Know Your Puppy – Outlets




Puppies behave in ways that are determined by their genetic make up as well as their life experiences. There will be behaviours that get reinforced because they lead to favourable outcomes in the environment and other behaviours make our puppies feel good on the inside. These are naturally rewarding behaviours and often dogs bred for particular purposes will find similar things enjoyable.

If your puppy is genetically geared up to enjoy something it is important that we give them an outlet for this to set them up for success day to day. We need to fulfil their needs on a deep level to ensure their wellbeing and happiness.

If you have a dog bred to chase, for example sighthounds, your puppy will likely need an outlet for that drive to chase so that they don’t become increasingly frustrated or start chasing inappropriately. Flirt poles, football, playing fetch, and moving treat balls are great options.

If you have a herding breed, controlling movement is a big natural reward for your dog. Herders love to stop and start movement. Outlets such as herding ball games and human tag are great.

Many puppies love to dig, including terriers, bred to search for small rodents. Great outlets include sand pits with buried treasure, paddling pools or designating a digging zone in the garden.

Most puppies love to use their nose and outlets such as snuffle mats or taking them on a sniffari, are great ways to harness this natural enjoyment of sniffing.

Some puppies including bully breeds, find grabbing and mouthing really rewarding. Giving them a task where they can enjoy using their mouth is perfect as an outlet. You could teach them to bring in the newspaper or enjoy playing tug together. Remember to let your puppy win the toy often!

Retrievers and other gundogs LOVE to hold things in their mouth and show them off to you. Encourage them to greet you with a toy in their mouth and play show and tell, where your puppy approaches you with an object in mouth and you fuss them before running off for them to follow again.

Some puppies love to shred things. To ensure this doesn’t lead to destructive behaviour in the home, provide outlets like cardboard boxes with treats in, shredded paper or egg cartons that your puppy can enjoy shredding.

By giving your puppy outlets for their natural behaviour you are setting them up for success every day.

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