10 Simple Rules For Your Best Dog
Updated: May 3
Most owners want the best for the dogs, and will try their best to ensure they live a happy and healthy life, however sometimes they neglect to ensure their dog is adequately trained and prepare for a lifetime of interaction with others. That’s why it’s important that you establish a good foundation of training and discipline at an early age so that your rowdy puppy doesn’t become an uncontrollable adult. Following these 10 simple rules, in addition to attending regular training sessions (30-40 in their first year), will give your pup the best chance of living a happy and balanced life that you will enjoy for many years.
Learn good habits early
Through training we aim to establish a set of behaviours and habits early on in your puppy that will lead to a positive relationship when they’re older. The learning process for dogs is very similar, or indeed even the same, as humans. This means the “neurological pathways”, or more simply – the way behaviours/habits are formed happens early. This means that what they learn is acceptable behaviour as a puppy, will be more than likely demonstrated as an adult, which is why it’s critical you establish what is good and bad behaviour whilst your pup is still young. We encourage you to think about what behaviours are important to you, and make them a priority, such as name recall, retrieving, going to the toilet outside, not jumping up, not barking unnecessarily, walking calmly on a lead, etc. You should decide on these behaviours before the arrival of your puppy, and discuss them together as a family.
Whilst many of think of our pets as just small humans, unfortunately this isn’t the case, as they have their own specific needs and are incapable of understanding all the facets of the human world. In order to communicate effectively with your dog you need to understand why they’re acting a certain way and do your best to remove any obstacles that may be causing your dog confusion or stress in following your commands. By following the following 10 simple rules you will be able to establish yourself as the pack leader and the leader of the house. When your dog understands that they don’t rule you and your actions they will become less stressed, less anxious, and will be more likely to settle down and display positive and healthy behaviours that will set you up for success in the future.
10 Simple Rules
Without further ado please read the following rules and use them as your guide to training your new puppy.
1. Establish the “house rules” for a pup as soon as they arrive. Whilst it may take some days/weeks to embed the positive behaviours you’re after, it’s important to invest the time as having to make your puppy unlearn bad habits and re-learn good habits will take even longer. Keep in mind, what may be cute in a 4kg pup, will never be cute in a rambunctious 24 kg adult.
2. Do not make any big deal of comings or goings from your property. Many owners make a fuss of saying goodbye to their puppy when they leave, which results in your puppy becoming excited and elevated right before you leave only to be left alone, leaving them stressed and more likely to engage in destructive behaviour. Additionally, making a fuss when you come home will reinforce to your puppy that this is a big event and they should become enthusiastic and animated. Engaging in these behaviours is a sure-fire way to guarantee your puppy develops separation anxiety that will negatively impact both your lives. Your comings and goings should be a “no big deal” situation, and you should preferably ignore your pup/dog in the time preceding your departure and for the first 10 minutes of you returning home.
3. Don’t feed your dog from the table. Establish the routine from the start that whilst humans are eating, the dog lays quietly to the side, or engages in some other non-interrupting safe behaviour.
4. Work on “off lead” behaviour early. This means – in a safe place, get your pup used to being off lead and coming back to you with no major drama. Using a piece of small dried liver or cheese as a treat can be used to reward your pup when they come near you, and will always keep them by your side as they learn the positive relationship between staying close and being rewarded. It’s critical that you establish this connection early.
5. You absolutely must go to basic obedience and socialisation classes. These must be based on positive reward only, and you should avoid any trainer who wants to talk about “alpha dog” and “dominance” behaviour – both of these concepts are outmoded and unhelpful. It’s important that you not allow your pup to engage in unacceptable behaviour at these classes, as stated early, their negative actions will only intensify as they become older and they will become increasingly troublesome. You must work to establish boundaries so your puppy knows what they can and can’t do.
6. Do not let your dog on your bed or on your couch. There is nothing wrong with restricting your dog from certain rooms in the house.
7. For 10 minute sessions at a time, put your dog in a crate and ignore them, or tie their leash to a post or similar for 10 minutes and ignore them. Do this at least 3 times weekly for the first 12 weeks, and then every so often. There are going to be times when you need to crate or tether your dog, so establish early that this is a “no big deal” activity. Ensure appropriate access to water and shade of course. And it needs to be a safe environment. Do NOT tether your pup outside a shop, you would never tether your expensive TV outside a café, so why would you do it with your brand new puppy?
8. Your Portuguese Water Dog loves activity. Recall is an excellent activity to teach, and of course, teach it as a pup. Try and get your pup/dog out every day. This is good for you and your pup, and good for your relationship.
9. Where your dog walks whilst on their lead is unimportant, but pulling on lead is unacceptable. If you let your pup pull you as a pup, it will pull you as an adult, and this will make each and every walk an unpleasant experience.
10. Resist the urge to carry the pup around, or let others carry it around. And resist the urge to spend a lot of time petting and cuddling your pup. Ensure all guests and family members follow all the rules as listed above. We don’t want our dog thinking there is one set of rules for the family members, but with guests, the sky is the limit!
Importantly, you are the pack manager. Do not shirk this responsibility. If you don’t take on this responsibility, your dog will, and then as a consequence your dog will display inappropriate behaviour. Remember, your dog is part of a general society, badly behaved dogs reflect badly on you, the dogs, and the breed in general. Too many breeds have bad reputations only because humans have not established the preferred patterns of behaviour early in life.