All of us dream of parenting the perfect dog, a pup that is a CGC or canine good citizen and is well behaved and dependable at all times. Well dreams do come true if the training is done with care and dedication. Remember pups learn from day one and need to be taught what is right, what is wrong, and proper socialization.
Pups are like children, they need constant supervision and training. Training a pup need not be an ordeal all you need to keep in mind are a few simple rules:
As a pet-parent you have many choices. You could choose to train the dog yourself or register at a professional training school. Training a dog has many stages: kindergarten, obedience training, doggy sports, showing and conformation, as well as other aspects like therapy dogs, hearing dogs, and so on. What level you choose to train depends on you as well as the learning abilities of your dog. As you know, different dogs like humans have varied talents. Choose well and both you and your pup will have fun times together.
Head Halters for dogs are an excellent and kind way to walk your puppy (that pulls) until they are trained to heal! They do need to be positively/happily introduced to wearing the halter though. I designed the halter in the picture called "Heel-Ez" which is padded to protect short muzzled dogs like Bullmastiffs from the nose band chafing their wrinkles or scratching their eyes! I also include a safety strap that attaches to their regular collar. If you are interested in purchasing a Heel-Ez head halter for a Bullmastiff please email me at: email@example.com I can design it in whatever color/s you want and whatever design, also personalization is available as well as a matching lead, etc.
|Veterinary Behaviorists Question Dominance Theory in Dogs|
When dogs receive proper training,
they become good canine citizens,
and are usually considered to be
wonderful family companions.
When dogs are well trained,
they do make wonderful companions.
When they aren't trained,
it's a very different story.
of the dogs
that aren't trained
end up in shelters.
It would be nice if we could
just wish upon a star
or wave a magic wand
and instantly have
a well trained dog.
It just doesn't
work that way.
It takes patience & hard work.
Training your puppy
can be a little bit
like walking through
a dark eerie forest
if you aren't
It is also important
that your puppy,
not be given
at this age.
during the "fear imprint" stage
of 8-11 weeks of age
could cause behavior problems
that you could be dealing with
for a very long time.
STEP BY STEP GUIDE TO BAIT TRAINING YOUR DOG FOR THE SHOW RING
Successful bait training works best when introduced at a young age. By following these easy steps you can produce a dog that will bait non-stop under most circumstances. Condition the pup to respond to a phrase like "cookie" by starting him at three weeks, when you begin to wean the litter.
FROM THREE TO SIX WEEKS- Each time you place food in the puppies' pen, announce your arrival loudly, with much repeating of "cookie". You may feel like an idiot, but it definitely teaches the puppies to respond alertly every time they hear the correct word. At this point, all you are doing is conditioning them to expect "goodies" whenever they hear the word "cookie". By the end of six weeks you should be greeted by a litter of happy baiting puppies every time they hear "cookie".
AT SIX TO EIGHT WEEKS- Work the puppies individually but not with a leash. Introduce small pieces of soft moist food or liver at this time. Don't worry about how or where the puppies stands, or even if he stands. At this point, all you are interested in is getting the pup's ears up at the use of the word "cookie". Timing is important. Reward as soon as the ears are in the proper position.
EIGHT TO NINE WEEKS- Is the fear stage. Don't introduce anything new. Continue working as before.
NINE TO TEN WEEKS- Put the leash on the pup but let him drag it on the floor. Continue baiting as before. By this time pups should be pricking ears instantly at the word "cookie".
TEN TO TWELVE WEEKS- Pick up the leash, and holding loosely, continue baiting. Don't worry about anything but ear response. Gradually begin increasing time before giving a "cookie".
AT TWELVE TO FOURTEEN WEEKS- Encourage a pup to turn by guiding with bait. Again, don't worry about how he stands. At this point you are teaching him to follow so that he is baiting in front of you. Feed as soon as his attention start to wander. By this time he should be standing in front of you, watching the bait for several minutes at a time.
AT SIXTEEN WEEKS- Start walking the pup into proper position. At this point, worry only about what his front does. As soon as he stops in the proper position with his ears up, feed him. Timing, again, is important. Start introducing the word "stay" and begin backing away until the pup is baiting steadily several feet from you. Once he knows where his front belongs, begin working on the rear. Guide the dog with the leash, by the stepping back, or around in a circle. If the pup needs to stretch his rear legs, take a step towards him. Feed him when in the proper position, with ears alert.
BY FIVE MONTHS- You should have a puppy that baits like a dream. Continue to practice occasionally.
Be careful to follow these ten rules to keep your puppy baiting and looking good.
1. Guide with the leash, never the foot. Foot shy dogs rarely bait well for long. Owners hopping around on one foot also tend to produce a ridiculous picture.
2. Bait at the dogs eye level. This produces a much prettier top line and arch of the neck. Nothing ruins a topline quicker than a dog with his nose six feet in the air.
3. Keep yourself as straight and still as possible. You will present a much more attractive picture. Under no circumstances should you toss bait all over the ring or move your hand up and down vigorously. All you do is distract from your dog, causing him to look like he is bobbing from apples. Both of you will look like idiots.
4. Never allow your dog to grab the bait from your hand. Someone else may have to show him, or the judge may have to bait him, and both will probably value their fingers and want them intact.
5. Keep practicing until you dog baits at the end of the leash. This presents the best picture. If you allow him to bait to close, you may cause him to appear cow-hocked, short-back, poor in topline, short neck, or all of the above. If he is at the end of the leash, you can see the picture you are presenting to the judge.
6. Leave plenty of room in the ring to work your dog.
7. Practice at home with snacks, but save the liver for special occasions. This helps assure the dog will be baiting his best when you need it the most.
8. Feed frequently ( small bits) and keep his mind on you and what he is doing.
9. Feed immediately and talk to him the minute his attention starts to wander.
10. Don't feed the night before a show, keep everything possible in your favor. After all, a hungry dog is a healthy dog, and almost always a baiting dog.
