Boxer Puppy Training
Congratulations! If you’re reading this, you are either considering or have chosen a Boxer puppy as your new family addition. If you have researched (I hope) your choice to any extent you know that Boxers have multiple positive traits.
These include loyalty, intelligence and excitability.
They are often used as service dogs within police departments or equally used as therapy dogs. With these traits comes a commitment required to be a responsible Boxer owner. Being a larger, playful dog, training boxer puppies can be quite the task, and of course there is also the cost of dog food – please consider a good quality dog food that is specifically labeled for large dog breeds – and energy needed to care for properly.
As a dog trainer, I’ve worked with Boxer puppies for years. I know the struggles and joys, first hand. Be assured that if you train your Boxer breed incorrectly, or neglect your Boxer puppy training altogether, you will end up with a very hyper, aggressive, or a fearful Boxer pup on your hands.
Most basic obedience and Boxer dog training programs, as of late, completely ignore impulse control, which is essential for a high energy, puppy that is expected to become a good canine companion. Before we get into Boxer puppy training however, I’m going to start with a brief history lesson, and background so you can understand the qualities that make the Boxer breed dog one of man’s best friends.
History of the Boxer Breed
According to the American Boxer Club, the history of the Boxer breed is one so complex, you deserve an award if you can follow it! The foundation of the Boxer breed was meticulously documented at the time, and to make a long story short, much like the German Shepherd, the Boxer’s roots can be traced to Munich, Germany in the 19th century. It was derived from several popular hunting breeds of the time.
The goal was to consolidate all the traits breeders admired in those hunting dog breeds, into one, definitive dog. Once the Boxer dog breed was established, people discovered the Boxer breed wasn’t just good at hunting, but also made fantastic guard dogs and intelligent military dogs too.
Boxers got their big break as companion pets at the end of WW2, when soldiers returning from Germany took them home as family pets, unlike the German Shepherd who’s popularity diminished until Rin Tin Tin revived the breed's popularity.
Did You Know?
- The Boxer breed was one of the earliest dog breeds to be recognized by the American Kennel Club? The first Boxer breed standard was registered back in 1904.
- Nobody knows where the Boxer dog name came from. There are a lot of interesting theories and rival stories though!
- Boxers are slow to mature and can take up to three years to reach their full grown size, that’s a year longer than many other breeds of his size.
Boxers are a loyal breed. The 1938 breed standard for Boxer dogs states: “The Boxer is the soul of honesty and loyalty, and is never false or treacherous even in his old age.” What a wonderful description, and very true in my experience. As a breed, the Boxer is a very loyal, intelligent and fun-loving family dog...BUT not every dog is right for every family! There are some characteristics in a Boxer that some find quirky and cute, whereas others may find not so desirable.
Boxers are a breed full of love for people and have an unmatched zest for life. The Boxer can be an ideal family dog. Often described as the “clown,” of the dog community, Boxers are in a class all their own.
Those who own Boxers can attest to their quirky characteristics. The Boxer is an extremely high-energy dog some will describe as hyper. As a result, they need a great deal of attention and supervision. Not a good choice for the sedentary who are looking for a lap dog (although the Boxer is very happy to sit on your lap if you let him.
He’s totally unaware of his size, so be prepared to have a Boxer make himself at home in your lap!). Exercise is key to a happy Boxer and a happy owner! In doing so, he is less apt to get into mischief.
Left to his own devices, a bored Boxer will invent his own games, such as “chew on the door frame” or “hide the remote control”. Like a toddler, they will find ways to occupy their time. Running along the same lines is the fact that the Boxer tends to be a stubborn breed – thankfully most are very food oriented so training with treats often works like a charm.
Although they can be strong-willed they are also very trainable, and usually are happier for it. The Boxer owner definitely needs to be the alpha dog in the relationship. They will look to you for guidance, and consistency with Boxer puppy training is a must!
The Boxer is a “people-oriented” breed, they love nothing more than attaching themselves to your side like Velcro (forget using the bathroom alone!) They are especially good with children although because of their sheer size and power monitoring your small child with a Boxer is always a good idea.
