BRIAN JOHNSON ON OUTDOORS — Now is a good time to train new puppies

Published 12:09 am Wednesday, April 15, 2020

As odd as it may seem, I have been getting lots of calls from potential clients who have just purchased new puppies.

While a pandemic might not initially seem like the best time to spend the money, I can’t think of a better time to be getting a new pup.

All of this extra time at home will provide puppy owners a great opportunity to make great strides in training their new partner.

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As the owner of a professional dog training company, I get asked about training dogs on a weekly basis. Even the folks that don’t plan on paying to have their dog trained are looking for advice to do it better on their own.

Typically people purchase pups and bring them home between the ages of 7 and 9 weeks. If they choose to use a trainer, that generally happens between 4-6 months.

Those few months of in between time are crucial for building a firm psychological foundation for puppies.

Below are a few things that will help you get your puppy started in the right direction.

  1. Have fun! This doesn’t mean just you having fun. It applies to the puppy as well. The goal is to have a happy, excited, confident puppy that loves life. Use the extra time on your hands to play with you puppy and really build him up.
  2. Don’t let him always have his way! While our main goal at this stage in the puppy’s life is to have fun, that doesn’t mean that he can do whatever he wants to do whenever he wants to do it. Just like children, puppies need boundaries. For example, it’s not OK to chew on everything that fits in his mouth or to poop and pee wherever he wants. Use these early days to properly potty train or house break your dog. Let him learn that just because he barks or whines in the crate doesn’t mean you will come running and put him in the bed with you. Gently scold him when he chews up your slippers. With all of the extra time together, you should be able to make great headway in this department.
  3. Go on adventures! Walks in the woods, fishing trips, hiking down trails, and similar activities will all be beneficial to your pup. They will help him build confidence and learn to be fearless. They will also help keep the two of you from going stir crazy. Let him swim, walk in his grass, cross creeks and explore as much as his heart desires. All of the self-esteem that he develops will aid in future training.
  4. Play fetch! If you want your dog to love to retrieve, now is the time to start. At first, simply tie a sock in a knot and make a few short tosses. Be careful not to overdo it. Always make this fun and leave your pup wanting more. Each retrieve needs to be rewarded with lots of praise. The more your dog loves to fetch, the more likely he will become a greater waterfowl hunting companion, or even just a better pet. The retrieve will become his reward as well as a great way to exercise and provide both of you with lots of fun.

If you have a new pup, I encourage you to capitalize on all of this extra time that you have to spend with him. Ephesians 5:16 encourages us to “make the most of every opportunity,” so get up off that couch and go train your dog!

Brian Johnson, originally of Port Neches, is pastor of First Baptist Church of Winnie, owner of and outdoors writer for The News.