Here are a few suggestions that might prove helpful. Practice in pairs. Competition sometimes helps and has been known to do strange things to some dogs and some people. Go back to the basics. Getting "ears" are the main concern. Timing is of up most importance. Make hamburger or other goody balls and play catch or silly games. Popcorn works well too. Keep it fun for the dog and don't ever let him know it's anything but a game! Play by his rules. The only thing I've never been able to do is convince a dog he's going to the dog show for dinner. But I am still working on it!
| TEACHING YOUR PUPPY TO COME ~|
Teaching your puppy to "Come" is one of the most important lessons she will ever learn. The sooner you begin teaching "Come" the better chance you have for a lifetime of reliable recalls.
It takes time to teach "Come." Most puppies will "come" to you whenever you decide to walk away because they instinctively follow you. A reliable response to "come," however, usually takes months of consistent and positive reinforcement. You want your dog to literally stop in her tracks, turn around on a dime, and happily come running to you whenever the "come" command is given. This is an end result, so do not expect too much of your puppy too soon.
The easiest way to associate your new puppy with the "come" command is to begin using it on their first day home! Even at 8 weeks old, you can begin to use positive reinforcement associated with the "come" command. Whenever your puppy is already coming to you on her own, wait until she is about 2-3 feet from you and then say "(Dog's Name) Come!" in a very happy voice. When she gets to you (about 2 seconds later), hug her, clap your hands, and basically make a huge fuss over her. This exercise should be practiced frequently and consistently for 3-5 months,depending on the age and response of your dog. Then it should be practiced periodically for the rest of your dog's life. This is a wonderful exercise because your dog will always perform it perfectly. She will always receive praise because she cannot do it wrong. It is of the utmost importance that your dog initiates coming to you on her own, so you need to look for this opportunity, realize it, and then say "Come!" when she's almost at your feet. If she doesn't "come" after you command her to "come"....then you said the command too early. You need to wait until she is almost right on top of you! With this exercise, your dog will learn that "come" is a really good thing. After a while, you can lengthen the distance from when you start to say COME, but be careful and don't push your luck.
One of the biggest mistakes people make when playing with their dog is chasing them. Rule number one: if you want a reliable recall, NEVER, EVER, chase your dog unless it is a dire emergency. Your new puppy may look very cute as she scoots her furry butt around the house while you chase her, but don't. Stop all chasing where you are the "chaser." Instead, encourage your puppy or dog to chase you. Teach your dog to play "chase" by you running around the house or yard, with your dog chasing you. If your dog will not play, you need to be creative. Get down on your hands and knees and "play-bow" to her, crawl away real fast then roll on the ground and let her "catch" you. Make it really happy and fun. Don't use food, use fun. It is important that your dog learns to always "chase" or "follow" you, and at the same time, she's learning to never run away.
After a few weeks or months, as your dog begins to enjoy the "come" command, you can start "testing" it as a command. However, you will regress quickly at this point unless you can back up every "test". You can back up your "come" command a few different ways. One way is to periodically put a harness and lead on your dog and let her drag the lead around (under your supervision). Nonchalantly pick up the lead (without your dog noticing), then say "(Dog's Name) COME!" in a happy voice, if she doesn't come on her own, gently tug on the lead to encourage her. If she still doesn't come, pull her to you while saying COME! COME! in a very happy voice. When she reaches you (by gentle force or on her own), give her loads of praise. Your dogs' lead should be attached to a harness, not a collar. When you physically pull her to you, you are not choking your dog, nor causing any discomfort. The harness allows you to pull her at her center of gravity and induces "force" in the least "forceful" manner possible. Many people train dogs to "come" by "popping" a choker collar to get their attention. In my opinion, this is perceived as negative reinforcement for most dogs. I do not believe negative reinforcement establishes the foundation of trust and respect between animal and human that is needed for fool proof recalls.
Another way to back up your "come" command is to have someone else "physically walk" your dog to you when you command her to COME. This is accomplished by waiting until your dog is next to another family member (on your dogs' own free will.) Establish communication with the other family member and confirm that they are ready to "back up" your come command. Then say "(Dog's Name) COME!" in a happy voice. If your dog comes to you, praise lavishly, if she hesitates, encourage her by getting on your knees, clap your hands, etc. If she does not come on her own the other family member (who the dog is right next to) gently but firmly wraps their arms around the dogs' mid-section and lifts gently, pushing gently forward, thus "physically walking" your dog to you. Again, this method accomplishes the goal by moving your dog via your dogs' center of gravity, not by tugging, pulling, or pushing. The same thing can be accomplished if your dog is already wearing a harness. If she already has a harness on, simply grasp the harness at its top center and "help" her along! Now that you are familiar with the exercises, you must practice them frequently and consistently.
Important things to remember:
1. NEVER chase your dog.
2. NEVER scold your dog when she comes to you.
3. For the first months of practice, and until your dog comes to you reliably, NEVER command your dog to COME unless you have the lead in your hand to back up your command (or someone else has their hands on the dog to back up your command.)
4. If you need your dog for something and you don't have the lead in your hand, go and get your dog. Don't test the COME command when you are unsure of her response.
5. Never call your dog using the "come" command, and then ignore her refusal. Always back up your command! Go and get your dog. As you approach your dog tell her "STAY!" until you reach her. Then walk her back to the spot you originated from repeating "COME! COME!" When you get to the spot, praise her for coming. You must show her that she should have "COME" in the first place.
Do these things for about 3-5 months. During this time, your dog will learn that the COME command is a wonderful thing. She never does it wrong. She always gets praised. After your dog repeatedly and thoroughly demonstrates that she understands the "come" command, you can start slowly testing your dog. When you test your dog, never tell her to come if you think she won't, always go and get her instead. Remember, make it easy for her to do good. The only time to tell her to come when you are unsure of her response is in an emergency. Otherwise, go and get your dog.
If you have a dog that does not respond well to the "come" command due to negative reinforcement in the past, change the command to "Here!" or anything else that you can say in a happy voice with one syllable. Start doing the exercises mentioned using the new command and you will begin to build respect, trust, and a reliable recall in your dog.
TEACHING YOUR PUPPY TO "LEAVE IT" ~.
