Fall is a great time to train a puppy. Vacations and summer gatherings are winding down. Yard work will soon let up. With the school year starting up again, everyone is getting back into a routine. Puppies thrive on routines! I want to talk a bit about setting up your puppy's routine.
If any of you have raised a baby, you might be familiar with the acronym EASY. E stands for Eat, A stands for Activity, S stands for Sleep, and Y stands for You. This is a bit how you want to structure your puppy's day.
EA - Eat and Activity. Puppies are very food motivated, so I often combine the Eat and Activity parts. I try to use at least 2 of their meals as training times. The 3rd meal, I put in some type of puzzle ball/maze bowl. I have several different kinds and rotate them. There's no such thing as a free meal! Use your puppy's love for food to your advantage.
S - Sleep! I can not emphasize the importance of sleep enough. Anyone who has raised a toddler, might remember how that toddler got when they missed their nap time - unable to control their emotions. A lot of puppy owners misread their puppies. If your puppy has been up for awhile and then seems to get super wound up, no longer listening to commands, getting into things/digging, this means likely he needs a NAP! A lot of new puppy owners misread this thinking their puppy needs worn out more and try to keep playing with him. Remember how when you had a baby/toddler, the goal was to lay them down just as they were starting to get sleepy, so they could drift off to sleep on their own? That's the window you are going to be watching for with your puppy. As they are getting tired, you can place them in their crate or confined space with a chewy. I keep a basket of various type of chewies on top of their crate and give them a different one each time I put them in. They should chew for a bit, then drift off to sleep.
Y - You - now it is your time! I like their morning and afternoon naps to be pretty lengthy (Cherry's are often 3 hours in the morning and 2.5 hours in the afternoon) and towards evening, keep the puppy's naps shorter, in preparation for sleeping through the night. So that's plenty of You time! Raising a puppy is busy but more doable than you might think! Routine is so helpful!
You'll want to start thinking about the non-negotiable parts of your day and then build your puppy's schedule around that. For instance, if you have kids to get off the bus at a certain time of day, you'll want to plan to have your puppy napping at that time so you can focus on your kids. This is just an example.
I also find that just like kids are freshest in the morning and learn best then, so do my puppies. The 1st training session of the day is always their best! By evening, we just focus on reviewing commands she's already learned, playing, or going on a social outing. If you find that evenings are when you have to most time to focus on training, don't worry, it's not the end of the world. Most puppy owners work and evening IS the best time for owners to do some training.
You've totally got this! Raising a puppy can be EASY!