Life isn’t choreographed; think how boring that would be. Instead life is often unpredictable, random and sometimes hard and messy. This is part of what makes our lives rich and thrilling.
Let’s prepare our puppies for the variety of situations they will encounter. This will require training in different environments.
Are you are going to expect your puppy to be polite when the doorbell rings or when friends come over? When you are out and about, in the city or the county? When you are in the car or on the bus or out in your boat?
Each setting offers unique situations and challenges. Look forward and imagine all of the situations and places you are going to expect your dog to perform. Where will you want him to be relaxed and pay attention to you and listen? Nail the basics at home and then branch out and take it all on the road.
There is no distinction in your puppy’s mind between when you’re training and when you’re not. Your puppy is learning and developing habits with or without your input. This is why it is so important to make every moment count.
This need not be unwelcome news. It doesn’t mean that everything must be rigid and structured. On the contrary! There must always be plenty of fun and games. A seamless flow occurs when you become aware of the unique opportunity each particular moment offers in regards to your puppy’s education.
There will be obvious lessons and sometimes the not so obvious. I remember when my 8-week-old border collie Earl plunged down a few feet off a bank into a lake. Horrified I ran to rescue him only to find him happily paddling along. I laughed at my relief and was amazed at the speed he adapted to the water and how well he swam. As the saying goes, sink or swim.
Strive to always be prepared with treats and toys for teaching and reinforcing new behaviours. Pay attention and distract and redirect your puppy from unwanted behaviours. Refocus them on what’s appropriate. Set your puppy up to succeed. Be an advocate for their successes. Keep them safe.
Young pups are sponges soaking up everything. Be a well-educated, dedicated partner in your puppy’s early education.
Part of raising a puppy is getting mouthed, nipped or sometimes bitten so hard you want to cry!
You signed up for this when you got your pup. There is no way around this one. Your response to the biting is what counts.
It might seem counter intuitive but encourage gentle mouthing from your pup. This way you know how hard his bite is. When his bite gets too hard give your puppy some feedback. The feedback does not necessarily need to be verbal, the verbal ouches and cries will amp many pups up more. Stand up and disengage, turn your back, cross your arms. Make sure you have a leash on the pup so he doesn’t just up and leave the area on you.
Provide something appropriate for the puppy to clamp on to and chew on instead of you. Trade your shirt-sleeve or pant leg for a delicious chew. Ask your puppy to sit. Ask your puppy to leave it. A trade is nice here; give him a good reason to want to leave it.
Play a game of tug with an appropriate toy to help get his puppy ya-ya’s out.
Practice wild, control exercises. How quick are you able to get your super-charged pup into a sit or a down?
Remember, puppies will bite! Instead of trying to stop the puppy from doing what comes naturally to him, focus on refining your ability to give fair, effective and clear feedback and directing your puppy to something appropriate to chomp on.
What you do early on, has a profound impact on your adult dog’s behaviour. Use our handy Puppy Development Chart to see what to do in a timely manner.