Every day, we do puppy training at our Providence, Rhode Island location. We are constantly working on crate training, house breaking, name recognition, shaping commands, and a host of other behaviors we want our new puppies to understand. Unfortunately and all too often, clients come to us because they’re having problems they never anticipated being an issue. Much of this is due to the fact that they didn’t pick out the perfect puppy . . . for them!
Picking a puppy based on looks is an all too common mistake and often leads to sleepless nights, constant “headaches”, and dogs ending up in shelters. The number one rule when choosing a breed is to pick a dog that will match your lifestyle. If you love to be low-key and are more of a homebody, a high-energy dog like a Labrador Retriever, German Shepherd, or Belgian Malinois would not be the breed for you. Of course there are exceptions to the rule, but by in large, these breeds tend to be high energy and require a substantial amount of mental and physical exercise. On the other hand, if you lead an extremely active lifestyle, an English Bulldog wont be your best choice as a companion as they get winded easily, aren’t likely to enjoy long hikes, and prefer to lay around with their humans.
Once you’ve done some research to figure out what breed would best fit your lifestyle, your next step is to find a rescue or reputable breeder in your area. Although it will be a longer wait and will require more work on your end, make sure the rescue or breeder does a thorough interview process and requires references. Breeders should have the dam and sire (mother and father) on the premises, and they should NEVER let you take the dog before eight weeks old. Properly raised puppies aren’t cheap, but you want to avoid any breeder who’s more concerned with making money than they are about the welfare of their dogs.
So you’ve done your research, made your choice, and now you’re ready to bring your new family member home. Be prepared for your world to change! This shouldn’t discourage you from bringing a dog into your life, but you should be prepared. Puppies require time, energy, and effort on your part. Be prepared to wake up in the middle of the night for potty breaks, spend time playing with and exercising your pup, and spend time training your newest family member so he knows exactly what the rules are. Remember that it takes dogs 48-72 hours to adjust to their new environments. During this time, try to avoid overwhelming your puppy by introducing him to all of your distant relatives or by taking him to a bunch of new places. Show him where his area will be and let him get adjusted to living there. You will have plenty of time to socialize him and allow him to have new experiences.
Here at Providence Dog Trainers: Off Leash K9 Training, we constantly get asked:
“What do I need to do with my new puppy to make them great?”
We always give the same simple yet complex answer: “Everything!” In order to have a new puppy turn into a well-rounded, social, friendly, well-behaved, and obedient dog, you need to do everything you can with him. The more exposure your puppy gets to different sights, sounds, and smells, the more comfortable he’ll be. With that in mind, you want to expose him to as many different looking people as possible: tall people, short people, young people, old people, people with beards, hats, sunglasses, hoodies, and people of all races and all ethnicities. These initial meetings should be either positive or uneventful. Don’t allow anyone to force himself or herself into your new puppy’s space. Instead, allow your puppy to explore them. Once his body language tells you he’s become comfortable, sky’s the limit. Allow him to play, be praised, and make sure he walks away from each experience looking forward to the next time they meet. This same process should be used for dogs. You want your puppy to spend time around large breeds, toy breeds, and each size in between. You want them to experience high energy dogs, barking dogs, and dogs that play roughly. However, you want to be even more cautious in these scenarios because you don’t want your dog to develop a fear or aggression toward other dogs. To avoid this, don’t allow your dog to be overwhelmed. Keep an eye on his body language and make sure to step in and advocate for your pup if necessary. Remember-dog parks should be avoided as the odds are your new puppy will have a bad experience there! You do not need to socialize in a dog park. Instead, keep your doggy play dates to a maximum of three dogs (including your puppy). During this process, you also want to have your puppy around as many sights and smells as possible, so bring him to new places: parks, train stations, Main Street, dog friendly stores. Make sure he sees bicycles, skateboards, motorcycles, and cars. Desensitizing your puppy to these different elements with help create a stable dog that won’t be afraid to go anywhere or be around anyone or anything! Properly socializing and desensitizing creates a solid foundation and significantly decreases the likelihood of your pup developing fear, aggression, and/or anxiety in new situations.
The final element to raising the perfect puppy is obedience training. At Providence Dog Trainers, we are regularly asked about when to start training. Again, our answer is always the same: “Yesterday!” Start training your puppy from the moment you bring him home. Teach him boundaries inside the home, introduce him to his crate, and teach him to spend time on his bed. During the first few months, you want to use reward-based training to teach your puppy his basic obedience commands such as come, sit, place, heel, down, and break (a release command). Once your dog hits the five-month mark, you can begin e-collar training which is, by far, the most effective, consistent, and clear way to communicate with your pup! If you are not familiar with e-collar training, please seek the help of a qualified professional. If you’re in the Rhode Island area, we can help. If you’re more than fifty miles from us, check out this site to find a trainer near you!
For more information on Puppy Training, read: Raising the Perfect Dog, written by Nicholas White, Founder & CEO of Off Leash K9 Training
Above all else, remember to have fun and enjoy your time with your new puppy!
Warmest Wags and Woofs,