Puppy Love Training 101

And they call it puppy love. We're no stranger to the song; its no wonder, the way we "ooh and ahh" at the smell and look of a puppy instantly. Puppies offer more than just being a great pet and companion, as they grow through their different stages they offer many lessons in life, death, sickness and health.

My beloved Corky was a source of constant inspiration for me for 14 years, and she found her way into my business and my book. Even her recent passing was an inspiration for me to reach out to other pet owners in my articles. Her last days were emotional and devastating but a vision would soon come in a dream, offering comfort: I was to redirect my grief to love while my heart was painfully experiencing her loss. My circle of friends will tell you that my original plan was to take some time and enjoy my new independence, and experience life with no pet responsibilities. However, this new freedom would only last eight weeks. Somehow I found Violet when she was just one week old, and my wait for her to become 8 weeks of age began a happy and exciting time for me, even if it was bittersweet. I wouldn't be surprised if Corky was by my side and had led me as if to say "Your love continues Mar, as life will always close a door and open a window." Violet was the fresh air I so desperately need to fill my void. That said, I'm training a new puppy at Rosebrook Gardens and I have great ideas to share with you.

Training starts the minute you bring the dog home. When I found my beloved Corky some fourteen years ago, I perfected my “Bow-Wow” Boot Camp with firm but loving techniques. People who met Corky were always amazed by how well-behaved she was, and often asked my secrets. Now that training in my home has once again begun with the addition of Miss Violet Von Schhnorkenheimer, I thought it was the perfect time to reveal what I do.

Here are my tips and creative ideas to help you prepare for your new bundle of love.

Names:
Once you decide that you'd like to have a dog or a cat for that matter, you should start thinking about what you would like to call your new pet. There are online resources and many books available with thousands of names. Be sure to keep it to two syllables or less. Select a few that you like. One of them is sure to fit the personality of your new puppy.

Baby proofing:
Just like bringing home a new baby, you must puppy-proof your home. Don't leave shoes lying around or articles that are likely to be identified as tasty morsels. Dogs love to chew so make sure you have plenty of chew toys available. Keep your new dog or puppy in a confined area. Violet goes and stays with me in whatever room I am in. She does not have the run of the house. As she grows, she will earn access to additional rooms with less and less supervision. For now, all eyes are on the puppy.

No paper training:
When you paper-train a puppy, you then have to train them to go out. I am personally not in favor of this two-step process. Why train your dog to go in the house and then have to un-train them? It's confusing. Training them to go out from the start does require a bit more energy on your part, but actually saves time in the end. And don't worry, at this stage of the game, the pee-pee is less than the size of a silver dollar and the poop, or nugget as my neighbor calls it, is the size of a string bean. It's no big deal. And remember, accidents are likely to happen at this stage. Stay on top of it by putting your dog on a schedule.

Indoor/outdoor pet enclosures are a great way to house-train your dog. These portable pens are light, easy to put up, are great for traveling and can be adjusted for size as your puppy grows. Pick a small, confined area right outside of a convenient door. A door off the kitchen or dining room to a patio or small grassy area is best. Take your puppy out every two to three hours and wait. Give them time. When they go, give them lots of praise and a treat. Your dog will be trained to go outside in no time.

In the beginning, you will need to get up several times during the night to let your puppy out. As they grow and mature, they will sleep through the night just like a child.

No Dog Parks:
Puppies should not be taken to dog parks or public places until they are at least 16 weeks old. They will not have had all their puppy shots and should not be exposed to areas where other dogs have been. Better safe than sorry.

ID Tags and Collars:
Once you have made the decision to get a pet, purchase their tags and collars immediately. Introduce them to the collar, or as I like to call it, a necklace accessory, for a few hours every day so they get used to it. It's also a good idea to attach the leash to the collar for a few minutes every day. If you choose to use a harness, apply the same principles. It is not necessary to keep the collar on while they are at home.

Crate Training:
Crating is a training tool and a personal choice based on your life style. If you have a small room that can be designated as the dog's area, this is a nice alternative. Professionals will recommend that you crate your dog when it is unsupervised. I prefer to utilize a soft, collapsible and portable carrying case in lieu of a crate. This way, I can take it with me when I travel and she has the comforts of home. I found a fabulous one at Bed Bath and beyond that works perfectly for small to medium sized pets and it was only $19.99. Use their coupon and get 20% off, making this deal a steal.

If I leave the house, Violet is comfortable in this space for several hours. You also have the option of crate training the dog at night. Personally, I like to sleep with my dog. Let's not talk about that!

