A common reason for dog abandonment is due to behaviour perceived as ‘bad’. When undesirable behaviour begins, it can be difficult to resolve and often the frustration of both puppy and owner sets in motion a vicious cycle of behaviours and owner response. The saddest thing is that it is usually our fault. Sounds harsh doesn’t it? But dogs aren’t born ‘bad’ or disobedient, they just need the right guidance and a great deal of patience. So if you’re thinking of embarking upon puppy parenthood, get prepared mentally and get your training plan in order. Here are a six things NOT to do, just to kick-start your thought process.
1. Forget to take the time to formally train them.
Even clever and so called easy-to-train breeds don’t automatically know how to act. You may have opted for a Labrador puppy, after all they are willing to please and have a reputation for being easy to train. Still you must do just that. Train them. Take the time to teach them recall, to walk on a lead well and not to take food from the table. Otherwise, just like any dog, they will seemingly ignore your calls, pull your arms out of their sockets and steal titbits at any opportunity. And if you’ve chosen a wonderfully tenacious type such as a terrier, expect to set aside plenty of time energy for the training process.
Just don’t give up, have faith. Even the stubborn or less equipped in the wit department will come right eventually. These dogs make good results all the more rewarding.
2. Fail to do your research on behaviour training methods, make it up as you go along.
The key to success with behaviour training is getting good advice and techniques and implementing them in a consistent manner. So research and talk to behaviourists first.
3. Punish that bad puppy.
The days of punishing for bad behaviour are thankfully gone. And with good reason. Positive reinforcement works so much better! Imagine being a puppy who for whatever reason has made a wrong move. They are likely to be confused. The chances are, despite your best efforts something went awry in the communication process and they just misunderstood. Then they are shouted at or smacked. Will they be willing, more attentive students the next time round? Or will they be scared of you, anxious in future training sessions and more likely to switch off mentally? The latter is true. Puppies who obey due to anxiety learn more slowly and have less bond with their owners, compared to puppies who enjoy training and are praised for every right move while the wrong moves are ignored .
4. Be with them 24/7, never leave their side.
While puppies need a lot of attention and care, gradually building up ‘alone time’ from a young age will prevent your upholstery being stripped or your remote control being chewed when you have to pop out for a few hours in future. Provide a safe, secure place with familiar items such as toys and start by leaving them for 5 minutes while you’re in the other room. Doing so when they are tired is a good idea so that they are calm. Gradually build this up over the months to come, and hopefully you’ll have one chilled pup who even relishes a little snoozy alone time now and then.
5. Shield them from the outside world.
It’s important that your puppy learns and accepts the sights, sounds and smells of the big wide world. While they must be vaccinated before they can really take the outdoors on, steadily introduce them to dogs, traffic, and life generally, in a calm manner so that nothing is a shock in the long run. Don’t bamboozle their brains all at once, make new experiences gradual and happy.
6. Get really worked up about doing the right thing and don’t enjoy your puppy’s early years.
Having done the research and made all the preparations, enjoy puppy time! Training can be great fun and extremely rewarding and watching your puppy grow and develop is something to be enjoyed and relished.