Getting a new puppy is a fun and interesting time. You probably went to a breeder or pet store or maybe just saw an ad on the Internet or the newspaper, for puppies, and decided just to check it out. Before you knew it those little eyes and fluffy puppy fur had your heart melting and you were headed home with him or her in your arms. If you are like most new pet owners you had visions of playing fetch with your dog, of watching him frolic at the lake, and of cuddling up on cold nights.
However, you probably failed to realize that the behaviors you dream of in a dog do not come naturally. In fact, the more natural behaviors for most puppies include lovely little things like chewing up your favorite shoes, barking every second of the day, and peeing wherever they are when the mood strikes them. These behaviors might seem cute at first, or even manageable but, if left unchecked they can lead to a very bad adult dog.
The problem with puppies that are not trained is that they grow into untrained dogs. An untrained dog can be a nuisance. All of that cute little yipping can quickly become loud barking that keeps you and your neighbors up for nights on end. The little teeth marks in your shoes can turn into destroyed furniture and a destroyed home before you know it. Likewise, those cute little puppy poops are not so cute when the dog is 75 pounds and has the excrement to match.
Untrained dogs can also be very dangerous. All dogs can bite. It is in their nature to defend with everything they have, including their teeth. You have to teach your dog not to use their teeth so that no one winds up hurt, at least not when they are playing with them. While we all expect our dog to protect us in a worst-case scenario situation, you should train your dog to be non-confrontational.
Dogs that pose a danger to the community are at risk of being put down. In addition dogs that are problematic for any of the reasons listed above often wind up homeless. People grow tired of dogs that never grow up, and then they take those dogs to the shelter. We all know how sad life can be for a shelter dog and the end that many of those dogs meet. If you really love your new puppy and intent to have a long and happy life with it, train her. By training your dog you teach her how to live in your world and increase the likelihood that your life together will be long and happy for the both of you.
Dogs have been domesticated around the world for more the 15,000 years. Because of this long term of human companionship the puppy that you adopt today needs you. Dogs are not truly able to live by themselves in the wild. They are not adapted to living outside and foraging for food. Indeed the dog you adopt today needs you and years to please you. That desire to please their master is the reason that dogs are so easily trainable.
The dogs that we have as pets have what is called social intelligence. This enables them to read your visual and verbal cues and adapt their behavior to it. While each dog will train at a different pace and through different ways, nearly all domestic dogs are trainable. Just like humans, dogs go through a series of cognitive development. Puppies, like babies, learn to interact with the world around them at around eight weeks of age. They will also mimic behaviors early in life, so if you have one well behaved dog your puppy can learn from it.
If this is your only canine do not worry, they will also learn by watching you. Just like parenting, dog training is something that often happens while you are paying attention to other things. So,
those first few months that you have a puppy are an incredibly important time to really focus on training your dog. It can be a lot of work but in the end both you and your dog will be happier.
Easily the most important and first thing you will do is potty training. Your dog knows no difference between the inside of your house and the backyard. As far as they are concerned there are very few places that are not acceptable place to pee or poop. You probably have very different ideas. It should be relatively easy for you to train your dog to go outside if you are willing to follow the steps given here.
As you begin this process you may have to cut those close and cuddly ties you have already established with your puppy. To housebreak a puppy you will need to keep him confined to a small area, not your lap, in the home. While this may seem like punishment remember that dogs were once den dwelling animals. They like their crate or doghouse it makes them feel secure. They also want your praise, so by training them you will be able to give them the praise that they desperately want.
As you are housebreaking your puppy you will also be training him to stay in a kennel or crate. A lot of people think the kennel is a punishment for a poorly behaved dog, but that is not at all the case. The kennel is his very own space. He will enjoy it and probably spend time in the kennel even when the door is open.
Training your dog to stay in a kennel when you are not home or are asleep saves a great deal of anxiety for both you and your new pet. As stated before, dogs are den dwelling animals. The feel of a small space is comforting to them. You may even want to cover a wire cage so that he feels even more secure inside it. Dogs also have no sense of time. That is why they are always excited to see you, whether you have been gone ten minutes or ten hours. When they are in the kennel all they will do is sleep. When you are not home and they are out of the kennel they will either sleep or get into trouble. Putting the puppy in a kennel saves them from getting into trouble.
Kennel training your dog is also a great step in avoiding unwanted behaviors like digging in garbage cans, chewing on non-toys, and climbing on furniture. It also protects him from getting in a dangerous situation in your home. Dogs will eat things they are not supposed to eat or get trapped in small places very easily. Puppies are in even greater danger because of their small size and lack of depth perception, so a kennel is really a safety precaution.
There are two standard types of dog kennels, the wire mesh ones and the plastic kind. Both are good choices for your dog. If you plan to travel by plane with your puppy you might want to invest in an airline approved crate, which typically is the plastic kind. The wire mesh ones are collapsible which makes them easy to move and to clean.
When you first bring the puppy home he might not readily go into the kennel. Make it appealing by placing treats or toys inside. Again, use a simple command like “inside” or “kennel up” repeatedly until your dog goes in the kennel. Once he is inside reward him with praise and a treat. You will be surprised to find that after a while you will not even need to give the command. Your dog will pick up on cues like putting on your coat, or grabbing your keys and purse and go into the kennel on his own. Do not be alarmed if your dog whines a little bit when he is inside the kennel. It is not because he wants out, rather because he wants you inside with him. Dogs crave your constant attention, but he needs to learn to be comfortable by himself and in his own space. You might go over and offer him a few comforting words, but do not sit nervously by him or let him out when he behaves this way. Doing that will only enforce the whining and he will train you instead of you training him.
Some people choose to place a dog bed or blanket inside the kennel to make him more comfortable. As your dog gets older and larger he might not need the blanket, especially if you live in a hot climate. But, while he is a puppy it is a great comfort item. You might even put in a piece of clothing that smells like you to give him more comfort. Some people recommend keeping water in the kennel or feeding the puppy in it. The choice is up to you, but be aware that both of these have the potential to create quite a big mess.
One of the best ways to make sure your puppy is comfortable is to keep him near you. The kennel should be strategically placed in an area that the family hangs out in most of the time. The family room is a good choice as opposed to a bedroom that is often empty. Having the kennel in the family room will encourage your puppy to sit in there while the rest of you are watching television or having other family time. If you do not like the look of a kennel consider dressing it up so that it fits with your decor better. You can easily cut a piece of wood to fit the top of it and then place a tablecloth or other fabric over it. Then it simply looks like an end table and not a dog kennel in your living room.
A puppy should never be in the kennel for more then eight hours at a time. If this means that you have to come home at lunch or wake up during the night to let the dog out, then you must do those things. Think about that time commitment before you bring the dog home. Also, the kennel should never be a place of punishment. When your dog is put in the kennel he should go in happily, knowing that you will be back and that he is not in trouble.
This is the End of the part 1 of Puppy Training Basics. Stay tuned for part 2 where you will learn about Clicker-Training Your Puppy and Training Your Dog to Walk On a Leash. Thank you for reading and don’t forget to leave your comment!