10 Tips for New Puppy Parents
By Siddh Trivedi*
Training your puppy at the right age is a very important part of its upbringing so that it grows up to become a well mannered & understanding dog.
In this article, I have addressed some of the most critical concerns faced by new puppy parents, which include training, behaviour, and socializing.
1. Settling your new puppy
Ensuring that your puppy feels comfortable & secure in your home is your prime responsibility. Initially, avoid physical contact with too many people as your puppy is likely to feel unsafe. Introduce him to every room of his new home as well as your normal daily activities.
2. Toilet Training
Even before bringing a puppy home, you must decide a place where you want him to potty and pee. Take him to that place immediately after meals, after he wakes up from a nap, or after any form of excitement/play.
Also, notice when a puppy is eagerly sniffing a certain spot. These are events when your puppy is most likely to want to pee or poop. Slowly, he will instinctively learn to go to this particular place when he wants to pee or poop.
Don’t be harsh on puppy for littering in wrong places. Instead, move him away from the spot, clean it up, and don’t allow him to go near that spot again for a few days so that he doesn’t make that place his new potty spot.
3. Early Socialization: Most Important Part in a Dog’s Life.
Socialization doesn’t mean that you simply leave two puppies alone to play with each other. It has to be done in a controlled manner and requires your complete involvement. Introduce your puppy to different people, animals, and birds too.
In addition, introduce him to different surfaces such as stone floors, grass, sand pits, and the like for letting him explore and get used to them. He should also be acquainted with different types of noises & sounds in his surroundings.
Most importantly, each of these experiences should be happy experiences for your puppy. Care should be taken that there are no calamities. Enhance these experiences by carrying with you your puppy’s favourite treat for him to enjoy. At this stage avoid surroundings and events that are likely to create negative experiences for him, as it can have a lifelong impact on his perception of people, other animals, etc.
Also, make your puppy aware about all his daily activities, which he might encounter now or later, such as checking/cleaning ears & paws, his collar & leash, grooming and cutting nails, as well as loud noises he is likely to hear such as firecrackers. You can do this by mimicking it like real situation and associating it with positive experience like giving food/social reward every time after you touch ear, paw or just after a loud noise of firecracker.
4. The Correct Way to Leave Your Puppy Unsupervised for 1-2 hours
Keep him in a proper crate that is not too large, where he can move comfortably. Make it cosy and add his favourite chew toys to make it a positive experience for him. This way you can also prevent separation anxiety. Once your work is done, take him out of the crate and place him on the potty spot as he might want to relieve himself.
5. Anthropomorphism: Treating Puppies/Dogs like Children
Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human traits to non-human entities, for instance, animals, birds, objects, deities, etc.
Although your pets require your love, dedication, and devotion just like you shower upon your own children, they require different care as compared to human beings. Their food habits, psychological and other needs are very different from those of humans. You must understand that by treating dogs different from humans, you are not discriminating against them or being cruel. Dogs are not accustomed to being treated like humans. Extreme examples of anthropomorphism include rocking puppies in cradles, giving them Bournvita in baby bottles, and the like. New puppy parents generally do this out of ignorance or over-enthusiasm.
The bottom line here is that a dog has different mental, physical, and food requirements in comparison to humans. Treating them like human baby can do more harm than good.
6. Teething & Chewing
At approximately 4 months of age, a puppy will start teething. As a result, he will start chewing on objects around your house, and you need to take care of all your personal belongings, especially footwear!
To prevent him from chewing random objects, buy chew toys for him. You can also spray an anti-chew spray on furniture and other objects around the house. Whenever he tries to chew something you don’t want him to chew, you can distract him and give him his chew toy. Slowly, he will start seeking his chew toys when he feels like chewing.
7. Nipping/ Biting
Often, when puppies get over excited, they start nipping or biting you. The best way to get rid of this habit is to stop the activity that you are doing with him and walk away. Slowly, he will realize that he is putting you off and losing out on the fun that he is having with you, which will wean him off from this habit.
8. Over-Excitement while Demanding Food or Attention
Puppies tend to become very hyperactive or over-excited either when you have just returned home or when they want something like food or attention. Sometimes, they start running around hysterically, jumping, and even barking loudly. Such behaviour can become very troublesome when they grow older, especially in case of large breeds.
To wean them away from this, you need to use this opportunity to teach them to ‘say please by sitting’ rather than demanding by shouting or other unwanted behaviour. You can teach ‘say please by sitting’ by expecting the puppy to sit every time without you giving any command before giving him attention, food, toys, etc.
If your puppy is jumping on you, you must immediately stop giving him your attention and move away. Praise him when all his four feet are on the floor. Teach this behaviour to every member of your house and other people who meet your puppy regularly. This will teach him not to jump on people.
9. Adopting the Right Training Methods
Use of aversive training methods such as choke chains, e-collar, and prong collar should be avoided. These methods should only be performed by highly trained personnel, else they can cause a great deal of harm. Instead, adopt reward-based method, clicker training, and positive reinforcement.
Keep a small pouch of your puppy’s favourite snack in your pocket. They learn all the time while observing you. So make every interaction as training. Even while playing with puppy with a toy, you can introduce a new command. Reward his correct response with a toy or small treat from your pocket.
10. Choosing a Right Trainer or Professional Training for Your Puppy
When it comes to choosing a trainer for puppies, people have more bad experiences than good ones. Many people also complain that trainers use adverse training methods for training puppies, such as punishment etc.
To avoid this, the best option is to opt for puppy classes. This is a very popular western concept that is gaining huge popularity in India. These classes involve group sessions with a number of puppies and owners in a highly supervised environment. They are conducted by dedicated and experienced trainers.
Here, puppies get trained as well as socialization takes place with a number of other puppies, pet owners, dog lovers, and trainers. This creates a highly conducive and happy environment for puppies as well as their owners. It also creates a support group where owners can discuss their concerns and receive help & advice from other more experienced puppy owners. Needless to say, it is also an extremely cost-effective alternative to personal training. You can easily find these classes in your locality or city via Google searches.
Before deciding to adopt a puppy it is important to note that the first one year is going to be crucial and your puppy will need constant care and attention.
Puppy parenting is a highly rewarding experience and it is not all that difficult to train your puppy. I wish you immense luck and happiness in your journey.
* The author is an animal trainer and behaviour specialist. He has over a decade of experience in training dogs of all ages & different breeds, as well as deep understanding of their behavioural patterns.He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Also Read : Dog’s Nose Window to Its Health