Crate training is a great way to house train a dog because it is highly effective and very efficient. Dogs will only soil their sleeping area if they are not given adequate time to go outside.

One of the good things about crate training is that when you release the dog from the confined space and take them outside to eliminate, you are present to reward and praise them for a job well done.

I prefer introducing the crate concept while I am home with the dog for short periods of time that get increasing longer. Start with twenty minutes and work up to an hour or two. When she is in the crate, I keep the door shut and locked. When I go to remove her, if she barks or whimpers, I will not release her until there has been at least ten seconds of silence. This way she learns that she will be released for good behavior. I also praise and reward her patience.

A Tisket, a Tasket. Every Dog Needs a Basket:
Every dog should have a pillow or basket that is separate from their crate or training area. Violet has one in every main room in the house. These baskets are really pillows that I purchased from HomeGoods for $11 each, with slipcovers that I ordered online from LLBean. They are all the same color and monogrammed with her name. The slipcovers were a real deal at $19.99. The monogramming and shipping was free as I used my LLBean credit card. I chose a round slipcover but put a European Square pillow inside to give it more fluff. She loves them.

Water and Food Bowls:
Water and food bowls for dogs should not be confused with cereal or soup bowls. Bowls designed for animals are harder to tip over because they are flat on the bottom. A tipping, moving bowl can startle your pet. There is no need to ever pay full retail for these bowls, as large selections are available at just about every discount store imaginable. Also, always put down food and water in the same location each and every time - and as much as you can manage, at the same time of day - so your pet does not get confused. I know that for we humans it's fun to let our moods dictate when and where we eat - sometimes in the kitchen, sometimes the dining room, the TV room, the patio, or sometimes even in bed--but pets thrive on consistency and boundaries. If you move your pet's feeding area it doesn't take long for them to think they can move the bowls themselves and risk spilling, or worse yet think nothing of begging every time they see you eating.

Combing and Brushing:
My experience with combing and brushing has been horrific, I'm sorry to say. Corky refused to be brushed and how her groomer, Debbie, did it I'll never know. This time around, I'm taking a proactive approach and introducing her to the brush early. Regrettably, I feel that I am somewhat jinxed in this regard because she feels the same way that Corky did. However, she is very young now and I am committed to continuing short periods of brushing every other day. Lots of treats, praise and love will hopefully prevail. Wish me luck!

Dog Toys:
Did you know that there are now natural, organic toys for your pets? Not only are they good for your dog, they are also good for the environment. Saliva resistant and made and stuffed from unbleached cotton. Violet prefers toys from Trixie & Peanut www.trixieandpeanut.com  all-natural, untreated and unprocessed cotton filled.  Feel good knowing your precious pet got the very best.  Adorable!

Sometimes the best toys can be found right in your own home. Violet is mad for a piece of recycled two inch cotton grosgrain ribbon. I tied a knot at one end and it became hours of entertainment. If you don't provide something for your puppy to chew on and play with, most likely they will discover your brand new Gucci or Prada shoes that cost you a fortune. Boy, do those taste good! Trust me on this. Somehow they always seem to find something expensive.

Lifestyle Initiation:
Introduce your dog early to what happens in your household. Take the doorbell, for instance. I don't want my dog to go bark-serk every time someone is at the door. So, I ring the doorbell as if someone were there and go through the motions. This way Violet remains calm and doesn't get overly excited when the doorbell rings. If there are lots of children around all the time, introduce the dog to the children slowly but consistently. When the dog is young, they are amenable to different situations and experiences and more likely to tolerate something that they know. Older dogs have a more difficult time in new environments with new things happening that they have not experienced. The sooner you introduce your dog to the mailman and the UPS guy, the better.

No matter how you choose to train your dog, the foundation you build from is love and admiration. Your pet is a reflection of you and your lifestyle. Just like children, the amount of attention you give your pet will be reflected in their behavior and how they represent you. The good news is that they won't ask for a college education.

And there you have it.

A FINAL IMPORTANT NOTE:
First and foremost, the most important thing you must do before you adopt (or purchase) a puppy is to make sure that the puppy was not bred at a "puppy mill." Do your homework. Find out the name of the breeder and check them out. Puppy mills are the cruelest-of-the-cruel and you must not support this kind of shocking mistreatment of animals. Despite what the pet store may have told you, puppies bred for pet stores are seldom bred by "private" breeders, or "local" breeders. The pet industry is a multi-billion dollar industry that depends on the mass production of puppies for America's pet stores.

Please visit www.petshoppuppies.org to learn more about the commercial dog industry and to protect yourself from supporting them.