Boxers should NEVER be outside dogs. One, because they are such “people dogs”. They will attempt to escape in order to find human contact. If not over a fence of considerable height then under!
Secondly, due to their short muzzles (brachiocephalic facial structure) they have the inability to regulate heat and humidity. Also, their short coats give them no protection from cold temperatures. If you’re looking for an outside dog – a Boxer is not for you!
The Boxer was developed in Germany in the late 19th century, a cross between the now extinct Bullenbeiser and English Bulldog – hence their stocky, muscular appearance. Standard coloring for Boxers is fawn, red, or brindle with or without white markings (flash), although white Boxers are not uncommon. They have a short, tight-fitting coat, most have docked tails, and ears are usually floppy. However, cropping of the ears is still done for show dogs.
Standing between 21 and 25 inches tall and weighing around 60 to 80 pounds, the Boxer is an easy breed to recognize. Boxers have a short, smooth, single coat covering a sleek well-muscled body.
Fawn shades can vary from light tan to mahogany. The brindle coloring ranges from sparse but clearly defined black stripes on a fawn.
A word about white Boxer puppies from the West Coast Boxer Rescue: “White Boxers are NOT albinos. They all have some spots of pigmentation somewhere on the body. White boxers are not rare. Approximately 20 ‐ 25% of the boxers are white due to flashy boxer breeding. Because white is not a part of the breed standard, breeders used to euthanize perfectly healthy white puppies. The practice is changing and white boxers are placed in homes on a spay/neuter basis more and more.”
Life Span and Health
Some of these health issues include:
- Fatty Tumors - a slow-growing collection of fat cells usually found just under the skin. Fatty tumors are different than normal fat because they form lumps rather than a flat layer under the skin. Fatty tumors are benign, which means they are a group of cells that multiply without normal control but do not travel through the body (metastasize) or invade surrounding tissue. Even though fatty tumors are not destructive to other cells, they can cause health problems by growing so large they press on internal organs.
- Cardiomyopathy (abnormal heart rhythms) - Cardiomyopathy is defined as degeneration of the heart muscle. As a result of this degeneration, the muscle becomes thinner, particularly the thick muscle wall of the left ventricle. The pressure of the blood inside the heart causes these thin walls to stretch resulting in a much larger heart.
- Hip Dysplasia - is an abnormal formation of the socket that, in its more severe form, can eventually cause crippling lameness and painful arthritis of the joints. It is a genetic trait that is affected by environmental factors.
- Cancer - is the leading cause of death in dogs. It is estimated that 1 in 3 domestic dogs will develop cancer, which is the same incidence of cancer among men. Dogs can develop a variety of cancers and most are very similar to those found in humans.
- Also, it must be noted that a drug called Acepromazine or ACE used in anesthetic protocols should not be used on the Boxer. Please remember to have your Boxer's chart flagged not to use it. It tends to cause a problem called first degree heart block, a potentially serious arrhythmia of the heart and profound hypotension (severe lowering of the blood pressure)
Boxer Puppy Training Should Begin Right Away!
Although he is a cute little ball of fur now, he will soon be a large, inquisitive, spunky and incredibly strong dog.
Begin by rewarding behaviors you like seeing and want him to continue as he ages. Reward him for sitting, laying down, staying in one place, chewing the right objects and anything else you like that your new Boxer pups does.
Ignore behaviors that are irritating or will be disturbing when he is an adult, like jumping making sure never to talk to, pet or reinforce negative behavior. Common Boxer puppy behavior includes playfulness, an intense curiosity and an energy level beyond that of most other breeds. They are known to become very attached to the other members of the family, and have a definite need for you to establish household rules and structure.
If you neglect this, your boxer puppy will gladly take over as the boss of your home. Boxers are quite affectionate towards children and older adults. Most of them can recognize the necessity to be more patient and gentle with people who are of a more fragile nature. However, never risk the health or well-being of someone just because ‘most’ boxers exude this quality.
