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When you bring your puppy home for the first time your puppy will be extremely overwhelmed. The new smells and sights and the separation from mother and litter will be traumatic for your little friend.
But don’t worry because dogs have survived millions of years due to their incredible ability to adapt to their environment and within a couple of very short weeks your dog will be just as home as you are.
Now the two case stories below are typical and are repeated in varying degrees by tens of thousands of people every week all around the world
Case study one.
Zac brought his puppy home for the first time and was really looking forward to bonding with his pup. He even took time off from work just to ‘bond’ with his new friend. Zac never had a pup before and he just loved to cuddle his cute pup all day long. Zac sat on the couch and played roughhouse games with his pup hitting him gently with the pillow and watching his little pup try to wrap his tiny little jaw around the edges of the pillow. It was so cute. Zac would let his pup walk around the house everywhere. Zac even decided to take a week off work just so he could ‘bond’ with his new best friend. Whatever Zac would eat his pup would eat, right out of jacks hand. Zac and his pup stayed together 24/7. Zac’s dedication over the past 7 days was truly commendable. It was so cute to watch Zac pamper this little pup. Whatever the pup wanted the pup got. Zac was very careful not correct or scold the pup even when he did poo on the carpet. Zac thought it was not a big deal and easy enough to clean up and it was something that he would correct later down the track once the bonding time had passed and the pup could understand what he was telling it. Zac would give the pup lots and lots of affection and attention day and night. In fact Zac made a little blanket for the pup to sleep on right on the bed next to Zac. They even shared a pillow. Oh how cute! This relationship stayed the same for 1 whole week and the pup was the undisputed new king of the castle. Zac felt that his bond was now really established and was glad that he took time off work.
These are the 6 problems Zac has created – Problems that didn’t come with the puppy but problems that Zac will now have to deal with.
#1 Eating disorder
Zac’s pup doesn’t want to eat from his bowl and is a fussy eater.
This little puppy has been taught to believe that what Zac eats is what he is going to eat. If Zac then tries to give the pup dog food but eats a pack of potato chips the pup will protest and bark and whimper until Zac gives in. It won’t eat dog food and it will believe that Zac is punishing it by withholding the potato chips. Nasty Zac!
#2 Sleeping disorder
Zac’s pup won’t go to sleep and keeps whining for Zac.
The puppy is now too big or too disruptive to sleep on Zac bed. Zac has had a long hard day and the pup is bounding with energy and is keeping Zac awake. Zac decides that he should sleep elsewhere. Zac buys the pup a $100 mattress for the pup and is convinced that the pup will prefer this mattress to jack’s bed. Guess what? It doesn’t. The pup wants what it had before. The pup wants the warmth and comfort of Zac’s bed and now barks and whimpers because Zac is nasty and kicks him off the bed – something that Zac never did before. Nasty Zac!
#3 Elimination confusion
Zac’s pup sneaks around looking for new places to hide its poo and wee.
Zac is a little tired of cleaning up his pups’ poo and wees every day and is starting to think that his house may need to be dry-cleaned shortly to get rid of some of the deep-rooted odors. The pup is now sent outside and swears never to let the pup in until its house trained. Zac goes outside and immediately steps in his pups poo. Zac reacts by shouting at the pup. The pup, which happens to be walking over to Zac, is startled by Zac’s shriek and veers sideways to avoid angry Zac. There is poo everywhere Zac mutters under his breath. Puppy is starting to think that Jack is not the same anymore. You’ve changed Zac! – Nasty Zac.
#4 Toy Confusion
Zac’s pup likes to chew the stereo cable as much as the dog toys.
Zac is really tired of replacing the stereo cable and regrets spending all that money on dog toys. Zac sends the pup out of the house and swears that pup will never be let into the living room or bedroom or anywhere it can cause damage. The pup is pretty much outside all day now. To help adjust to his new environment and the massive down grading in its social position it has taken to digging holes in the garden as a form of therapy for it’s newly developed anxiety. The pup sees the distaste in Zac’s eyes when he looks at it and begins to look for ways of entertaining it’s self without Zac. Zac is not as important as he used to be. Nasty Zac.