The "Leave It" command is a very useful command to teach your dogs. You can use it in a variety of ways that are practical, convenient, and sometimes life-saving.
You can start teaching your puppy the first step as early as 4 months old. Your puppy may not understand what you're doing for a few months, but it will lay a strong foundation for the command. The first step is to put a new type of food treat on the floor. Don't use one he's used to, as it may confuse him to think that "all of a sudden" he's not supposed to have a treat that he's always been able to have at leisure.
Begin by placing the small treat on the floor and make sure he sees you put it there. Walk him by the treat (with him on-lead). When he tries to sniff the treat say "Leave It!" When he looks away from the treat, praise him with pats on the sides and "GOOD Leave It!" Depending on your dog, you may need to physically turn him away from the treat. Then pick up the treat from the floor, inspect it, then tell him to sit. When he sits, give him the food treat and say "GOOD Sit!" Release him and play with him so that he likes this new "Leave It" command.
As you progress in your teaching, start periodically putting the food treat in your pocket after inspection, and offering an "old" food treat for the reward when he sits. This teaches your dog the true meaning of "Leave It" because the reward does not match what he wanted in the first place. In most instances of actually using the command this will be the case. After a few weeks of practicing, start using the command whenever you deem appropriate. Some instances may occur when he finds garbage on the ground, or when he wants to say hello to an aggressive dog (or unknown dog). In any case, ALWAYS follow the "Leave It" command with praise! "Leave It" is a difficult thing for a dog to do, and he will be more willing to respond to your command if he knows what a GOOD thing "Leaving It" is.
TEACHING YOUR PUPPY NOT TO BITE.
Puppies play with other puppies by biting each other. It is a very natural thing to do. It can be very confusing to a puppy if you scold him for playing the only way he knows how, and then encourage him to play again.
Next time he bites or nips you "yelp" in a noticeably loud and high-pitched voice. Usually, the pup will look at you kind of funny, like he doesn't understand, and then proceed to bite you again. This time you "yelp" louder and in a very high pitch, maybe jumping back at the same time as if you're really hurt. Whenever you do this technique, you must always immediately furnish an appropriate chew toy for him to bite and play with. After a half dozen times of this, the pup usually gets the message. But, he is still a puppy, and he will "forget" next time he wants to play and bite again (after all, that's the only way he's played for his whole life!) It will take a week or two until this pup finally "gets it." Some learn much faster, and others more slowly, but this technique has never failed me as long as every person is consistent. That means every time the pup bites, "yelp!" Tell children and visitors to do the same. (Yes, really tell them to do the same, and make sure they do it; maybe they'll learn something in the process). If your puppy or dog reacts in a frightened manner of your yelping, then try it again in a softer, less frightening manner. You do not want to frighten the dog, only let it know that biting too hard hurts.
As the pup gets older, if he is not 99% reliable not to bite, after you "yelp," put your hand over his muzzle gently but firmly (sometimes referred to as a nose-hug) immediately after you yelp and when you say "No Bite!" Then immediately give him a chew toy and say "Good Bite!" You always want to end a lesson being taught with praise, that way, your dog will be more willing to learn. This will also teach your dog to go get a chew toy when he gets so excited that he just must bite something.
If these methods fail to work another option you have is to get up, turn your back to your dog and walk away whenever he bites or nips you. No reprimand, no emotion, simply turn your back to your dog immediately after he bites you (the *first* time) and walk away. After about 10 minutes, approach him again. Be sure that you are praising him when he is biting appropriate things and not you. This will teach your dog that he will not receive the attention he desires unless he behaves appropriately.
What if none of these things work? The problem you are experiencing is one of the hardest solutions to describe via the Internet that I have come across. That is because, if the old standby's (yelping and no bite, and walking away) don't work, then the problem is usually based on a lack of communication in general ~ Meaning, the dog does not understand what you are trying to communicate, so it becomes frustrated at your attempts at getting it to stop biting and in its frustration, bites more. This can actually make the problem worse.
The first thing to look at is if your dog is getting enough physical and mental stimulation on a daily basis. Your puppy should be able to be off-lead (off-leash), running around quite a bit to expend some of energy. Depending on the age, she may require up to 2 hours per day of vigorous activity. Playing fetch and going for walks does not suffice for all dogs. Both of these activities are quite mindless and can be done for very long periods of time without much mental concentration.
TEACHING YOUR PUPPY TO STAY ~
Puppies can begin learning short "stays" between 4 and 6 months of age. Begin by putting your puppy or dog in a "down" position (lying down). Sit next to your puppy with your hands lightly positioned on his sides/back so that he does not get up. Do not hold him firmly unless he tries to get up.
Next, put a food treat (small pieces of hot dogs work well) on the floor about 6 inches in front of him so that he cannot reach it. Put the palm of your hand in front of his face and say "STAY!" Remove your hand from in front of his face, wait about 3 seconds, then say "OK!" (or whatever your "release" command is). During all of this time, you should have your other hand lightly on his side/back to ensure his "down" position. When you say "OK," release your dog at the same time. When he is eating the food treat, PRAISE him and tell him what a good dog he is.
Repeat this exercise three times a day for 1-2 weeks. This exercise teaches your dog the "meaning" of "STAY." He should never be corrected or punished, he should always BE GOOD and DO GOOD, so be sure to make it impossible for him to fail. By teaching this way he will also learn to LOVE the "STAY" command.
Somewhere between the first and second week of this exercise, begin lightening your hold of your puppy during the 3-second "STAY."
The next stage of the exercise involves lengthening the "STAY." You can begin lengthening the time between your "STAY" command and your release command after your puppy (or dog) is "staying" on his own for 3 seconds. Begin lengthening the time to 5 seconds for a day, then 10 seconds for the next, etc. Remember, he should never be corrected or punished, he should always BE GOOD and DO GOOD, so be sure to make it impossible for him to fail. If he tries to get up, simply firmly keep him in his down position and repeat the command "STAY."
