Puppies are seriously cute. Those endearing scruffy little baby Griffy faces will have you wrapped around their paws within two bats of those loooong eyelashes.
But, let those of us who have gone before you offer two sage words of advice: TRAIN EARLY. It is much easier to train an active 10 pound puppy who is quite tractable and has a mental sponge for learning new information (as long as you don’t ask them to concentrate for more than 12 consecutive nanoseconds), than it is to try to mentally and physically wrestle with a smart 60 pound adolescent Griffon whose hormones are running amok and who has streak of independence blossoming. Trust us.
Just as with the topic of raising human children, there are as many theories and techniques as there are grandparents with advice. There are many excellent obedience club classes, books, DVD/Videos,equipment, software, and websites available for learning about puppy raising, housebreaking, obedience training, and puppy care.
But one of the best sources of information for YOUR dog will be the breeder from whom you purchased your puppy. NO ONE knows your dog and its inherent traits and learning styles better than your breeder. S/he can offer advice and guide you to resources that can offer you the most appropriate support and guidance. Your breeder will probably have sent you home with a “New Puppy Packet” of information about vaccinations, worming, crate training, spaying or neutering, feeding & watering instructions, bathing, socializing, and basic training for your puppy. Continue socializing your puppy – make sure you are introducing them to new people, new situations and experiences, go to at least one puppy class, It is as important for your puppy to meet other dogs and people as it is to learn to sit, stay, etc. Have some treats in your pocket, so that when your pup meets new people, they can hand the pup one of your treats. Sporting goods stores usually welcome puppies and their owners and they are a good place to start.
But the bottom line remains the same…..YOUR DOG’S BEHAVIOR IS – FOR THE MOST PART – UP TOYOU. If you and every other member of the household use the same gentle but firm reinforcement techniques with your dog in EVERY situation, your puppy will become a well mannered, pleasant member of the family. If you are inconsistent or wimpy in your “parenting,” you will end up with a spoiled brat that no one wants to be around.
If you put your puppy in a situation that is inappropriate for his age and maturity level to be expected to exercise good judgment, s/he will naturally take advantage of the situation. The resulting behavior is not the puppy’s fault, it’s the owner’s. Griffon puppies are very curious, intelligent and hard working. Given an opportunity, they readily volunteer for important jobs around the house, such as Landscape Architect, Shoe Repair Specialist, Plastic Bottle and Tin Can Recycler, and Laundry Inspector . Please puppy-proof your house and pay attention to the situations you put your puppy in, for your puppy’s and your sanity’s sake.
The best part of having a dog that you have trained is that both you and s/he will be much happier. Clearly communicated age-appropriate expectations for behavior, patient repetition, and ample positive reinforcement, are all that your dog needs to know in order to do what you expect of him. Griffons work very hard to please their owners, and a dog that understands what the rules are is a happier, more self confident dog who is a pleasure to be around.
In addition to basic obedience training and behavioral modification, it is important to encourage puppies to explore and exercise their innate hunting instincts. This instinct to hunt feather and fur are appropriately quite strong in Griffs, and households with cats or other small furry or feathered creatures are encouraged to be cautious and use good judgment when combining animals of different species in a household. Griffons do, as a rule, get along well with other dogs of all breeds. They are not known for instigating a problem, but will stand their ground if challenged.
Careful and constructive exposure to water, birds, bumpers, fields with high grass and varied terrain, new places, whistles, guns, watching other dogs hunt, traveling in a crate, etc., at an early age, contribute greatly to the dogs success as a steady, enthusiastic hunting partner. Even at 5 weeks old, puppies can been seen locked hard on point when baited with a wing attached to the end of a fishing pole, which has just dropped into their field of vision/smell. It’s THRILLING to watch.