The previous article in our series on how to make your dog great focused on how to prepare for the arrival of your new puppy, how to help him settle in and the importance of attending the right kind of puppy classes. We now continue with a few of the issues all new puppy owners face: bonding with your new pup, teaching him to walk on a lead and dealing with the challenges of taking him for walks in public places.
Bonding with your new puppy starts from the moment you bring him home. This is secondary bonding for your puppy. Primary bonding develops between a mother dog and her young. In order to build a strong bond with your dog, you must provide him with a warm, safe environment in which to learn and grow. He also needs emotional security and he needs to learn to trust you.
Another way to bond with your puppy is through play. Lesley de Klerk, an internationally recognised trainer and founder of Paws for People, says that you should throw away your pup’s food bowl and hand-feed him as much as possible during the first three to four weeks. “Hand-feeding allows you to introduce a few different things in these early days,” explains Lesley. If you have other dogs at home, remember to spend plenty of one-on-one time with puppy, or he may bond with the other dogs.
One of the first things you’ll teach your puppy is to wear a collar. Put your puppy’s collar on as soon as possible after he comes to live with you. He’ll need to be comfortable with the collar before you can start introducing a leash. “You should be able to easily fit two fingers into the gap between the collar and your puppy’s neck, but the collar should not be so loose that it will slip over your puppy’s head,” advises Candi Moon of Furbabies Training School. Try playing with puppy while he wears the collar. You can also offer a treat or toy. Your pup will soon associate the collar with something positive.
Adding the leash in 5 steps
- Once puppy is happy to wear his collar, you can add a leash. Just let him drag it around for a while, then take it off.
- Offer a few food treats while your puppy wears his leash.
- If your puppy seems happy with wearing the leash, try holding the end of it.
- Do not put any pressure on the leash. Let it hang loose and walk around with your puppy wherever he wants to go. Offer a food reward here and there.
- Once puppy is used to you on one end of the leash, you can start encouraging him to follow you. If he goes in the opposite direction, stand still. Only keep walking when the lead is loose again. Avoid tugging and jerking on the leash. Your puppy will resist and there is a possibility of injuring him.
Dog walking etiquette 101
– Teach a good recall. If you can’t trust your dog to come back to you on recall, don’t take him off lead!
– Let your dog politely greet another dog.
– Always take a bag with you and clean up after your dog!
– Take a bottle of fresh water and some treats in your pocket.
– Take along a can of pepper spray for your own safety or a Pet Corrector if you are concerned about strays on the walk.
– Follow the rules.
– Don’t let your dog chase children, people or other dogs while you are out walking.
– Don’t let him jump up on strangers.
– If your dog has a behaviour issue and barks or lunges at others, rather ask a behaviourist for advice.
– Don’t let him rush towards other dogs.
– Never allow your dog to dig up plants or kill small animals in a park or reserve.
– If your dog likes to chase children, cars and cyclists, don’t take him off lead.
Text: Roxy Greyling
The full article appears in the April 2015 issue of AnimalTalk.