Begin teaching your dog at times when she is already resting so it is easy for her to succeed. You can also teach her an "easy" command by holding a treat within your fist and allowing her to gently take the treat. When she is forceful, she does not get the treat, as she becomes gentler and more "easy" she gets the treat. You will be rewarding her for inhibiting her bite and her aggressiveness. This takes many, many repetitions. If your dog is biting and nipping continually and getting consistent attention for it (negative or positive) she may have already learned that she can get what she wants by using force. You need to change this so that she receives more and better rewards for being "easy," for "settling" for "leaving it" etc. When you reward, use a two and three-step approach. At the instant the good behavior is initiated ,give her the verbal reward "Good Girl!" This is her cue, so that she learns exactly what behavior pleases you. After the verbal reward, give her a food treat. (step 2). And while she is eating the food treat,pat her on the sides for the physical-touch (step 3) reward. The food treat (step 2) can and should be omitted periodically.
You need to convince her that it is beneficial and in her best interest to behave the way you want her to. Setting her up to succeed so that she can be praised is the best method to do this. Using times when she is more relaxed in the first place... and then giving her a chew toy to chew on and praising her for a good "easy" as she leisurely chews on the chew toy may also help.
Right now, your focus may be on all her biting and rough-play antics. You may be giving her the most attention during these times. Turn this around, so that you are giving her more (and better) attention when she is behaving appropriately. This can be quite difficult with puppies and young dogs, and her appropriate behavior may disappear quickly ~ but it is important that you recognize it and praise it in the instant that it is there.
Think about "What am I communicating to my dog?" And "What is it like to be trained by me?" Puppies and dogs that continue to nip and bite relentlessly, usually do not understand you.
TEACHING YOUR PUPPY THE OFF COMMAND ~
A jumping dog is a happy and excited dog!!! Start teaching the "OFF" command when your dog is still a puppy and you will spare yourself many muddy shirts!
When most puppies are little, their "people" inadvertently encourage them to jump up. It is not very distressing to have a little pup jumping up on your ankle or shin, in fact, it's kind of cute. So, the puppy learns from early in life that if he wants attention, he should jump up on his "person" and they will reward him for it with praise and attention. As the puppy gets older and bigger his "people" all of a sudden decide that what they have taught him to do (jumping up for attention) is now putting paw prints on their favorite shirts! You can start teaching "OFF" at this point, or if you're lucky, you will have taught your puppy "OFF" from the beginning! Teach your dog the "OFF" command when he is not excited, and doesn't particularly want to jump up. Say "UP" and encourage the dog to jump up on you or on a piece of furniture. When he jumps up say "GOOD UP!" and praise your dog. Then say "OFF!" and push your dog's chest so that he must release and put all four paws on the ground. When all four paws are on the ground say "GOOD OFF!" Kneel down so that you can give your dog praise and attention. Keep doing this exercise, at least three times a day. ALWAYS end the teaching lesson by kneeling down and giving your dog praise and attention. This will make him eager to obey the "OFF" command. After your dog is familiar with the "OFF" command (about 2 days to 2 weeks) begin using it when he's really excited and jumps up on you. (Usually when you just come home.) The most important thing to remember when executing the "OFF" command is to kneel down and give your dog praise and attention IMMEDIATELY when he puts four paws on the ground! If you are teaching a dog that has been used to jumping up to receive attention, this command may take many months of consistent and positive reinforcement before your dog will become reliable.
TEACHING YOUR PUPPY TO SETTLE ~
We've all been there! Your dog is running around in circles like the Tasmanian Devil and nothing you do or say seems to make a difference. Many times dogs that are uncontrollable or unruly in the house are crated or end up being "put outside." Unfortunately, this doesn't solve the problem, it only postpones their excitement until they're free from the crate, or brought inside the house again. Dogs are social animals, they thrive on social interaction and are usually their happiest when they are included in the daily activities of their "people." Consistently isolating your dog in a crate or in your yard (or doing so for prolonged periods) may lead to a socially starved dog. This isolation can make your dog so overwhelmed when he receives attention or is brought into the house that the same unruly behavior intensifies; thus a vicious circle begins. One of the most important commands that you can teach your dog is a "Settle" command. It can be taught, learned, and reliably performed at a very young age. It can save your dog from being isolated in a backyard, specific room, or crate and it can help you enjoy your dog, have control of him, and help establish leadership. The Settle command can even be taught before "sit" and will contribute to the bonding of you and your dog. This command is most easily taught at a very young age, but even old dogs can learn new tricks! So start teaching your puppy or dog the "Settle" command today. If you have a puppy, you may start teaching him as young as 8-10 weeks. Lie your pup on his back gently; if he squirms, try to gently keep him on his back until he relaxes. If he REALLY squirms, and tries to bite, then lie him on his side. Puppies that exhibit biting or nipping behavior when being placed on their backs may grow up to be very dominant dogs. If your puppy exhibits this behavior, it is your responsibility to educate yourself on the special needs and considerations that a dominant dog requires. Generally, a dominant pup will squirm a lot and maybe try to nip or bite, "mouthing" on your hands as you're restraining him. A submissive dog may squirm a little, but will usually relax quickly and will look away from you. Avoiding eye contact is a submissive gesture, so do not try to make your puppy look at you. In fact it is best if he looks away, this reinforces the pack hierarchy that establishes you as "leader." While you are gently holding your puppy on his back or side, say "Settle" in a gentle, firm, and pleasant manner. Don't be lovey-dovey with him (even though he'll look so cute). This is teaching a command, not love-play. At the same time, don't scare him into settling by screaming the command. When he squirms, tighten your hold (gently but firmly) and say "Settle" until he relaxes. When he relaxes, say "Good" and loosen your hold. Each time he squirms, tighten your grip and repeat "Settle." Then repeat "Settle" when he relaxes. If you have long hair or floppy sleeves, make sure you are not tickling your dog, and thus making him squirm! Try for 20 seconds of a continuous settle. This may be impossible for the first few times, so 3-5 seconds of a continuous settle is perfectly acceptable, then release him with LOADS of praise. (The praise part is VERY