Text by Sheila Guenther
Challenges come to us in many disguises: some we choose, some we don’t. A recent challenge I took up was getting a new pup. I had not had a pup in 7 years and realized despite my training and knowledge that I had forgotten a lot. In the end my pup has turned out to be a wonderful joy to have around, well socialized, and well behaved. I still have to remind myself that he is a pup and I have to exercise patience, but all in all, it is going well.
I took him all over the place after his initial quarantine period was over and after he was fully immunized. He came to work with me; I am a groomer so it was not a problem taking him with me. I realize many cannot do this, but I believe in thoroughly educating a dog to his surroundings, and introducing him to things early on, so later they do not become a problem.
While there, he learned many commands, LEAVE, being one command. He had to learn to leave the other dogs alone when I took them out of the crates. His first response was that he wanted to play with the big puppy, but the other dogs do not necessarily want to play with him, and could have very well turned and tried to bite him, giving him a negative experience.
As he made the initial run to help me get them out of the crate, (he is so helpful) I put my hand out in front of his face and said LEAVE. Every time he tried to get around my hand I repeated the command, with a gentle shove. He gave in, and within a few minutes realized this was something he was not to do. It took a few visits but he now understands he is not to approach another dog when I take it out of a crate.
Why did I teach him this command? For two reasons, the first one being that I needed him to be obedient to me in case he got near something he was not suppose to touch, like a shoe, or glove. It is a good command for your pup to know. The second reason being, that it may one day save his life. We all drop things on the floor, the pup makes a mad dash for the item grabs it, and swallows it no matter how many times you yell, “No”. If you had taught him the leave command he would not advance to grab the forbidden article.
Another useful, lifesaving command is DROP IT! If puppy grabs something he is not to have DROP IT, will let him know it is a bad thing for him to have and not one of his toys, and he will drop it on command. You do not have to yell at your dog; a quiet FIRM command is all that is necessary. This command is also great when teaching him to play fetch, Drop it should always be said when he is returning you the article, be it ball or stuffy toy.
Training your new pup can be a lot of fun. There is so much a person can say on it, but I shall leave that for another time. Take care and enjoy your new precious bundle of love.