I was in Marietta on Wednesday at the Verison Phone Store in search of a new phone. It had been several years since I fully paid for my Samsung Galaxy S7 and I now wanted more memory and a larger screen. I liked the Samsung phone and the Android operating system, so I decided to stay with something along that line. With that said, I went “all out” and purchased a Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra.
It had all the “right tick marks” and I was sure I would love my new purchase. As anyone who has visited a phone store can easily attest, there is always a lot of “down time” at these stores. You wait your turn, get a salesperson, go through all the paperwork, get things transferred, and ask about all the new features. During that time, I had plenty of opportunity to chat with the salesperson.
She told me that she had just brought home a ten-week-old Bernese Mountain Dog from a breeder in North Carolina. Their family loves the new little puppy. She went on to comment on how much fun they had with the little puppy as he scampered all around their house. She, her husband, and their young children thought it was great fun to chase the puppy everywhere. They also always would have him on their laps as they were having dinner or on the sofa with them as they were having snacks and watching TV.
She clearly understood that they would ultimately require training for their Bernese Mountain Dog. She then asked me if there was anything they were currently doing wrong that would cause the “down the road” training to be problematic and difficult. Was there anything they were doing wrong? I looked at her and calmly responded, “Just about everything”.
I initiated my reply by clearly assuring her that her family’s current mistakes are not their fault. I told her that I have the exact same issue with many of my dog training clients that have just brought home cute, small puppies that are going to grow into very big dogs. When they are small, my “new puppy” clients love to have them nip at their feet, leap up on their legs, have them chase after them, and many more “high adrenaline” play-time activities. All of this may be fun and amusing with a ten-pound Mountain Dog puppy, but not when that “puppy” begins to tip the scales at over one hundred pounds.
It is very important to be aware that what you initially teach your little puppy, he will remember as he ages and gets much, much bigger. For example, if you taught him that it was OK to jump on you when he was a puppy and only ten pounds, he will naturally assume that it is perfectly acceptable to jump on anyone at any time when he is one hundred pounds.
Observation: A little puppy that weighs ten pounds jumping on you probably doesn’t hurt and could be really cute. A one-hundred-pound dog jumping on you will probably hurt with an eventual outcome that will not be pleasing for anyone. We often refer to these dogs as “out of control dogs”. They are routinely sent to the local humane shelter because of the bad things YOU TAUGHT HIM. This is terrible because their actions are not their fault and can be corrected.
So, what were some of the things I told my salesperson while waiting “with bated breath” for my new, really cool phone?
- Never allow your puppy to jump on anybody. This includes you, your family, guests, friends, the pizza person, etc. And to be clear, this also means never. In other words, NO JUMPING. If you allow a puppy (soon to be dog) to jump, you are letting them show dominance over you. That is not what you want.
- Do not allow your puppy to bark incessantly by getting him excited. First of all, incessant barking is just downright annoying. Secondly, why are you getting him all wound up? Be calm around your new puppy as an object lesson so that he will remain calm around you.
- Don’t chase him all around the place and do not allow him to chase you. When he is chasing you, you are just getting him all wound up and crazy. This is really an adjunct of what I just discussed above. Secondly, when you are chasing him, you are really “following him”. If you are following him, he is the leader and is in control of the situation. This diminishes your role as his leader and caregiver.
- Do not play tug-of-war with him. To be clear, “tug-of-war” is taking place whenever you are holding on to something and he has it in his mouth and is attempting to “pull away”. We sometimes knowingly engage in this event because we went to the pet store and purchased a “tug-of-war” toy. We sometimes unknowingly engage in this event when we are playing fetch and he won’t let go of the ball. The problem arises because “tug-of-war” is a socialized dominance activity where the winner is the one with the object. We normally get bored and let go of the object. This makes our puppy the winner and the one with control over us.
- Many of my clients teach their puppy to “give them paw”. To be crystal clear, don’t do this. As with my earlier discussion of teaching your puppy inappropriate actions, why are you teaching your puppy to indiscriminately nudge and possibly scratch you, your family, guests, and friends?
As you are preparing your puppy for their initial training classes, it is important they have the tools to learn. The biggest tool is the ability to be calm and give appropriate focus. The above suggestions simply help you direct your new puppy to be calm and well-focused. That will make them great students and ready to learn.
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 eighteen years. We have trained over 6,000 great dogs and loving families and are ready to help you.