by Nikki Elliot
This time of the year is often when we decide to acquire a new pet. It is a new year and we have waited until the end of the holidays or our children are now old enough to “look after” their own pet, or maybe we have made the decision to get a companion for our other dog. There may be many reasons, but often we have forgotten how much work it takes to deal with a young puppy. New pets will be a trial in the beginning as we try to meet their needs, get them used to our homes, our children, and our other pets, and training them to live with us in an acceptable manner. Puppies can be especially difficult because they have to be “potty” trained, taught not to chew our favourite shoes(!) and generally not to be destructive in our homes. All of these behaviours are natural for the puppy, but not acceptable to us.
There is nothing magic that will take away the work, but we do know that the stronger the bond between you and your puppy, the more work you will be willing to put in to help him understand what is required from him. The more time you spend with your puppy, the more attached you become to him, and he to you. We also know that when interaction with the puppy is rewarding, the stronger the bond will become between the two of you.
Make a point of always having fun with your puppy, play lots of games together and spent quiet time cuddling him- (this, of course, may only happen when he is sleeping!). As soon as he is vaccinated, go for walks, sign up for puppy classes to learn how to relate to your puppy better and to teach him good manners. Training techniques have changed dramatically over the past few years. Look out for classes the use positive reinforcement training techniques, classes where you and your puppy have fun and socialize.
Try to minimize the unpleasant times by following a regular schedule for house training. “Pet-proof” your house, pick up your shoes, your children’s toys and keep other valuables away from your puppy. The fewer accidents you have to clean up and the fewer items your puppy damages (some damage is inevitable), the happier you will be with your puppy and the less frustrated you will become.
Try to make looking after your puppy as easy as possible for yourself. Get family members to help, especially by picking things up off the floor. Anything on the floor is fair game for a puppy!
Always keep in mind that new puppy stresses don’t last forever. Your puppy will be house trained and develop good manners in time. The time and effort you put in from the beginning will pay off later in a well-adjusted and well-trained dog.