Spring is the busiest time of year for us dog trainers. We are swarmed with jumping, biting little puppies and expected to turn them into Companion Dog Excellent title holders in as little as six weeks…
Let’s cover some important factors to get you on the right track.
Pick your puppy carefully.
Study the breeds or breed you are getting. Remember the lovely Golden Retriever is great but he is also hyper and generally quite mouthy as a puppy as he is a sporting dog. The Terrier puppy is also an alligator and will need consistent work to encourage polite behaviours.
Puppies who weren’t raised in a great environment, all fed from the same bowl or not handled frequently will come with problems you will need to rectify immediately. No one seems to realize the breeder, rescuer or that friend who had a litter will have an impact on your dog’s life forever.
Puppy has arrived and is home with your family:
Ensure you have puppy proofed your living space to prevent any mishaps. Keep in mind you now have a little baby and, just like a child, you do not leave them alone to get into trouble.
Crate training is a must and the rules you want should start right away. Don’t get upset if your puppy tries to jump on the couch if you allowed them for the first 10 weeks.
Socialize your dog with positive experiences early on.
A survey of puppy classes completed by Dr. Janet Cutler (University of Guelph) finds that a sizable number of puppies aren’t receiving basic socialization. Veterinarians should be taking the time to suggest puppy training ideally by a Fear-Free Protocol Trainer.
Puppies have a sensitive period for socialization from 3 weeks until about 14 weeks of age. Let’s say that again: 3 to 14 weeks of age.
During this time, they should have lots of positive socialization experiences with other people and dogs and get used to the kinds of environmental stimuli they will encounter as adult dogs.
Without these friendly positive experiences, they are less likely to be friendly dogs. Lack of socialization can lead to behaviour problems, which can, in turn, lead to dogs being re-homed or even euthanized.
Picking the right puppy classes is extremely valuable.
Every puppy should attend puppy classes. This will set your puppy up for a lifetime of success should you stay on task.
There is scientific evidence showing drastic differences between puppies who attend puppy classes and those who don’t. Those who attend puppy classes were more likely to use positive interactions and create a better rapport by not creating negative experiences or using positive punishment ex: pining a puppy on its back. They were less likely to use verbal corrections and more likely to reward with food!
The puppy class you want to attend should have the following:
Held in a Safe & Clean Environment
Your puppy class should be held in an environment that is cleaned regularly and safe for partially vaccinated puppies.
To participate, puppies should have two core vaccines completed. It’s also recommended to have the kennel cough vaccine just to be on the safe side!
Playtime, it is extremely valuable.
Only 70% of puppy classes include opportunities to play together. This is a shame because puppies learn important skills through play.
The most popular commands: Sit, down and come.
These commands are valuable to the dog for their entire life and should be taught in an all positive manner.
The common activities rarely taught but all classes should include:
Gradual exposure to noise, trading one item for another and teaching a puppy to go to the mat (his “place” or “spot”).
Research shows 50% of adult dogs are afraid of loud noises and gradual exposure during the sensitive period can help prevent these fears.
Body handling is rarely taught but it should be included to help your dog to not be fearful of veterinary protocols, handling or grooming experiences.
Employs the Fear-Free Practices
People who use punishment on puppies generally have more fearful adults.
Please don’t take this out of context as I don’t believe that never punishing/correcting is acceptable either. Puppies do need to learn right from wrong – but until they understand what is right or acceptable, we need to be quick in switching up the activity to stop the unwanted behaviour, not punishing them – corrections come later.
Puppies are cute and so much fun, and if we work hard they will become loyal, wonderful adults.
If you require help with your puppy contact Fear-Free Certified Trainer April today!