You and Your Puppy
Bringing home your new puppy is an amazing experience you won’t soon forget. You probably went to a breeder or perhaps walked past a pet shop window and couldn’t resist walking in to take a look around. Before you knew what happened, you were staring into those big beautiful eyes looking up at you from a giant ball of fur and your heart instantly started to melt. The game was over and you were headed straight home with you new bundle of fluff in your arms. If you are like most new dog owners, you probably have illusions of playing a game of tug-o-war in the yard, watching your dog run near the lake, and of cuddling up together on cold nights.
What you most certainly failed to understand was that those behaviors you were dreaming about for your new little puppy are not going to come naturally. In fact, the behaviors that your new puppy has in mind sound more like chewing up your favorite pair of dress shoes, barking at everything that moves (and doesn’t move), and messing in the house whenever and wherever they feel like they want to go. These natural behaviors may seem manageable and even cute at first, but if left unattended your cute misbehaved little puppy will turn into a very bad (and not so cute) adult dog.
The problem that you will run into with puppies that are not trained is that they inevitably will grow up to be disobedient and untrained adult dogs. Untrained dogs are quite obnoxious. The cute puppy yipping escalates into loud incessant barking that can disrupt the neighborhood at odd hours. The little chew marks in your shoes turn into expensive damage to your home and furniture, and the cute little puppy poops will grow in size as the dog grows in size.
Untrained dogs can also have the potential to be very dangerous. It will always be the instinct of your dog to defend themselves or their pack if they feel threatened. Most dogs resort to biting to accomplish this self defense goal. It is critical that you teach your dog not to use their teeth as a form of communication to help prevent any injuries on you or anyone else when playing with or handling your dog. While we all expect our dog to attempt to protect us in an emergency situation involving imminent danger, it is imperative that you train your dog to be non-aggressive and non-confrontational. Dogs that are left untrained and have a habitual record of aggressiveness are at a high risk of being euthanized.
Another extremely important reason for training your dog is that it keeps the chances of your dog winding up homeless in a shelter down considerably. People will grow extremely tired dealing with untrained dogs, and at some point they will reach a breaking point with the animal. It’s no secret that a dog shelter is no place for a dog to be loved and feel happy and it is also sometimes a death sentence for the animal. Part of loving your new puppy is training. It gives your dog the important skills that they need to be able to live happily ever after with you in your home.
Dogs have been domesticated around the world for more the 15,000 years. Due to this long history of human companionship and dogs, your new puppy has been imprinted upon to want to be around you. Dogs are also not realistically able to live by themselves in the wild. They are not adapted to living in the exposed elements of nature and foraging for food. The puppy you bring home today wants to be with you and also wants to please you. The desire to please their master is the main reason that domesticated dogs are so easy to train and quick to learn.
The dogs that we have as pets have what is called social intelligence. This enables them to read your visual and verbal cues and adapt their behavior to it. While each dog will train at a different pace and through different ways, nearly all domestic dogs are trainable.
Just like humans, dogs go through a series of cognitive development. Puppies, like babies, learn to interact with the world around them at around eight weeks of age. They will also mimic behaviors early in life, so if you have one well behaved dog your puppy can learn from it.
If this is your only pet. don’t worry too much. Dogs learn an amazing amount about their environments and what they should and shouldn’t do just by watching you and learning from it. Just like parenting, dog training is something that often happens while you are paying attention to other things. So, those first few months that you have a puppy are an incredibly important time to really focus on training your dog. It’s no secret that training a dog is a lot of work, but in the end it is a necessary task that you must accomplish in order to guarantee that the life you live with your new puppy is full of happiness, joy and success for both you and your dog!