#5 Bond Confusion
Zac’s pup thinks Zac doesn’t like it anymore.
Now that Zac isn’t the apple of the pups eye the pup is looking elsewhere for entertainment and satisfaction. The pup now pays much closer attention to Zac, especially when he’s left for the day or when he’s not looking. The pup now is deliberately avoiding Zac and trying to get around Zac’s watchful eye. Zac is now worried about what his pup is up to and sees his pup as just another problem. The bond has seriously deteriorated and neither pup nor Zac sees each other the same way. “What’s the purpose of having another problem”, Zac thinks, and momentarily contemplates giving his pup away to someone with more time to spend with it.
#6 Separation anxiety
Zac’s pup doesn’t like it when Zac’s gone.
Zac thought that spending the whole day and night with his pup would really cement the bond between his pup and himself and guess what, it did. But it also created another problem. The pup feels really safe with Zac around and when Zac is not around the pup gets really uneasy and anxious. The pup starts to call out to Zac when he leaves the house and continues to do so for the rest of the day to the annoyance of the neighbors. This continues for weeks and months and once this bad habit is really entrenched the pup will grow to do this without really understanding why it’s doing it. How incredibly annoying!
Case study two.
Now let’s look at Jill in the same case study. Jill took her new pup home and put it in a dog crate in a playpen in her back yard. Jill went inside and made herself a cup of tea and called her mother and told her all about her new friend. A half hour later Jill took her pup out of the crate and let her pup roam around the 2meter x 2meter playpen with a fresh bone to chew. Her little pup jumped around and attacked this bone with all the intentions of devouring it. It was very amusing to watch. Jill then left the puppy for an hour in the playpen and watched through the window as the puppy did a poo and wees in the playpen and watched her puppy test the strength of its enclosure. About half hour later Jill came out and played with pup for a good hour in the playpen and the pup started to show signs of being sleepy. Jill put the pup in the crate and went for a drive to the milk bar. The pup heard Jill leave and cried and whined. Jill returned 15 minutes later and walked right past the pup and did not say anything to the pup. Jill never speaks to the pup when it whines. Jill’s pup gets no feedback when it cries. Jill sat outside and read a book in full view of her pup in the crate. Jill let her pup out of the crate and put her into the playpen. The pup did a wee and attacked the bone again. Jill went inside. Jill stayed inside for 2 hours occasionally watching checking on her pup. Nighttime came and the pup was given some warm food and in a bowl. This was the first time the puppy had ever taken food from Jill. The food was nice and warm and the pup was really fool – ready for a good nights sleep. Jill went inside and went to bed. The pup cried a little but soon gave up. The next morning Jill awoke and gave her pup some fresh water and went to work. The pup cried and slept a lot and did poo and wees in the playpen. When Jill got home she took a shower and played with her pup outside the pen but in a very controlled space. A space where there was nothing for the pup to get into any trouble. No shoes to chew or cables to bite threw or hoses to damage. After an hour of solid fun Jill put the pup in the pen and went inside and made some dinner for herself. After dinner Jill went outside and got into her car and went for a drive returning a little while later. This continued for the rest of the week and the next 20 years.
These are the problems, which Jill has avoided and why.
#1 Eating disorder
Jill’s pup has never eaten food any other way and doesn’t miss eating things it has never tasted and really has no need to taste food like potato chips.
#2 Sleeping disorder
Jill’s pup finds the crate a familiar place and knows that playpen is safe. Jill’s pup believes through rigorous testing that nothing can enter his playpen because the playpen is a well-built enclosure.
