Does this sound familiar: “I have a 7 week old puppy that will not stop biting. It’s playful but needs to stop. I do not know what to do to stop this. My little kids don’t want to play with him because they’re afraid of him.”
I hear it all the time. And every time, I’m amazed at how many of my new puppy clients are surprised when their new puppy starts to relentlessly bite and jump on them and the kids.
Puppies jump and bite. That’s how they play with their littermates. Why would you expect them to act differently, just because they’re now in your home? When your new puppy comes to live with you, he doesn’t know any different – at least until he is taught.
I understand, teaching and training your new puppy can be frustrating and this frustration usually hits the boiling stage when you have had enough or realize you’re not doing something right. By the time you get to this point, too much time was wasted in the very beginning when your new puppy first comes home. This is about the time you realize you should have begun to set consistent rules boundaries and expectations when the puppy walked or was carried in the front door.
If you are my new puppy client, for me, 75% of my focus is on you, the puppy owner. My puppy training is more about training you on how to implement these rules, boundaries and expectations – and be consistent with them! The sooner you learn how to consistently apply rules and set routines and schedules, the better chance your puppy has of staying in your home. Your puppy training then becomes much easier.
I do have to give credit to all the puppy owners out there that do their homework and have taken the time to think things through. But like I said, there are still many that are always surprised to see how much work they have to do.
You really have to think things through before you get your puppy.
Do you have a game plan?
Here are some things you need to have thought about and planned on how you’re going to handle before you have the puppy:
Have you thought about having to work all day and who’s going to take the puppy out to potty? He cannot be left in a crate 8-10 hours while you work. His daily needs don’t go on hold until you get home from work.
In addition to not having a game plan, let’s look at the emotional side of your relationship with your new puppy. Everyone is guilty of creating an emotional relationship with their puppy. I’m guilty of it too. I’ve just learned to include sits for affection.
I would say that probably 95% of our relationship with our new puppy is emotional – meaning, everyday folks like you and me try to get our puppies to respond to and interpret our human feelings. We create and perpetuate an emotional relationship based on their feelings – not necessarily what the puppy needs.
You should not deal with your puppy in the same way you would deal with your children or other loved ones – through physical affection like hugs, carrying him around, tons of attention, letting him have whatever he wants. The problem with all this is your puppy doesn’t interpret your feelings and gestures as humans do – he interprets quite differently than you might expect.
“Love and affection is a classic example.” I’ll bet you got your new puppy home and showered him with love and affection, carried him around, probably responded to every whimper or demand he had because it’s important to you that your puppy knows he is loved and loved a lot!
The problem with this is much the same as when kids are not given structure, boundaries and expectations of behavior – it fosters a feeling of free floating anxiety and uncertainty, because the feeling is, that no one is in charge.
Your puppy needs structure and boundaries to help him feel secure and less stressed because he can predict what is going to happen, when it is going to happen and exactly what part he plays. He locks on and learns these predictable routines and duties. As an example, he eats at 6:00 a.m. 12:00pm and 6:00 p.m. and you require he sits and downs for his food.
Let me put this into human terms so that you’ll better understand how a new puppy feels on his first day coming into your home and no one begins to teach the puppy what is expected.
Here’s your human scenario:
Let’s say that you got a new job and you show up for work on a Monday morning about 7:50 a.m. – 10 minutes early to make a good impression. You are in the lobby but no one is there to meet you but you figure you are early so you just hang out. Very soon it gets to be 8:15 then 8:30 and you start to feel a bit anxious and insecure about being there and you think to yourself, “Maybe it’s the wrong Monday.” So you sit down at a desk in the lobby to check your smart phone and someone comes up and says, “Excuse me, you’re sitting at my desk….” Then you just happen to find your desk, but no one tells you what your job is, who your boss is, what time lunch is, and where the bathroom is! Good grief!
Wouldn’t it be better if when you showed up, someone greeted you right away and said, “Hi! I’m Robert, your supervisor, good to meet you. Here’s a list of your job duties and responsibilities. You work 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and lunch is from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. Check in with me at the end of each day to go over your accomplishments and by the way, this is your desk over here. Once you get settled in, I’ll take you around and introduce you to your co-workers.” Suddenly all your anxieties and insecurities wash away because of one thing: Structure and a clear-cut plan of exactly what is expected of you.
Start on day one with your new puppy. Give him a clear roadmap to successfully negotiate the potholes of life with humans. Oh yeah, don’t forget the love and affection. All you have to do is to require him to sit to earn it! Just say, “Sit!”
I have an audio product that we put up on Amazon about a year or so ago. It got great reviews. We’ve now have it on our site and we also put a listening guide with it. It’s great stuff. If you’re going to be getting a puppy or know someone who just got one, be a good friend and tell them they really need to understand what I call Puppy Training Sins. They’ll thank you for it and if it’s your puppy – no thanks needed, that’s what I’m here for.
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Jim Burwell is a “thanks for making the impossible, possible” professional dog trainer having trained 20,000+ dogs and counting and serving more than 7,000 clients. Jim’s easy to follow, common sense, and positive methods have made him the “dog trainer of choice” for 30 years. One of his clients says it best: There are people who are so good at, and passionate about, what they do, that in their presence, one can’t help thinking that they have found their true calling and are doing exactly what they should be doing on this earth. Jim is one of these rare people. His quiet and understated manner, his effective technique for training dogs (and their families) is something which I feel fortunate to have witnessed and in which to have been an active participant. Jane Wagner
(c)Jim Burwell Inc.