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One of the most important things you can do when you first start raising a puppy is to constantly work on handling your puppy. This is one of the most important tasks in the raising of a puppy because it will teach your pup that it’s okay to picked up, handled, and examined not only by you (the handler), but by many different people including friends, family, the vet, and don’t forget his future vision impaired handler.
You really want to make sure that your puppy learns not to squiggle, wiggle, squirm, scratch or nip when picked up and held. Your puppy must learn to accept this patiently.
In my experience almost all of my puppies wiggled, squirmed, and nipped when I tried to handle them, cradle them, and pick them up. Over time my pups got much better at being handled and by the time formal training came around they were all good about being handled.
How To Raise A Puppy – Handling Your Puppy
Lucky for me I attended guide dog puppy kindergarten before I brought home my first puppy so I was already well versed in many of the initial puppy training lessons. Even before I started raising guide dog puppies I had the opportunity to not only raise my puppy, Linus, but I also helped my girlfriend and some of my college friends raise puppies.
Our puppy manual speaks about some of the things you should do when learning to handle your puppy:
Begin by sitting on the floor to pick up the pup (so that if he wiggles free at first, he won’t fall). Speak affectionately and soothingly to the puppy as you hold him firmly, supporting his hips and front legs. If the puppy should nip you he should be corrected and be told “NO”. While you are holding him, also open his mouth gently and examine his teeth, which is something else he should get used to. As soon as the puppy is quiet and accepts handling, praise him. Remember, it is very important for your puppy to be comfortable with being restrained and handled.
A few things I’d like to mention. In my experience puppies can sometimes be wild and crazy while other times they are mellow and relaxed. I try to work on these handling techniques when he’s in the mellow and relaxed stage it makes it much easier to have a good experience during your puppy training time. Also, make sure you end your training session on a good note and give a lot of praise when your puppy is being a good boy.
One final note. In the section above it says to correct and say “NO” I’ve often times found my pups think this can be a game so if they are prone to nipping then I usually give them something to chew on like a pressed rawhide or a toy when they are very young. Eventually you will not need this “pacifier” as your pup gets older.
It’s also important to work on “cradling your puppy”.
Cradling Your Puppy
A good exercise to practice with your puppy is cradling. Begin by sitting on the floor with the puppy cradled between your legs. Speak soothingly as you pet your puppy. This a good opportunity to practice felling his toes, looking in his ears and overall acceptance of being restrained. As a working guide dog it is essential that the puppy learn to accept restraint and touching.
Cradling your puppy sounds pretty easy, but the first time I’ve cradled any of my puppies they immediately want to pop up, play, nip, scratch…etc. As mentioned above you want to make sure your puppy is calm and relaxed while you cradle him. It’s also very important that you do not allow your puppy to dictate when cradle time is over. I always wait until my puppy is calm and relaxed then I release him from the cradle position with an “OK”. I never let him loose if he’s crying, barking, squirming, wiggling, etc.
It doesn’t take long before your puppy will understand that being handled and cradled is okay and all of my puppies have come to enjoy the bonding time while being cradled.
How about you? Do you practice handling your puppy? Do you have any other tips on how to raise a puppy? If so, tell us about it in the comment section below.