What do I need to have ready for my new puppy?
You should have a properly fitted collar, dog ID tags, a couple of lightweight inexpensive 6 foot nylon leashes (some have quick releases at the handle for easy tethering around table legs etc.), soft plush chew toys (for non aggressive chewers), rubber or latex chew toys, a tug rope toy, Nyla bones, food dispensing toys like Kongs and treat balls, food and water bowls, a soft bed, and possibly a crate, baby gates or have a dog run available. Please remember that all puppies should be supervised with their new toys to make sure that they do not tear them up and eat the stuffing out of them!
Can you help me pick out my new puppy?
To be honest, once you have done your homework and decided on what breed of dog would best suit you and your family’s lifestyle, the puppy choice is a personal one. I would recommend visiting with the puppy at the breeder’s home a few times before making a decision. Take a look around the breeder’s home and where the puppies are kept. (Are they inside the house with the family? Are there children in the house handling and gentling the puppies? What are the puppies’ parents like?) Visit and observe the puppies at different times during the day or evening to get a more complete picture of what the puppies are like. For instance, if you only saw them once and chose the puppy that seemed more cuddly and more easily handled, that may have been the same puppy that was tearing around the litter, jumping all over the place 20 minutes before you arrived. Ask the breeder about the puppy’s individual personalities to help choose a puppy that will fit into your lifestyle.
When can I start training my new puppy?
You are training and conditioning your new puppy the very first day you pick him/her up! Where they sleep, how they are interacting with family and friends, where they eliminate, what they chew on, how they are socialized to humans and other dogs are all part of your puppy’s immediate and ongoing education. The more important aspect of puppy training, however, is the owner’s training and education. Starting off with everyone in the family or household on the same page and helping the puppy learn with clear consistent communication will help you guide your new puppy into a well balanced, good natured adult dog. An in home private puppy session will give you a solid understanding on puppy developmental stages, what to expect of your puppy, and how to teach your puppy all of your household rules.
Your puppy will need to stay clear of any places that other dogs frequent (avoiding other dog’s feces or urine) until they have completed all of their puppy shots for immunization against doggie diseases like Parvo. That does not mean that you have to keep your puppy isolated from others or living in a vacuum! After you have had a day or two to get to know your new puppy, invite a few friends over to start playing with, hand feeding treats to and handling your new puppy. Have your friends take off their shoes and wash their hands before feeding or handling the puppy. Keeping the puppy stimulated by socializing them to outside family members and new people weekly will help keep the puppy from becoming overwhelmed as an adolescent in new social settings. Take them on short car rides and keep them walking on clean concrete and off the dirt or grassy areas. Take them to pick up your children from school. Try to incorporate them into your everyday routines. Check out our Puppy Socialization Class
If you have friends or family members that have vaccinated, healthy, well mannered pups or dogs THAT ARE GOOD WITH PUPPIES, you can have puppy play dates in your yard or your friend’s yard. Check with your veterinarian before allowing your puppy to socialize with other dogs to ensure they are far enough along their vaccination schedule to allow for early social play with healthy dogs. Once they have had all of their shots, you can start walking them in parks and fields and letting them sniff and explore their new world. I mentioned to be sure that the dogs your puppy interact with are GOOD WITH PUPPIES > There is a reason for this. In general, puppies can be boisterous and jump all over another dog just as they did with their littermates. Some dogs do not appreciate this type of behavior and may scold the puppy in a very rough manner, especially if the dogs are on leash. Your puppy’s education from older dogs is essential, but should never be scary. Use your best judgment and follow your gut.
What is all the hype about clicker training?
Clicker training is using a small device in one hand that you manipulate to make a click sound to mark a behavior that you want your dog to repeat. When you pair a food treat to the sound of the click, the dog is encouraged to work toward hearing that click/marker again, allowing the handler/trainer to shape a desired behavior.
Clicker training is not a new concept, as we used clickers at Sea World years ago during our sea lion and otter shows. Using a clicker allowed the trainer to keep the microphone on and entertain the audience and yet still be able to let the animal know when they performed the correct behavior. Every time the animal heard the click, they knew that the behavior was done correctly, could terminate their behavior and wait for their reward (which we would give on a variable schedule after the animal understood the concept).
The click is also referred to as a “bridge signal” that marks the correct behavior (even if the animal is across the pool or yard) and “bridges” the gap between the time the animal completed the behavior and came back for their treat/reward.
If you watch the shows today, however, you’ll notice that the trainer just switches the microphone off, and simply says “Ok” to the animal. The trainer does not need to be bothered with holding a foreign object in their hand and can interact more freely with the animals.
I like the idea of just saying “OK” instead of trying to carry a clicker around all of the time!
You could use the word “click” if you prefer!
What are the benefits to private training versus group training?
Private training is more personalized and focuses on specific areas of concern as well as the obedience commands of sit, stay, down, heel, come. Working from the comfort of your own home, enables us to work together to ensure that you and your dog are learning at a pace and style that fits your needs. I tailor the training program around each family’s needs, wants, and goals. When you are working at home, your dog has less distractions (or in the case of active families, more realistic distractions!) and can master the tasks before enjoying the distractions of the group class settings. With the private training, group obedience classes are included at a discounted rate so that you can “proof” your dog’s skills with the distraction of the other dogs when you are ready. Check out our Private In Home Training Class
Group classes are fun and relatively fast paced, teaching all of the obedience commands, plus addressing some of the basic behavioral concerns, grooming, nutrition and dog park tips and etiquette. Dog breeds and ages vary in the group classes so the instruction tends to be a bit more generic, although I do try to help everybody individually as much as I can throughout the 6 week course. Check out our Beginner Group Obedience Class
Whether you choose private or group, the sooner you start the better. This new dog of yours will be part of your family for a long time and needs your guidance to understand your rules and what is expected of them. I look forward to helping you reach your goals and working with you and your dogs!