Patience is a virtue, or so they say. But when it comes to training a puppy, it is a necessity.
I have been working a lot with new puppy owners. And what seems to be a common thread in all of them is a lack of patience. While I commend them on getting training when their puppy is young, their new puppy will not be obedient right away. Just as when the baby comes out of the womb, it does not know calculus right away.
New puppy owners many times struggle to understand.
- The puppy will not potty outside the day it comes home.
- The dog will not leave alone all the items that it can get its mouth.
- They will not come when called.
- It will not sit when told.
- To not bite and chew
I have had a client who wanted to put an e-collar on a puppy because it acted like a puppy. Argh!!
For those puppy owners who have children, I ask them if they let their infant crawl around on the floor without supervision. The light bulb starts to blink a little, and they begin to get the picture.
I then explain that a puppy is a 4-legged version of an infant. With one big difference they move much faster, and they have very sharp teeth.
I have had some clients that do not want to put their new puppy in a crate. They think they are caging them. I then ask them. When you had to leave your infant alone while doing something else, where did you put them? The usual answer is a playpen or crib. Did they always like it? No. But it was for their safety, just like a crate is for a puppy.
Let us talk about potty training. Letting your new puppy have the run of the house spells disaster for your flooring and frustration for you. A puppy, just like a child, needs to learn how to control its bladder. Most puppies can control their bladder somewhere around 4 to 6 months of age.
Some will gain control at three months, while others may take 9 to 12 months. The puppy should either be on a leash next to you, on a tether, or in a crate.
While dogs do mature faster than children, they still go through the same phases, infancy, adolescence, and adulthood.
You must see the puppy as a baby, then an adolescent, and then as an adult and act accordingly with as much patience and understanding as possible. If they do not learn a new behavior right away, it is not because they are stubborn. It is because they do not understand what you are trying to teach them. Like children, puppies all learn at a different pace.
I have trained some puppies that, when they are 12 weeks, can sit, stay, come, and shake on cue. Others are like children with ADD and take much longer to train and have trouble staying focused.
So how do you train a puppy? Very slowly and with lots of patience.
You realize that short training sessions of 10 to 15 minutes are the best and not push the pup or get mad or frustrated because they tried to put the square peg in the round hole.
I have a granddaughter who would count 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,…9,10. We would ask her if she could say eight, and she would say yes, but would not say 8. It got to be quite comical. But we did not scold her or punish her for not saying it.
And what about all those items the puppy puts in its mouth. Well, just like an infant. To a puppy, everything is edible. As an infant, the best way to prevent the puppy from chewing everything is to keep them out of reach. See my blog post on Puppy Proofing Your Home.
As far as Basic Obedience, teaching your dog to sit, lay down, and to some degree come is easy for a puppy to pick up. The more challenging ones are “stay.” Puppies like small children only know one gear, and that is fast. Except the puppy is much quicker than children. A great solution to settle your pup down is lots of walks or play dates with other puppies. And, when they are lying quietly, praise them by saying, “good dog settle.”
How do I stop him from jumping on me? He is ruining my clothes. The first thing you do is realize he wants attention. So, to help him learn not to jump, teach him to “sit.” Suppose he is jumping on you or your furniture. Do not touch him with your hands. Tell him off and toss a treat on the floor.
If he is getting too rowdy, you can buy a Tether with an eye screw and attach it to the wall near where you sit. Place a mat for him to lay on next to where you put the tether. He will not be able to jump on you, and after some whining and screaming, will settle down.
When he is quiet, you can toss him some treats and tell him good dog settle. By using a Tether, it will also prevent your dog from chewing on items he should not.
So, if you are thinking about getting that new puppy, remember you will need a lot of patience.