18months ago I found the most wonderful breeder and put my name down for a puppy. 14 months ago I flew to meet the family, the dam-to-be, the uncle, aunt and half-sister. 3 months ago we found out there were puppies on the way. 7 weeks ago two gorgeous boys were born. One week ago Jellybean finally came home and so far at least, he’s the perfect puppy.
After bringing your puppy home, the first week is about getting to know each other, bonding and settling in. Any consideration for training should be more about life skills and less about sit & stay. Important early lessons can really pave the way for great future training and help make things like recall, self control and house training much easier in the long term.
Here’s what I’ve learnt about Jellybean in the past week:
- Licking my face (cute) turns to biting my face (ouch!) very quickly.
- He can and will pee EVERY SINGLE TIME you bring him out, sometimes as often as every 20mins.
- For him, daylight at 6am means play time.
- Long grass is no challenge for his stumpy legs.
- Food is good but tug is better.
- Nothing phases him (train station, cats, kids, van travel fireworks or even toy robots (yes, robots!).
- 30mins of being awake is usually followed by an hour or so of sleep.
- He’s pretty good at entertaining himself.
From the moment a puppy comes to live with me, every interaction we have says ‘I love that, do more of it’ (click/feed) or ‘I’m not so keen on that, do this instead (distraction and diversion, in Jelly’s case, grab and tug this fast moving object). My only reprimand takes the form of disengagement (so far only needed for biting). The need to correct is lessened considerably by the use of monitored and supervised fun interaction as many times a day as I have time. I couple this with the use of an entertaining puppy pen or settle down crate, for times I need to get on with non-puppy related activities.
With all this in mind, here is what Jellybean has learnt in the past week:
- People of all ages are great fun and are likely to offer toys, food or cuddles.
- Dogs are often around and mostly friendly, but they’re not very interesting.
- Biting or nipping means the human disengages and ignore me momentarily.
- I will be given so many opportunities to pee outside, it will mean I never need to pee inside.
- If I squeak overnight, my human makes me feel safe by stroking me until I settle.
- We only go outside for pees overnight if the alarm clock wakes me, not if I wake my human.
- When I’m tired, I’m lifted into my pen/crate for a sleep. My humans usually stay around. I see them, or if they wander off, I hear them. Occasionally, they leave me alone completely but only for a short while.
- I have to stay in my puppy pen and play/eat/snooze, while the house gets on with things around me, even if I squeak in frustration sometimes.
- Sit starts the game.
- Following my human, running to my human, playing with my human are great fun and always worth my while.
- After my mum’s voice, the clicker is the best sound I can ever hear.
- Jumping onto my bed and waiting till I’m told to move, usually means I get food.
Sits and stays are important. Loose leash is vital for enjoyable walks. Emergency downs and reliable recall are crucial for my dogs to enjoy life and be safe off lead. But this first week has been about laying foundations, getting to know my new Jellybean and giving him time to get to know me too. These early lessons in self-control, recall and of course socialisation (life is good) are so much more important to me than whether my pup is doing a 1 minute sit/stay by the age of 4 months. Formal training can wait. What can’t wait is the all-important bonding and learning that life is good! So that’s what we’ve been focusing on. And of course, cuddles. You can never have enough cuddles.