IMPORTANT EVERY TIME.) Do this 3 times a day at times when he will most likely comply. Don't "test" the command for a few weeks or months, until you are sure he knows and thoroughly understands it, and you can handle him. Some puppies and dogs respond quite well to being gently restrained, others are as squirmy as a wet worm! The easiest way to combat the squirmy dog is to practice this command when he is already resting. You want to make it as easy as possible, when teaching a new command, for your dog to "Do Good." If you have a particularly hyper dog that never seems to be resting you will need to be physically and mentally prepared for your first attempt! It is important that the first time you attempt the "Settle" command that you are able to, at the very least, gently restrain your dog. If you start teaching him the "Settle" command by saying "Settle" and then allowing your dog to squirm his way out of it, you are essentially teaching him a great new fun game! If you have a wiggle-worm dog that seems to be void of a spine and feels like he's got an extra pair of paws, you will need to be ready for his antics! If you are teaching an adult dog the "Settle" command, the same technique applies but you need to be aware of your dog's personality before attempting the command. If your dog is known to be very dominant and/or aggressive, or if you feel there is any possibility that your dog may try to bite you, do not attempt the "Settle" command, but get professional advice from a reputable animal behaviorist. If your adult dog will perform a "Down" command for you, you should be able to teach him a "settle" command quite easily. After "downing" your dog, lie him completely on his side and say "Settle." Don't let him raise his head or squirm; keep him on his side for 3-20 consecutive seconds with no motion. When you release him, PRAISE, PRAISE, PRAISE!!! If you can not "down" your dog, you can begin to teach the "Settle" command at times that your dog is already lying quietly and is relaxed. You can condition your pup or dog as he begins to learn this command, to execute it in whatever manner you deem necessary. For instance, if you say "Settle", do you want your dog to lie down and roll over on his back? Maybe so, but a more practical use is to basically calm down, lie down, or lie still. My dogs do all three. If they're running around being too rowdy in the wrong place or time and I say "settle" they stop whatever they're doing, sometimes they lie down. They know that it is a "non-release" command, meaning they can play quietly again if they wish, sometimes escalating to another "Settle" command). Also, if they are in a new place pacing about, I can say "Settle" and they will lie down and stop their pacing. You can also accomplish this by holding your pup in a cradle position, giving the "Settle" command, and slowly tipping the dog so that his head is lower than his backside. (This is also a "trust building" exercise). Don't over-do it the first couple of times, you want him to be successful at his "Settle." Another way to do this is to lie him on the bed and slowly slide him onto the floor (with you supporting him of course) giving him the "Settle" command. Of course, before you even attempt these trust-building exercises you need to have enough confidence in yourself first. This means that first you need to know you have the strength to hold your dog, and you'll also need to portray confidence, not laugh, and sometimes hold the pup tight enough so that he "knows he better settle." On these "intensive settles" it is best to give a release command. I differentiate the non-release and release by this: If I say Settle and don't physically touch my dog, he knows not to wait for a release command. If I say Settle and physically touch him in some way--to position him, to clip his toes, or whatever--then he is to stay "settled" until I give a release command. Every time you clip his toenails, look in his ears, or do anything that requires him to stay still, use Settle.
TEACHING YOUR PUPPY HOW TO WALK ON A LEASH ~
The easiest way to teach your dog how to go for a polite walk is to start while he is a puppy. Let him drag the lead around the house, under your constant supervision, to get him used to the idea. I recommend also getting him used to a harness. Attach the lead to the harness instead of his collar. I know that many obedience instructors insist on a collar. Many obedience instructors say that a harness does not provide the "control" needed. However, I have found that although leads attached to collars have their place, leads attached to a harness have less chance of being grabbed, chewed, tugged, and pulled on by the puppy/dog than when attached to the collar. When a lead is attached to a collar it is very close to the puppy/dog's face, and very bothersome at that. It usually dangles under their chin, tickling their chest or it brushes against their cheek or eye inviting them to take a chomp out of it. A lead attached to a harness is "out of the way" and does not bother the puppy or dog, as long as he's already used to the harness. The harness, collar, and lead should always be associated with FUN & PRAISE. You want your pup to LIKE wearing it, so after you put it on play his favorite game, take him for a fun ride in the car, or take him for a walk.
Puppies and dogs learn "Let's Go" the same basic way, with a few variations applied. The best way to teach your puppy/dog to stay near you without pulling is to practice the "Let's Go" exercises as a game. Puppies have a greater tendency to follow you around up to a certain age and then they begin to get a mind of their own and want to go where they want to go! Therefore the game will be more challenging for older puppies and dogs, but on the other hand, it will take puppies months instead of weeks to learn because of their short attention span and development level.
Put a 6-foot lead on your dog, take him in the yard and if he already knows the "sit" command, tell him to sit. When he sits, or after you help him sit, be sure to praise him! (Cut-up hot dogs or other small treats work well, along with vocal and physical praise.) Be careful not to scold, correct, or in any way make this game "not fun" for your dog. Even a seasoned "sitter" should be "helped" so that he only receives praise. Stand at the side of your dog so that you are both facing the same direction. He should remain seated, but if he gets up don't correct him, just remember to tell him to "stay" next time. If he's a puppy, don't worry about the sit if he doesn't know it yet. It is mainly used to get your dog's attention. Next say, "Let's Go!" and begin walking at a faster pace than your dog. If your dog is a maniac, then you'll need to jog or even sprint. After about 5-20 feet (depending on the size of your dog, and your speed) stop abruptly and call his name in a happy, excited voice. He should turn around and come to you. When he does, give him a treat (that cut-up hot dog again) and praise him with some pats on the chest. If he doesn't come to you, you'll need to "reel him in" and then give him the treat along with vocal and physical praise. Tell him to sit again, and repeat the "Let's Go," going in a different direction this time. After a few times of getting the hot dog piece, he should come more than willingly. Do this for about 3-5 minutes, 1-3 times a day. After a few days, start the next step. (For puppies: no longer than 3-minute sessions.)
