Let me start off by saying that everyone has their own views. The first thing I look at before I try to bring about any change; I ask the person if they WANT to change. So if you're reading this, you must have some desire to know more, to learn and to change.
When you bring a puppy home, you NEED to be ready for change. Unless you normally have poop in the middle of your hall room. There is no judgement if you do, as that would make this easier. Change can be positive too as a puppy brings bursts of happiness, joy and comfort too.
Everyone's first dog will always have a special place in their heart and in my line of work, I meet a lot of first time owners and I just thought I'd share my own experience as well as theirs. I always think I'm smarter than I am, when in reality I'm quite stupid. I make foolish choices and trip over things but at the end of the day, I'm just a little less stupid. If I can make you a little less stupid, I would have done my job.
So without further a do; let's look at HOW TO MESS UP YOUR PUPPY.
Obedience all the time
This is very common with first time owners. Even when I got my first dog I did that. It's the puppy version of helicoptering your a child. Do you follow him around? Do you constantly check where he is and if he is up-to some mischief? Do you feel the need to correct him or play with him all the time?
If the answer is "yes" to even one of these questions, you could be walking down the purfect path to destruction.
If you want a dog that is used to a lot of attention and might have a nervous breakdown if you're not there, then continue to do this.
There is a simple solution to this- ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT. These 2 big words can actually save you a lot of trouble. Puppy proofing and keeping the environment safe saves your sanity. Puppies that have the freedom to run all over your house without being taught the rules first will chew, destroy and urinate.
Professional Tip- Easy fix to this is take a water spray bottle and spray yourself. It's your fault that he chewed up your Italian shoes. In fact he is teaching you a valuable lesson in cleanliness. Thank him.
2. No Routine.
This one might seem quite weird. I'm sure you're asking yourself why would this would make difference. When you are living with a family that speaks an entirely different language, you cannot tell them how you feel and they cannot tell you. If you give your puppy a routine he knows that at 5:00 pm he goes for his walk and he won't trouble you at 4:45 pm to be exercised. If you take him for a walk when you feel like, his life becomes a series of events he needs be alert to.
The perfect example is staring at a "loading" sign. You don't know when it will finish loading but if you look away for a second you could miss it. You dog doesn't believe that anything is guaranteed. This means that he's going to get frustrated looking at the loading sign. By the way, you are the loading sign! I'm quite proud of myself for coming up with that!
3. Obedience All the Time
Aaaaah...the strict parents who know whats good for you and like to make your decisions for you.
Don't you just love those people? Aren't you always so happy to see them?
There's nothing wrong with being strict. There is nothing wrong with following a few rules. I hope for the puppy's sake you do but there is a difference between an obedient dog and a well-behaved one.
Do you want a dog that waits for directions all the time or one that knows what to do?
Imagine if someone controlled everything in your life. They decided when you ate, what you ate, how much you ate or whether you ate at all. This is just one example of how much we already control in our dog's life. I've got to admit, now that I think about it our dogs relinquish control and trust us with their lives. They think we are the most amazing person and I don't know about you but I want to prove him right.
Think about the times you correct your dog by shouting, saying "no no no no" to a point where your dog thinks his name is "no no no no". How can you avoid that unpleasant tone and make life happier?
HOW? How? How?
If we just create a pattern of behaviour the dog can follow you wouldn't need to correct him. The silent treatment works just as well ( just ask 13 year old Amanda).
1. Every time you come home, wait at the door till he sits and only then open the door.
2. Hold his meal in your hand until he sits, then reward him.
3. Play fetch with him after he sits and waits for you to throw it.
If you notice, I'm waiting or being silent until the dog does the thing I want and then I celebrate his achievement. With time you will notice he will be quicker and quicker to sit and behave and that behaviour has rewarded him.
One of our pups has a special message for you...
This way, I'm not barking at my dog. My dog doesn't think I'm an insufferable two legged creature. Win-win.
Of course this only applies if you see an ideal dog as one that doesn't jump up on you and your guests. If you like the muddy paws and slobbery licks then don't you dare shout at him one the one day that you've had a bad day. I will hunt you down and bark at you.
...and the last but not least...
This is the BEST way to mess up your dog.
He hesitates to go outdoors? Force him to and tell him it's good for him. He gets freaked out the first time he has a bath? Pick him up and take him anyway, it's good for him. He doesn't want to go to the vet? Not a problem, Hold him down and force him to be there and take it.
When you force anyone to do anything, they will tolerate you to a point and then karate chop their way out of there. I guarantee it! The only difference is your dog won't chop he will chomp (down on your hand).
I hate butterflies. I've had a phobia since I was 5 years old. If you try to mess with me by doing something butterfly related, I will cause you physical damage (Even though I'm vegetarian and my teeth are not very sharp from all those potatoes I eat.)
Now imagine the struggle with a puppy who will grow to be much bigger and stronger. If you still can't imagine try this exercise -
Step 1- Hire a friend who wouldn't mind torturing you. (He might even do it for free)
Step 2- Make a list of the things you are scared of ( spiders, snakes, vegetables, commitment, the gym)
Step 3- Now let your friend force you to do those things. I mean really force you to do it. Tie you up, hold you down, drag you there (get creative)
Simple piece of advice when introducing new or slightly unpleasant things-
Go slow, make it more tolerable with positive things and NEVER FORCE YOUR DOG.
That's the bottom line folks. A little bit of empathy can go a long way. Be kind to one another.