Boxer dog training coupled with quality time and bonding together, puts you on the road to prepare him for lifetime companionship. Consistent commands, structure, praise and reward are all aspects needed to have your Boxer puppy consider you as the leader of the pack. In addition to boxer puppy training basic commands like sit and stay through positive reinforcement training techniques it is important to immediately begin house training your boxer puppy.
Crate Training Your Boxer Puppies
In order to have a well-developed, well socialized and good canine companion, you need a dog that is happy in a crate. Why? Because at some point your dog will be in a crate: at the vet, the groomer, or pet sitter’s home. He can’t avoid being in a crate for the rest of his life.
And, wouldn’t it be nice if you gave him the skills to not be bothered no matter where he is at? One of the best ways to go about this procedure is to use a crate that provides just enough room for your Boxer puppy to turn around and lie down. Growing to become quite large, you may consider buying an extra-large crate with a divider from the start instead of having to buy multiple cages during your dog’s lifetime.
The general rule is that most dogs will not go potty where they sleep, especially if you’ve gotten it from a reputable breeder; so use that to your advantage! There are very easy ways to modify the amount of space available to your dog while he’s crated. If you don’t have access to a divider, you can simply insert a piece of strong cardboard or a very well sanded piece of wood into the crate.
As he grows, move the divider, cardboard or wood expanding the space he has until he does not need it anymore at all. The same applies if you choose to buy a wire cage instead of a crate. The only difference would be adding a thick or dark blanketed covering over the top of the cage to give it the feeling of being your Boxer’s ‘den’.
When you start to crate train your Boxer, there are likely to be some episodes of whining and crying. All puppies will throw a fit for a few nights, just like all babies have trouble transitioning from a crib to a bed or just out of their parent’s bed. However short term fits are better than a lifetime of chewed articles and a dog that has some separation issues because he is never alone and never expected to do things he doesn’t want to do.
After all, life is full of things we think we don’t want to do, but then realize we actually like them or see the benefit to them. Imagine if we allowed our children to just decide they didn’t want to go to school, because they didn’t like being away from home or just couldn’t get along with the other kids. Don’t allow your puppy to dictate how you will live your life, or what kind of dog they end up being.
Don’t let your Boxer out of its crate or cage until the crying has subsided and your dog is quiet.
This is a key element of crate training Boxer puppies. You can start crate training while being in the same room with your puppy, allowing yourself to be seen. Keep practicing this until there is no whining or barking coming from the crate.
Then it’s time to leave the room, or at least stay out of eyesight. Again, practice this until you are able to do it without tantrums from your Boxer. In no time at all, you will be able to leave your dog in its crate while you are away from the home, and you will actually find him heading to his crate all by himself if he feels the need to rest or get away from situations he feels uncomfortable in.
As soon as you open the crate, be at the ready with his leash, clicker and a yummy treat. The first thing you should do is head outside for a potty break. Be prepared before opening the crate so as to not give your puppy time to find a different location to do his business.
You should use a ‘mark’ or cue word from the beginning to ensure your dog knows what to do when he gets outside. This can be any key phrase or word to be used consistently along with the Clicker system, such as ‘Go potty’ or something of your own choosing.
If you find your Boxer circling or sniffing the floor, take him immediately to his ‘potty place’. If he has not started to relieve himself inside (accidents do happen), there is no reason for reprimand, and the click and treat should still apply. If, however you find your puppy has already started to relieve himself inside, pick him up, with a firm voice say “NO!” and bring him directly outside.
When he does go potty outside, promptly praise and reward him so he knows he’s done something right. He’ll want to repeat the behavior to earn more treats. It is even recommended that you save the best treats for potty training so they work extra hard to earn them.
Need help crate training, click here. https://thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/crate-training-basics/ and https://thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/top-5-reasons-dog-crate-train/
Potty training is serious business. According to the ASPCA’s National Rehoming Survey, potty training problems are the most common reason that owners rehome their pet, accounting for 47% of rehomed dogs. Almost ALL of these housebreaking issues can easily be solved through proper potty training.
