Regardless of whether you are a pro at puppy raising, or never raised a puppy, you will benefit from these three rules of raising a puppy! Have you ever been around a two-year-old child? What is the cure for two-year-old child behavior? The child turns three! What is the cure for puppy behavior? The puppy turns into a trained mature dog!
I would not take the "puppy" out of your puppy, even if I could. Allow your puppy the freedom to be a puppy! Take a piece of paper and write your pup’s first and middle name on it. At the top of the paper, write the words "Puppy License." Place this piece of paper in a drawer. The day that your puppy does something so outrageous that you are tempted to lose your temper - stop yourself. Walk to the drawer and remove the paper. Read it and remind yourself that you gave your puppy a license to be a puppy!
Now, with that said. you can certainly shape your pup’s behavior in the direction of your choosing. Live by the three rules of raising a puppy you want to live with:
1. Your Puppy Stays by Your Side and Wears a Leash in The House
Rule number one is when your puppy is with you in the house, she wears a leash. Specifically, she wears a buckle collar and is dragging a light-weight, short leash with the handle removed. (Nylon is best as it slides around chair legs easily.) The purpose of the leash is to provide an easy way for to calmly catch and redirect your puppy. This leash needs to be long enough for you to casually approach and catch your puppy, but not long enough to be a tripping hazard. Please use your common sense as to whether you hold this leash or allow your puppy to drag it. If you choose to let your puppy drag her leash, make sure that she is in the room where you are in your line of sight! The leash allows you to catch your puppy without startling her, chasing her, or yelling at her. Once you use the indoor leash you will wonder how you survived without it!
2. Use a Long-Line When Taking Your Puppy Out to Potty
The second rule of raising a puppy that you want to live with is each time that you take your puppy outside to potty or play, she wears a fifteen-foot, cotton-web long line. Again, use your common sense to decide if your puppy drags the long line or you hold the handle. This depends on where you are and how fast you are, as compared to how fast your puppy is! The purpose of the long-line is to simulate your puppy being off-leash outside. It is important to use a fifteen-foot long line instead of a retractable leash! Your goal is to stop your puppy from moving too far from you, using your voice and placing your foot on the line to stop her. This is very hard to do with a retractable leash! Keep in mind that you are smarter, stronger, and bigger than your puppy. But, she is faster. Use your long-line to make sure that she does not learn that she is faster than you! You also use the line to redirect your puppy when she starts to dig in your flower bed or when she wants to lie down in the mud puddle.
3. Your Puppy is in Confinement When You Can't Supervise Her
The third rule is when your puppy is not in the room where you are, in your line of sight, and dragging a short leash, nor outside, with you, wearing her fifteen-foot cotton web long line, then she goes into confinement. I define confinement as the largest area that she will keep clean and not chew up. This might a crate, an exercise pen, or your kitchen with a baby gate. I encourage you to experiment with different types of confinement! I think of confinement in the same way that I thought of a crib and playpen when my children were small. I used the crib as a safe place for them to sleep and a playpen as a safe for them to play when I needed a moment of peace.
The first thing that I ask any new puppy parent is, "When was the last time that you raised a puppy?" I have many clients that are currently bringing me their third puppy. This gives me the advantage of having known their two previous dogs as puppies. Often I have to remind my client that both of their previous dogs behaved like puppies at one time! The lesson here is that puppies act like puppies instead of like mature, trained dogs.
The more that you are willing to follow these rules right now the less you will need them a year from now! Allowing freedom before your puppy has earned it leads to her learning behaviors that do not please you. The average 13-year-old child could physically learn to drive a car. Do you think that is a good idea? Isn't it best for the child to be mentally as well as physically, mature before handing her your car keys? Think of that the next time you are tempted to grant freedom before your puppy has earned it!