New puppies can be a surprising challenge to many owners and if your someone who is struggling with owning their first puppy then you’re not alone.
Puppies tend to get easier by the time they reach full maturity full maturity happens at the age of 1, extending through to 2 years old. Aspects such as toilet training and basic commands can make owning a puppy easier and so this is what you should focus on during the earlier stages of your puppy’s life.
How Long Before A Puppy Gets Easier
The length of time it takes until owning a puppy becomes easier will depend on a variety of factors. Looking at them individually can help focus on traits unique to your situation. Below we explore the fundamental traits that will determine when your puppy becomes easier to care for.
The actual age of your puppy is not the ultimate factor in having an easier experience, but it can provide a guideline as to when your puppy will become easier to care for. Although maturity happens around 1 year old, it is the training and life experiences your puppy has had that will determine whether they become easier to live with.
Before the age of 1 a puppy tends to require more attention than many new owners would expect and so during these years, they can become difficult to manage, as they try to push the boundaries you set them. As your puppy’s age increases, being alert to bad bad habits and understanding when to give praise is fundamental in the process of owning a puppy.
Research suggests that puppies retain the most information during their adolescent stage of life. It’s important to realize that puppies will not learn obedience on the first try and you will most likely need to keep setting those boundaries as they become older and more capable of retaining the information. Consistency is the key here and makes sure that if your puppy is young they pay attention to what you are showing them.
One major hurdle for many new dog owners is toilet training, something that comes down to persistence and patience. It is behaviors like this that can cause the most stress, most of the time this stems from the fact that we pride ourselves on the cleanliness of our homes. If you are going to own a dog, you may have to get used to the fact your house will be dirty from time to time. For more information on keeping your home clean, check out our article on “How to Keep A House Clean with Muddy Dogs”.
The fundamentals of toilet training your pooch are based on positive reinforcement, the more persistent you are, the more likely your pup will pick this behavior up. Remember dogs don’t speak our language so for puppies visual cues, such as hand gestures can help a lot when training them.
When starting the process of toilet training it is important to consistently put your puppy outside for the toilet even if they don’t look like they need it. Using a key phrase like “go for a wee” can help with future toilet breaks and if they do go to the toilet remember to reward them for doing so. Eventually, your puppy will associate the key phrase and being outside.
Once your puppy has associated going outside with the toilet, they should at some stage ask to go out. You must allow access to the door leading directly to the outside, they may bark, scratch, or even come and stare at you. It is your job to recognize these cues. These cues may be subtle and if your dog is young they will give up trying to tell you fairly fast, so you have to be alert.
If your puppy does go to the toilet in the house you must still put them outside and say the key phrase you have been using, they must know that they have gone in the wrong place. Remember to clean the area with a fragrant cleaner, this will hopefully prevent any repeat accidents.
The breed of dog has a major impact on whether your puppy will be tough to manage, certain breeds have more energy or more common habits like chewing and howling.
People often forget to choose their puppy based on their lifestyle not only because they think that a certain dog breed is the cutest. For example, springer spaniels are adorable and extremely popular dogs, but their energy levels are on another planet. This breed is one that would require lots of open space and off-lead walking, so if you live in a flat in the middle of the city then you may want to consider a different breed.
Ok, so if you’re reading this you already have your pup and are looking into the future to see if managing their energy levels will get any easier. I can safely say that this will depend on how you physically and mentally exercise them. Most dogs that are couped up in the house all day show some form of frustration and usually, this involves, chewing things, wanting to go in the garden every 10 minutes, or staring at you constantly.
Puppies don’t require lots of exercise and it’s not until they are older that they would need a big open walk. Try taking your pup for shorter walks but more often, this way they won’t get bored at home. If you don’t have this sort of time and one walk is all you can do then make sure you have lots of toys for them to play with. Sensory gardens can be a great advantage in the summertime, allowing your puppy to smell all the different smells in the garden. Remember that certain plants can harm dogs so it’s best to keep an eye on them or puppy-proof your garden to stop any unfortunate mishaps.