What most people don’t know is that teaching your puppy where to go to the bathroom is one of the easiest problems to fix with your new best friend. It’s true that potty training a puppy or adult dog for that matter requires patience, commitment and lots of consistency, but first you must realize the reason WHY your efforts at potty training have failed in the first place.
You want to think “prevention”, rather than just dealing with the problem. I’ve heard people say “It’s easier to just clean it up”. And many want to rely on “potty pads” (which I personally think are counterintuitive). But these attitudes only set your dog up for failure!
Each dog is a little different, but thankfully the Boxer breed, is generally among one of the easiest dog breeds when it comes to potty training, but remember it is really all about you!
You need to get him outside every 2 hours! You need to get him out after he wakes from a nap, after he plays and after he eats or drinks. If you aren’t consistent you are only making your potty training efforts harder on yourself than you have to.
And, be sure to keep your Boxer puppy with you! If he is in the same room with you all the time, you will notice if he begins to sniff or squat so you can get him outside. I like keeping my puppy’s leash on him and tethered to me. That helps him get used to his leash, and helps with potty training!
When he is not with you, he should be in his crate. But he shouldn’t be stuck in the crate for too long. According to this article, “Generally speaking, a puppy can control their bladder one hour for every month of age. So if your puppy is two months old, they can hold it for about two hours. Don't go longer than this between bathroom breaks or they’re guaranteed to have an accident.”
Also, go outside with him to make sure that he is getting his business done! Many times puppies get outside and get distracted with everything going on in the yard that they forget to go potty. You need to know what your puppy is doing and what his potty training schedule is like so that you can set yourself and him up for success!
All large guarding breeds of dog have the potential to be dangerous. Properly raised and well socialized, most Boxers will not carry out an unprovoked attack on a human being. But many Boxers will guard your property and you need to ensure that visitors are not at risk.
That means making sure that your dog is socialized as a puppy, and properly trained and supervised throughout his life. Socialization is critical! Some Boxers can become over protective and dog aggressive if not socialized properly!
Although, many people desire this breed for its protective qualities, no one wants a dog that is dangerous or will not let anyone in the house. I believe all dogs are capable of protecting his owner in a crisis without training.
Socialization and proper Boxer puppy training is much more important than worrying about or training a dog to be aloof or aggressive on the rare chance of an owner attack.
Boxer puppies aren’t little for long! They have a very short window – the first 6 months - to learn about all the things that will be in their life as they age. It is very important to take your new boxer puppy everywhere with you and let him meet all different kinds of people and children. Take treats with you and let people give him treats while petting him.
You want your new puppy to enjoy meeting people but to also have good manners and not jump; have him sit instead! Now is the time to teach him manners not when he is 95 pounds! I can’t tell you how many people I know that get a puppy, bring it home, and even do some basic obedience training, but never take the puppy outside of the home until they are full grown.
They then end up with a fearful adult dog that is unsure in all kinds of new situations. Many of these dogs look seriously “abused” to the average person because they are so fearful of everything, when actually it is simply because the puppy was never given proper socialization and exposed to different things.
If you want your dog to go hiking, go to the ball field, go to parks and other places, and be able to be around people of all shapes, sizes, colors and children, you need to take him to these places and teach him manners when he is young.
Socialization isn’t always about “playing with” something; often it is about learning to be obedient around certain things and situations.
No one brings home a cute fuzzy puppy and considers that it will one day become a terrifying, dominant dog! No one wants to be in an abusive relationship with their dog either, (where the dog is in control of everything in his environment)!
More Boxer Puppy Training Tips
Get him used to his leash early!
Leash training and obedience will be critical! He is going to be a very muscular and powerful dog and teaching a puppy leash manners and to “heel” is much easier than teaching a 100lb. adult dog! Tether your dog to you, early on, to avoid bad behavior and teach some leash respect and manners.
Never allow your Boxer puppy to get in the habit of pulling you to and fro when he is on the leash. If you allow your puppy to run off leash without the obedience to back it up, you will struggle with his obedience for years to come. Whether it is true or not, I want my Boxer to think that I am THE BEST thing on earth.
