14/08/2019 - Puppy Training Tips
So you’ve puppy proofed your house and garden and you’ve spent an absolute fortune on exciting puppy toys, beds, chews and other paraphernalia. But have you thought about how you will introduce your new puppy to the rest of your family? Do you have young children, other dogs or cats?
It’s important to plan and prepare for these first introductions as first impressions and experiences are going to shape their future relationship.
Introducing your puppy to young children
Teaching your young children how to interact with a puppy is so important and can prevent problems later down the line. Most dog bites to children are from familiar dogs and are considered preventable through education.
Before Puppy arrives
Don’t wait until your puppy has arrived to teach your children, spend time now preparing and educating them on how to develop a happy and safe relationship with their new member of the family.
Get all your new puppy stuff out and set up your crate/pen/stair gates etc so that your children have time to get used to all the new kit. Buy a toy puppy to use to teach your children how to interact, stroke and play with their new puppy.
Spend a few minutes everyday teaching your children how to stroke the toy puppy i.e. gentle stokes across the back. Teach them that pulling ears and tails is not good. Also explain that coming over the top of the puppy’s head and stroking them can be very scary to the puppy.
Once you have sorted out crates and pens etc teach your children that these are no go areas. These are safe places for the puppy to go to when they need to sleep, rest or have down time. A simple tip is to put some red tape on the floor around the areas so that it’s clear to your children that they are not allowed in this zone.
Teach your children to understand when the puppy isn’t happy. A great tool for this is the Dog Decoder App – it’s easy to follow and has some great tools for kids.
Bringing puppy home
When the day arrives to bring your puppy home try to make introductions as calm and stress free as possible for your puppy. If you have very young children that are likely to become over excited when you bring the puppy home, it might be a good idea for them to stay away for the first couple of nights if it’s possible. This will give you time to focus on the new puppy and get him settled and happy in his new home without you or him having to worry about the children. If this isn’t possible then give the children something fun to do when puppy arrives. Get them to sit in a chair with a puzzle or book and allow your new puppy to approach them in his own time. He may not have seen young children before, and it could be very scary for him.
Try to keep things as calm as possible and always supervise all interactions between your puppy and the children. If you can’t supervise then they need to be separated.
This is the start of a wonderful and happy relationship between your dog and your children and preparing them in this way will help develop that future bond.
This website is a great resource for helping you keep your children safe around dogs:
Introducing your puppy to other dogs
Before puppy arrives
As with preparing children get all the new puppy stuff out so your dog can get used to them without the puppy being around.
Do a scent swap. When you go to visit your puppy at the breeders take a cloth that has your dog’s scent on and give it to the puppy to sniff and ask the breeder for a cloth with the puppy’s scent on which you can take home for your dog to sniff. Dogs get all their information from scent so this will give both a chance to get to know each other.
Bringing puppy home
Set up boundaries for initial introductions. If you have a particularly boisterous and excitable resident dog this will keep your puppy from being trampled. I like to use stair gates so they can see and sniff each other safely. Give them both something to do behind the barrier i.e. scatter feed, stuffed KONG etc. Watch their body language and don’t rush things. If the puppy backs up or runs away, then have a break. Take your other dog out and let your puppy explore his new home in his own time and then try again later but continue to use boundaries. You may need to continue to keep them separate for a few days and co-exist for a while in separate areas.
If your puppy seems more comfortable then you can move on to them being together in the same room. Bring the puppy into the adult dog space. You may need to keep your adult dog on a lead to start with. Do not leave them alone to get on with it. Contrary to popular belief it is not advantageous to have the adult dog 'tell off the puppy'. It's not fair on either of them and can lead to your puppy being fearful of your dog and potentially other dogs.
Keep introductions brief at first and ensure both dogs have separate places to eat and sleep. It’s important that your puppy has a confinement area when you are not able to supervise so they can’t pester your adult dog.
It’s important in these early stages that your puppy spends 24/7 with his humans and limited, supervised time with the other dogs.
Introducing your puppy to cats
I’m not an expert on cats but there are a few things you can do to ensure a harmonious co-existence between dogs and cats.
If you haven’t owned a puppy before or it’s been a while since you did then I would strongly recommend getting the help from a trainer before your puppy arrives. They will be able to help you make sure you are ready for that big day, have the right set up in your home and guide you through those first critical days with your new member of the family.
Take a look at the IMDT website to find a qualified trainer near you: https://www.imdt.uk.com/find-a-qualified-imdt-trainer