Mental stimulation can be a huge factor in destructive behaviors. Although puppies do not need as much physical exercise as adult dogs they still need to be mentally stimulated. As previously discussed allowing your dog to use their nose outside and inside can help give them a good brain workout. One easy tip to use is hiding treats around the house or garden, this will give their sensory outputs a good exercise but also give them a reward when they find it.
Training can get easier with age but also requires effective input from owners. Starting early on in puppyhood you should be teaching your pup commands that could reduce those things that make owning a puppy difficult.
For example, commands like “roll over” and “paw” are not commands you should be focussing on now, no matter how cute they seem to be. Commands such as “stay”, “leave it” and effective recall will help you build on the more control elements of training a puppy.
When we talk about recall we tend to only associate this training with off-lead walks. However, training good recall is not just about getting your dog to come back to you when they runoff. In fact, good recall can be the foundation of effective control. Recall can be used to get your puppy’s attention, get them to walk away from something, pre-empting something by calling them back before it happens or even just calling them in from the garden.
If you find it difficult to effectively train your puppy, there is no harm in taking them to a puppy school. Many owners do this, and it can be a great way to both socialize your puppy and learn about problems other owners are having. Despite its tedious process training your puppy is the most effective way to make them easier to look after, as it embodies both controls inside and outside the house. Puppies will learn eventually providing you don’t waiver during these vital stages of a dog’s life.
When Do Puppies Become More Independent
Independence is something that puppies start learning as soon as they open their eyes, their need for guidance purely comes from lack of experience.
Puppies become notably more independent around the age of 6 months, this is when they begin to become more confident and braver. Although independence is a good characteristic to have in a puppy, owners must understand that they can still make mistakes, instinct will not always guide them in the right direction.
Ways To help your Puppy Become More Independent
As owners, a more independent puppy can often be an easier puppy, however, there are certain boundaries you must be aware of.
Off Lead Walking
Off-lead walking is one of the best ways to give your puppy some independence and help accelerate their knowledge of the world. If you are struggling with an over-energetic pup then letting them off the lead for a bit can help burn some of that energy through mental and physical stimulation.
Although off-lead walking is in my own opinion the best way to walk your dog, it must also come with some boundaries, especially when dealing with a young puppy.
Firstly, ensure that you have got some effective recall, this means you are able to get your puppy to return to you in most circumstances by calling or another method.
Secondly, you must ensure that you always watch your puppy. Of course, make your puppy think they are independent, whilst keeping an eye on anything that may harm them or others.
Lastly, you should endeavor to walk your puppy in an area that is walled off and safe. This way you can be confident that your puppy will be safe whilst they make the most of learning how to be independent.
Meeting Other Dogs
Meeting other dogs can build a puppy’s character more than any other experience. Strong independent dogs will help encourage them to be braver and show them that certain things should and shouldn’t be avoided.
It is recommended you wait until your puppy is fully vaccinated before meeting other dogs in public, this will prevent any possibility of getting ill.
A great place to start associating your puppy with other dogs is at a puppy training class, remember you don’t have to sign up and go every week, but a couple of sessions can help build your puppy’s confidence before going on to meet larger grown-up dogs.
One thing that owners may struggle with when caring for a puppy is during a busy dog walk. If your puppy sees another dog they will usually want to go and see them, saying hello, jumping up, or any other bad habit that they suddenly control. The more you meet other dogs, the easier it will become for your puppy to socialize out in public. You’re aiming for a quick sniff and for them to continue walking.
Although you are most likely to see grown-up independent dogs out in public, you should be aware that if your puppy is male and reaching adolescence, they may incite some negative behavior from other male dogs. It’s not common for puppies to get hurt by adult dogs but it can and has happened, so be careful. For example, if you see a dog on a lead you should put your puppy on the lead or hold them while that dog passes by, this is just good manners as that dog must be on the lead for a reason. Check out our article on dog walking etiquette, although it may seem simple, we have some extra tips that may help with your next trip to the park.
Teaching Your Puppy To Be Alone
Leaving a puppy for the first time can be difficult for owners and dogs alike. It’s important that you start teaching them to be alone from a young age. Most issues that owners experience are due to a lack of alone time training and so to make having a puppy easier, this is one of the most important things to do.
