Puppies are just the cutest, fluffiest, most angelic little creatures. They are cute and innocent. Right? Well, that is until you live with them. Then you learn the truth. Their little shark teeth, they hurt. Their dragon-like nails, yeah, those hurt too. They don’t always like to share their things, they jump all over everywhere, and sometimes they try to pull you down the street. The good news is, if you no longer like your puppy that much because of these things, you are not alone. And the other good news, if your puppy is doing all these things and you still think they are cute and innocent you have the patience of a saint. Either way, these small tips should help you solve some common problems that people face when their puppies first come home and will prevent more serious issues as your puppy grows up.
1. Don’t feed the fire
When your puppy’s teeth touch you, whatever game you were playing should end. No talk, no touch, no eye contact, for about 5-10 seconds. Then try again. It might take a little but if you are consistent he/she will not do this behavior for too long.
When your puppy is chewing something he/she should not be chewing, replace it with something that does belong in his/her mouth like a toy, a bully stick, or a non-rawhide chew.
1. Offered Attention
Attention is the foundation for all other behaviors. You must have your dog’s attention before he/she can listen to you. With one hand, hold a treat out to your side above your dog’s head. They will likely stare at this treat for a while. As soon as they stop looking at the treat and make eye contact with you, reward them with a treat.
2. Practice in different locations
Just because your puppy has mastered a behavior at home (such as sit or down) does not mean they are able to do it everywhere. You need to practice these behaviors in all sorts of different places and at different times. Have patience, your puppy is doing the best that he/she can, and it takes time for them to learn to listen in different places and at different times.
The most important part of puppy-hood is proper socialization and it could be a blog all on its own (here), but I have highlighted 2 of the most important parts.
1. Never force your dog into an interaction
Allow your puppy to approach new things at his/her own pace. If he/she doesn’t want to approach something, don’t worry, and don’t force him/her. Reward any interaction with whatever it is and walk away whenever your puppy wants to.
2. Nothing bad should happen
When your puppy is interacting with people, dogs, things, and environments nothing bad should happen. And when I say nothing bad should happen, that needs to be from his/her perspective, not yours, and not anyone else. If you are not seeing loose, wiggly body language then your puppy is probably not enjoying his/herself and you should move on.
1. Jumping on people
One easy way to teach your puppy not to jump on people is to tether them to a person or a piece of furniture. Approach your puppy and as long as all 4 of his/her feet are on the floor you can say hi. As soon as he/she jumps up, walk away. Repeat until you can say hi to your puppy without him/her jumping on you.
2. Jumping at the door
A quick and easy way to reduce jumping at the door is to keep treats at the entrance, and when you walk inside the house scatter some treats on the floor. You can say hi to your puppy after he/she has stopped eating the treats and is not jumping.
1. Sharing food
When your dog is eating from their bowl or puzzle toy approach him/her. Immediately drop a high value treat into or near the bowl or puzzle toy, and then retreat. Repeat this a couple times at each meal.
2. Sharing toys
When you need to take a toy away from your puppy trade with him/her. Offer another toy or even a treat. Do not take the toy away until your puppy is occupied with the new object (the treat or the other toy).
1. Collar Grabs
This exercise is my absolute, number 1, must do with puppies. Being grabbed is scary and stressful for lots of puppies. Teaching them not to be scared can literally be lifesaving. This is very easy and you should aim for 50 a day. Simply have a treat in your hand behind your back, then touch your dog’s collar and deliver a treat.
2. Relaxed Touching
Do this at night when your puppy is tired and resting. Practice touching your dog’s paws, tail, mouth, and everywhere in-between. Try to do this in a relaxed way, it can be part of a nice massage for them as they are going to sleep.
1. Offered attention
When you are walking your dog, give him/her a high value treat EVERY SINGLE time he/she looks at you. You want your dog to walk with you, so take advantage when they do it on their own, and reward this behavior. The more you reward this behavior the better your dog’s walking on leash will be.
2. Stop walking when pulling starts
When your dog does begin to pull, stop walking. Going the direction in which they are pulling will only make the pulling happen more often. So, when they pull, stop, and wait for them to give you some attention, reward that attention with a treat, and continue. You will likely have to repeat this often at first.
© Leash and Learn 2018