#3 Elimination confusion
Jill’s has never walked out into her garden and stepped in poo because she knows that her pup’s poo is in the playpen. Jill can quickly clean the 2m x 2m enclosure in a minute or so and that’s really helpful. Jill’s pup has never eliminated in the house and doing so at this stage would be very foreign to the pup and would first have to break the ‘Lay down’ command to do so – something that the pup would rather not do.
#4 Toy Confusion
Jill’s puppy has not missed out on a thing by never chewing a stereo cable or chair leg or shoe. It likes the bone and it is super safe and keeps its teeth really clean.
#5 Bond Confusion
Jill’s pup knows that Jill is just moments away. Jill comes out regularly to care for her pup and keeps her playpen clean and tidy. Jill never has a need to scold her pup and the bond is strong. There is clear communication without conflict.
#6 Separation anxiety
Jill’s pup knows that when Jill leaves she always comes back. Jill’s pup is used to being away from Jill and really doesn’t ever expect Jill to be by her side all day long.
Can you see the main difference between Zac and Jill’s approach to starting the puppy off right? Zac essentially broke the puppy into one way of doing things and then did a complete back flip and turned the puppy’s world on it’s head by introducing another way of life completely different. Jill didn’t change a thing. Jill’s puppy learned the rules from day one and the rules didn’t change after that. Jill’s puppy was never told off. It never was forced to give up something it really liked (because it had never experienced it) and it became comfortable knowing that things are safe and predictable.
What I want you to learn from this is. Get your dog used to its life from day one. Whatever conditions you give your dog at day one should be the same in 10 years. The more you give the more you will have to take away. Make any upgrade to your dog’s living conditions a treat or reward for correct behavior.
Here is what I mean. Jill’s puppy has now been taught to lie down and will lie down consistently without getting up for a good 15 minutes or so without too much effort. This is fantastic! It’s this kind of result and behavior that demonstrates to Jill that her pup is now ready to taste some of the finer things in life. The pup has shown that it can be trusted and Jill is satisfied that a clear channel of communication with this command is in place. Jill decides that today her pup will enter the house for the first time. Jill prepares for the pup to enter. Jill place a dog bed in the position where it will remain for the next 10 years of so. Jill puts a collar and a lead on her pup and lets the pup out of the playpen under her control and into the house. The pup is really excited at being in this special place that it was fantasized about for some time. Jill leads the pup into the room where the dog bed is and commands her pup to lie down. Jill sits next to the bed and watches as her pup stretches it neck to smell every inch of the room. Jill pretends to ignore the pup but is ready to correct the pup if it tries to break the command to lie down. The pup after a few minutes, relaxes. Jill praises the pup at this time but does not excite the pup into movement. When the pup relaxes again Jill praises the pup again. This is repeated for half an hour. Jill then praises the pup and takes the pup the pup outside and back into the playpen and takes of the lead and collar. Jill plays with the pup for a minute or so and then goes back inside.
Jill did not scold her puppy for doing anything wrong. That’s because the puppy was not given an opportunity to do anything wrong. The puppy was never free to roam the house to find out what shoes taste like or how soft Jill’s queen sized bed is or how special a bum scratch on the carpet can actually be.
Over the next week or so Jill brings her pup into the house to watch her favorite shows with her. Jill’s pup never gets up and enjoys eating popcorn on movie nights. Jill is careful to let her pup out for wees every half hour and quickly brings her pup back to the dog bed straight away every time. Jill’s pup has never and will never have free roam of the house. Jill simply does not believe it is necessary for her pup to explore the house and is avoiding the need to ever create a conflict with her pup. What a clever cookie Jill is.
Make it easy for your dog to adapt to its environment by not changing its environment.
Never give your puppy an opportunity to do anything wrong.
At the puppy stage the reality is that freedom equals problems. It’s that simple. Most likely the first interactions your pup has to new things (and to a pup EVERYTHING is new) is going to be negative in your mind and you WILL find yourself in conflict with your dog. Limit this until it learns a few basic commands before it is given the freedom to approach things and investigate things. Then allow the investigation to begin on your terms.
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