Controlling your puppy’s environment is one of the first expressions of love you can offer your new puppy.
As a child grows with a family, many rules and constraints are put into place. These aren’t so the child grows up in a dystopian world where everything is controlled. They protect the child from harming himself or being harmed by his environment.
Everyone knows toddlers like to explore. That is why we put covers over the outlets to protect them from hurting themselves. We turn the handle of a boiling pot of water to the back of the stovetop so it can’t be grabbed by reaching hands from below. We put a gate across the hall to prevent access to the stairs.
We do this for our children. Why would you not want to do this for your puppy? We don’t want him getting into the trash and swallowing something that could hurt him. We don’t want him to chew an electrical cord in two. Controlling the environment isn’t about control in a negative sense. It is about providing a safe place for your puppy to explore and grow up without getting hurt — or worse.
Crating your puppy
First things first: a crate is not to be used as a cage. It is an essential piece of training equipment designed to control the environment so that your puppy has a chance to grow up in safety. Is a crib or a bassinet a cage for a baby? Do you allow your baby to roam freely and unsupervised during the night while you are sleeping?
We have all seen those cute little memes where a dog has torn up the couch and is standing in the middle of stuffing and strips of fabric. They may have captions like GUESS WHAT I DID WHILE YOU WERE GONE? Or I CHECKED THE COUCH FOR MONSTERS WHILE YOU WERE GONE. Cute, but dangerous.
The first emergency vet bill you get after your puppy has swallowed a strip from the quilt she tore up will change your mind about allowing her to roam free. We can talk about the process of crate training later, but remember, that controlling the environment can protect your puppy from dying from a bowel obstruction. Think seriously about crating your puppy when you are not able to keep a constant eye on her.
Leashing your puppy
Keeping your puppy on a leash does not mean keeping her chained to a stake in the middle of the yard for its natural life. When you walk in a crowded market, you don’t let your toddler run free, do you? No. We put her in a stroller, a cart, or a wagon to protect her.
The moment you turn your head away, you know she will dart off and run in the other direction. Your puppy is going to do the same thing. You put him on a leash when walking next to the street, or in the park, or in a crowd to keep him safe.
Your puppy may be friendly to other dogs and people. What you don’t know is if the other dog or person is friendly. Keeping your puppy close to you controls the environment. It is a scary world out there. Your puppy is new to it. Protect her from it by controlling your puppy’s environment.