1. Read Ian Dunbar’s book – Before & After you get your Puppy:
This is a fantastic book that offers lots of practical advice and solutions to help prevent and deal with a wide variety of puppy problems. The book covers topics from selecting the right puppy, from the right breeder to toilet training, mouthing and everything in between. It is essential reading for all new puppy owners :) Also check out www.dogstardaily.com Ian Dunbar’s fantastic website crammed full of information.
2. Book a Puppy Socialisation Course:
As soon as your Veterinarian gives you the go ahead, your puppy should start a puppy socialisation course, with qualified, certified and experienced pet dog trainers before your puppy is 16 weeks of age, the earlier the better! This will be the most important course of your puppies’ life and you should choose your trainer carefully. The right puppy course should have a mix of off-lead play, obedience exercises, owner education to help ensure the maximum benefit for all. Look for certifications such as the APDT UK, CCPDT, APBC and evidence of study, assessment and experience from your puppy trainer
3. Crate Train your Puppy:
This helps to toilet train and chew train your puppy as well as helping to build some independence and help your puppy deal with frustration and self control. Dogs or puppies should not be left in their crate for more than a couple of hours during the day and very young puppies will need to be taken out at least once during the night for toilets. Puppies and dogs like to keep their bed clean and should not toilet in their crate unless the crate is too big, they are unwell or they have come from an impoverished environment where they have lost this natural ability. Puppies and dogs love their crate especially when it has lots of comfy blankets and is covered over at night time. It becomes their safe place.
4. Chew Toy Train your Puppy:
Ban the bowl in favour of Kong toys, treat balls, tug-a-jugs and any other interactive toys you can find for your puppy. A Kong is the world’s best dog toy and will become a saviour when you have a young pup or active dog. Invest in some appropriate size and chew level for your pup, put a small bit of cheese spread pate, sardines or similar around the inside of the Kong, stuff the Kong with their kibble as tight as you can (I find a rubber glove works great), give this to your puppy in replace of feeding from their dish especially when you have to go out for a while. If your puppy is busy chewing their Kong, they will never learn that chewing your kitchen table legs and skirting boards is fun, they will also have a job and something to keep them busy so they won’t be barking and disturbing neighbours. Over time you can make the Kong more difficult lots of people pour a small bit of stock cube over their Kong and freeze them, helps with puppy teething too!
5. Ensure your puppy has 100 positive experiences with 100 different people:
Research suggests that the socialisation period of puppies is up until 16 weeks of age and that in this time they should have 100 positive experiences with new people of different ages, sizes, wearing different clothes, carrying different items and so on. This includes children of all ages and sizes too. Bring tasty treats out on walks and ask different people and children to help you achieve this goal, ask them to feed your puppy to help create that positive experience, never pull or drag your pup over to something they are frightened of, this will make them more frightened and may create some problems when they are matured.
6. Ensure your puppy has 100 positive experiences with 100 new dogs before 16 weeks of age:
This is the same as number 5, except with dogs! This is where enrolling in a puppy socialisation course will help.
7. Don’t put your puppies nose in their toilets or smack them on the nose:
If your puppy makes mistakes it’s not his fault, he is only very young and you need to train him. Don’t let an untrained puppy have free run around the house he will just go to the toilet as he needs to, instead bring him out to the garden every hour and wait and reward him when he gets it right. If you find an accident it’s the person who was meant to be watching the puppy that should be in trouble – not the pup! Puppies that have their nose put in their toilets will often eat their toilets or go behind the sofa or under the bed because they want to hide it from you, not a very nice thought. Puppies that are smacked on the nose often become hand shy and once they mature often become snappy and unhappy about being approached – not a problem any owner wants to be dealing with.
8. Teach your puppy Bite Inhibition:
Probably the most important thing you will teach your puppy. Puppies bite and its great that they do because this is how we teach them human skin is super sensitive. You don’t need to hurt your puppy to let them know they’ve hurt you but once they bite down hard you can simply say OUCH and remove yourself or your puppy from the situation for a few seconds. After some practice your puppy will start to inhibite their bite and be a lot more gentle. Then you can let on it still hurts until they stop putting any pressure down at all and their biting will decrease until its just licking! Off lead play with other puppies and well socialised dogs is also good for teaching bite inhibtion and should be covered in puppy classes.
9. Teach your puppy to be comfortable with being handled by you and different people:
This will make vet and grooming visits a breeze for you and your pup. It will help remove any stress for you and your dog too. It will also be sure to save you money because you won’t need to have your dog sedated for things like having a bandage applied, stitches removed or a groom! Sit down every evening with your dogs dinner and touch their paw and give them some kibble, touch their ears and give them some kibble, look at their teeth, give them some kibble and so on….
10. It’s never too early to start your training!
You’ll make mistakes, your puppy will make mistakes, try harder, find out what they love, motivate them, be patient, be kind, most importantly enjoy them and have fun!