You have been waiting weeks to pick up your new puppy and now is the day! You are looking forward to many years of love and companionship, but then reality hits and you may ask:
What do we do now?
The following suggestions are based on over 30 years of owning and breeding Golden Retrievers. We hope you find them useful as you grow in your relationship with your new puppy. We also encourage you to seek other sources of information and decide for yourself what style of dog ownership works best for you. You may just want a loving pet, or a hunting dog, or a show dog, and/or a dog that is very attentive to your commands. The choice is yours; however, just know that someone is going to get trained. The question is will you train your puppy or will s/he train you?
Health and Care:
Your Vet: First thing to do: be sure to take your pup to the vet within the first 3 days of bringing him/her home. This allows the vet to establish a relationship with your pet and to start to draw up a baseline of medical history. It also allows the vet to put you on a schedule to get vaccines and checkups which are critical to your pup’s health and development. There are suggestions for questions to ask your vet in the next few paragraphs. Remember, your vet is there for both your pup and you, so start early to create those relationships. You should always feel free to ask any question of your vet even if you feel it may be silly. Believe me, they have heard it all.
Pet Insurance:You may want to consider enrolling your pup with pet health insurance. The cost of medicines your vet may prescribe has dramatically gone up in recent years and can be daunting if something serious should happen to your pup. These medications are often human-grade and are very effective on animals. Humans typically have medical insurance so we don’t fully see those costs in our bills. But if you don’t have pet insurance, those charges can be a very un-welcomed surprise when you get your bill. There are many insurance carriers that offer both Well-care and accident/illness coverage. We encourage you to shop around. Look at what the policy provides in terms of: Out of Pocket Max, caps in annual coverage, deductibles, what it covers and does not cover, and of course cost. We have used HealthPaws with some success, but shop around, ask your vet, and become an informed buyer.
Exercise: Another thing to ask your vet is how soon s/he can go running/jogging with you, if you are wanting a running buddy. Our experience is you should wait until your pup is 12-18 months old as their joints are still developing and injury can occur if you introduce extreme exercise to them too early. But encourage your pup to be active. Play outdoors with him/her, go to the dog park and or/daily walks. Exercise is very important to your pup’s health; just don’t overdo it too soon.
Nutrition: Be sure to give your pup quality food as his/her body needs good nutrition to develop properly and have a health life. Again, do your research and ask your vet – both on brand and quantity. Know that your puppy will need to eat 3 times a day to start with. We scale that down to twice a day at 4-6 months old and then once a day when the pup is around 12 months. The level of activity can alter that and there are different philosophies out there regarding if you should feed them at set times of the day or let them “free feed” by having food our all the time. We prefer feeding at set times of day as it helps you regulate their weight and also helps with house training. Suggestion: feed your pup dinner early so s/he has time to digest and poop before bedtime.
Many pet owners provide dietary supplements to their pets to help with their overall nutrition and development – another good question for your vet. We give our pups supplements for the first year of life (starting at age 2 months). We also give them to our breeding dams before and after litters, to help them with the nutritional demands of breeding and nursing. Often older dogs will need some sort of supplements and your vet will help you determine what is best for your dog.
Training: Commands and Leash
As mentioned earlier, someone is going to get trained and we suggest it is your pup and not you. There are many good sources that you can leverage to develop the training regime that works best for you. But in most of them you will find a few common key factors.
Start with you:First, let’s talk about your training. Consistency and follow-up are critical traits you need to have in order to successfully train your pup. If you give a command and inconsistently expect it to be followed, then your pup will not know what to do and will likely ignore the command. It is better not to issue a command at all if you are not willing to correct the pup if s/he does not obey. Here is another key point, there is a difference in issuing a command and yelling at your dog. Don’t expect your dog to instinctively know what Sit, Stay, Come, or Get off the Couch means by yelling those words at him or her. To get to the point of issuing a command, you have to first train the dog on the command. Example, there are various techniques to teach your dog to Sit. But repetition is key, as it will take time for your pup to interpret and associate the sound of the word to the action you want him/her to take.
Training Styles: Second, pick the training style that you feel comfortable with. Some styles are called “passive” vs. “active” and some are more “positive only adjustments” where others include physical corrections to bad behavior. Do the research and ask your vet for recommendations. There are classes you and your pup can attend that work really well if you need personal instruction. These classes can also be good to help build the bond with your pup as it is typically a weekly “event” that you both share. There are books and many online sources that you can research.
