Your Guide To Puppy Training
Some people have never had the blessing of having a puppy and others have forgotten what puppy-hood feels like or how much much work puppy training can be! People get use to an older dog that sleeps most of the day and then one day they bring a puppy home; and they have usually forgotten about the puppy training and the puppy biting, potty training and the crate training that goes into a well behaved dog. It’s not uncommon that the puppy develops some bad behaviors and people end up contacting us (after pulling out some of their own hair) for some general puppy training skills to get them back in step with the challenges of living with a puppy! Puppies are NOT easy! So let me get you started off on the right paw, FIRST, hopefully before your puppy develops puppy biting and other puppy training problems!
Don’t Wait to Start Training Your Puppy
Most people wait until AFTER they have noticed a behavior problem to start puppy training. Although puppies are simple to train (in most cases), it is much easier to teach them what are expectations are before they develop bad habits. Habits in humans and dogs are hard to break! But that means we must engage them with puppy training by rewarding their GOOD behavior as soon as we bring them home! At my step son’s school they had a program, it was called “catch someone doing something good” and teachers and other students could write down names and situations of kids doing good. At the end of the week a name was drawn and the child was rewarded with goodies and credit for the school store. So instead of having kids roughing each other up and being mean, the school had more kids trying to be kind to one another (although I am certain there was still naughty kid behavior going on). We as pet owners focus on the bad behavior, and expect good behavior. Instead, we should focus on the good behavior, of regularly sitting or laying down, by rewarding it and expect some bad behavior; like nipping and puppy biting. Training at my house begins the moment those 4 paws are carried over my threshold.
“When my puppy sits, even if he is just tired; I whip out a treat and reward that behavior.”
When my puppy lays down from exhaustion after a session of playing outside; I am going to jackpot and reward him. When he lays down to chew a bone or play with a toy, I am going to praise and reward him. I want him to know, without a shadow of a doubt that laying down = reward. And after a few sessions of “catching him doing something good” you will see your puppy look to you and show the behavior, laying down, sitting, chewing a bone; it is as if he is saying “LOOK AT ME!!! I am doing what you like, aren’t I? I deserve your attention and a treat, right?” Dogs want to please us, but we make it nearly impossible for them if we don’t teach them what we want and what we like. Dogs will almost always chose naughty behavior, because digging, barking, jumping and chewing things up is FUN to a dog, all by itself. We have to teach them that listening to us is equally fun and rewarding!! People ask why my dogs don’t chase the cat, or steal my shoes? That is because I puppy proof my home before a new puppy comes home and I keep all my puppies on a leash or tethered and monitored on a tie down until they can be trusted not to get in trouble. Being loose at my house is an earned privilege.
“I teach my puppies from the minute they
come home what my expectations are.“
It would be much more difficult to try and stop my puppy from chasing my cat once he has learned he enjoys it, rather than teaching him with a leash that he cannot chase my cat; this use of a leash in the house also teaches him impulse control and that he can control himself. Did you know that a puppy’s brain grows the more he is stimulated? For this reason not only is puppy training important, but puppy toys are also important. I make sure my puppies have a toy box and various toys in order to keep themselves stimulated, grow their little brains, and give their mouths something else to chew on instead of me! Puppies play with their teeth; this is how they play with one another and explore their worlds and it is important to give them something to chew on and play with but it is also important to make sure it is not your flesh!
“Puppy biting is one of the biggest problems I encounter.”
Puppies with WAY too much energy are flying around seemingly through the air and landing skin piercing bites on their owner’s arms and legs. I often visit homes of owners that are covered nearly head to toe with scratches and puppy bite marks.
The Most Important Elements to Stop Puppy Biting
Mental Stimulation (i.e. puppy obedience training): mental stimulation provides learning and interaction and bonds you to your puppy and gives him something to do with his energy and with his mind. It also teaches him what your expectations of him are and what behaviors you like (so that he can choose those to get your attention rather than being naughty).
Exercise: A tired puppy is a good puppy. Both mental stimulation and physical exercise are crucial to having a well-adjusted happy puppy! Imagine having a child that was never allowed to run around and exercise? Puppies need to get their “zoomies” out and (non-pavement pounding/hard on the joints) exercise is good for their little bodies.
My Secret To Properly Exercising My Puppy?
I teach my puppies to work for their breakfast by doing obedience for me, this is how we spend time together in the morning. Then after they nap off some exhaustion from doing obedience it is time for some physical exercise. If you need some more suggestions feel free to ask me on Facebook or Twitter. And for a great video series that shows you how to train your puppy, click here. My rule is; if my puppy is driving me crazy… I am probably not providing him with the mental stimulation or exercise that he needs. If I am busy or its rainy; I cheat and use a safe chewie that will keep him entertained until he naps!
Puppy Crate Training is Essential at My House.
I have other dogs and cats; and often take vacations and training excursions that require a dog to spend time in a crate. Crating also keeps my dog safe from eating something he shouldn’t it also keeps me sane. In order to properly crate train my puppies, I keep a crate next to my bed at night. Keeping my puppy close to me at night helps me to hear when they stir and need to go outside to potty; therefore assisting me with puppy potting training. I wear my puppies out with lots of exercise and training a few hours before bed, to help acclimate them to their nighttime regimen. And during the day, I play crate games with my puppies. We make it a game to race to the crate as fast as possible and get in it on command. Once inside a treat is delivered and more are given if the pup chooses to stay inside. Eventually I close the door for short increments and reward for good behavior. Next my puppies are taught that when the door is opened, if they wait in the back of the crate for the “release word” they will be rewarded. This keeps my body safe from a flying crate door and a pushy dog.
Puppy Crate Training Also Leads to Puppy House Training.
Puppy potty training is all about following your puppy around and getting use to his schedule. A puppy tie down and leashing your puppy indoors will help you with this potty training venture. Then it is important to go outside with your puppy and make sure he is going potty outside. Sometimes puppies get distracted and get caught up playing with grasshoppers instead of pooping or peeing outside. If you are not with your puppy you won’t notice, and then he will come in and have an accident. If you are with your puppy you will be able to take direct action to get him back into his crate so that you can try again in 5 minutes or so. If your puppy is having trouble getting the idea that he needs to go potty outside; exercise can help move his bowel and make him need to go potty. Throwing a ball, light running, and playing can make puppies feel like they need to go potty and you can use that to your advantage when you are house training your puppy. Also keep this in mind when you are playing with your puppy inside your house, exercise might stimulate unwanted accidents if you are not careful. Also remember that puppies potty after eating, drinking, napping, playing and need to go outside about every 2 hours. They can only be crated one hour more than the number of months they are in age: for example an 8 week old puppy (2 months old) can only be crated for 3 hours at a time (months + 1).
Puppy training is easy if you are using positive
and rewarding good behaviors.
Most puppies want to please and enjoy the interaction of puppy training. They are thrilled to work for their food and learn to play appropriately with you, but puppies take lots of time and work. I use treats to lure my puppy into behaviors such as sit, down, come and even heel. By following the treat I can easily mark the moment my dog does what I want him to by delivering the treat to him; when his rump hits the ground, or his elbows go down, or he comes and sits in front of me. I often use a clicker to make future more advanced puppy training easier. Spending time with my puppy helps him bond to me and teaching him helps him get use to listening to me. This puppy training conditions him that listening and preforming his obedience is a happy and good thing, no matter what else is going on around him. With time and perseverance, you will have a well-trained puppy that loves you in what seems like no time!
Check out these helpful breed specific training guides: