More Puppy Parenting Tips

Here’s another round of tips dedicated to my high school pal and her new best friend, Katie. Sounds like they’re bonding, but the new is starting to wear off a little. Now’s when the real work comes. Hang in there! The first few months are the hardest. Hopefully these and the tips I provided in the two previous posts will make those months a little easier than they might otherwise have been.

Study up a bit. Whether you watch dog training shows on television, buy books on training and the characteristics of your particular breed, or scour the internet for information is up to you. We did all of the above and watched every available episode of both The Dog Whisperer and It’s Me or the Dog. Between Cesar and Victoria, I’d be more likely to call Victoria just because the positive re-enforcement approach works better for me than the whole “lead dog” head game. But in the end, it’s whatever works for you.

Redirect natural behaviors. Dogs are going to explore their environment and are likely to dig, chew, and otherwise engage in doggy behaviors. It’s what they do. Following the little sweetheart around the house yelling, “no!, no! no!” every time it moves isn’t much fun for either of you. Redirecting is usually a better option than no. When puppy starts chewing on your purse, redirect his or her attention to a favorite toy.

Foster favorites. It’s natural to want to run out and buy every kind of dog toy on the market. Save your money. You’re going to need it for the vet bills. And beyond two or three, more toys is just overwhelming.  Our dogs each have a favorite furry toy (Tico’s sheep and Toodles’ squirrelly) which we have replaced several times. Aside from that, they like balls and anything that belongs to another dog. Tico is the rare dog that will take his sheep into the back bedroom and play all by himself for thirty minutes or more. Toodles drags her squirrelly out from wherever she left it and carries it to our bedroom when she’s ready to go to bed. It’s cute.

Nip biting in the bud. Some experts say biting should never be permitted. They’re probably right, but to me, playful biting is normal dog behavior. I can’t resist playing games with puppies that involve having my fingers chewed on. Isn’t that normal? When puppy bites (or bites too hard), yelp and turn away from the biter. If biting persists, the next tip will be needed.

Pin that bad boy (or girl) down. Sometimes it’s necessary to put your foot down. If puppy is acting up and persisting with behaviors you absolutely do not want to encourage, firmly put the little hellion on his or her back and hold them down until s/he chills out. Toodles needed this a lot more than Tico did. We call this “time out.” You might use this tool a lot, especially for new pups, but they learn. Other than to scratch a belly, we haven’t resorted to putting our dogs on their backs for a very long time.

Chew time. An hour or two before we go to bed, the dogs get a chew treat. There are dozens of different varieties on the market. You want one that the dog likes that requires a good thirty to sixty minutes of chewing to consume. By eight o’clock, our dogs are dancing in front of us demanding something for chew time. Unless a territory dispute erupts during chew time, we can count on at least thirty minutes of peace and quiet. “Chew time” is another call that gets a pretty quick response at our house.

Beyond any doubt, the two words our dogs most want to hear are: Car Ride. They enjoy going to the ATM, filling up the gas tank, going through the fast-food drive through window, or longer trips to visit friends in Georgia, Virginia and Florida. They don’t care–they’re just thrilled to be included. Traveling with them imposes certain limitations. We’re fortunate in that we’ve been able to take our dogs with us anywhere we’ve wanted to go. Most the time, they act even better on these outings than they do on the typical day here in…

My Glass House