Puppies are so adorable! They truly bring so much joy to a home and family. They also bring great responsibility, messes, frustration, sleepless nights, added expenses… You know, all those not so cute bonuses that melt away with one look into those innocent and loving eyes.
I knew the moment I looked into Paisley’s eyes that she was the perfect fit for our family. We brought her home at 7 weeks old and the adventure began. That was 5 weeks ago now. My how time flies. She’s nearly doubled in size and her personality is even bigger than she is.
The puppy months go by so fast.These months are the most important times of their life. This is when their personality and behaviors are developing. It is so important to start training them to be the kind of family member you want from the moment you bring them home. When you were picking out your puppy you were probably already thinking of the kind of family member you wanted them to be. Do you have plans on traveling with them, going hiking, taking them shopping with you? Having a well behaved pup makes all of these plans way more fun. And even if you don’t have great adventures planned, just going to the vet’s office will be much more enjoyable for everyone involved if your pup is well behaved.
When we bring home our new tiny and cute puppy we tend to coddle, protect and mother them. Unfortunately by doing this we are actually promoting fear and potentially causing future behavior issues that are much harder to correct in an older dog. Having worked in the animal care field for over 20 years, I have seen and handled many many dogs of every age and breed. I have also spent many of those years as a behavioral analyst and trainer. There are a few behavior tips I’d like to share to help you along the path to achieving your goals. These are tried and true tips that I have used with clients and use every day with Paisley. While there are many aspects to these tips, it all boils down to 2 main topics- having mutual trust and respect. By following these tips you can be confident you are creating the best possible relationship with your dog.
There are 3 areas I’d like to concentrate on first and foremost- Handling, Desensitizing and Socialization.
I’d like to discuss handling first. The way you handle your puppy is very important. It promotes trust and prepares her for her future outings, vet visits and grooming appointments. Your handling her shows her people are not out to hurt her and the world isn’t so scary after all.
This is a list of handling suggestions to start from day one and continue to do throughout her lifetime.
Play with her feet- when you play with her feet spread her toes, grab her toenails, rub on the pads of her feet and even gently pull the hair between her toes. This will help to prepare her for nail trimming and grooming.
Play with her mouth- lift her cheeks, touch all of her teeth, touch her tongue. This helps to prepare for exams and administering medications. This is also a great time to begin brushing her teeth. Having good dental hygiene habits for your dog is very important for their health.
Play with her ears-touch all areas of her ears both inside and out. Look into her ears often and keep them clean to prevent painful ear infections.
Rough pet and play with her tail-pet and rub your pup down in a rough manner from head to toes and grab her tail. She may think this is play so try to keep her as calm as possible while doing this. You want to prepare her for the way a child may pet her or a rough stranger so the goal is for her to accept this handling in a calm way.
Restraining-bear hug her and keep her still. Don’t let her go until she no longer tries to wiggle free. Restraining her is one of the most important aspects to master. Most dogs don’t particularly like to be restrained. When you take her to the vet or groomer she will need to be held for procedures and it is much easier on both her and the staff if she accepts being held tightly.
Picture this- You decide to walk walk your pup through your neighborhood for the first time. She’s doing great walking on the leash. Everything is going well when all of a sudden a car drives by and beeps the horn. She’s never heard such a loud and scary noise. Before you know it she jumps, jerks the leash right out of your hand and bolts away from you as fast as she can. You’re yelling and calling after her but she just gets more scared and continues to run away.
This is a scary situation that can be avoided by desensitization.
The world is a big, scary and noisy place to a new pup. Exposing her to several different noises and scenarios can reassure her that she’s not in danger.
Some tips on desensitizing-
Be loud, yell, knock on doors, run a vacuum cleaner and power tools. If she will need grooming, show her a hair dryer.
The more noises, objects and scenarios you can expose her to the better. You never know what she may encounter.
Paisley was just 8 weeks old when she went to my son’s preschool class for the first time. I honestly don’t know who loved it more. Letting Paisley meet other kids is something I know she will benefit greatly from for the rest of her life. Having 2 young kids at home, we can expect to have many of their friends over from time to time.
Our family plans to include Paisley in everything we do. I hope to train her as a hiking partner and potential service dog in case my health doesn’t return to how it once was. By introducing Paisley to all types of people and animals she will be ready for anyone or anything she comes across in the future.
Socialization tips and ideas-
While on a leash and under your control, introduce your pup to all types of people from infant to adult. Include people wearing uniforms, hats, holding purses and packages, pushing strollers and riding bikes. Take her to the park where children run and play. Take her shopping at pet friendly stores. Don’t forget to introduce her to all types of animals also. You never know who or what your pup will encounter in her life, it’s best to prepare for everything.
By incorporating these tips in your everyday life you will be well on your way to a trusting and respectful relationship with your new family member and you can be confident that your pup will be well behaved!
Be sure to check back often for more tips and tricks. In the meantime if you have any comments, questions or topics you’d like to discuss feel free to comment below or send me an email.