For the next step, begin the same way. Start with the sit, praise, then "Let's Go!" After 5-20 feet stop abruptly, call his name, and start walking/running backwards in little steps. You want your dog to be constantly moving toward you while you are moving backward. Of course, he will be concentrating on that hot dog piece in your hand, but that's fine. When he catches up with you give him that hot dog and PRAISE! Now, you want to repeat the exercise, but with variation. Sometimes start with a sit, other times just surprise him and say "Let's Go!," taking off in another direction. Always end each exercise by calling the dog's name, running backward, and giving him the treat and praise. Do this for 3-5 minutes, 1-3 times a day, for about 3 more days. (For puppies: no longer than 3-minute sessions, and continue until your pup knows the "sit" command, and responds reliably to his name. Depending on the age of your puppy, you may be at this stage for a while.)
The next step is the same as the previous one, but now, do not always call the dog's name when you start running backwards. Sometimes say his name, other times just do it, he should be becoming aware of your body, and he should be starting to respond to it. (Skip this step with young puppies, they need to hear their name as much as possible!) When your dog is responding well without your saying his name, move on to the next step.
Finally, increase the distance of your initial "Let's Go!" Your dog should be ready for you to back up at any moment! Also, instead of backing up all the time, you can simply change directions and run the other way! Start omitting his name unless he does not respond to your directional change. If he does not respond, do not snap the lead or say his name harshly; instead call his name in a happy, excited voice and make him believe that going YOUR DIRECTION is a GOOD THING. If he gets out of control, put him in a sit and start the "Let's Go!" again.
At this point, you can also start having longer intervals between his hot dog treats. He no longer needs a treat at every change of direction, the game is to keep up with YOU. Begin to vary how often he gets a treat. Sometimes give him a treat after one change of direction, other times do three or more change of directions before you give him the treat. Gradually, and I mean very gradually decrease the amount of treats he gets per session, but never decrease the amount of PRAISE! If your dog stops responding well, then reinforce him with the treats on your first change of direction more often. You should be almost constantly talking to your dog , and touching him periodically; he should be reading your body language and interested in hearing your voice. If you don't know what to say to your dog, try something like this:
"Let's Go! Good Let's Go! ....How did you get to be so good?
If you want your dog to be responsive to you, you need to be exciting, or at least not boring. Always give him variation. Vary how often you change your direction, your speed, and how often you give him treats. Talk to you dog, tell him how your day was, tell him how good he is over and over again. If you teach with praise you'll have a dog that is eager to please you.
After you and your dog get used to this exercise, when he is responding well and is not in need of loads of hot dog pieces, start using this command on your daily walks. During your walk, you do not need to talk to him constantly, but rather frequently. If he begins pulling and not listening, quickly change your direction and call him if he doesn't respond. Remember to keep PRAISING him every time he responds to you. You probably won't get all the way around the block at first, only go as far as you can so that your dog can be successful. Your goal is for you and your dog to have a FUN TIME on your walk. Your daily walks should be enjoyable for both of you. He will enjoy himself if he gets to run a little bit, sniff around, pee & poop, and respond to you for praise and hot dog treats. You will enjoy yourself if you don't have to constantly fight him on lead.
It is your choice whether to use a collar or harness. What you choose will depend on your dog, his size, and your ability to time your change of directions correctly. Other teaching devices you may want to try are the "no pull harness" and the "Gentle Leader."
You also have the option of teaching the "Let's Go" command without a leash in a fenced area. In this instance, you will carry your treat in your hand and you will praise the dog with a one-syllable word (Good! or Yes!) or "click" (if you would like to use clicker-training) the instant that he is walking beside you and looking at you. Immediately after you say "Yes!" you will give him a very small treat. Continue walking and whenever he is walking beside you and looking at you, say your praise word (or click the clicker) and then give the treat. This tends to work very well with dogs that are very food motivated, and also with young puppies.
If your dog wanders off while you are teaching, that's OK, just turn around and start running in the other direction! When your dog sees you running, he will most likely catch up to you and when he is beside you and looking at you, Praise or Click! Three to five minute sessions should suffice. Your dog will learn that being beside you and looking at you is a good thing. As he learns this, begin to vary how often you praise and treat. At first, praise and treat as soon as he is beside you and looking at you. As he becomes accustomed to this position, sometimes praise and treat after he is beside you and looking at you for two of your steps, and then three of your steps, then go back to just one step, all the while continue walking so that your dog learns to be beside you.
If your dog is too slow, the walk faster or jog. If your dog is too fast, forging ahead of you, turn around and go the other direction. Variation in all aspects will help keep your dog interested.
When your dog chooses to walk beside you for longer periods of time you can begin to incorporate the leash.
Even if you have a dog that responds well to you, there will be times when he is very distracted by or very attracted to a certain thing. Therefore, teaching him the "Leave It" command will usually come in handy, and the "Settle" command wouldn't hurt either.
TEACHING YOUR PUPPY NOT TO CHEW
ALL puppies chew. It is what they do naturally. They chew on mom, on each other, and just about anything that fits in their mouth that doesn't taste bad. They "explore" a new item by putting it in their mouths and taking a good bite into it. Chewing is normal to them. It is we "people" who view it as "bad" or "destructive." Therefore it is our responsibility to teach our pups what is appropriate to chew, and what is not.
First of all, supply your puppy with a variety of chew toys. He needs chew toys that outlast his teeth (rubber "Kong" toys, some nylabones, hard dog bones, etc.), and others that he can really get his teeth into (stuffed toys, rawhides, real sticks, etc.). Add some squeaky toys, balls, tug-o-ropes, and whatever else you think your pup will enjoy that won't hurt him.
Now that you have lots of toys and a good variety, put all of the non-perishable ones in a "toy box" for your pup. The toy box can be made out of anything; however, expect that it will also be chewed! Now that you're prepared, you must teach your pup how much fun his toy box really is, that it's more fun than shoes, or socks, or table legs. You begin by hiding a favorite toy or a food treat in the middle of the toy box, and then bring him over to the toy box saying "Go Look in Your Toy Box!" (you are teaching him a command that he will inevitably learn in a few months, as long as you say it consistently and happily.) Start rummaging through the toy box yourself, with your hands, encouraging him to look at (and put in his mouth) things that you pull out. If he starts rummaging himself praise him and be real happy about it. When he finds his favorite toy play with him with it, if he finds a food treat, praise him while he eats it.
