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Land’s Best Friend: Start Your Puppy Off on the Right Paw

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Happiness starts with a routine.

Regular, gentle training during feeding time and playtime gets a pup off to a quick start. At four months, this German shorthaired pointer already knew her name.
If you’ve followed my advice in bringing your pup home, your new puppy should have already settled in. She’s comfortable in her crate and only gets you up once a night for a quick backyard run. She’s wearing a stout, flat D-ring collar. Now what? This is all you need to remember:
Dogs crave routine. Clear expectations and good habits make for confident dogs and peaceful homes.
At feeding time, place your pup’s bowl on the floor, say her name, and “come.” She’ll be coming to the food anyway, so you might as well establish a connection between command and action. Soon she’ll perk her ears whenever you say her name. Likewise, whenever she runs to greet you, bend to her level, clap your hands, say “come,” and praise her when she follows through. If she ignores you, don’t repeat the command or scold her. Go pick her up, say “come,” in a firm voice, and carry her back to where you initially gave the command.
Hold her a few seconds, and release her with a pat. Snap a lead to her collar and get ready: She’s going to throw a fit. Let her have at it. After a minute, put some slack in the lead and call her. Repeat. In no time, she’ll be ready for short walks.
Do:

  • Keep things light and fun. Bold puppies grow into classy working dogs.
  • Keep a few kibbles in your shirt pocket. Reward sparingly.
  • Check collar fit every few days.

Don’t:

  • Give commands you can’t enforce.
  • Swat your puppy.
  • Yell.

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