Pip is our new 8 week old Vizsla puppy! We are very excited and happy to have Pip join our family! We picked him up from his breeder on Saturday morning. That gave Pip and us all day Saturday to adjust to each other and for Pip to investigate his new surroundings before bedtime. We enjoyed several very fun and short training sessions, just 2 to 3 minutes each. We taught come, sit and down, using kibble and liver food rewards. Pip successfully performed each of these exercises, helping us feel successful, too.
We are raising Pip using Ian Dunbar’s approach outlined in Before & After Getting Your Puppy: The Positive Approach to Raising a Happy, Healthy & Well-Behaved Dog. Dunbar advocates early puppy training and socialization. He states in his book’s introduction:
All serious adult dog behavior, training, and temperament problems can be prevented quite easily with early socialization and lure/reward, puppy-friendly training techniques.
Dunbar’s message is that if people adequately trained and socialized their dogs as young puppies, there would be far fewer dogs turned over to shelters to be euthanized.
I could have done a better job socializing puppies I raised in the past. They were all wonderful dogs, but did not achieve the NPD (Near Perfect Dog) status Dunbar aspires to in his book. We want Pip to be an NPD. We have great expectations for him on a number of fronts.
Dunbar recommends giving your puppy Kong toys stuffed with kibble to prevent him from becoming a destructive chewer and/or a compulsive barker. Kong toys are rubber dog toys that come in a variety of shapes and sizes and can be stuffed with food. We are starting with the Kong Stuff-a-Ball treat dispenser. It’s shaped a bit like a ball, except that it has straight sides with slits so that you can put kibble all around the outside of the ball. The inside is hollow and can be stuffed with kibble. We soften the kibble in water before stuffing the Kong toy with it. Pip doesn’t play with the toy constantly, but is interested enough to eat the kibble off the outside and to work on getting out the food from the inside. Odessa likes to help him by licking at the stuffed toy from the outside of Pip’s cage.
Pip is not allowed to run free in the house. When we are not interacting with Pip and giving him 100% of our attention, he is inside a crate or a cage. We have several crates or cages for him set up around the house. All of our dogs have their own cages where they go when they come in from outside and where they sleep at night. Pip sleeps in a crate in our bedroom at night for now, but will graduate to sleeping in the dog area, an area next to the kitchen, when he is housebroken.
We are putting a lot of time and energy into Pip’s puppyhood education. We know that some people would think what we are doing is not necessary and a waste of time, but we look forward to the day when Pip achieves NPD status.