Don't let your emotions stand in the way
You are that dog's caregiver, so it's imperative that you check your human baggage before you even think about getting a pup. Once that wonderful bundle of energy comes home with you, your number one training assignment is to make sure your human emotions don't stand in the way of bringing up an emotionally and physically healthy dog.
Start right away
Puppy training should start immediately. If you can't dedicate time and effort into providing the best possible pup parenting, don't get a puppy! Get one of those robot dogs. I've met plenty of people who say their vet told them that puppies don't need training before the age of one. And many say that puppies can't be trained before that age. Maybe these vets knew only inadequate trainers, but whatever the case, puppies do need a lot of training, and they can be trained, during their first year of life.
That said, I don't recommend "puppy class." It sounds cute, right? Well, cute is not going to give you a well-behaved and well-balanced animal. Puppies learn best from older dogs. During their first weeks of life, for instance, pups spend most of their time sleeping and watching their mom, and they start following her around as their bodies strengthen. Then they keep on learning from their mom and from older dogs, which is why I never offer puppies-only classes. Instead, I mix them up with dogs of all ages and with my older, helper dogs to ensure they learn the skills they need.
Page 1 of 2 – Read Brad's best 10 tips for training a puppy on page 2.
Training should actually start as soon as you leave the breeder or the shelter. Here are the key things you should do:
1. Leash your pup in the car, and once you get home, put her on the ground and let her check out the sights and smells of her new neighbourhood. Hang onto her leash, but give her leeway to do her own exploring. Don't carry the dog directly into the house.
2. Make sure you're in the lead as you walk up the pathway and enter your home.
3. Once you're inside, limit the number of rooms your pup can sniff around in, so she doesn't become overwhelmed. (As the days pass, you can introduce new rooms, leading the puppy in and giving her time to check out each one.)
4. When it's time to eat, make sure you eat first.
5. Don't let the puppy go up on your furniture and don't plunk her on your lap. Get down on the ground to play with her.
6. It might be difficult to resist cuddling your cute and furry new friend, but restraining that urge as on-the-ground play is actually the best gift of all.
7. When playtime is over, introduce your pup to her bed or crate and say, "Bed" so she can start learning a verbal command.
8. Get your puppy to lie down on her bed or in her crate and say, "Good buddy. Go to bed."
9. Never let the pup sleep with you, but make sure that the pup's "bedroom" is in a warm, dry and comfortable spot. I also don't think that a pup's bed and sleeping area should be in your bedroom, but many people do that anyway.
10. When your friends come to meet the pup, ask that they refrain from gushing verbal hellos, baby talking and putting your pup on their lap.
It might be a good idea to put this list up on the fridge for the first few weeks as you become accustomed to having four new little paws in your household.
Excerpted from Brad Pattison Unleashed by Brad Pattison Copyright © 2010 Brad Pattison. Excerpted by permission of Random House Canada, a division of Random House of Canada Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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