Toy Puppies Presents: 'Puppy-Dog Tales'
Over the past 28 years I have sold puppies to numerous people. One thing I have noticed is that the people seem to fall into distinct categories. There are people who have owned dogs before and have a basic idea how to take care of them. Other people who don’t have a lot of experience but demonstrate a certain instinct or an intuition if you will, that enables them to take excellent care of their puppy. Most of these people have had children, but not all. And then, my nightmare, the people who have no clue. They think the dog is a windup toy. These people, I surmise, would probably not make very good parents either. What they seem to lack is the ability to project and imagine how the dog feels so they can fulfill its basic needs. Most animal babies and human babies share many of the same needs. We, as adults who take on this responsibility, must try our best to fulfill these needs.
First, the puppy’s physical needs must be met. He needs a clean warm place to sleep and to be fed an ample amount of nutritious food and have access to fresh, clean water at all times. Don’t tell me about the people who call themselves “trainers” who advocate you withhold food and water so you can train the dog. All you are doing is dehydrating the poor animal so he doesn’t have to go. He hasn’t learned any better where he is supposed to go. I don’t believe in withholding water. I believe in taking the baby to his making area very frequently so he learns WHERE to go. Animals are creatures of habit, they like consistency. A crate (open wire cage, not the closed plastic carrier) is a good way to create a sense of security for your puppy and also enables you to keep him safe and out of trouble when you leave the house or at night when you are sleeping. Pick a location in the kitchen, den or playroom area of the house, where daytime activity goes on to place the crate. DON’T move it around. Moving it will confuse the puppy.
Next, he needs a lot of love. Handle him a lot. Hold him, rub him and handle his feet. Rub his ears, cuddle and snuggle. Most dogs that are well loved become very loving to people also. Now here is the MOST important part of raising a great dog. Set down rules, be consistent and make him do what is required of him. He may not like to be held still for brushing. “Be Firm” you are big he is small, hold him, brush him. Cut his nails and clean his ears. If he struggles talk soothingly to him but DON’T LET GO. Keep brushing until you are finished. Brush him every day; handle his feet, lift his lips look at his teeth.
Let him know from the time he is a baby you can do all of these things and you will not hurt him. If you let him go because he doesn’t seem to want you to do it you are teaching him from the get go he is in charge and you may never be able to brush him. Having won one battle he may challenge you in other areas. It will be a nightmare for the groomer and they may have to tranquilize him to groom him.
Give him a rawhide… and after a while walk over and say "Fido, Let Go" and take the bone from his mouth. Do that often. Teach him you are in charge not him. Always give the bone back. If he ever growls at you, yell "NO!" and pop him on the snoot. Dogs should not growl at their owners.
One of the hardest problems to deal with is separation anxiety. The dog freaks out when you leave him or her alone and go out. This is a really hard one to conquer so don’t let it start. From the time you bring your puppy home continue your normal life. Too often people say to me they want to get the puppy on this or that day because the will be off for a week and can spend all the time with the new puppy. The signal these people are giving this impressionable baby is here in this new home we will be with you all the time. WRONG! Bring the new baby home and continue your normal life. Go shopping, go to the movies, go out to dinner. Let him see it is all right to be alone for a few hours, you will always come back.
I have learned over the years that puppies like children need structure and boundaries; they are happier and feel more loved when they know what they must do to please you. Yes, it will take time and work but all the good things in life do, but the reward is boundless.
Until next time, remember:
Try to be as wonderful as your dog thinks you are.