A puppy is like a toddler
By JOHN WADE, QMI Agency
Dear John Wade:
I have a puppy I purchased at a pet store. It was an impulse decision to take her, however my mom was very ill and I was not home much. So Tulip, through no fault of her own, now has no manners.
She can be out for 15 to 20 minutes and come in and squat on the floor. She chews everything. Yesterday I watched her run out onto the road and follow a car for a fair distance. We live in the country and I let her roam the yard, but it was the first time I've seen her leave the property. Maybe she's done it all along, I don't know. Can she be trained? Where do I start? — L.B.
No problem, but first you start by stop treating her like a grown-up dog and start treating her like she's a toddler.
Think: “Yesterday my two-year-old ran out onto the road and followed a car a fair distance.” Child services would no doubt ask, as they whisked the youngster off to foster care, ”And just how did your baby make it to the road?”
Your answer — “maybe she's done it all along, I don't know?" — wouldn't cut it.
I'm sure we'll have a happy ending if you follow these tips.
Stick a leash on that dog! It should be six feet long in the house, 30 feet outside the house, and put her in a crate near you every moment that isn't enough to keep her out of trouble. That single sentence will solve most dog problems from developing and resolve most dog problems without ever involving a dog trainer.
My philosophy is: If a dog can't be caught, the dog can't be taught.
Don't stop with these techniques until the dog is an adult, between 18 months to two years.
Like kids, dogs don't raise themselves and they need us to supervise and teach them life skills until they mature. (I tried to send my son back, but his mother claiming I bore some responsibility for his existence, and would have nothing of it).
If you want a dog that — at bare minimum — is not soiling in the house, let alone a dog that can be reliably let off leash for exercise, then you need to get the upper hand.
You don't have to be faster, stronger or more agile then your dog. You just need to get your dog to think you are, hence the leash and the crate when necessary.
Make sure there are no outdoor unsupervised trips until this dog is an adult. Leave a four-year-old child alone in a chocolate candy store and you shouldn't be surprised when over the mall intercom you hear, “Is anyone missing a four-year-old kid on a sugar high covered in $400 worth of chocolate?”
At that point I'd advise pointing at the nearest person of child bearing years and say, “I think it's hers.”
In short, use some tools that will give you the upper hand so you can teach her with consistency. You're probably doing the right things but if for every time you catch her up to something she's getting away with two or three it will be an up hill battle never won.
John Wade helps dog owners through his books, workshops and telephone consultations. E-mail him at email@example.com, or visit his website at johnwade.ca.