how to behave, whether he stands or sits. You should teach him that everything is ok and that he shouldn’t panic.
8.Make walking your dog a regular part of your weekly activity with your dog. Walking him twice or thrice in a week is a good start. It’s good exercise for your puppy and helps them to stay healthy.
As your dog gets older you may consider allowing him to walk off-leash. Do this with great care, especially when cars are around. Even the best well-trained dog is still an animal and as such, is unpredictable. You would not want anything bad to happen to your dog because he was off-leash in an unsafe area.
Puppies and Barking
Dogs generally like to bark a lot. It gives them a sense of power and control. But for us humans, barking is usually a nuisance. It is something that we need to be able to manage properly to have a happy relationship with our puppies.
For dogs, barking is more like a way of communication or an alert system for them. You should be able to teach your puppy when barking is acceptable to you.
If he barks once to warn you of something, you can pat him on the back as a form of encouragement. But if he seems to be barking excessively just to misbehave or garner unnecessary attention. You should just ignore him.
Another thing of note is that you shouldn’t leave your puppy outside the home unattended. Most dogs, when left unattended, tend to pick up some bad habits, playing with things they are not supposed to, digging the yard, etc.
While it is not possible for you to always be around your puppy, you can structure their daily life so that they can have lots of activities and company.
Dogs need our attention and company more than any other thing we can offer. A dog left outside on his own most of the time probably lacks this.
Understanding why dogs bark will make it easier to manage it.
Basically, dogs are territorial by nature. When they bark at people passing by your home, they intend to scare them off. The person walking outside continues on his way, not really minding the dog. But the dog doesn’t know this, the dog thinks the person is scared so this reinforces the habit.
You can teach your puppy that their barking is really of no effect. Enlist the help of some of your friends or neighbors for this.
They walk by your house and your puppy starts to bark, plan with them so that they stand where they are, not minding your puppy. With time, your puppy will get to understand that the barking does not work (and will start looking for other means to maintain their territory).
Like I said above, barking is a form of communication for dogs, so training them not to bark is somewhat a grey area. You wouldn’t want a dog that won’t bark, especially when there is danger.
The best thing to do for your dog would be to encourage them when their barking alerts you of something worthwhile and ignore them totally when there is nothing worthwhile.
Training your new puppy at home is not a big deal, the puppies are yet to form their own world view and are easy to train. More so they are very eager to impress you and highly motivated as they don’t have many bad experiences to base things on.
Be sure to take advantage of all these and get the best out of your puppies early in life.
Hi, I am Charles Nwankwo Editor-in-Chief, Mydoggything.com. Gleaning from Professional Dog Trainers, behaviorist, Registered Veterinarians, and Breeders. We are passionate about making dog care easy for you. My job is to make sure that you get the best-updated dog care information to understand and take care of your dog or dogs.