As you are well aware I deal with a variety of dog related problems in my work, some of the time I can’t help but think these problems could’ve been prevented in the first place. This has to be dealt with when your puppy is young. Begin as soon as you get them from the breeder.
For the next six weeks I will give guidance to what I believe are the worst problems that begin at puppy level and then like a tree the problem just grows until you the owner can’t cope anymore.
How do I get a dog I can take anywhere?
When you go to select a puppy make sure you do your research, does this breed suit you and your lifestyle? By this I mean please don’t buy a collie if you’re a couch potato or a husky if you don’t like exercise, I am not targeting these two breeds I am just using them as an example. After that look into breeders, are they a reputable breeder? Do they ask you lots of questions? Are they giving you an opportunity to ask LOTS of questions? Please make sure the answer to all these questions is “yes”! Onto when you pick your puppy, if the puppy is petrified and hides at the back of the whelp box imagine what it will do when you take it home….my advice, turn around, walk away and source another breeder. For fearful puppies unfortunately the damage is already done, leave these puppies to people who know what they are doing and can help.
Getting a puppy is an opportunity to have everything you ever wanted in a dog. You can take them anywhere, they are not afraid of fireworks or traffic. They cope well with kids and all humans. This will be down to your teaching in the early weeks, making sure that you build up positive associations to every aspect of your busy life style and more. You can easily influence them at this stage by reacting in a way that can cause an issue, without meaning it I hasten to add. It’s very similar to a human child, I see parents making their children scared of dogs because they are scared of dogs, My husband is petrified of wasps and imprinted that on my eldest son. I am not good with heights and on one holiday we had the top floor in a hotel (14 floors up) with a huge balcony overlooking the Cancun beach, instead of making my kids scared for a few days I went out on the balcony alone looking straight forward rather than down, don’t get me wrong it didn’t cure my vertigo but I was then able to stand on the balcony with the kids without panicking and enjoy the view.
So an example for your puppy, you are walking down the street with your new bundle on a leash (after vaccinations!!) and you spot a larger dog or perhaps a breed that receives negative press, you tense up slightly a little concerned that harm could come to you or your puppy. If this situation turns out badly then you will not only reinforce your own fear but will then start a fear in your puppy which can potentially take a long time with a lot of hard work to solve.
So how do you avoid these scenarios? By remaining calm and being ready to give tasty treats every time you feel your puppy is unsure. If however it is you who is frightened then turn and walk the other way. It is a very simple thing to do. Paint a picture in your mind of a positive outcome and relax, chances are nothing will happen anyway! In turn your puppy will detect your calm and will feel secure that YOU can deal with any situation. We once had a lovely woman attend puppy class with a 14 week old toy breed; on her form it said her puppy was really terrified of Rottweiler’s. When I questioned her regarding this, I thought that her delightful bundle (who appeared bomb proof) had had a negative experience with the breed. It turned out her puppy had never met one! The lady herself had a bad experience with a previous dog of hers and was carrying that bad experience over. Can you imagine if that lady had seen a rottie, she would have scooped that puppy up in sheer panic and potentially created a problem! Instead we had a previous client come in with her Rottweiler and let the lady handle that dog; turns out she fell for the breed (not a difficult thing to do)
The other common one is excitement to visitors into the home, your puppy is only reacting to you rushing to answer the door. If your puppy is excited at the prospect of you opening the door imagine what they are going to be like when you actually open it. Remain calm ask for a little distance and then open the door. Stick a note on your door, learner puppy please be patient!
Get them used to loud bangs, traffic, vet waiting rooms, buses, trains, wheelie bins, children, old people, people in high vis vests etc. You SHOULD do this before vaccination, carry them though don’t let them walk. You more than likely have a three to four week wait before they are fully covered and by that time it’s probably too late!
With my puppies it’s all about the social in the early days, short trips on a busy high street armed with kibble & liver….Kibble for average things like woman or parked cars and liver for harder things like buses, push chairs and children. This helps them build up good experiences with things. I put on the history channel whilst we play, there is always war documentaries on with plenty bangs, I have this down low at first and then build it up, if at any stage your puppy looks a little freaked then turn it down you’ve went to fast. This is firework preparation. I take them to the local school at home time, I let the kids come and say hi, I give the kids kibble to feed them so long as the puppy sits ,You should already be doing this by carrying them! I start with quiet kids and by the end of a week kids are screaming with excitement, stroking and enjoying giving the puppy a biscuit, I will add here however make sure that your puppy is COMFORTABLE with fuss, you don’t want to cause the opposite and make them frightened. I also sit at the bus station, train station, park benches, outside supermarkets, anywhere I think my dog may one day have to go. Armed with kibble, liver & peanut butter biscuits! Just sitting watching the world go by is an excellent training session in itself.
So get creative and get out there!!!
The power of positivity X©