Robin and I were at a Home Dog Training session in Woodstock last Thursday working with a new client and Freddie, his new Airedale Terrier puppy.  To put things in perspective, our client was a first-time dog owner and he had just picked up Freddie the week before Christmas from a breeder in Tennessee.

Learn the core items you must teach your new puppy

Our client told us that Freddie was doing exceptionally well with his current pottying habits and had only made a few mistakes in the house over the prior week. We began our lesson by working on Freddie’s immediate behavior issues. We taught our client the proper technique to employ when “Fredie is bad”.  His biggest issues were nipping and jumping.  Luckily, Freddie was more than happy to “misbehave”, and our client quickly mastered the procedure to stop Freddie’s bad behaviors.

Being so young, Freddie wasn’t prepared to immediately master a long list of obedience exercises.  Because of that, we targeted our training on the Come and Sit commands. We began by explaining how Freddie learns and the appropriate communication process our client must use to teach Freddie his commands.  I am happy to report that Freddie was a fast learner and did quite well.

Our client was quite happy with our session and was looking forward to reviewing the training notes that we were providing him via his private, on-line training portal.  As we were finishing up, he had one more question for us.  “Are there any universal guidelines or boundaries I should be wary of while I am working on Freddie’s training?”

We told our client that he had asked an excellent question.  There can be many things to be cognizant of when working with a new puppy. Although there are many things to watch for, our experience over the years has narrowed the list to a handful of key issues.  We provided him with a summary of “our puppy observations” gained over many years of training:

USE AND MANAGEMENT OF THE LEASH:  The leash is an excellent teaching tool that can be used by new puppy owners to allow them to calmly and        quickly teach their new puppy.  It is a tool that maintains the puppy’s focus during obedience exercises.  It is also needed to start any form of walking exercises.  It can also be used as a redirective tool when the puppy is misbehaving.

Even though the leash is an excellent “all-around” training tool, it should never be left on the puppy if the puppy is left alone.  This is because “puppies will be puppies” and will quickly become bored.  Most puppies love to chew, and the leash is a wonderful “chew toy” that is directly attached to them.  Allowing them to chew the leash will only promote additional chewing misbehavior.

Puppies are also very active and somewhat crazy animals.  (That is what makes them so cute!)  If left unattended, your puppy may run around a chair and get the leash caught in a chair leg.  This may cause the chair to fall on them or have the leach become so taught that it may cause a dangerous choking situation.

So, even though the leash is a great training tool, and we highly recommend it as part of your puppy’s training, always remove it when you are done training and can no longer actively observe their actions.

EDUCATING YOUR PUPPY:  Remember the expression “Let’s turn this into a teachable moment.”  This is just as true for our puppies as it is for us humans.  To be honest, every moment of our new puppy’s life is a “teachable moment”.  When Freddie arrived at my client’s home, he was a “blank slate”. Everything going forward was a teachable moment for Freddie and it was my client’s responsibility to properly create and enforce those moments.  It is the responsibility of all puppy owners to assure that the experiences of their puppies only promote good behavior, proper temperament, and obedient focus.

We must ensure that we oversee whatever they are about to experience.  We must thoughtfully manage what our puppy will hear, see, and smell.  We must control their interactions with other animals and any person they will meet.  Every social engagement must be consistent and repeatable.  This is how they learn and how they will come to understand that the world around them is safe and secure.  This will allow them to feel comfortable in being part of the family.

MAKE SURE YOUR PUPPY IS PROPERLY IMMUNIZED:  This may appear to be a “no brainer”, but it is something many new puppy owners overlook. When you bring your new puppy home, you are focused on making sure he is safe and happy in his new environment. You are working on his pottying and some simple commands.  You are also making sure that he is getting only the best food so that he will be healthy.  These are all great things, but there are some things that you can’t protect him from.  That is where preventive immunizations come into play.

Make sure you have picked out a good vet before you bring your puppy home and take him to the vet as soon as possible after you get him home.  He will probably recommend and start your puppy on a plan consisting of four shots given over the first few months of your puppy’s life.  These shots are critical in getting your puppy off to a long, safe, and healthy life. We strongly suggest that you keep your puppy away from most “away from home” stuff until he has had his fourth and final shot.

A PLACE FOR YOUR PUPPY:  Do not allow your puppy to initially have full access to the entire house.  Establish a special place for your puppy that will initially be “his domain”.  Make sure that “this place” is in the middle of family activities so that he will immediately feel that he is part of the family.

There are several reasons why we suggest minimizing your puppy’s initial living space.  The biggest reason is that a defined and personal space for your puppy will assist in his potty training. Your puppy has a natural instinct that tells him not to “potty in his space”.  Keeping this instinct “in play” will help you to be more successful in “getting him outside” to “the correct potty space”.

A smaller area will help assure that there aren’t “bad things that he can get into” if you don’t have the ability to watch him.  Make sure that you provide him with toys and distractions you want him to play with while he is in his space.  This will help direct him towards the correct action of playing with his toys and not destroying your stuff.

LEAVING YOUR PUPPY ALONE AT HOME:  We strongly suggest that you do not leave your new puppy alone for long periods of time.  I define “long periods of time” as leaving your puppy alone all day while you are gone at work. In most cases, he just came from a situation where he was with his brothers and sisters and Mommie. He has never been alone for a long period of time and forcibly introducing him to such an experience can be quite scary.

It doesn’t matter how many toys you may leave your puppy as you walk out the door.  Those toys will only amuse him for so long.  If you have left him in a room, he will eventually “find the baseboards”. He may also find “bad things” such as light cords that could physically harm him.

If you must be gone for a long time, make sure that his area is clear of all types of items that may be dangerous for him, things that could make a big mess, or things you don’t want destroyed. If he has had all four of his shots (see above), we strongly recommend that you find a doggie day care for him.  If you work and are gone five days a week, we suggest that you take him to the doggie day care two or three times a week. If he hasn’t had all his shots, we suggest that you find a helpful neighbor who can stop in a few times a day to play with him and take him out for potty.  There are also dog walking companies that will provide this service.  The bottom line is “don’t make your new puppy a shut in”.

We explained to our client that these recommendations are all based on steering Freddie into our world in a way that he can understand.  Our actions must be performed in such a manner that he always feels safe, happy, and secure in the environment that we have created and are providing for him.

Please call or text us at (770) 718-7704 if you need any dog training help.  You can also email us at [email protected]. We are blessed to have been your local dog training experts for over nineteen years.  We have trained over 6,000 wonderful dogs and great families and are ready to help you.