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If I get a puppy, does that mean I have to get off the couch to train it?

Picture this: you are eight weeks old, you know nothing beyond your little domain, which consists of your siblings, your whelping pen, and the exercise yard. Oh yes, almost forgot, those scary car rides, to the place they stick you with needles.

For the most part, you are comfortable in this little bubble, when WHAM, all of a sudden you are yanked from your safe place, and thrown out into to this horrible and scary world.

This is the magic moment when you realize that you are fully blessed with the responsibility to provide for all the physical needs and comforts of this tiny furry creature. Along with that commitment comes the equally serious accountability of molding that little mind into a mentally stable and physically safe member of society, one who will be a benefit to itself and others.

To fulfill those goals, you must consent to assume the role of pack leader. And as that pack leader, you must impress upon that blank slate, the five universal rules of social order/behavior every pack member must obey.

1) Come, 2) Sit, 3) Stay, 4) Down, and 5) Heel

Not to mention the frequent excursions out the house to expose Baby to the wonder of new sights, sounds, and smells. This exposure to early socialization has been proven to be paramount to proper puppy development.

Please take heart: raising a puppy is not an overwhelming task and it is well within the reach of any conscientious and concerned pet parent.

With a hectic work schedule of kids, the house, and all the other mundane time consuming projects that occupy a person’s productive day, how is it possible to have the time to teach a young puppy to not go potty in the house, or not to teethe on your new shoes, or, even though the garbage can does smell delightful, that it is still off limits?

So the question is, how do the people who get puppies every day, accomplish such an astonishing feat as raising a puppy?

Well, the first secret is that you really can’t spend that much time train your puppy because he has the attention span of a gnat. If you are lucky you can get five minutes of undivided attention, give or take a few minutes either way. After that, all focus is lost.

You know that if you take your eyes off puppy for any length of time, is an invitation to disaster. It’s a puppy; who knows what it could get into, or what will come out of him, and where.

Secret Two: go to the hardware store and get yourself some light cord and two lightweight spring clips. Tie a clip onto each end of the cord. Now clip one end onto Baby’s collar and the other onto your belt loop, or pocket, or make a noose with the clip and slip it around your wrist.

Now think about the benefits of doing this.

1)      You get to stay on the couch and keep an eye on Baby.

2)      If you absolutely have to get up, Baby will go with you; he will come along, if only to follow his head.

3)      Now Baby can’t duck behind the couch when you are not looking and leave a little present, only for your fuss-budget old-maid    dog-hating Aunt, to smell and find when she comes for a visit.

4)      Puppy is always with you, so you can do some quick training during the commercials or any other opportune spare minute or   two.

5)      Self-training Baby to stay with you, he can only wander off the length of the cord.

6)      Your end of the cord is detachable, suitable for multiple users (everybody gets a turn, as they should).

7)      I saved the best for last: Baby gets out of his crate, to be with his people.

Secret Three: one of the big trouble spots is routine. Baby needs rules and he needs to follow those rules to the letter. Irregularity in procedure or sequence is not going to do anything in terms of helping Baby’s training.

So get a tablet or a chalkboard and put it up on the refrigerator. Script out a schedule of who does what, where, and when, and then FOLLOW THE SCRIPT. You should also define what is permitted, and what is isn’t.

This way everyone is on board with Baby’s training, but more importantly, Baby gets the security he needs and doesn’t have to suffer the confusion of mixed signals, from soft-hearted adults, their offspring and siblings alike.

Secret Four: it is natural for Baby to follow his pack leader. Actually, Baby is genetically programed to follow, and the one quality given by a dog to a conscientious pack leader is that of respect.

Don’t annoy Baby by using a constant barrage of the same word, sounding like a broken record. You are NOT teaching him to sit, sit, sit you are teaching him to “sit”. Say it once; his hearing is better than yours. The constant repeating of a command does nothing to instill confidence or respect in you as a pack leader. But you can count on it to install one quality in Baby – a sense of confusion.

There you have it, the nuts and bolts of how to survive through puppyhood. Please understand that there certainly is a lot more to it, but hopefully this little primer will give you some ideas while you are developing the confidence to tackle Raising and Training a Puppy.

For more detailed information on raising and training puppies,

please see the Puppy Book on this site entitled:

“What every puppy desperately wants its Pet Parents to know”

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