In addition to being a long-term commitment, raising a puppy is a full-time job. Sure, Muppet might appear to be an intelligent puppy, but if you don't watch him like a hawk and teach him right from wrong, he's bound to get in trouble. He might display undesired behaviors, such as soiling, excessive barking, chewing and counter surfing, some of which can potentially put him in harm's way. To avoid this, take steps to keep him safe and out of trouble even when you're not there to watch him.
An effective way to keep Muppet out of trouble is to crate train him. When used correctly, the crate becomes your pup's den where he can safely play, lounge and sleep, even when you're not home. Allow him to explore the crate and gradually get him used to being in it. Place treats and toys in the crate so he associates it with pleasant things. If Muppet is under 6 months of age, limit confinement to three or four hours at a time.
Rather than giving Muppet the run of the house and risk him getting in trouble, tether him so you can constantly supervise him. Attach a 2-feet-long, plastic-coated wire leash to him, and tie the end of the leash to your belt or a sturdy table. Start with short, five-minute tethering sessions during which you give him treats and toys to make it a pleasant experience. Over time, gradually increase the duration, and never tether him to a sturdy object if you can't supervise him.
Just because raising a puppy is a full-time job doesn't mean that you should give up your other full-time job that brings home the bacon. While you're at work, consider putting Muppet in a doggie daycare to keep him safe and trouble-free. In the daycare he'll play and interact with other dogs and people, which is essential to his social development. Rather than being bored and having pent-up energy that can trigger undesired behaviors, the daycare exercises him so he's less likely to act up.
Rather than punishing your pet companion for getting in trouble, correct him when you catch him in the act. Clap your hands or blow a whistle to break his concentration from the undesired act. Then redirect him to a desired action. For instance, if he's chewing on your shoes, show him a chew toy. Once he shows interest in the toy, lavishly praise him and offer treats so he associates his action to pleasant consequences and is motivated to repeat it.
Neglecting to exercise your puppy is asking for trouble, because pent-up energy and boredom might stimulate him to display undesired behaviors. Take your puppy for walks and play games with him on a regular basis so he can burn energy. Also, stimulate him mentally by regularly practicing obedience training. When Muppet is lounging at home, whether in his crate or not, give him a food-stuffed dog toy to play with. These puzzle toys can keep him entertained and encourage him to lick and chew, which has a calming effect.
Kimberly Caines is a well traveled model, writer and licensed physical fitness trainer who was first published in 1997. Her work has appeared in the Dutch newspaper "De Overschiese Krant" and on various websites. Caines holds a degree in journalism from Mercurius College in Holland and is writing her first novel.