I know you’re a little overwhelmed right now; a dog is a lot of responsibility. But don’t worry! I’ve worked with hundreds of dogs as a Certified Professional Dog Trainer and I’ve got your back.
Here are 9 things you need to know to get you and your new pup off on the right foot.
1. Dogs are cute, but they’re also a lot of work
Your dog is an animal with thoughts, feelings, and needs. Training a puppy is a challenge— in fact, it’s a full time job! Consider adopting an older dog if you’re not sure about tackling that challenge. Alternatively, you can become a part-time dog walker to make more canine friends, or volunteer at a shelter to get more experience with dogs before adding one to your family.
2. Everything is a chew toy to a dog
If it’s within reach and they can get their little jaws around it, it’s a chew toy to them!
Help teach dogs the difference between real toys and shoes, remote controls, and underwear by leaving the latter locked up or out of reach— especially for puppies and adolescent dogs.
3. The word “no” can be confusing
‘No’ is overused in dog-human communication. Most dogs don’t even know what it means, or not really. If you tell them ‘No!’ when they jump up on you, have an accident, bark, and steal food, the only common denominator they’ll see is themselves. Suddenly, their name is ‘No!’
Instead of saying ‘no,’ tell your dog the behavior you want. When jumping, ask for a ‘sit,’ when attempting to steal food, ask for a ‘leave it,’ and so on. These words have only one meaning and your dog will learn them with practice.
4. Not all collars are made alike
Avoid gimmicks. A flat buckle collar, martingale-style collar (harder to escape from), or a front-pull harness coupled with a good trainer or class are all you need to practice the art of the loose-leash walk. A pocket full of treats won’t hurt either!
We’ve got the 411 on all the major collar types right here.
5. Retractable leashes are trouble
Keep your dog out of danger and prevent your own injuries by using a regular old six-foot leash on walks. Here’s how to get started on loose-leash walking now.
6. Puzzle toys are a dog’s best friend
Enrichment is the key to preventing doggy boredom. What’s the easiest way to enrich? Puzzle toys. This includes everything from a KONG toy to a Nina Ottoson-style puzzle to a snuffle mat.
In addition to working your dog’s mind, these types of toys and devices can also help your dog to form positive associations to otherwise uncomfortable things like a crate, car ride or being left alone. Check out our top 10 puzzle toy recommendations here.
7. There’s no such thing as a ‘pack leader’ or ‘alpha dog’
Stick with science in your dog training, not 50 year-old disproven research. Positive reinforcement training (also called rewards-based training) is how an animal learns most effectively and is the only method approved by the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior. Train with a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-ka), not a self-educated ‘dog whisperer.’
8. Feel free to let your dog sleep next to you
If you’re okay with it and that’s where they like to be, there’s no reason to stress about your dog sleeping next to you. Once they’ve had a taste of the good life in the big bed, demoting them to the floor in the future will be a huge challenge, however!
9. Peanut butter makes great toothpaste
Save yourself thousands of dollars down the road by starting with good dental hygiene early on.
Your dog probably won’t like the toothbrush much, so start by slathering it with peanut butter and brush away. After a few weeks of this, you can switch to a doggy toothpaste (never a human toothpaste) of a similar flavor.
Featured image: Dreamstime