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Joyful pup or nightmare dog?

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CHRISTMAS PUPPYChristmas is over and the joy of having a new puppy may be a strain at this point. You have urine on the couch, fecal material on the carpet, chew marks on the furniture and your best pair of shoes is chewed to shreds!  Your first thoughts are, “our other dog never did those things in the 13 years we had him.”  He did.  You just forgot!

Puppyhood can be a very trying time, but luckily it is a very short time relatively.  How short or how long is directly proportional to how much time you spend with your puppy, and how good a teacher you are.  Puppies, like children, respond negatively or positively, according to the role model they have to follow.

For example, if you want to teach a dog to urinate on command, pick out a key word such as “potty,” “pee,” “poo,” or “tinkle.”  Whatever it is, keep it to one word he will get to know.  Every time the puppy squats to do his business, give him the word.  Pretty soon you can give him the word and he will squat to do the business.  We, as humans expect learning at hyper-speed though, and dictate lines like, “Let’s go outside and go potty in the yard right now!”  By some miracle we expect our puppy to pick out the most important word!

Another problem is giving multiple meanings for the same word.  An example is the word, “down.”  If a dog jumps up, we say, “get down.”  If we expect a dog to sit, we say, “sit down.”  When we want him to go into the down position, we say, “lay down.”  So what does “down” mean?  It would be better to say words like, “off,” “sit,” and “down.”

It is very important that everyone in the family uses the same words to not confuse the puppy.  Another confusing problem for the puppy is when you discipline in a foreign language.  You can’t discipline and teach at the same time.  When it is time to discipline, you need to speak in the puppy’s language.  If you ever have seen mom discipline her puppies, it is with a low growl and the puppies instantly know they are in trouble.  Likewise, when you discipline a pup, you can say “no,” but put it in the form of a growl.

Just as with children, pick your battles carefully, but never start a line of discipline and quit before you make your point.  Dogs are pack animals and their whole life is pecking order.  If they win a battle, they will not respect you as the leader of the pack.

Your puppy can give you one of the most joyous times of your life – if you start training early.  Without training, he can be your biggest nightmare.  In fact, one of the main reasons dogs end up at the pound is because lack of training leads to destructive, unruly, and negative pet behavior.  Do your part and you will enjoy your pup!

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