Getting Everyone Involved

 
In This Chapter
  • Encouraging consistency among your family and friends
  • Creating a clan of helpers
  • Comparing puppy schools and private trainers
Bringing up a well-rounded puppy in today’s society is definitely not a one-person job, even if you do live alone. However, if you’re surrounded by family members or friends, striking a balance between consistency and cooperation takes some effort. You soon find out that sometimes your puppy is easier to train than your roommate. Finding outside help — from a veterinarian and dog walker to a fun, informative puppy teacher — is paramount too.

A Team Effort: Getting Help and


Buy In from Friends and Family The mere fact you’re reading this book proves that you have knowledge and common sense on your side when you try to get your friends and family involved with the training of your puppy. However, this doesn’t mean that everyone agrees with your chosen approach. In order to get your friends and family to go along with your approach you have to do the following:
- Set your boundaries early on.
- Show effectiveness through example.
- Communicate your methods positively (positive-reinforcement training isn’t just for puppies anymore!).

Making sure your family and friends are consistent with your pup


If I could pick one paragraph out of this book to give to families, this one would be it. Inconsistencies can be oh-so-confusing for a puppy. Imagine being a puppy in these scenarios: One person says “Sit in my lap,” while the other shouts “Get off the furniture!” One discourages jumping, and the other wants to dance. One refuses to give me any human food, while another is sliding tidbits under the table.
Warning!
Mixed messages often create maniac rituals — especially when new people arrive. Instead of having one clear thought or a solid understanding of how to respond, the puppy must now dance around trying to determine what this new person’s rules are.
Please spare your puppy this mass mix-up. Sit down with your friends and family and create a consistency chart. Table 10-1 shows one from my house.

Table 10-1
Consistency Chart
Behavior
Routine
How to Extinguish Bad Behavior
Directions Given
Greeting
Pup must sit, roll over, or get toy
Fold your arms over your face or tug on pup’s drag leash
“Sit,” “Belly up,” or “Get your toy”
Barking for attention
Find another way to get attention
Ignore your pup’s behavior completely
“Get your toy” when barking stops
Nipping
Pup must lick or prompt a need
Slip your finger under your pup’s collar or take leash and tug away
“Kisses,” “Out,” or “Go to your mat”

Engaging in some interior decorating


Okay, you don’t need to be an interior decorator to raise a puppy, but you’ve probably discovered (or may shortly) that anything at floor level is fair game for your puppy’s chewing. By leaving valuables within your pup’s reach, you’re inviting mischief, which surely can arouse chaos and confrontation. Prevention truly is worth a pound of cure. Start by redecorating your home: Tidy up and put everything out of reach of your puppy. Then put everyone in charge of their own stockpile. If your partner’s favorite slippers are destroyed, you can say “I told you so!”
Tip
After you’ve cleared the floors, have your family help you organize a play station in each room (see Chapter Home Sweet Home for info on creating play stations). Place all your puppy’s toys and bones at the play station. Your puppy quickly bonds to this area if it’s a center point of attention and treats.
Let your example be everyone’s guide — your puppy is happy and responsive knowing that he has his own special corner.

Creating a cause-and-effect chart

Tip
To help your family see the effects of their interactions with the puppy, create a cause-and-effect chart. Just the slightest modification in behavior can help your puppy understand and can keep your family motivated in the training process. Table 10-2 shows an example.
Table 10-2
Cause-and-Effect Chart
Behavior
Encouraging Reaction
Discouraging Reaction
Jumping in greeting
Push, shout, or interact
Ignore, look away, or fold arms over face
Nipping in play
Physically correct or jerk hand away
Leave a leash on your puppy and pull him off; determine if a need is pressing; play a game or isolate for a nap
Stealing an object
Yell, chase, and capture
Walk out of the house, or shake a treat cup while pretending to eat the treats yourself as you walk away
Barking at the door
Yell or physically correct
Leave a leash dragging to
interfere casually — redirect pup to your side; use a treatoriented lesson to refocus
Piddling when excited
Yell or stick his nose in it
Ignore your puppy until he has calmed down; externalize his focus with a toy or treat cup
Remember
Naughty behaviors can become habit through well-meaning, but nonetheless interactive, attention.
No, you shouldn’t have to bribe your family to take part in raising and caring for your puppy. But, you might have to anyway. Do whatever it takes to get your puppy through his first year with your sanity and his spirit intact. And who knows — after your family sees how much fun hanging out with your puppy can be, they may just vie for walks, feeding, and play time!

It Takes a Village: Enlisting Outside Help


No matter what your political affiliation is, you probably remember Hillary Clinton reiterating the quote: “It takes a village to raise a child.” Well, in today’s society, with all the hustle and bustle, the same holds true for your puppy. Take time to surround yourself with a happy clan of outside helpers, and be sure to keep their numbers close at hand because you lean on these people more than you think! The following sections give you an idea of who needs to make up your clan.

