How to Understand Puppy Behavior
Love comes with strings. One of the biggest strings is the need for you to be a leader for your puppy. Leadership allows your pup reassurance and guidance. This will naturally decrease the pup’s anxiety to most anything. Without leadership, it is a scary world, and as a result your pup will be anxious and likely socially unacceptable at times. In addition, we recommend all households with a new puppy have a trainer come into the house for at least one visit to assist in the upbringing. For now, a few tips to help you become a leader and your pup to become successful.
We have a wonderful opportunity with puppies to shape their behavior in a very positive way. For the next 4 months, your pup will soak up what the world gives him/her and stow it away for life. The best bank in the world! But remember, it will soak up the good or the bad so let’s make it good!
All puppy’s and dogs will need to be examined and care for periodically in their lives. Starting at 8 weeks of age, gentle, progressive and in with a positive tone, see that you are able to do the following:
On a raised surface give the command “Work time”. Now gently open the eyes, look down the ear canal, rub the gums and open the mouth. Feel each toe and apply gentle pressure and comb the coat completely, especially the rear and neck area. As time goes on, do this for a longer period. If you are successful, you will be able to assist in your pet’s health care without any stress at all. Now would that not be nice.
Puppy’s learning from day one so let’s get going. The six commands to introduce are:
Come : with a gentle encouraging voice, lower yourself and open your arms and say come.
Sit : with gentle pressure on the bum, say “sit”
Stay : with the palm of your hand in front of the pup, say “stay” firmly. The stay will be only seconds long
Take it : say this to release the pup to take a cookie, toy or dinner
Leave it : say this if your pup is going after something it should not, like your pant leg!
Off : say this if the pup is going after something it should not or is on
something it should not be on.
It is key, as with all commands, to SAY IT ONCE AND DO IT so do not use the command unless you can back it up now. Use these commands for all meals and walks etc and quickly your pup will be a great listener.
Bite inhibition is the internal control a dog must have to stop any attempt to bite a human, no matter how old or big the human is. For some breeds e.g. Labradors, this is easy. For others, this is not e.g. Terriers and Healers. All dogs must be taught to not bite us. So follow these simple rules
- The pup is never to put its mouth on any one without their permission. This means you must develop a command to release the dog to put its mouth on you. When you have had enough, say “leave it” and give the pup a chew toy instead.
- The pup is never to hurt you. So despite those sharp little teeth, it must not hurt. If it does, you must SCREAM and leave the room. The pup must feel bad and understand that the allowance to ‘gum’ is gone if it does it too hard. If the pup does not learn, try a quick time out or try when it is less rambunctious.
A Note about Small Dogs
Small dogs get the short stick when it comes to training because they are so cute! Unfortunately, we tend to empathize with them rather than lead and as a result, they are often the ones with behavioral problems. So, we encourage you to treat your small dog as if it was going to be a 100 pound Rottweiler! Meaning, would you let your Rottweiler jump all over you, or scratch at your legs or bark incessantly? Small dogs can learn and deserve appropriate leadership. This will pay in dividends in the time to come.
Good luck and have fun!