The following tips are based on what we have learned and used over the years are incorporated into most of the styles you may research:
- Common Commands: Address the common commands in this order: Sit, Heal, Stay, Come (best done on a leash). Once you have the pup sitting, you can use the Heal command to start walking. Your pup will be eager to pop up out of the Sit so you might as well let him/her do that in a controlled way. Once the pup is comfortable with that, you can work on Stay as an intermediate command between the Sit and Heal. Then once they are good at Stay, you can have them work on Come. I recommend having your pup Sit/Stay when you feed them to make the experience more enjoyable for everyone. Typically a pup can gain the basic understanding of these commands in about 2 weeks. Then it is practice, practice, and more practice to make it all second nature (for you and the pup).
- Dogs are wired to want to please you, so you can use praise to reward them for doing something well. We recommend going overboard with the praise – they love it when you act silly and play with them.
- Using Treats: Dog also love to eat and like tasty treats so add them as a reward when your pup does something well (during lease training and just around the house). We find these treats are an effective reward early in their training as it also gets their focus, but eventually they should respond to your commands and praise just because they want to please you. You can buy inexpensive treats in pouches at Wal-Mart and Target (typically for a dollar). Then you will want to cut them into ¼ inch squares. Pick a treat that is chewy vs. crunchy as they can taste and eat it quickly. You want the “treat experience” to last just a couple of seconds as to not detract from the training. We also suggest that you give the treat to your dog slowly and keep them for jumping for it. You don’t want to train your dog to bit the hand that feeds them.
- Leash training is essential! You don’t want to be that dog owner that is pulled down the street when they take their dog for a walk. We find using a “choke chain” is very effective and is actually a better choice to NOT choke your dog when on a leash. You will learn how to properly put the chain on your dog and then do a quick jerk and release technique that is more about getting their attention than pulling on your dog. They will soon react to just the sound from the slide of the chain, and an actual corrective jerk is soon not necessary (or as often). Again, we stress the importance of proper leash training; otherwise, you risk injury to yourself (pulled shoulder) and your pup (throat injuries from the constant tug of a strained leash).
- Consistency, let’s revisit that. Remember your dog is learning a new language – your commands. They want to please you, so use that to your advantage and don’t let inconsistency ruin all your hard work. If you don’t want your dogs on the couch with you, then don’t let them – ever. Don’t let them on the couch now and then and then expect them to know what to do when you get upset with them later. If you want them to get on the couch occasionally, then train them a command to get off the couch when you don’t want them up there. Example, tell them “OFF” along with the use of a gesture – sweeping arm motion ending with pointing to the ground. Also, remember they will only respond to your words if they have learned that command thru repetition and consistent application. Otherwise you are just yelling at your dog which only confuses them and frustrates you.
One of the most frustrating parts of having a new puppy is when s/he has an accident in your house. You need to remember that this little animal has a small bladder and it simply gets full quickly. If you crate your pup at night (which we recommend) then you should expect the pup to make a mess at first. This may last a while if you leave them in the crate overnight or for several hours during the day. As they get older, they can physically wait longer. In the meantime, consider feeding them their evening meal earlier and walking them before bedtime or any time before they go into their crate.
Verbal Correction: First, you need to resist the temptation to scold the pup if you don’t catch them in the act. Pups don’t remember what they did 10 seconds ago, so if you scold them after the act, they do not relate their recent action to your scolding. Again, there are many good sources of information on this topic, so do your research. The good news is almost every dog does outgrow this phase. They prefer not to mess their normal surroundings and will wait to go outside once they physically can.
Research: Rather than giving you specific links (sites come and go), here are some terms you may want to Google:
American Kennel Club Home site
What to ask a vet about my new puppy?
What should I feed my new puppy?
How often does a new puppy need to eat?
Dog Training Tips
Dog Training Videos
Do’s and Don’ts of Dog training
How to train my puppy
Things to consider when training a puppy
How to get my puppy to stop doing…
There is a lot for you and your dog to learn in the coming months. Do your research on the topics mentioned above, get a vet you are comfortable with and take your time. Enjoy this process, try not to get frustrated and know you are building a strong bond with your puppy every time you interact with him/her while: feeding, training, playing, and even correcting their mishaps. You have many years to enjoy with your pet so use these early months to create a loving relationship with him/her, even if they do occasionally leave a present on your white carpet.
Rob and I, at Colorado Cream Goldens, wish you and your puppy a wonderful life together, full of love and companionship!
Copyright © 2020 Colorado Cream Goldens - All Rights Reserved.
Powered by Love of Goldens