As anyone who has shared their life with a dog will attest, little compares to the loving companionship they offer. Many people choose to invite a dog to join their family when it is a young pup as the expectation is that doing so is likely to bring love, laughter and fun in endless ways. While this is certainly true, choosing a young pup over a more mature dog may also bring with it some added responsibilities and potential for frustrations.
For many, life with a new pup is far more daunting than they had expected as it is often filled with days and nights trying to entertain an energetic pup who responds to time left alone with barking and howling, nips in play, and is skilled at finding some of your most valuable objects to use as choose toys!
The easiest way to ensure you enjoy your pup as much as you had expected (and that you keep them as safe and happy as possible) is to consider training for you and your puppy as early as possible. Some consider training to be something you do when you are trying to resolve a behavior issue in an older dog. In fact, early intervention in the form of training and socialization is the best way to prevent predictable behavior problems that may become progressively more difficult to resolve as your dog matures.
When a pup leaves its canine family it is yearning to reattach to a new family (yours!) who will take care of them. This includes providing food, water, shelter, love and, of course, an education. Pups under the age of five months old are like sponges ready to absorb as much information about the world as they can. Early puppy training means you can ensure that they absorb all the information you deem necessary for them to become a wonderful canine companion. This includes (but is certainly not limited to): when and where to eliminate, what to chew, how to greet people, how to spend time alone, how to respond to your requests for him or her to come when called, sit, and lie down.
Unfortunately, far too many people regret to provide their pup with this early education. In far too many cases this dooms both pup and human family members to loads of unnecessary frustrations and doesn’t bode well for the long-term canine-human relationship. Puppies will eliminate where most convenient (sometimes on your rugs), bark (to the detriment of your neighborly relations), chew (on your personal belongings), nip (as a way of playing with you as they would other pups), dig (because it’s just plain fun), and jump (even if they have muddy paws). These are not behaviors your pup will just outgrow. In fact, the more they are practiced, the more they become habits which are progressively more difficult to resolve.
Behaviors which were possibly frustrating, but tolerable, in puppyhood often become unbearable as the pup moves into adolescence and adulthood. This results in a deterioration of the relationship and in far too many cases, in the dog being banished from the home for the simple fact that nobody taught him in puppyhood how to behave.
In addition to being a preventative for behavior problems, early puppy training and socialization is a valuable way to bond with your pup. By teaching your pup where to eliminate you eliminate the chance that you might reprimand (and scare) your pup for going in the wrong spot. By teaching your pup to inhibit puppy mouthing and nipping you ensure that you and all your family members will enjoy playing with the pup…which means you will all benefit from more puppy play time! Likewise, by teaching your pup to walk nicely on leash, you increase the odds that your pup will have a lifetime filled with loads of fun walks, which is a superb way to provide your dog with mental and physical exercise and prevent an almost endless list of behavior problems.
Many trainers offer puppy training classes in addition to private lessons. Both should be designed to help you learn to become a superb teacher for your pup; who focuses on preventing problems and/or resolving them quickly to prevent deeply rooted and difficult to resolve behavior issues in the future.
An added benefit of attending a puppy training class is that it is a terrific way to expose your pup to other puppies and to dog loving people outside of your home. This is a vital foundation for socialization. Puppies who are well on the road to proper socialization before 16 weeks of age are far less likely to suffer from the stress and potential behavior issues later in life that plague many under socialized adult dogs.
There is clearly an almost endless list of benefits of early puppy training and socialization. By taking the lead and learning how to properly teach and communicate with your puppy you are ensuring that your pup has the best chance to reach his or her full potential as a wonderful canine companion. Puppies are ready, willing and able to learn loads of important information. By taking the lead and finding a great trainer to show you how to communicate with your puppy you are surely doing one of the kindest things you can for your puppy…ensuring that he or she becomes a wonderful canine member of your family for his or her entire life.
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