When teaching a puppy how to be alone you must first make the area in which they will be confined an attractive place to be. Plenty of cozy places to sleep, toys, and even some music can help, check out our article on what music dogs like to listen to. Puppies will often start whining because they do not feel safe, a natural reaction they would have in the wild when their mother leaves the den.
Once you have an area of the house your puppy feels safe in, you will need to start leaving them alone for short periods of time. If you hear your puppy whining then attempt to ignore it until they stop, if they do stop then you can go back in the room and reward them with a treat. If your puppy doesn’t stop whining then just check back after longer and longer periods of time, eventually, your puppy will realize that the room they are in is safe and your being outside the room will not matter anymore.
Unfortunately, consistency and patience are key here, I always found that whining would stop if I put some music on for them. This is just my own personal experience and every puppy is different.
How Do I Entertain My Puppy
One of the biggest struggles owners have is the constant attention a puppy requires. They can be around your feet all day long, whilst you try to get stuff done. This can often be the most common reason why owners ask the question when do puppies get easier.
Entertaining a puppy can be both easy and difficult. Firstly, diverting your puppy’s attention is the easy part, the next part is making sure their attention remains on the thing you want it on. Here are some ways to entertain your puppy whilst you relax or get stuff done.
In our modern world, we now have interactive dog toys that can play games with your dog whilst you take a break. These toys come at a cost, some of the most popular ones like the “IFETCH” original ball launcher can cost around £140 whereas some app-controlled balls like the Sphero mini robotic ball cost around £50.
When deciding to purchase an automated dog toy, you should think about how you will use it. If your puppy is going to be left alone occasionally then something that can keep them entertained throughout their time alone is going to be advantageous. You want to also think about their character, soft-mouthed dogs may not be so attracted to a hard-shell toy such as a large plastic treat dispenser.
This may only work for some dogs, but if you are looking for some downtime when your puppy is less around your feet and more playing by themselves, then television can help. There are plenty of dog-related channels and with smart TVs becoming more popular around the world YouTube is just a click away.
Try using a pen or crate to let your puppy watch the television, this way you can keep them safe whilst you turn to relax. It is also possible that they will want to get your attention if they see something of interest on the television, this is again where a crate or pen comes in handy. From my own personal experience, if my dog sees another dog or even an animal on the television, he will instantly start whining and trying to show me what he has found.
By using the term sensory garden, you may assume that I mean a Japanese-style, beautifully kept paradise. I mean a garden that is adapted to your puppy’s many senses, including their inquisitive nature, sense of smell, and love of the outdoors.
The best features to include in a sensory garden for your puppy are:
- Sandboxes with lots of space to dig.
- Running water that is clean and safe to drink.
- Shallow pools so your puppy can have a dip or cool off in the summer.
- Shaded areas, either purpose-built or by using trees.
- Puppy safe flowers and plants that your puppy can smell.
- Other smells may entice their senses.
A great tip is not only to use this idea outside but also inside. Try to think about toys that your puppy will love to play with but will also stimulate them mentally.
Many owners don’t realize that having a dog can give you an opportunity to get outside and exercise. Too much time is spent inside our houses and even a small trip out can make all the difference for both our own health and our dogs.
At a young age, puppies will often experience high amounts of energy and although it may seem a good solution, walking them until they are tired is a big mistake. Puppies are still growing and so long energy reducing walks are not recommended. This doesn’t mean that you can’t build your puppy’s experience of the outdoors with some structured regular exercise. Try going out 3 or more times a day for a short walk, this will help mentally stimulate your puppy without causing too much damage to them physically.
You may think that your dog will get bored of the same walk all the time and you would be wrong. Dogs love to experience new things but the same walk is also an interesting experience. They can check out all those spots they marked and they may even meet someone different along the way.
So there you have it, don’t worry too much about your puppy, time will often help reduce the workload a puppy creates. Taking every day step by step and keeping consistent with training will pay off in the long run. If you ever struggle with training then Youtube offers some great content of different training techniques, although you may find different trainers have different methods. Hopefully, you enjoyed this article and if you want to experience more content all about dogs and our wonderful lives with them, then check out our homepage.