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Musings About Puppies, Part 1

Puppies, adorable balls of fluff or monsters with sharp teeth?

Truly? Could be both! The problem is that the adorable ball of fluff can so easily become a monster if they aren’t cared for in the right way.

Puppies need around 18 hours of sleep in every 24 hour period. If they don’t get enough sleep the monster will evolve. Unfortunately, this is one of the main problems. People think they have to tire the puppy out, but, as long as you keep stimulating a puppy they will keep going. As they become more tired the monster behaviour will erupt.

So what do we do, how do we keep the adorable ball of fluff?

First of all, it is very unlikely that the monster won’t rear its ugly head at some point, but with careful management you can ensure it won’t cause too many problems.

Secondly, learn how to read your puppy, notice when they are becoming tired. There are a few things you can look out for, such as becoming bitey, doing zoomies, barking, jumping up. If your puppy starts to offer any of these behaviours the chances are they are tired and need to rest.

The next question is how can we help them to rest? Ensure your puppy has a quiet, calm area to retreat to, especially if you have a busy household as this will stimulate your puppy and make it hard for them to switch off. If you have a crate this is a great piece of equipment, as long as it isn’t used as a punishment. The crate should be a comfy haven for your puppy where they are comfortable and can go to rest. Covering the crate with a blanket can turn it into a safe and secure place.

Whether you use a crate or just a bed you need to make it a good place to be. Reward your puppy for going to the bed/crate. Don’t force them there, reward them for making the right decision. If you need help with crate training request our crate training leaflet for some ideas how to do this. You need to start this work as soon as you get your puppy.

Licking and chewing helps to calm puppies, just as a dummy calms a baby. Cow hooves are great for this or you could give them a stuffed kong, there are a few natural products on the market now but some are not safe to be left with puppies. Nylabones aren’t great as pieces of plastic can break off and the puppy could swallow them. Quite often, if your puppy is showing signs of being tired suckling on a suitable item can help them to fall asleep. When they wake up you will have your adorable ball of fluff back.

Short bouts of enrichment will offer mental stimulation and tire your puppy as well as helping to develop a relationship with you. Training basic skills such as not biting and not jumping up can be incorporated into the enrichment activities along with building impulse control.

I could write a whole book on this subject, but the whole point of this blog is simply to help you understand that puppies need sleep and without it you will have more unacceptable behaviour. Please don’t think you can tire your puppy out to make them rest, it will most likely have the opposite effect.

Our Life Skills courses will help you to understand more about how to manage your puppy and help them to develop into a well rounded dog. These are available in person as 6 week courses or online so you can follow at your own pace.

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