Don’t worry! That doesn’t mean that your Boxer puppy will never be able to be off leash; the opposite is true. You just need to control his environment, play with him and build his drive for toys and games, and then teach him obedience. And, I simply cannot compete with wild critters and exciting smells.
So, when he goes off leash, he will have the obedience background to leave whatever distraction may crop up. I have called my dogs off baby bunnies and opossums among other exciting things. The reason I was successful, is because my dogs know if they listen and obey they will be rewarded (mostly with a game of ball which is their favorite thing).
They never learn how fun chasing bunnies can be if they don’t listen. And, let’s face it, bunnies are more rewarding than me… I just want to be smarter than my dog and never give him the opportunity to figure that out.
There are many benefits to basic obedience training, including building a closer bond, through positive reinforcement with your dog, teaching your dog life and social skills, and helping to prevent your dog from developing unwanted behaviors.
A dog that will come when called may help avoid life threatening situations, such as being hit by a car or having a bad encounter with another animal. Dog obedience training should become a part of his regular daily schedule.
I often had my pups work for their breakfast and dinner! Boxers need a strong leader and mental stimulation, which comes in the form of obedience training. A bored puppy is a naughty puppy!
Your Boxer is never too young or too old to learn! When he is young just remember he has a shorter attention span and possibly retention rate, but work hard and you will see him become a great dog! Don’t wait until you see behavior problems, begin molding him into the dog you want and you will both bond and enjoy a wonderful life together!
The kind of endless energy a Boxer possesses could power a whole household if you could devise a way to hook up their energy level to a generator!
So I would be remiss if I didn’t express how very important it is when considering a Boxer that you are aware of the time and physical commitment that is required to have a happy healthy balanced dog – and to keep the sanity of you, the owner, intact.
Opening the door to a backyard and letting your dog go out to the bathroom isn’t exercise, and no, leaving your dog in the yard to entertain himself is not a good idea either. It doesn’t matter if your yard is two acres, to the dog, it’s just one big kennel with walls. Plus, a dog sitting in the backyard by himself is not providing your dog with any mental or physical stimulation and that can result in some unwanted bad behavior – new landscaping in the shape of enormous gopher like holes, non-stop barking, or the digging up of all the new flowers you just planted.
Left to their own devices, a bored Boxer can become a bad Boxer, not through any fault of his own, but because you, the owner, have not provided structured exercise in the form of walking.
Be responsible when exercising your Boxer. These dogs do not do well in extreme weather conditions – the midday heat of the afternoon is not the most ideal walking time for your Boxer who has a short muzzle (brachiocephalic facial structure) and by the same token, extreme cold is also not good for the short-haired Boxer.
Choose your time wisely when you walk, first thing in the morning before the heat and humidity have had a chance to take over the day, and nighttime when the heat of the sun is diminishing are ideal for your dog.
Make sure you carry some water for your companion.
Too many times people will take water for themselves and don’t think that their four-legged friend wearing a fur jacket would also like some water during their walk. Try to aim for a good 45-60 minutes a day walk with your Boxer - twice a day is even better. This is a great time to bond with your dog.
Care must also be taken not to over-exercise young dogs, as this may damage growing bones since they are susceptible to hip dysplasia. Strenuous exercise or activities should not be done right before or after he eats. Boxers are susceptible to bloat, which can kill.
Keep your dog beside you or slightly behind you when walking. A dog stretched out on a 10-foot retractable leash is not how you want to walk your dog because at that point, it’s your dog walking you! Remember, you are the boss.
Boxers enjoy, and do well in canine sports such as agility, frisbee, and tracking so don’t forget to challenge your dog in other exercise arenas. Above all, remember that exercise is very important to the well-being of you and your Boxer – so lace up those shoes and hit the pavement!
Although headstrong as Boxer puppies are, with love, patience and great consistence with your Boxer puppy training you will have a companion to enjoy for years to come. Check out our puppy training course which will ensure raising a well behaved dog. And for more information about the Boxer, or to find a reputable breeder, visit the American Boxer Club.
Cute Video of A Boxer Puppy