Oh, and did I forget to mention the dogs? Whether it is our veteran family dog, Carmel, a mama dog, or rookie puppies enrolled in Puppy K, there is rarely a time when the Carlson house is dogless.
All you need to start your pup on the road to contentment is a leash and a little patience. It really is as easy as 1,2,3!
Begin contentment training after the pup has gone potty (for closer look at the best place to try this in your puppy's schedule check out our post Puppy Naps & Potty Training).
Pick your pup up and carry them inside. I emphasize carry, because you want to do everything you can to signal to your pup that it is not play time.
On arriving inside, immediately take the leash and tie your pup to either a table leg or your chair. Clear everything away so there is not much to get tangled on. Toss your pups blanket and favor toys on the ground.
Leave them alone. (Not really alone, because of the choking hazard, your checking on them, but they don't see you. ) For about 20 minutes. The goal is to sneak back and catch them when they are not barking and crying and reward them with some love and take them off the leash. Try this twice a day for a week and your pup will get the hang of it.
Sounds too simple, right? Well, yes and no. At this point in the training process, it now depends on how tolerant you can be, bad news for people like me who struggle with chronic impatience. Initially your pup will cry and whine. They will become tangled in the leash. They will hit you with those puppy-dog eyes, making you feel like a monster for ignoring them. Don't give in! If your pup is tangled, get up, walk over, and untangle them. Do so quietly without talking or petting them.
Just as with crate training, the less you respond to your pup's cries and accusing eyes the faster they will learn to content themselves with laying down and watching as you move around the area working, eating, etc. Once your pup becomes accustomed to the whole idea it won't take long for them to adjust. After a week or so of training with the leash, you can see how your pup does without using a leash. Because you are taking away this major element, it is vital to keep everything else the same. Straight from potty. No playing. No petting. And try not to talk in the puppy voice that... yes, we are all guilty of using. Over time your pup will learn to pick up on these nonverbal cues without having to follow any sort of strict schedule.
Puppies newly separated from their littermates must learn that their "Pack" habits such as: jumping, nipping, and barking, are not appropriate behaviors. "Pack" behavior is a natural part of puppyhood. The pups spend their days chasing, wrestling, and rough housing with their brothers and sisters. The transition from pack to people does not happen overnight. Contentment training is one of the best ways to teach your pup that there are new expectations for their behavior. This is especially important if your pup will be around younger children. By tying the pup to a chair leg, or a kitchen island you allow the pup to be part of the fun, but the little ones will be safe as long as they stay out of the pup's radius. After a few months you will have had time to train your pup on how to properly approach children without bowling them over with puppy love!
Another easy way to work on contentment training is by tying the pup to whatever chair you will be sitting in while working. Annie does this all the time! She scatters a few toys around her chair, and every now and again she will pet or nudge the pup with her foot. Pups usually settle down quickly and are content to chew on their toys while getting a few pets from mom. Just make sure that you set an alarm to remind you when the pup needs a potty break. Focused periods of work broken by a little bit of fresh air are great for your pup, but they also help increase your productivity as well!
The ultimate goal for contentment training is that you are able to move around in the same space as your pup without having them underfoot begging for attention.
Good luck and try not to cave in to those puppy eyes!
- Hannah & The Doodles