Getting a dog comes with plenty of responsibilities that can take a significant amount of your time but are luckily outweighed by the joy of spending time with your beloved pooch. If you own a dog already, or you have owned a dog before, you surely know how important it is to teach your pup some basic rules since he is still very young. When it comes to learning and accepting patterns of behavior, puppies are just like kids. They are like sponges that absorb everything that happens around them. Bear in mind that puppies learn the most between the ages of 8 and 16 weeks, so make sure you take advantage of that period correctly.
Thanks to their need to understand and get to know their surroundings, you can teach your puppy almost everything a dog can learn if you start the right way. Although you can successfully retrain an adopted dog, everyone will agree that shaping a puppy according to your house rules and lifestyle is much easier than re-adapting a shelter dog to new rules.
What your grown-up dog will behave like and what will he know, which tricks or commands, depends entirely on you. However, there are some basic things that every dog owner should try to adopt in order to reach a smooth and stable learning curve with their puppy. Today we will talk about all the essential things each owner should go through with their puppy.
1. Welcome Your Dog Appropriately
Bringing a puppy home is an exciting event for the family, especially the kids, but it’s a really stressful one for your little furry friend. The moment when you welcome a puppy is the moment when he’s separating from his mother – and leaving his mom is never a pleasant event for small pups.
Therefore, consider making the welcoming as enjoyable for your new dog as possible. Some dog professionals suggest that getting a collar with Adaptil might help a dog stay calm thanks to the pheromones the collar releases which remind the puppy of its mum.
If you have kids, prepare them to stay as calm as possible when the puppy arrives. It will be much easier for them if you talk to them in a quiet voice and leave some space to them instead of showering your pup with attention since the start.
When your pup comes to your home for the first time, he will need some time before he completely settles in. In the first days of your puppy’s life at your home, you should provide him as much company as you can. Try avoiding all activities that might make you stay away from home for longer periods of time.
Some companies even offer a Pawternity leave for new pet parents that need to provide their new family members with some additional together time in the beginning.
2. Puppy-proof Your Home
When you get a puppy you will have to keep all potentially dangerous objects, as well as your precious items, away from your pup’s reach. This is important not only because ingesting or chewing on most of these items might turn out to be harmful to your dog, but also because you don’t want your puppy to think that playing with these items as he would with his toys is a completely normal thing.
By moving these objects somewhere your pup can’t reach, you create a safe environment for him to grow. Also, pay attention to poisonous plants and foods that are considered to be harmful to pups.
3. Set Boundaries
Avoid making mistakes of confusing your puppy with inconsistent messages. You should sit with your family members and write down all the rules you would like your dog to follow. Should he enter the kitchen? Is he allowed to sleep on the bed or not? Where is he going to sleep? Where will he be allowed to pee? How will you reward your dog when he’s been a good boy?
Dogs often misbehave and develop behavioral issues because they are not able to read and interpret all the messages their owners are sending. If you let your dog enter the kitchen, while your spouse always tells him not to and tries to throw him out of the area, your poor pup will be left utterly confused. He won’t be able to follow the rules accordingly which will eventually lead to mischievous behavior.
Puppies learn much better in schemes and in a well-structured manner, so it is crucial that every one your dog meets follows the same rules.
4. Pet Your Puppy At The Right Times
Not petting a puppy at all times might be a quite hard thing to resist, but you should actually try to refrain from it as much as you can. But don’t puppies love cuddling? They do. But you will go a much longer way if you pet your dog in order to reward his action, rather than sharing cuddles whenever you see your puppy.
It is especially important not to pet your puppy when he’s misbehaving, no matter how cute he can be.
5. Socialize Your Puppy
In order to have a happy, healthy dog, you will have to socialize your puppy on time. As soon as your pup’s first vaccinations are administered (usually by the age of 13 weeks), you should start socializing your puppy. Proper socialization includes meeting plenty of new people, going to a lot of new places and situations, hearing new sounds, and also getting to know other dogs.
Also, make sure you walk your dog on different surfaces and make sure to socialize all new things with positive reactions. Have a bag of treats by your side while you’re going through this phase, as you will want to reward your pup when he’s been a good boy.
6. Make A Schedule And Stick To It
As a dog owner, you will have to ensure your dog gets regular grooming, bathing, feeding, training and so on. In order for your dog to enjoy his life at the most, it would be advisable to make a schedule of your dog duties and stick to it.
Dogs can learn things much quicker when they are sticking to a schedule. Especially when it comes to potty training, following this simple rule will make things so much easier for you and your family. Only by staying consistent with your regular routine, will your dog become a well-behaved, balanced dog.
7. Teach Your Puppy To Spend Some Time Alone
Another thing that you want to set right at the beginning is how your dog reacts to some alone time. Although you will find it hard to separate from your cute ball of fur, eventually you will have to leave your pup on his own.
Separation anxiety is quite common among dogs, so you don’t want to stress your dog out every time you have to leave him home. Therefore, it is crucial to teach your dog that it’s perfectly fine and safe to spend some time alone.
You can’t expect your dog to switch immediately from constantly being by your side to not seeing you for 8 hours. In order to make this transition easy for your pup, find a comfortable crate or exercise pen where you could confine your dog for a couple of hours. Make sure you don’t use this confinement area as a punishment, so your dog can associate it with positive things. Instead, buy special toys that he will only get when in the crate, and always make sure he gets them whenever he’s inside.
8. Ready For Training
If you have followed all the rules we mentioned so far, you should have a good ground to start training your puppy. You will have to potty train, crate train, teach him some basic commands and teach him to walk on a leash. You will also have to pay attention to address properly your puppy’s biting and chewing habits by providing appropriate chewing toys and avoiding him to chew up your favorite pair of shoes or pieces of valuable furniture.
A proper communication between you and your puppy, a consistent approach with positive reinforcement and teaching some basic commands first before aiming for bigger stuff will make the training process much easier both for you and your pup.