The moment you bring your new puppy home, you begin a journey together that has the potential to build mutual respect and trust. Dogs appreciate clear communication and fixed rules. When you are clear and consistent, your puppy will not only learn faster but will bond with you quicker and more deeply!
This means that every moment of training, housebreaking, and playing with your new puppy can be a bonding experience. By using positive reinforcements when your puppy behaves properly and gently correcting him immediately when he gets out of line, your new furry friend will experience a brain-high of the bonding chemical, oxytocin! And so will you!
Here are 5 specific ways that you can bond with your first puppy as you show him the ropes at home and teach him how to live with you.
TEACH YOUR PUPPY COMMANDS
Dogs are eager to please. The need for your approval is coded in their DNA. They will do just about anything for your approval and the rewarding love and affection that comes with it. Unlike cats, who are basically the willful “teenagers” of the domestic animal world, dogs embody a child-like eagerness to please you that more closely resembles a 5 to 10 year old. And best of all, the minds of puppies are like sponges. They’re able to learn quickly.
Teaching your new puppy commands is not only necessary, but a guaranteed way to bond. The most useful commands your puppy should learn include:
- Name recognition–his name, your name, and other household members’ names
- “Leave it,” “drop it,” “back away,” and “no”
- “Down” and “lie down”–there’s a difference!
The most important communication skill for your puppy to develop is expressing his need to go to the bathroom. In order to help him become confident with this communication, you should learn his body language and signals.
GIVE YOUR PUPPY BOUNDARIES
All puppies and dogs need boundaries. When we use the term “boundaries,” we’re referring to the “places” within the home that are off limits. It’s very important that puppies learn the boundaries so that they know where they can and can’t go. Even if you live in a small apartment, it’s not appropriate for your puppy to have “free rein of the house.” For example, you don’t want him drinking out of the toilet, do you? Since the toilet is “off limits,” you’ll need to set a “boundary” so that your puppy knows not to go there when he’s thirsty.
Boundaries are also really important to introduce during the puppy stage of life and not during the mature stages of dog life. This is mainly due to dogs being creatures of habit and territorial in nature. You could damage trust if, for instance, you allow your puppy to sleep in your bed but then “kick him out” when he’s full grown.
We recommend that you think long and hard and decide what you want the lifelong boundaries for your dog to be. Then, you can introduce those boundaries to your puppy while he’s learning the ropes. And don’t forget to be firm and consistent with verbal scoldings if he tries to push boundaries and break rules. Believe it or not, when you uphold the house rules with your puppy, it deepens trust between you both, which helps to bond you more tightly!
You can use baby gates to prevent your puppy from going into off limit areas. You can also use a crate for “time outs” if and when your puppy tries to push boundaries or tests if he can get away with being disobedient.
GIVE YOUR PUPPY “JOBS”
If you’ve spent any time researching how to train a new puppy, you might have noticed that a foundational cornerstone is keeping a regular, daily routine. Dogs love daily routines because doing the same things in the same order every day gives them the confidence to know and trust what to expect. And they also love it because knowing what to expect means that they can anticipate activities and participate in the organization and execution of those activities.
For example, a dog doesn’t know how to read a clock, but he does know that one soda after Daddy gets home it’s walk time! The dog will get into his own habit of fetching his leash whenever his owner cracks a can of soda open in the kitchen. In this sense, a dog takes on responsibility and performs “jobs.”
You can bond with your puppy by giving him simple jobs and rewarding him with positive praise and treats when he performs his job correctly. As your puppy grows throughout puppyhood, you can even teach him more complex commands that will increase bonding between the two of you. The most common complex command is:
- “Fetch (item name) –first, teach your older puppy the names of specific items like ball, toy, leash, newspaper, slippers, etc; next, teach him what “fetch” means
One of the greatest, natural skills that puppies and dogs have is their ability to “read” our emotions, body language, and energy! In fact, they are better at understanding our emotions and body language than they are at comprehending our words if we use too many.
This is good news when you’re embarking on teaching your puppy more complex, activity-based commands. Don’t stress and simply allow your reactions to your puppy’s progress to be authentic. If he doesn’t get something right, he’ll sense your disappointed energy, which will motivate him to do things correctly.
PLAY MENTALLY STIMULATING INDOOR GAMES
In addition to playing outside where your puppy can exert a great deal of energy, you can also bond with your puppy by playing mentally stimulating games indoors. Depending on how your puppy is adjusting to his new life with you at home, he may be shy about playing games that involve complex thinking. You can coax him into participating by offering his favorite treat.
At Petland Kansas City, the indoor game we love the most is “Hide and Seek.” This game challenges puppies to learn and it’s a lot of fun for them to play once they get the hang of it.
For the first round of Hide and Seek, you can keep the treats on you, and be sure to hide more or less in plain sight by tucking yourself “behind” a coffee table or other spot where you are basically fully visible. Make sure your puppy watches you “hide.” Then, call your puppy’s name and say “come.” This will help them understand and learn the “come” command. When he finds you, be sure to reward him with a treat!
As you continue to play, you can pick harder-to-find hiding places. This game will stimulate your puppy’s brain as he learns what the game is all about and how to win. And best of all, as you play your puppy will also learn that you’re a lot of fun to hang out with! This type of quality time is great for bonding and makes learning with you a blast.
ATTEND PUPPY TRAINING CLASSES
Training your puppy throughout puppyhood is both necessary and fun. And even more importantly, the process of training your puppy is a great bonding experience. Of course, puppy training occurs at home as part of housebreaking, potty training, and learning the house rules, but for those of you who want professional help, we recommend taking your puppy to a structured training program.
At these types of puppy training programs, professional dog trainers will work with you and your puppy. We aren’t talking about the kind of place where you drop your dog off and let the trainer do all the work. We’re talking about programs where a pro will teach you how to communicate with your puppy while you and your fur baby tackle indoor obstacle courses and other fun activities.
Petland Kansas City offers a 6 week puppy training course for anyone who takes home a Petland puppy. This course effectively trains puppies in behavior modification by using positive reinforcements, and because the puppies learn over the course of 6 weeks, excellent habits become ingrained in them by the time they graduate. Not to mention that every training session strengthens the bond between the puppies and their pet parents.
Are you ready to take home a brand-new puppy to bond with? Petland Kansas City knows that getting a new puppy can be one of the happiest moments in a person’s life. Let our pet counselors find the perfect breed match for you! Stop by our Overland Park location.