Can’t Miss Tip for Puppies #1 – What You Don’t Let Them Do

Tonight I’m starting a new puppy kindergarten class at our Greenwich Village location.  This is always awesome because 1) the puppies are ridiculously cute, and 2) people are excited to fill their pups’ minds with stuff that will make them good adult dogs.

Let me tell you a not-so-secret.  When you first start with a pup, the trick to raising a great dog is what you don’t let them do. That’s right, what you prevent them from learning is a BIG DEAL.

For example, if you keep playing with a puppy that is biting your hands, you are teaching them that biting your hands is part of a fun game.  Another example – if you allow your pup to chew on furniture (when you’re not paying attention) THAT behavior is self-rewarding.  It’s fun to chew wood. Let’s look more closely.

Example 1:  Your pup’s developing brain is extremely impressionable.  She learns biting you is fun.  You taught her that, through continuous play WITH biting.  Your pup grows up.  The adult dog likes to bite you.  It’s fun, remember.  Ingrained from the early days.  Nostalgic.

Example 2:  Again, your pup’s brain is like a sponge, remember.  He gets to try his teeth out on some wood.  (Because you’re not there to teach otherwise?).  MMMmmmm.  Chewing wood satisfies.   Your pup loves it, seeks it.  Not his fault, you gave him a chance to learn it.  Your pup grows up.  Your adult dog likes to chew wood (or plastic, or shoes – whatever you allowed will be the favorites.)

The point: To raise an adult dog who doesn’t bite you or chew on furniture or (insert bad behavior X here), simply do NOT permit the behavior from occurring with frequency.  Most importantly, do not allow unwanted beahvior X to become rewarding for the pup.

Manage the environment.  Set them up for success.  Be the teacher.  If not, everything and everyone else will.

Simply put: Adult dogs have behavior patterns that they found rewarding as pups.

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