What are puppies made of? Cuteness, fluff, fun, love and cuddles … but puppies are also made of other ingredients as they age. And what are some of the other ingredients, you ask? Needle sharp teeth, attitude, energy, independence, curiosity, an obsession to chew, intelligence, drive, demands, and the list goes on.
What puppies are NOT made of is programmable parts or an “easy” button. Here is where a lot of mistakes and misunderstandings are encountered during training. Too many think that once you train a 13-16 week old puppy, they’re done, they shouldn’t have to do more, and the puppy should retain everything they’ve learned at this age. This is a dangerous falsehood, and unfair to the puppy to think of training this way.
The truth is dog training is for life, not just for a month or two when they are young. Every moment of every day in a young puppies life (and any dog for that matter) is potential learning and training opportunities. Every time they are awake, interact with you, play, walk, experience new environments etc. they are learning. Every slip you make, every time you give in, every time your do or do not reinforce something, every time you freak out, get frustrated, are happy, energetic etc. they are learning.
The unfortunate thing is puppies are smart …really smart, and learn very quickly how they can train us, who they can get away with things with, who’s buttons they can push, who means business etc. (not unlike young children). But puppies are also like young children in the sense that they have to be continuously reminded what the rules are, what is required of them, house hold routines and other such things.
Just as you have to remind your toddler not to touch the lit candle multiple times, you have to remind your puppy what behaviours are appropriate/inappropriate many times throughout their growth.
One puppy class just won’t cut it. That doesn’t mean you have to take dozens of classes and spend thousands of dollars on training, that just means that you HAVE to do your homework, and you HAVE to keep up with your homework, especially through all the puppy developmental stages.
If you think of your puppy going through all of the stages of childhood (like your own kid would do) this would help to set you up to handle what’s coming at you when you add a new puppy to the household. The benefit is that puppies go through these stages a lot faster then children do, but it is no less fair to expect a 6 year old to behave like an adult then it is to expect a 6 month old puppy to show the same restraint, cognitive abilities, self control and stamina that an adult dog would.
Puppies go through terrible two’s, adolescence, teenage years, young adulthood, and maturity. Puppies change and develop, loose teeth, gain confidence, realize they are individuals, learn skills, cause problems, talk back, push limits, just as any child would … except your puppy will never ask to borrow the car. If you can understand all of this, you will be better equipped to handle what obstacles comes up throughout their first years of life.
Be fair to your puppies, set them up for success by sticking to your training program, rules, requirements and routines throughout their growth and into adulthood so that you can help build them into confident, self controlled adults who are a pleasure to be around, and an asset, not a burden, to your family.