Your veterinarian


Think of your dog’s veterinarian as being on par with your own doctor or your child’s pediatrician. Medical knowledge is essential, but a good bedside manner is the cherry on top of the sundae. Speak with the receptionists and bring your pup in for a cheerful social call before your initial visit. Talk to the doctor like she’s a neighbor. Do you feel comfortable sharing all your canine concerns with her?

If you’re unsure of which veterinarian to use, ask around. You can narrow your search by asking your friends and family who they use and why.
Warning!
Puppies can be very impulsive — they often swallow things that look edible before even considering whether they actually are. So, at your first veterinary visit, ask the doctor if she has a recommended method for inducing vomiting. You should also find out the poison-control hot-line number and always keep it by your phone in case of an emergency. As well, seek out a 24-hour emergency veterinary hospital in your area. Keep the hospital’s number by your phone also. Accidents can happen during off hours, so have a plan.

Dog walkers

Remember
Whether your life demands consistent hours away from the home or circumstance steps in to temporarily rearrange your schedule, knowing a dog walker can make the difference between a happy puppy and a stressed out one. Puppies are like human babies in that they have a strong need dependency. Even though an adult dog can hold it until you get home or can survive until a late meal, your puppy may very well eat your walls if you get stuck in traffic. A reliable dog walker can be a real godsend in times like these.
Ask around and interview a couple of dog walkers before you actually need one. Being prepared ahead of time makes crisis situations that much easier. When interviewing dog walkers, remember that reputation counts, as does your puppy’s reaction, so be sure to ask for references and allow your puppy to interview the candidate. Tail wagging and kisses are equivalent to a double thumbs up!

Groomers


Groomers have a tough job, so I give them a lot of credit. Many dogs backpedal before they even reach the door. Many growl when approached, and some even need to be muzzled. It’s often a thankless job. You can greatly shape your puppy’s opinion of the groomer by exercising your puppy before bringing him in, keeping him combed between visits (to keep painful knots at bay), and introducing him to their handling techniques.
Tip
When deciding on a groomer, visit each facility ahead of time, and ask to see where the dogs are stationed while they’re waiting their turn or drying. What vibes do you get from each place? Do the dogs already there seem happy or stressed? Is it clean and almost odor free? Would you want to get a haircut here if you were a dog?
Remember
Watch the groomer’s handling techniques. Groomers need to be rougher than you would be, but cursing or harsh corrective techniques are unnecessary. Ask the manager what the pay structure is and find out their recommended drop-off and pick-up schedule. Also inquire about what they do when a dog needs to, or does, eliminate in the holding area. Don’t accept anything less than “We remove the dog and clean immediately.”

Doggie day care


I love the concept of day care for your dog, especially if you work all day. The vision of a bunch of dogs running helter-skelter through a yard or matted room is exhilarating. When deciding between doggie day care centers, ask the following questions of each center:
- How are the dogs/puppies grouped?
- What do they do in case of a dog fight?
- Who is the veterinarian on staff? If they’re off location, where is the doctor located?
- Do they kennel overnight?
- What plans are in place if you’re delayed?
- Do they offer auxiliary services, such as grooming, training, medical care, or medicating?
Bear in mind that your puppy may be exhausted after his visit to day care. If training, walks, and bonding are high on your priority list, plan these events for another day. Your puppy may be blissfully brain-dead when he gets home.
Warning!
Puppies, like kids, pick up both good and bad habits from their friends. If you notice your puppy roughhousing or being uncharacteristically defiant, ask to meet the dogs he plays with. If his playmates are rubbing off bad energy, you may consider asking whether your puppy can be placed in another group. Or, consider taking a break from day care until your puppy is more mature because an older puppy or dog is less likely to acquire bad habits.

Puppy kindergarten


A great kindergarten program is worth its weight in dog biscuits. Social time mixed with structure and training blend for an experience that’s fun for everyone involved. Look for a program that welcomes families (if you have one you want to bring along), that limits enrollment to four to eight puppies, and whose teacher you’re comfortable talking to. If the teacher seems nice with your puppy, but is rough or distancing with you, look for someone else. You’re being trained as much or more than your puppy: You should look forward to class too!
Remember
Puppies are impulsive and excitable. Find a class whose teacher takes excitability in stride and doesn’t single out any one puppy as problematic. Your puppy is who he is: The goal of puppy school is to discover your puppy’s personality and how to modify your approach of communicating with him.
Free play is the time during a kindergarten class when the puppies get to race about and get to know the other puppies and people in their classroom. Free play is a very big part of my puppy kindergarten classes. Even though some get overwhelmed at first, they integrate by the third free play and are consequently more comfortable in different social settings. To ensure that your puppy can get this socialization, ask prospective kindergartens if free play is a part of their curriculum.

Sarah Hodgson

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