The 9 Commandments of Raising the Perfect Dog
- I will manage my puppy’s environment until he is at least one-year old. Confinement can be in a crate, tethered indoors, or in a small puppy-proofed space. A dog’s behavior is simply a reflection of what has been reinforced. So, if the puppy has been rewarded (i.e. found food) on a counter or in the garbage, that behavior will be repeated. With adequate confinement puppies never have the opportunity to:
- Counter surf for food
- Raid the garbage can
- Chew the doors, baseboards or furniture
- Eliminate indoors
- Chase the cat
*It is important in building a strong positive relationship with your dog to manage your dog’s environment so he can be right!
- I will feed my dog only wholesome healthful food, in moderation. Overweight dogs have a lower quality-of-life and are prone to many painful, expensive health problems. I will put my puppy in a crate during mealtime. Feeding from the table rewards begging and demanding behavior. Feeding from the table and providing excessive treats are the leading contributors to obesity.
- I will take my puppy to a Puppy Preschool class and to a Puppy Kindergarten class.
- I will meet my dog’s exercise needs. Long, leash walks (1 to 3 miles) are not adequate for most working breed dogs (Labradors, Border Collies, Jack Russell Terriers). Dogs that don’t have their exercise needs met are prone to destructive behavior. Examples of ways to met exercise requirements: off leash running in a large secured area, ball retrieving (may hit with a racket), swimming, Doggie Daycare, play with a neighbor dog, search games for their dinner).
- I will socialize my dog to other dogs, people and environmental situations. Socialization is most important for young puppies (2-3 months of age) but should continue throughout the dog’s life.
- I will maintain control of the treats and toys at all times. Treats and/or toy play to reward desirable behavior and will not provide them based on the “demand” of my dog. After behaviors are learned, rewards vary in frequency and type. Example, after the puppy is house trained, he won’t get a cookie every time he eliminates outdoors, but he will occasionally get a belly rub, praise, a game of tug, a piece of steak or a walk for correct potty behavior.
- I will initiate and play lots of games with my dog, and I’ll enjoy it as much as he does.
- I will focus on training and rewarding desirable behaviors. I won’t resort to physical punishment and focusing on what the dog does wrong. Correcting dogs increases their fear and anxiety and hence increases their risk for developing aggression problems.
- Because dogs are highly social animals, I will integrate the dog into the family. I will not leave my dog tied outdoors.