Puppyism 101

Puppies are cute, clumsy and just oh so cute. That is why a lot of families choose to get a fresh out of the litter puppy verses an older dog. There is a lot of pros and cons with this decision, this article goes over the benefits and the responsibilities of choosing a puppy as your new family member. I will also go over the basic safety concerns, and attention a puppy needs once you bring him home. There are many things to consider when bringing home a puppy, they have a lot in common with an infant, so those families with kids, you wont be completely lost!

The biggest pro of getting a puppy is, well, they are so cute! There is nothing that brightens your day than to see a little ball of fluff falling all over the place trying to run to you as fast as they can, or playing with a toy on the floor. There is just something about puppies that are irresistible, and you just can't get enough. On the training side, dogs are like people, they have a genetic personality and an environmental personality. This mean that there are a lot of behaviors or personality traits that tend to be genetic within the breed or even the litter. This is why getting a good breeder and meeting the litter parents are so important. Within one litter you will find many different personalities. Traits like barking, confidence and adaptability have more to do with breeding than training. What this means for you is that a puppies environmental personality is up to you and how you raise the pup. So you have a little more control over the habits that your puppy develops, good and bad.

The biggest thing going against getting a puppy is the work. Bringing home a puppy is very similar to brining home a baby. Puppies need to sleep a lot like a baby, which is tough for young kids who want to play with the puppy all the time. Puppies need to be fed three to four times a day. You don't need 2am feedings like a baby, but a puppy's eating schedule is crucial especially to help with the other tough job about getting a puppy, potty training. Puppies should really never be left alone to run free in the house, but especially while you are potty training. The pup should either be under your watchful eye or in their crate. The important point of potty training is timing.

When you keep your pup on a strict schedule, it makes catching mistakes so much easier. When a pup wakes up in the morning they should directly be taken outside to potty. Then it should be breakfast time, about an hour after breakfast, another potty time. You should be taking your little guy out about once an hour for the first little bit. This will help you get an idea of their potty times, and adjust your schedule accordingly. Puppies also need to go out after playtime, anytime you play with a puppy and get them all excited, they should be taken outside afterwards. After every meal they should be taken out, then a couple more times after dinner and before bed. This will give your dog plenty of opportunity to do their business outside, most dogs prefer going outside anyways, so like a cat to a litter box, if you do this step right, the rest should be easy.

If you see a pee spot or a little puppy dropping in the house, drop your head in shame and clean up, there is nothing you can do. Even if its still warm, the puppy has already forgot that they did that, so punishment of any sort will do more harm than good. If you punish a dog for going to the bathroom in your home, you are actually just punishing them for getting caught going in the house. This develops a nasty habit of hiding their bathroom mistakes and that is much worse. This is where vigilance plays a key role in potty training. If you catch your pup making the mistake, this is where you can teach. Never get angry, you should make a loud noise to startle the dog, you can clap and say “No” in a strong voice, but whatever noise you make, go straight to the dog and pick them up (hopefully stopping the potty process) and take the dog immediately outside. Now you wont always get them to finish their business outside, but watch them out there for at least 5 minutes to make sure they are done. If the dog does finish outside, praise praise praise! Give treats, a favorite game or what ever makes your dog happy. This will solidify the concept that peeing in the house bad, peeing outside good!

There are many schools of thought on potty training and crate training, I think all are good and it depends on the individuals situation and of course the dog. Crate training a dog can sound bad and puts many people off. Remember, dogs came from a long line of den dwellers. They have a natural instinct to sleep and rest in a den. If you approach crate training with this concept it does help. Crate training helps in the potty training process because dogs don't like to use their den like a bathroom, so it trains the dog to “hold it”. So if you are home most of the day, or you work but come home for breaks or lunch, or you can pay a dog walker, crate training is not a bad thing. You cannot leave your dog in a crate all day. If you work and can't come home to walk the dog, you need to figure out a way for your pooch to get daily exercise and use the bathroom. Your boss doesn't expect you to not use the bathroom all day, don't expect your dog to.

I am gone a very large chunk of the day. I work from 9 to 5 like most people. When I trained my puppy we let her out often and she would rather go to the bathroom outside. Now I don't have a dog walker, so I feed her then I take Roxy for a long walk in the morning and let her run in the field by our house (again, a tired dog is a happy dog) if it is raining we play in the yard for a good half hour. When she was young we raised her in a pen. She had a pen in the kitchen that was large enough for her water, her bed, a play area, and a peepee pad. Now, peepee pads I think are a great resource for dogs who are left home during the day. This is completely dependent on your dog. There are many bad things a dog can do if left alone in your house. Now puppies I always recommend a pen because it limits what the dog can do. It also teaches the dog that the toys in the pen are good things to chew because dogs tend to chew when they are left to their own devices, so giving them an area with only appropriate things to chew sets them up for success. After a while, I gave Roxy more and more room. We took away the pen and put a baby gate in so she only had access to the kitchen and living room. She has never chewed anything she wasn't supposed to and she doesn't use her peepee pad much. I try to come home from work for a quick walk, if I can't or if I have to stay late at work, there is usually a little peepee mark on the pad, which I just pick up and throw in the trash. Its even easier than doing kitty litter! So for all those die hard crate trainer, I do admit that there are many benefits to that method and that is usually the standard of training, there are always options for those of us who can't do crate training. I always emphasize give the dog many opportunities to go outside and you wont have a problem.

Puppies are great, they bring a whole new life to any home and fill our hearts with a great compassion towards others. They teach children respect and responsibility as well as patience. Training a pup is very important. It is never too young to learn. Just like children they absorb their environment and learn by experience, so it is important to be consistent with training and expose your dog to as many experiences as possible. You should start training basic commands right away, sit, stay, come, and learning their name. Dogs are very sensitive to your tone more than the words, so when praising a dog, use a higher pitched happy tone. When correcting a dog don't yell, but lower your tone and say the correction strongly. There are many great reasons to get a puppy over an older dog, if you are willing to put in the time and work a puppy requires you will not be disappointed. Always remember, like children, they are raised by you and any bad behavior they develop, you should look to you and how you reinforce that behavior.

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My name is Ashley Lang. I am a passionate, professional, and dedicated dog trainer.

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