Puppies are cute. They are too cute. So cute they could get away with murder. They are manipulative, demanding, thieving fuzzy little things that interfere with too much of our personal time, our work time and our sleep time. So why do we insist on wanting puppies?… Because they are cute, that’s why.
Seriously, puppies are not only cute, but bring such a tremendous amount of joy to our lives that it can’t be put into words. I’m not a mother myself, but I’m sure this joy is only second to raising a child, seeing it grow, mature, make good decisions and become a respectful and responsible citizen of society… influenced solely by you, but of course!
Your new puppy, on the other hand, may have somewhat different intentions for their future. So here are a few insights into what your puppy might be thinking as it navigates its way though puppyhood within your household, and some tips to combat the puppy point-of-view.
Puppy Point of View #1: “Whatever’s mine is mine. Whatever’s yours is mine.”
Here’s the bottom line – if it’s within the puppy’s reach, it belongs to him. If all of his toys are on the floor for him to play with, how on earth would he know the difference between your shoes on the floor and his toys? Of course, he wouldn’t. Therefore, anything that you don’t want within his reach, put up… way up, above his current jumping height.
In rooms where you can’t or don’t feel like puppy-proofing, be sure to keep those doors closed or baby-gated to restrict access. Crate-train your puppy and also provide another slightly larger space, like with an exercise pen, to contain him, for example, while you are doing errands around the house and can’t keep a close eye on him. You wouldn’t give your baby free reign of the house, so why would you give that level of access to your puppy?
Puppy Point of View #2: “Bite the hand that feeds me.”
Not only will he bite the hand that feeds him, but he’ll bite pretty much anything within a dagger-sharp tooth’s reach. This includes your hands, the hands of your children, furniture, pillows, table and chair legs, rugs, curtains, and on and on…. Always keep plenty of puppy-appropriate toys on hand. When the puppy starts to mouth on something unacceptable, be ready to shove a toy into his mouth instead. Praise heavily when he is chewing on his own toys.
For the first couple of weeks in a new home, your pup might need a little more direction in finding the “correct” chewing items. I’ve used a deterrent spray called Grannick’s Bitter Apple in the past to deter pups away from inappropriate household items. I prefer this product because it is effective, but has yet to leave any kind of stain on applied surfaces in my home. Your puppy will soon gravitate away from all the “bitter” surfaces and towards his own toys.
Puppy Point of View #3: “If it ain’t fun, then I ain’t interested.”
Or for those of you that don’t own a hillbilly puppy, “If you don’t provide me with fun, then I will make my own fun.” Again, this goes back to providing a LOT of toys for your pup, or else your puppy will find something of yours to eat to spice up his little life. Be sure to provide a large variety of appropriate puppy toys. This could include puppy Kongs, Nylabones, other chew toys and food puzzle toys. It’s also good to provide your pup with softer toys, like Kong Wubbas and rope bones for variety, however, always supervise your pup when playing with soft toys. These aren’t meant to be eaten, and can cause great damage to their internal systems if ingested. Toys can be rotated so that they are more exciting when “reintroduced” to your pup after a short hiatus.
A note about playtime… Although it is fun and beneficial for your pup to play with you and your family members, it is also important that your pup learns to play on his own. If puppy solicits attention from you and always receives the requested interaction, then he may soon become demanding and potentially a nuisance as he grows older. You, and only you, get to decide when it’s playtime. Rotating and providing a large variety of puppy-appropriate toys will assist your pup in learning to entertain himself while in his crate or exercise pen.
Puppy Point of View #4: “If it’s soft and cushy, then I’ll probably pee on it.”
There are some exceptions, of course, however don’t be surprised if puppy gravitates toward your designer rugs to relieve himself. The best fix for this, of course, is to roll up those rugs, if possible, and store them in the basement or the garage for a while. Never fear, there will come a time when you can proudly display those beautiful rugs again (…in a few months, perhaps, when potty and proper chewing habits are established). But keeping them down as your puppy’s private indoor potty should not be an option in your house for several reasons, if at all possible.
Of course, this goes hand in hand with accident prevention and potty-training your dog. The goal is, of course, to never have an mistake inside. You could start with potty-training your dog to go on wee pads or newspaper inside, however, eventually you’ll need to transition puppy to going outside anyway. So if you can skip the inside step, then do it and go straight to potty-training outside. Your puppy will need to go out often, like at least every two hours, unless he has just eaten or drank water, in which case he should go out immediately. Surprisingly, many puppies will sleep through the night at a very early age, provided that you do not feed or water your puppy a few hours before bedtime.
Puppy Point of View #5: “I’ll make mistakes. It’s not personal, so get over it.”
Furniture will get chewed, underwear will get stolen, carpeting will get soiled. We have to remember that puppies are, well, puppies. They aren’t adult dogs, and even so, we must take steps to teach puppies, as well as adult dogs, what to do right before we try to correct them for their wrong behavior.
These things are all indicative of normal dog behavior, and are not to be taken personally. Your dog isn’t trying to “get back at you” for going on vacation without him, or because “he’s jealous” that he smells a friend’s dog on your jeans. And it certainly isn’t because your dog is trying to “dominate” you.
Mistakes will happen, and when they do, try not to get angry or frustrated with your dog. Learn from the situation and how it may have been prevented (i.e. crating the dog while you were away, closing the lid to your clothes hamper, letting your pup outside more frequently), as opposed to getting angry with him. An angry display may only frighten and scare him away from you, not necessarily teach him a lesson about his mishap. Remember to never, EVER, shout your dog’s name in anger. His name should always be a meaningful and positive association for him.
Taking your puppy to an early socialization and training class can be very beneficial, as well. Classes will address a lot of these issues, and trainers can assist you in exposing your puppy to a variety of new experiences, people and other puppies in a positive, controlled and safe environment.
Raising a puppy is a ton of hard work and is a never-ending responsibility. No one ever said it was easy, and someone considering getting a puppy should take the decision seriously. If you’ve read this article, acknowledge the puppy point-of-view and still decide to get that new puppy, let me be one of the first to congratulate you.
You may regret it from time-to-time. But then again, you’ll look at that cute fuzzball who finally fell asleep against your feet, and you’ll think… now how can I reach the TV remote without disturbing the little monster?
With sincerity, enjoy each and every puppy moment.