Always keep his toy box in an accessible place (you can keep it in your bedroom, but if he chews the legs on the coffee table you may need more than one toy box.) If you want to keep your table legs you've got to think more puppy-like! If he chews the coffee table legs, put the toy box by or under the coffee table. You want to make it as easy as possible for him to do good! Which also means, don't put every toy in his toy box. Depending on the chewing ability of your pup, you may need to strewn out a lot of chew toys and have a reserve in his toy box. Put chew toys where your dog most often chews inappropriate items. If he chews pillows, have at least 3 different types of chew toys for him to discover before he gets to the pillows. If he steals shoes from the closet, keep your closet door closed! If you can't seem to manage closing the door, than put chew toys outside the closet so he'll find them before the shoes. Your pup now knows he has a toy box, he's got plenty of toys in it, and there are other toys around the house for him to stumble across and chew. Now you get to start teaching. Don't discipline your dog for chewing something you deem inappropriate after the fact. After all, you weren't there to tell him it was inappropriate, and it was really good to him! If you find your favorite book torn to shreds, take it as a reminder not to leave it on the floor (or on the table that the pup can reach) next time. You must catch the pup in the act. So next time you see him running down the hall with your shoe, or chewing anything inappropriate, quickly and in a surprising manner "swoop" it out of his mouth. The goal is not to hurt him, it is to surprise him. Say "No Chewing" and very quickly replace the inappropriate item with an appropriate chew toy, (another reason why it helps to have them all around the house.) Give him his chew toy and when he takes it say "Good Chewing!!!" Give him LOTS of Praise!!! If there is not an appropriate chew toy around, (and/or after he begins understanding a little) you can run him over to his toy box after the "No Chewing" command and say "Go Look in your Toy Box"! Make it a big game, help him find a good toy and give lots of Praise. Remember that you are teaching your pup a lesson every time he chews something inappropriate, so always end your teaching lesson with PRAISE. You will have a dog more willing to please you.
Well, that's basically it. Easier said than done! The most important and most difficult thing about this is to be consistent. You will feel like you're getting nowhere at times, but hang in there, he will learn it! The most effective part of this teaching process is the praise part, so never forget or belittle that part. Your pup will learn much quicker if he is convinced that you are ecstatically happy about him chewing on his chew toys. He may begin to bring you toys as a "prize," so you will praise him. Don't neglect this wonderful opportunity to reinforce desirable behavior! If your pup brings you a toy, praise him, take the toy from him using a "Give," "Drop It," "Leave It," or "Thank You" command. Look at the toy with enthusiasm, and then give it back with more praise. By doing this you are encouraging him to pick appropriate chew toys as well as beginning to train him to let you take things out of his mouth. (This is invaluable if he ever gets into something bad for him).
So, you've done everything right, you have a very smart puppy, and he is just a Chew Maniac - he chews all his toys, but isn't satisfied for very long and keeps looking for more interesting items! Take his Kong toy, or bone, or ball, or anything that has a hole through it, and put peanut butter inside the hole (some people prefer Cheeze Whiz.) This is very useful when you leave the house because it keeps him busy for quite awhile, lessens anxiety, and tires his "chew muscles" out a little bit. Another good time to give him the "find the PB" treat is when he has a usual Chew-mania time. I had a pup that wanted to chew until kingdom come in the early evening. I don't know why. He just had a lot of "chew" energy then, I guess. If your puppy is overzealous, first exercise him!!!! Get him tired physically, then tire out his chew muscles.Your puppy will appreciate softer items around 5 or 6 months when he will be teething: stuffed toys, cardboard, and also ice cubes help numb the gums and can lessen the teething pain. Another numbing chew toy can be a cloth soaked in water, twisted, then frozen. He may also experience a renewed interest in chewing around 8, 9, or 10 months. This is usually when his last molars are coming in. The problem here is that your dog may be much bigger and stronger than when he was only 5 or 6 months old! If you took the time to teach him the appropriate things to chew when he was younger, it will be much easier on you (and your furniture). If your 8-10-month-old dog decides that furniture legs are the new thing to chew, I suggest you block access to them if possible, and bring in some big sticks (yes, real sticks) the fat kind that he can't break in two. I've found that this seems to get most people through this period quite well. You must be willing, however, to clean up shredded sticks! I opt for that over furniture any day!
Remember that your puppy is just a puppy.He wants to please you more than anything in the world. Give him every opportunity to do just that! Never tell him "NO" without teaching him in the process. Always say "NO SOMETHING" not just "no."
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TRAIN your puppy and have FUN!
With more and more people buying dogs the need for good training is become a necessity. There are tons of people out there who are buying dogs because they are cute and lovable. And yes, that is a great reason to buy a puppy, but if you are going to purchase a dog, you must be ready to take care of it the right way. Below is a list of do’s and don’ts for you new puppy. These training rules can be used as a basic outline for ensuring that your puppy will be well behaved for its entire life. Remember, if you train them when they are puppies, and stick with it, your dog will be well behaved for its entire life (exceptions do apply of course!)
1. Be sure to train your puppy to be comfortable staying in a crate for an extended period of time. This is often overlooked because most people want to play with their new puppy 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can work up to a longer period of time by first start with small durations. For example, keep your puppy in its crate for 15 minutes every night. Do not pay any attention to it. After the 15 minutes take the puppy out and reward it for its good behavior. Every night you can extend the duration of time, and soon enough your new puppy will be comfortable in its crate.
2. Teach your puppy early and often that it is not acceptable to jump up on guests when they enter your house, or while they are trying to eat. This is not only a bad habit for the dog, but it is also very disrespectful to your guests. The first couple of times that your new puppy does this be sure to correct it in a positive manner. The most important thing to remember is to not let the puppy ever get away with this. If it happens once, it can happen again. And after a habit is established it will be much tougher to break.
