Starting life with a puppy or rescue dog

Starting life with a puppy or rescue dog

So, you got yourself a new puppy in your life, or decided to give a shelter dog a forever home. What to do now?

How to start with a new puppy

Let’s start with the pups. As a dog obedience trainer I often get asked what the best time is to start training a pup, and my answer is always the same, as soon as possible. Of course, you cannot take a not fully vaccinated pup to obedience training classes, but you can certainly start at home with the basics. Make sure you give them time to settle in their new home, before you start training, after all, it is quite daunting to leave mum and litter mates and adapt to a new life.

Back to the training; rather than calling it obedience training for dogs or pups, I like to call it, 'teaching manners' which sounds a lot less dictatorial, and more enjoyable for pups and human parents. The behaviours we teach at Watch my Chops Dog Training, are the same but the slight nuance in the terms we use, makes all the difference to me, as a force-free, reward based trainer. So, what are the basic manners we teach a pup in our classes? The standards are sit, down, stand, recall, polite walking on the lead, stay/wait, watch and leave. With these behaviours in your tool box, you have a very good head start.

You could always carry on into more advanced obedience classes for dogs in the future, should you wish to, but most pet dog human parents only want a well-behaved pooch to share their lives with. Just like with children, you want them to have nice manners.

What about your rescue dog?

You have become the proud parent of a rescue pooch. What to do now? Unlike with puppies, the process for shelter dogs tends to be slightly different, simply because quite a few of these little guys, haven’t had the best start in life, so you have to take things slower than with a pup.

Before you decide to attend obedience training with your adopted pooch, the most important thing to do is to let them settle for at least a couple of weeks without doing much at all with them. Let them find their ‘paws’ and discover their true personality before starting training. Some dogs might settle straight in and in these cases will be able to attend obedience training classes sooner, but some others might have behavioural issues that you might want to address before joining obedience classes.

Many rescue dogs don’t get on with other dogs, so there would be nothing worse you could do than joining a class where there will be other dogs, of course, and put your dog through a negative experience. It would be far better in that case, to work on a one to one basis to try and help him or her. It has often been the case where we have worked on a one 2 one basis with the dog and if I think it is suitable, have brought them into a class, and the results have been amazing, by simply giving the dogs a little space.

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