I had a tough day, yesterday; I was forced to play with a puppy. I know, it is tough being me. In the midst of the human chorus of ‘no,’ ‘get down,’ ‘stop that’ and ‘come back here’ the puppy in question was attempting to chow down on my hand, completely oblivious to the ‘blah, blah, blah’ coming from his human.
‘HOW CAN I STOP THIS?’ came the exasperated cry from the human. ‘JUST GIVE ME SOME TIPS!’
Here they are, some tips for life with a new puppy.
Training your puppy isn’t an option, it’s an obligation. It’s not something to start doing once they start causing problems; it’s how you prevent problems from starting in the first place!
Remember that your puppy is ALWAYS learning… the question is, what are you teaching?!
Nipping – this is a gentle word, considering the pain involved!
‘How do I stop the nipping?’ is one of the first questions that I’m asked. Closely followed by toilet training, but we have a separate blog, dedicated to that.
You do not need to stop the nipping. You shouldn’t stop the nipping; it’s simply your job to show your pup what is suitable nipping equipment and what isn’t. Ok, so ‘simply’ might be the wrong word here, but stay with me.
Puppies need to nip, bite and mouth things as this is how they explore and learn. Everything is an adventure to your puppy and everything needs to be explored. They don’t know the difference between the new toy you’ve bought them and your fingers… unless you teach them!
Your job isn’t to ‘stop’ your puppy nipping; your job is to make sure they’re nipping the right things.
- If your puppy nips at skin or clothing, immediately stop all interaction. Get up and walk away for a short time. Then, resume play with something you would like your puppy to bite and chew. They will learn that nipping stops play.
- Or, if they find that it’s an even better game to cling to your ankles as you walk away, have suitable toys to hand and ‘swap’ as soon as you feel your puppy’s teeth. The important thing here is to interact and play with the toy with your pup so you’re making the toy as interesting as possible. Why would they want to chew on your hand or slippers when this new game is so much more fun and rewarding for them? For bonus points, have the toys ready BEFORE you feel the teeth.
- Give your puppy toys with different textures so that they can explore with their mouths. Praise them when they’re playing with these so that they know they’re getting it right.
- Just to brighten your day, don’t be surprised if there’s another chewing phase at around 6-9 months when your puppy hits adolescence.
Socialisation & Habituation
We want your pup to learn all about interacting with other living animals (humans, children – I know they’re also human but arguably children are a specific breed of human! – other dogs, cats… you name it) and being able to interpret their behaviour in a way that will make life easier for them. It’s all about social skills. We also want your pup to be able to cope with inconsequential stimuli and build resilience so that they’re adaptable in this human world of ours.
It is vital that your pup has positive experiences of as many things as possible, as early as possible.
Here’s a short checklist to get you started, but the list is endless so create your own & see how many new experiences you can offer your puppy… make them fun and reward calm behaviour!
|Doorbells||Pet Shop||Baby Crying|
*Include positive association with touching ears, paws, tail, teeth etc…
- Reward your dog when they do something you’d like them to do more of. Rewards include; food, toys, games, fuss, praise…
- If your dog does something you’re not too keen on… teach them what you WOULD like them to do instead.
- Never use physical punishment or shout as that just teaches your dog that you’re mean.
We have a blog here, that shares the six steps you need to follow to train a new cue and one of our most popular blogs, here, shares the most common training mistake that you can avoid from the outset!
And, you can find out more about our online dog training club, here!