Thinking of getting a puppy? Here is something to think about before you bring your puppy home….
I often get asked what I think is the most important thing to train a puppy. This question is such a difficult one as the answer would depend on many variables such as:
The environment The environment has a massive impact on training and behaviour; I added this on the top because this in my opinion would be the first thing to consider pre arrival of your puppy. Things to think about and make a list of to-do’s are:
What other pets do you have? Where will the new addition fit in? Are there any pre-existing behavioural issues you either need to work on before or need to prevent the new puppy from learning?
Genetics, the breed of your dog may impact what and when to train them, allowing the new puppy an outlet for things that they are bred for and encouraging things they enjoy.
Owners lifestyle whether the puppy is in an active household or not or what kind of lifestyle the owners lead will impact what to train first, if you work full time, you need your puppy to know and be comfortable when alone for example.
The individual (every dog is an individual and there really is no one size fits all). This means that priorities in training will differ between individuals.
The other consideration is what you want from your new bundle of joy, put a list together to help you with this. The list below is a small sample of my own personal list:
- To make me smile and provide me with love
- To be calm when we have visitors
- To play with other dogs
- To join me at work and conferences
- To be happy at the vets
- To enjoy going for walks with me
Each point here comes with a chance to teach-
- Safety and love- creating a bond with your dog
- Relaxation and calm behaviours may be taught
- Socialisation with other dogs quality over quantity
- Experience with new environments and travel
- Creating a positive association at the vets and providing choice to participate in being handled
- Enrich your dog’s walks, make them fun adding games to walks
Why is this so important?
It is important to think through all these different behaviours you want to teach your new puppy and make time in your schedule to incorporate all these things in. Regardless of your behaviour knowledge I would recommend this process to anyone thinking of getting a puppy in the near future, if you cannot dedicate the time to do this then you may wish to reconsider the idea of getting a puppy in the first place. Bringing a puppy into your family requires time and initially a lot of it.
To prevent behavioural issues and allow them to live a happy and healthy life, you must consider teaching them more than just basic training. Teaching them how to fit in to your lifestyle is key and understanding them and teaching them how to deal with stress is crucial. Puppies need a guide not a master.
Creating your plan
Making your training sessions a habit and consistency are the two main things you need to create your plan. You can start with this straight away by using your allotted training session times to formulate your new puppies training plan before their arrival. Alongside your list you also need to consider that you need to teach your puppy to pee in the garden, not to steal your shoes and chew them and not to bite your hands and provide them with a comfy place to sleep and physical exercise.
My schedule would look something like this with my new puppy. Each session (that is not a class) will be around 10-15 minutes long, so in total I would spend 45 minutes per day on these behaviours:
|Monday||Basic training: such as down, recall and so on||Free work||Handling
Teaching husbandry and grooming behaviours just in case they ever need any medication
|Tuesday||Discrimination training, so that my puppy knows when it is time to play or train and when it is time to settle||Scent work
Playing with treat find it games
Teaching my puppy by positive experience with other dogs people or new environment
Teaching my puppy about cars, travel and traffic
Allowing my puppy to explore new heights, textures, toys whilst allowing me to observe their body language
|Basic training||Scent work|
|Saturday||Habituation to novel object/ noise, Introducing my puppy to a new object or noise every week creating a positive experience||Play||Basic training|
|Sunday||Play- Dogs learn a lot through play but this will also strengthen the bond between you and your dog||Socialisation walk||Discrimination training|
Multiple trainers at home?
I am not always at home (often helping other people and their dogs) so I have multiple people handling and walking my own dogs and so I would also break the training schedule and tasks down further to specific tasks with a diary so that everyone knows what stage we are at. This helps us to remain consistent and so there is less confusion for the puppy.
As the puppy grows and learns I would add in extra tasks or increase the intensity so that the puppy needs to work a little harder each time again a diary is super useful so that you can look back and see what has and hasn’t worked.
As you can appreciate there are so many things to think about and these examples are just a few of what I would want to teach if I had a new puppy. I hope this has given you some ideas to think about before you enter into the world of a new puppy.