Karen Wild: My puppy wears me out!

Karen Wild column EMN-140715-124751001
Karen Wild column EMN-140715-124751001

A new puppy is always hard work. Even hard-bitten (excuse the pun) trainers like myself find a puppy quite a challenge at times.

Don't worry if you are struggling. As long as you are kind, and remember this is a baby animal with no learning, you can become a great teacher.

Here are some tips to keep your young dog learning the right lessons.

Puppies like to explore new tastes, textures, movement and most importantly of all, the incredible smells that make up their world. We can never imagine what it must be like to be a dog with their incredible analysis of scent all around their habitat. Just like any young creature, their environment becomes one great big toy.

This leads to problems when the household becomes a playground, the kids, your hands, clothes and any items left within reach become chew toys. Trying to hang out the washing or hoover becomes a crazy ‘Wacky Races’ around the home! The cat becomes a hunted creature, and so does Grandma. The remote control becomes a new play item with an expensive lesson to learn in leaving it on the sofa instead of putting it up on the shelf. You are not alone!

We have set the scene. Now save your sanity and teach puppy how to play nicely.

Distract your puppy by providing a wide range of hollow toys made to contain food. You will need more than one.

Don't allow him to be left alone with toys that he may chew to pieces. They can easily eat bits of these, so only buy extra strong items for chewing

Squeaky toys can be pulled to pieces by any puppy wishing to ‘kill’ their prey, but this builds a destructive habit. It is not long before the puppy moves on to chewing shoes and even mobile phones, since the textures are similar but they are dangerous to eat! Rubber toys that are hollow, with food pastes that can be squirted or smeared inside, make puppies enjoy chewing without damage.

For the puppy that likes to empty the stuffing from a toy, provide a range of ‘empty’ toys, that are designed to have no stuffing at all, or super tough toys that do not have seams for the puppy to pull apart. 'Tuffy' toys have a very tough inner lining and no seams at all, and these are particularly long-lasting in our household.

It is better to build good habits than break bad ones. Make sure you teach them best practice!