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Puppies can be so exasperating! They know what we want, and what we don't want, yet they continue to push our buttons. Wait a minute! Maybe we can rewire our buttons and bring them out of reach of Puppy! Use the following tips to help prevent Puppy Theft and other hiccups in Puppy's road to adulthood.
SUPERVISE, SUPERVISE, SUPERVISE.
The more that you can supervise rather than confine, the happier Puppy will be. Additionally, he will learn his lessons that much quicker. If you must wrap a leash around your waist to keep Puppy with you while you move about your home, do so. If all members of the family must take turns leaving the room or taking the puppy with them, do so. However, when you CANNOT keep him supervised, CONFINE him. He doesn't care that you just left the room "for a minute." That absence gave him a minute to fill--possibly with your favorite sandal.
SCAN THE ROOM, REMOVE THE BAIT.
When you leave toys, shoes, books, and other objects lying around, you have set Puppy up to fail. If it is within sight, if it is within reach, it should be considered bait. Redirect your commands--instead of directing "drop it, drop it!" at Puppy, you should be repeating "pick it up, pick it up" to every other family member in the house. Remember, every failure to remove these objects before they are confiscated by Puppy should be considered a failure by you, not Puppy.
TRADE THE GOODS.
Try rewarding Puppy--not for taking the wrong object, but for trading it for the right object. Trade a shoe or a couch leg for a favorite treat or toy, happily and without a fuss on your part. Make sure you keep your voice cheerful and offer lots of praise when he even thinks of doing the right thing. He will learn not to run from you with his stolen object, as he will know that you are approaching to offer him a desireable trade. (Make it worth the trade, or you lose!)
NEVER LET HIM SEE YOU SWEAT.
When you feel your patience running low, separate yourself from Puppy. Give him time in his crate with a favorite toy or treat and give yourself some space. Whenever you can, read about how puppies think. Do this throughout his growing stages to keep reminding yourself that he is a Puppy, not a person. Keeping this straight in times of stress will keep you giving Puppy positive signals that will help to build his confidence and his ability to be the best canine companion he can be.
You will have a win/win relationship when you remember the Golden Rules of Preventing Puppy Theft--Supervise, Supervise, Supervise; Scan the Room, Remove the Bait; Trade the Goods; and Never Let Him See You Sweat.
The author has worked with dogs and dog people for two decades, advocating for smart selections before a new dog is brought into a home and always stressing responsible selection and ownership for the good of the dog, the family and the community. She also makes dog and cat art available to the companion animal industry and to animal lovers at http://www.GreatandSmallGallery.com
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