I just adopted a beautiful Labrador Retriever mix puppy from our local shelter that is about 4 months old. This is a lovely little dog, but my children are young and he is always jumping on them to play. I don’t want to bring him back!
I think we have some answers for you. I will start out our conversation with some important questions. I do not know the ages of your children or if you work outside the home. I do know that you work very hard INSIDE the home though, and it is important to really sit back and evaluate if you do have the extra time to spend training this pup.
If your children are all under 8 years old, you do not have lots of support. Is your husband available to help with extra exercise or can he watch the children while you spend time with the pup? If you have children over 8 or 10 years old, they need to be your assistants in this work. Are you using a crate in the house so that everyone can get a break, including the puppy? Do not feel guilty if you really don’t think you have the energy to add one more “child” to your list of responsibilities. Shelters would rather have you return a young cute puppy with no real “bad” habits yet than a year old dog that has never had any guidance and is totally unruly.
Now you need a plan for making your life easier! If you don’t have a crate, get one! If you have a crate, use it! The crate should be in a central area of your house so the puppy is not isolated. The pup should be in there at night, when you are gone, and at times during the day when it cannot be totally supervised. It should never be longer than three to four hours during the day and it does not need to have food left in the cage with it.
When the pup is out, it should be supervised for housebreaking and chewing issues. Leaving a leash on a puppy when you are home to interrupt unwanted behavior is extremely helpful. The leash should not be left on when the pup is alone or unsupervised. Make sure it has lots of “safe” toys that cannot be mixed up with other items in the house. No old socks or shoes that look just like the ones running around attached to little human bodies!! This pup needs to be walked off your property a couple of twenty-minute sessions a day. We would get very bored if we were in the same backyard day in and out. If walking is a constant fighting session, you pup needs a Gentle Leader head halter. These can be found at many pet shops, but ideally, someone trained in their use should fit them. Pet shops that offer behavior training, or better yet, your veterinarian, are the best sources for these halters. A Gentle Leader is also a marvelous tool for all that jumping on the children even in the house, as the pup will act quieter with it on. The pup should only have it on while supervised.
Lastly, a puppy class is essential. Besides the Gentle Leader and the crate, this will be the best money you will ever spend on this dog. Look for classes that use only positive reinforcement and will allow use of your head halter. You should visit the class first before enrolling your puppy to make sure you are comfortable with the training techniques.
Best of luck with your new addition and we hope he brings you years of romping with your family!!