Puppies are adorable, sweet-smelling, huggable furry balls. And difficult to resist. With a commitment to learning what it takes to have a good relationship, you can provide your pup the best opportunity to grow to be a happy, confident, mannerly and social dog.
Build a strong bond. Establishing a trusting relationship from the beginning sets your pup up to feel safe and confident around people. Have a predictable routine, ensure proper rest and pay attention to their physical, emotional and mental needs. They should know you will always protect them. A strong connection is about being your pup’s advocate.
Socialize your pup. Intentionally expose your pup to a variety of people, places, things, other animals, sounds, textures, odors and experiences. Be sure to make it fun! This “socialization” is critical in the pup’s first 16 weeks of life and will lay a deep foundation for them to perceive the world as a happy and safe place.
Teach your pup a toileting routine. Teaching your pup where to eliminate, giving them the opportunity to do so at regular intervals and celebrating the event when it happens are critical to housetraining success.
Learning is fun! Teach your pup how to learn by using force-free training. It is faster and more effective then correction-based training. Offer well-timed positive feedback with plenty of reinforcements including treats, praise, affection and toys. A pup who is confident when training will become a lifelong learner.
Begin training “foundation skills” early. Giving eye contact for their name, walking on a loose leash, waiting at all thresholds, being calm when any parts of the body are being handled, kenneling happily, learning that being alone is fine, greeting appropriately and good car manners are all behaviors that can be learned by the young pup. Be clear, fair and consistent. Achieving these goals will build the foundation for future behavior and skill acquisition.
Learn how to communicate effectively. Communication is a two-way street. Dogs do not have the power to rationalize or manipulate. What you see is what you get. The challenge is to learn to “read” canine behavior. You can then observe their behaviors, interpret them appropriately and communicate your understanding in a way they understand. If they are telling you they need to go out and pee, and you immediately take them out, AND they do their business, celebrate the fact you have reinforced your lines of communication! When your dog communicates with you and you correctly interpret their communication, you make great strides toward building confidence and stability in your relationship.
Puppies are social animals who need to be supported physically, mentally and emotionally. They are lots of work. Spending fun, quality, thoughtful time with your wee ones can build a healthy, stable, lifelong relationship. It is well worth the effort!
Krueger lives in Summit County.