So goes the high pitched sound of every man, woman and child as soon as they see a brand new puppy. Me included.
If you look up cuteness in the dictionary you’ll see it reads, ‘the quality of being attractive in a pretty or endearing way’, but a better description would be ‘a 9 week old puppy!’
I mean, what’s not to like?
The dopey eyes.
The bambiesque legs.
The sweet smelling paw pads.
The unspoiled softness of puppy fur.
I’m going all gooey-eyed just writing this stuff down.
It’s all there for you to enjoy!
Well, for the 12 minutes your dog remains a cute little puppy anyway…
Okay, 12 minutes may be a slight exaggeration, but it really doesn’t take long for your dainty little puppy to develop into a giant mass of clumsiness.
He’s till lovable for sure, but that ‘cute factor’ soon evaporates, and what’s left is what resembles a normal pet dog.
If you really want to know how quickly the cute factor wears off, just see how other people react to what you’re puppy does. A 10 week old puppy will get cooed at, praised and stroked when they stand up on their back legs as they attempt to get affection from a stranger.
But two months down the line, and that same stranger will usually be a lot less keen to be trampled on, especially if you own a large breed with muddy paws.
And the fact is puppyhood period (the first six months anyway) represents such a small part of the dogs overall life.
It can be as low as 1/36 for some long living breeds.
So, before we dive into the training lessons, let’s quickly talk about exactly what kind of dog you want your puppy to become.
Personally I want my dog to be;
Friendly (non-aggressive) but not too friendly with other people and dogs.
Easy to exercise and control off lead.
And happy to be left alone at home if I’m not there.
And if you want to enjoy a long, happy and stress-free relationship with your dog, then you should have the same goals.
This means from the moment you bring your puppy home from the breeder, almost everything you do with him needs to be a purposeful activity that will help him develop into the dog you desire.
Purposeful doesn’t mean you need to be training your puppy all the time, or that you aren’t going to enjoy yourself, far from it. You’ll have loads of fun following the program I lay out in this book.
But, because puppies are little sponges that quickly soak up knowledge, it’s vital you only allow your puppies to practise behaviours that will contribute to him being a well behaved dog.
For example, you can’t say that one of your future goals is you want to be able to safely exercise your dog off lead in the park, but then allow your puppy to learn to enjoy chasing squirrels, pigeons and other dogs.
That’s like me saying I really want to lose weight and get fitter but then not doing any exercise and munching on cookies every time I walk into the kitchen. Those behaviours make it impossible (or at least incredibly difficult) for me to reach my goal of losing weight.
And similarly, if we want your puppy to be easy to exercise, ok left home alone, well socialised and non-fearful of most things then the actions we take on a daily basis have to be in line with those goals. Keep this in mind as you progress through the training. There is always a reason, usually a very good one why I suggest what I do in this book. This shit works.
Before the puppy arrives
There’s a Japanese saying which goes ‘the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, the second best time is now’.
Well the best time to train a dog is the first time bring him home as a puppy, and if you haven’t started yet, then the second best time is now.
I’m going to assume you have just acquired, or will very soon be getting your puppy, so let me lay out a plan of action you can follow from the moment you bring your him home.
Actually, let’s take it back a step, and quickly run though what you should do before you even bring him home.
There are lots of things you can do to puppy proof your house which will make the first few days as stress free as possible.
Puppy proofing your house.
I read a newspaper article about teenage footballers who are talented and lucky enough to play for Premier League clubs. These kids are sometimes given £100,000 a week to kick a ball around. I’m not jealous at all, honest.
But, unless these guys are super grounded and have a great support system in place then it’s not surprising that some of them go a bit nuts when they progress from earning £300-£1500 a week to £100,000. I don’t know what the solution is to that particular problem but I do know you need to avoid giving your puppy too much, too soon.
If your puppy has easy and immediate access to all of the rooms, food toys and affection that he desires then he will be excited, overwhelmed and really difficult to control.
Your puppy is going to be pretty excited anyway to enter you home which is full of sights, smells and other interesting stuff.
He will need no invitation to sniff, lick and chew anything he can reach in his new house. You can help him get acclimatised and quickly settled in by restricting what he has access too.
Most inexperienced dog owners make the mistake of entering their home, and then putting the puppy down and letting him bugger off anywhere he wants in the house.
When I ask them why they will say ‘I want my puppy to explore his new home’.
To which I reply ‘No, no you don’t.’
Your puppy needs to explore the rooms he is going to be allowed in, and he needs to spend more time getting settled in the rooms in your house where he is going to spend the most time. i.e. his crate
It’s far more beneficial to let him gradually, and carefully get to know all of the family members. You as the owner need to take a lead here and ensure all the interactions are done at a pace your puppy is comfortable with.
Another reason why you should NOT allow your puppy to ‘explore’ your house unsupervised is, you are simply going to prevent a lot of problems occuring that would almost defiintily happen if you gave him free reign.
Prevent indoor pooping and destruction
Your 10 week old puppy has a curious mind, a mouth of razer sharp teeth and a bladder the size of an egg cup. This means he is going to seek out and find things he can chew, and he’s also going to pee very soon. If you are watching carefully and pre-empting this, then you can get your puppy outside for a pee before he find a nice rug or a corner of the room to go in.
Children and dogs.
You children should be prepared beforehand and told how talk to and handle the puppy. I know it’s difficult with excitable kids, but try and keep craziness to a minimum, and certainly DO NOT allow young children to interact with your new puppy on their own.
Children have a different kind of energy and smell to adults and puppies pick up on this. The puppy will quickly see the excited child running around squealing as a fun person to be around. This means your puppy and child should eventually bond well together, but remember, he’s just come from his brothers and sisters, whom he is used to biting and roughhousing on the floor with.
Other dogs and you new puppy.
Controlling the family interactions also applies to any existing dog’s you own which you will obviously want your puppy to meet.
There are a couple of canine commandments, you should adhere to, if you are adding a puppy to house that already has a dog (or two) living in it.
1. Its not the older dogs responsibility to tell the puppy off when he’s acting up and being annoying. That’s your job. Or rather it’s your job to ensure you put steps in place to make sure you dog’s end up living together in harmony.
2. Your dog’s don’t need to (nor should they necessarily) sleep and spend a lot of time together. A puppy that spends all of its time playing with, sleeping with and bonding with another dog will, in time start to see that dog as its owner. This means he won’t listen to the actual owner. i.e. YOU, and he will just follow the dog around instead.
Don’t get me wrong, I can see the appeal of two cute dogs cuddling up in bed together but then I also think about what will happen to the puppy if/when the older dog passes away, and I realise it’s a good thing that I teach my puppy to be ok sleeping, eating and resting ON HIS OWN. That way he will never become overly dependent on the older dog.
Let your new puppy live is own life and don’t saddle him with the handicap of never being able to enjoy any experience unless his older brother or sister is present.
This blog is an extract from Dom’s most recent book The Perfect Puppy Project. You can ensure your puppy develops into an amazing family pet (and is NEVER given up for rescue) by grabbing a copy of the full book on Amazon here , or get the Audiobook and start a free 30 day trail with Audible by clicking here now.
In 2011 Dom Hodgson revolutionised the pet service industry with his first business Pack Leader Dog Adventures, the UK’s first, award winning ‘dog adventure’ company. Now a respected dog trainer, author, speaker and mentor to pet business owners, Doms calling is to help dog walkers, trainers and groomers to excel with their marketing, so they can help change the lives of more dog owners with their amazing skills. You can join the elite, ambitious pet business owners inside the Pet Business Inner Circle, or apply to work with Dom personally by clicking here now.