It’s been a little over a month I began my adventure with Elliot. I’ve had a lot of fun, and I’ve learned a lot. I like to think that he has too. As the weeks go by, I feel our bond growing, and I remember that getting a puppy is about building a relationship as you would with any human being except that it requires more attention and more listening. Elliot’s life revolves around his interaction with me, which means that I am responsible for the quality of his life. Thus, how I respond to both his triumphs and accidents is of no small consequence. Establishing a puppy routine is essential for both our sanity and our bond.
What exactly have I learned from this approach? Well, the main thing I have learned is that blaming and punishment does not work. I have realized that Elliot never intends to displease me. His primary goals in life are to get love and attention from me. When he misbehaves, it’s usually due to a misunderstanding or forgetfulness. At this stage, it is not fair for me to assume that he knows the rules and is deciding to ignore them. More likely, he either forgot due to a lack of a puppy routine or never really got it in the first place.
Based on our growing experience, there are two useful pieces of advice I can give. First, establish a puppy routine.
Routine is particularly helpful in training your puppy. When you first wake up take your puppy to the pee pad or outside. Then take him or her out regularly throughout the day.
Try to take your puppy out to pet before he or she realizes the need to go to the bathroom. Once they realize, they usually go to the bathroom where most convenient as the need is pretty urgent by that point.
The second piece of advice I can give is positive reinforcement.
Instead of yelling at your puppy when he or she misbehaves, show him or her the correct form of behavior. With Elliot, this mostly plays out in chewing. He loves to chew on cords, Q-tips, pieces of plastic, and anything you’d rather your puppy didn’t get its paws on. Instead of bopping him on the head, I take the chord, or whatever it may be, away and give Elliot his Kong or a favorite stuffed animal. When he starts chewing on that instead I tell him what a good boy he is as positive reinforcement. It’s not a miracle cure, it takes time, but it works.
To end this post, let me just remind you to give your puppy lots of love and play with him. A happy puppy is a much better-behaved puppy.