|Posted on August 29, 2012 at 12:35 AM|
Now that I have a puppy, I feel like the clock is ticking really fast. There’s so much to learn and so little time! Come, sit, stay…these are the things that most people think of when they think of puppy training, but because of break throughs in our understanding of dog behavior, I know that several other things are more important for puppies to learn in their early months. Halle is learning much of this in her Kinder Puppy class.
As a dog trainer, it’s a no brainer that my puppy is enrolled in puppy classes but the training doesn’t start and end on Tuesday evenings. I practice a little with Halle every day. I make sure that Halle gets out and is exposed to new people, other dogs, novel sights and sounds. We also practice good manners (greeting people politely and loose leash walking). I cannot wait until she is six months old to teach her not to jump on strangers or to not pull on the leash. There is a very short window of opportunity for this essential puppy training. After that time, it will become far more difficult for her to learn some of these things.
I was at Home Depot on Saturday working with Halle. A lady walked by and asked, “How old is your puppy?” When I told her 9 weeks, she was floored at how well behaved she was. People have made comments like, “Oh she’s a golden retriever, so she’s naturally well behaved.” Or, “She’s a calm puppy so she can do that.” Although this does play a role in her behavior, it doesn’t nearly make up for the time, patience and effort that I put in to training her each day to be a polite and well-mannered puppy.
First, I have realistic expectations of what my nine week old puppy can do. When we visit a new place with lots of people and distractions, I give her 100% of my attention. If I am training and want to keep my puppy’s attention, I can’t be distracted myself. This means that if I need to actually shop at Home Depot, I leave my puppy at home. If I want to go on a walk with a friend and chat, I would take my puppy on a separate walk so I can give her my undivided attention and teach her good leash manners and how to greet people she meets along the way.
The time to start the training isn’t when you’re already on the tight rope. The time to train is in places where there’s little competion for your puppy's attention. First, I train inside my home and then in the driveway, then on the sidewalk and then I take the show on the road. I want to set her up for success. I also bring really high value treats with me each time I train away from home. I start by exposing her to the new environment at a distance. She’s young and needs to process everything going on around her before I start to ask her for behaviors that require a lot of self-control for a puppy her age.
A combination of short, daily training sessions, socialization and Kinder Puppy class will help Halle to grow up to be a happy, well-adjusted adult dog. The lessons she learns from other puppies and the people she meets during these first 20 weeks will last a lifetime. I have to make sure that we continue to do our homework before the clock stops ticking.
If you are expecting a new puppy, do your homework and find a great puppy class with a Certified Professional Dog Trainer. You can find a Certified Professional Dog Trainer in your area by visiting www.CCPDT.ORG Ask to sit in on a class so you can see if the teaching style would work for you.
Train on! Sniff On!
Susie & Halle