I was in Buford last Tuesday with a new Home Dog Training client and his two-year old Cocker Spaniel named Danny.  Danny had a difficult time providing my client any focus and had the typical “Cocker Spaniel energy”.  My client quickly learned how to get Danny’s attention and manage his large amount of energy.  Things turned out great and he was very happy. I was walking back to the car when his neighbor came across the street with a dog training question. 

What is Important in Training your new Christmas Puppy

He had seen the Dog Training signs on the side of my car and had kept an eye out for me.  He told me that he had just brought home a new “Christmas puppy” for his kids and they already had their hands full.  Like always, his puppy looked so well behaved and playful at the breeders.  He had no idea why things weren’t the same when they brought him home.  There were so many books and articles online and he was wondering if I could share some quick tips for him and his family.

First time puppy owners often underestimate the responsibility and challenges a new puppy will entail.  They always tell me that their puppy was just perfect at the pet store, they see their friends with their new puppies and it looks like they are having a lot of fun, and all the dogs they see on TV shows or in movies are so well behaved.  They are always seeing “the fun times”.  Reality check; real life is not always what it seems.

I told him that a quick conversation could not provide him with all the information he needed.  I said that I could get him going in the right direction and provided him with the following advice:

He should not skimp when it comes to his puppy’s food. We always recommend feeding a high quality (and slightly more expensive) dog food for all puppies and adult dogs.  Our “rule of thumb” is that anything you buy at your supermarket is not high quality.

Carefully review the side of the dog food bag to verify the correct amount to feed your puppy. Never overfeed your puppy. Manage your puppy’s mealtime by putting the food and water down for about twenty minutes and then pick them up. Leave a little bit of water down between meals as determined by your Veterinarian.

Be sure that he has a high-quality food and water bowl, a well-made collar (no choke chains or prong collars), and a strong leash with no bangles on it he could chew off and swallow. If you have a small puppy with a small or weak neck, we highly suggest that you use a harness and not a collar.  This will protect your puppy from possible neck and trachea injury.  We highly recommend the Easy Walk Harness.

We have always used toys from Kong Company because of their high quality.  We also use natural deer antlers.  These toys will keep your puppy’s focus while allowing for a safe play time.  New puppy owners love to give their puppies toys that squeak.  These toys are bad on several levels. First, the high-pitched sound of the squeak adrenalates the puppy and encourages unfocused, inappropriate behavior. Also, the puppy rips into the toy to get the squeaker and swallows it. This will now require an emergency visit to the Veterinarian.

Start crate training your puppy as quickly as possible.  Many of us believe that crates are cruel because we compare them to “jails”.  From your puppy’s perspective, this is totally inaccurate.  A crate, when properly introduced, becomes your puppy’s safe place and shelter.  Your puppy will quickly become relaxed in his crate.

When properly introduced to his crate, a puppy will do whatever he can do not to poop in his crate. This means that the use of a crate will lower potty mistakes in the house.

All puppies require lots of play time.  Make sure that you get your puppy out and about as much as possible to enjoy fun and active play.  All puppies are different, and they will tell you when they are tired and want to come back inside.  Hold off on jogging or running with him until your Veterinarian has told you that he has developed sufficiently for those types of activities.

Your puppy is universally very curious, and his mouth is “always exploring”.  If your puppy is biting your nipping you, discourage this action by placing Bitter Apple on what he is biting.  This unpleasant, completely safe taste will stop his nipping and chewing.  Make sure to have an appropriate toy to offer him in place of his nipping. As we mentioned earlier, a Kong Toy or deer antler would be perfect options.

DO NOT HIT YOUR PUPPY IF HE IS MISBEHAVING.  Hitting him will almost always make him aggressive and mistrust you as he grows older.  Instead, you must teach your puppy the appropriate behavior through canine communication, respect, and focus.  In this way, you are building a bond of respect and leadership with him.

Please call Robin or me at (770) 718-7704 if you need any dog training help.  We are blessed to have been your local dog training professionals for over seventeen years.  We have trained over 5,000 great dogs and loving families and are ready to help you.