Well as most of you have probably worked out I’m an intermittent blogger – however I do have a very good reason – over the last few months I have been more time poor than usual and the reason …. A new four legged addition.
Despite being both a professional and experienced dog trainer the reality is, it still takes a great deal of time and patience to blend in a new energetic bundle of fur into an already established household. Normal morning routines are turned on their ear as this cute and furry new addition grabs a school shoe and tears around the house with it with a teenager in tow screeching that they will miss the bus. Hmmm wonder why the shoe was lying in the middle of the floor to start with – anyway another discussion for another day.
I run a busy dog training school and most days all the dogs come to work – they help out with lessons or classes on a fairly regular basis so get to see a range of dogs. Hmmm – ever wondered why most dog trainers don’t have their own puppy out in a class demonstrating – The reason? Well that’s because we are just like every other dog owner on the planet, except we probably have more experience and a few more techniques and proven methods up our sleeve. We are human and puppies are not perfect, mine not even close – because most dogs who come to live with me will be involved in a competitive environment (dog sports) and other interesting projects they get to be a normal inquisitive puppy when they are out and about, a little later (around about now) they need to start to learn to concentrate and carry out basic instructions – they can have fun with a few friends but for a few seconds I’ll need them to focus and process a simple instruction. Is this easy, not always, but it’s really important to know that dogs don’t have to be perfect – puppies especially will make lots of mistakes, be very distracted and often overly enthusiastic when we need them to be calm. The answer – just breathe and work your way through things one step at a time.
In the beginning pick a time in your day that’s the least distracting and spend no more than 5 minutes on a simple behaviour – my preference is to use reward based methods – no one can tell you how many repetitions of a behaviour with appropriate rewards it will take to teach your puppy that’s all part of the journey of working out how your new addition works.
Manage your environment – if the kids have Lego out or you have to sit at the computer and pay bills (or write a blog) then put the puppy outside or in a crate – its ok that they don’t get to spend every minute of every day with you – it’s a normal part of a busy household routine.
Make sure that you find at least a couple of times in your day to spend playing with your puppy – teach them to fetch, play tug or even just personal play like patting and touching – it’s great for them and will make you feel good to.
Some people love puppies and miss the puppy breath and little teeth marks in the furniture those puppy teeth can put holes in anything – they are young for such a short time (fortunately)– I enjoy watching them evolve into problem solving and enthusiastic happy companions – however in order to become a well-adjusted dog – exploring and moving through all those different developmental stages it’s important that you put in the time, establishing a routine, boundaries and with patience you will work out how the process of reward based training works.