3. Absolutely no chasing or running after other animals, or other people. A lot of puppies get into the habit of chasing after anything that will run from it. This goes for animals that it may see in the yard, or the mailman who visits your house everyday. After breaking this habit you will be glad that you did; just ask your mailman!
4. Train your dog to quit barking when told. This can be one of the tougher habits to break, especially if you get a dog who loves to bark. The most important thing to remember is to stay persistent with this one. If your dog is barking when it should not be, correct it every time. Do not give up on your persistence, and you will have success in the end.
5. A new puppy should never be allowed to be protective of its toys, food, or bed. Try to break your new puppy of this habit as soon as possible. You will be able to tell if this is a problem by a simple test. When your dog gets done playing with a toy attempt to pick it up and take it away. If the puppy snaps at you are growls, then you have this problem. Be sure to remedy it as soon as possible. If you let it go too long this can turn into a serious problem at a later date.
6. Make sure that your new puppy can be left alone without supervision. Also make sure that when left alone, your puppy is not destructive. Again, like the crate exercise discussed above, leave your puppy at home alone for a few minutes at a time. Eventually you will be built up to the point where you can leave your new puppy at home for hours on end without ever having to worry about coming home to a huge mess!
7. Make sure that your puppy is comfortable in places other than its home. Making your puppy feel comfortable outside of its comfort zone will surely make your life easier as the years pass. This is very important because your new puppy will eventually have to spend time at the veterinarian, a kennel, groomer, or at another person’s house. If you miss out on training your dog for this, you will be held down by it for the rest of your life. If you can never leave your dogs side, you will surely feel the effects anytime it needs a haircut, a vaccine, or if you ever decide to take a vacation. Do not miss out on this training step!
Overall, these seven training rules will surely make your relationship with your new puppy a positive experience.
Let's talk potty training! This can be a very frustrating topic for some, but we hope that these tips we share with you will be helpful. Training is a positive process with a specific behavioral goal in mind, in this case, the goal of having your dog eliminate in a designated place. If you don't read anything else on this page, remember this: Consistency, consistency, consistency is key!!
Potty training problems are common. It isn't just the unsocialized introvert puppy eliminating improperly due to separation anxiety, or the backyard dog who moves indoors during the snowstorm. Dogs who are otherwise well-adjusted, delightful companions, many of them quite obedient, perhaps even graduates of obedience training programs, frequently exhibit untrustworthy behavior when it comes to potty training reliability.
Potty training problems cause many dogs to end up in shelters. Improper elimination, or failed potty training, is one of the most frustrating and dangerous behavior problems exhibited by our dog friends. Frustrating, because if your dog is routinely soiling your home and you don't know how to stop him, you are going to be frustrated indeed. Dangerous, because it is among the most commonly cited behavior problems that cause dogs to be surrendered to animal shelters and humane societies.
So, how do I choose the right potty training methods for my needs? There is a lot of information available about potty training. This is a common topic in books and magazines, on videos, CD-ROMs, and even on the Internet. Yet, with all of this information available, the problems remain. Sometimes the methods outlined in the various media don't work because they are too general, leaving out important details in an attempt to appeal to too broad an audience. Conversely, some methods are too rigid and unrealistic, proposing regimens that do not fit in today's lifestyles. Worst of all, many times the information is conflicting, and dog owners are left wondering which method is "right" for them.
Three things you need to know about dog behavior:
Dog will try to eliminate outside of their den. When we say that dogs are naturally denning animals, we mean that their natural tendency is to sleep in a den. The den could be anything from a hole in the ground or a cave in the hills, to a couch in the living room or a kennel in the kitchen. The reason it is important for you to know that dogs are denning animals is because as a part of their denning behavior, dogs have a natural tendency to relieve themselves away from the den. You can use this knowledge to your advantage whether you want your dog to always eliminate in a designated area in the house, on paper or potty training pads, for example.
Dogs like to live in packs. The pack leader sets the rules for the rest of the pack. The second thing you need to know about dog behavior is that dogs are naturally pack animals. When we say that dogs are pack animals, we mean that their natural tendency is to live in packs or family groups. Pack animals have a well-defined social structure, which you can think of as their rules for living together and maintaining stability within the group. Dogs are not people, so it is unrealistic to expect our dogs to relate to us in human terms. Likewise, everything that we as people do with our dogs, they interpret into terms that they can understand from their canine perspective. That is important for you to know, because you can influence or control many of your dog's behaviors just by understanding how he/she interprets your actions into his own view of the world.
The main authority figure in a pack is called the pack leader. If you think of your own situation, the living arrangement that you share with your dog, you probably automatically think of yourself as the leader of the pack...But does your dog think of you as the leader of the pack? How would you know?
Dogs don't speak our language, but they are "talking" all of the time. A dog's ability to talk is pretty limited. Dogs do use verbal language like barking, whining and growling, and depending on the tome of these sounds, they can communicate quite a lot. Yet dogs lack the kind of vocal cords that allow speech, so an understanding of spoken words is not instinctive for them. Considering that human speech is indeed a foreign language, dogs are truly amazing in their ability to assign meaning to our words.
Dogs communicate using body language, a form of sign language if you will, and they are all masters of their native "tongue." Your dog "talks" to you through his actions and expressions. The message is sometimes easily understood, as when your dog wags his tail in greeting you when you return home from a trip. Other times, the message is obscure, and you may miss the signs entirely, although another dog would certainly pick up on the message.
Communication is the key...
You communicate with your dog through your own body language as well, but because you are usually doing it unconsciously, your dog is left to apply whatever interpretation works best for him/her. Sometimes your dog's interpretation does not match your intent, and you both end up confused. Nowhere is this more apparent than in potty training, when something that seems so obvious to you is completely missed by your otherwise observant dog friend.
Now that you know these three facts about the nature of dogs -- that dogs are denning animals, they normally live in packs, and they communicate primarily through body language -- we will teach you what you need to know in order to apply this information to the single goal of potty training your dog.
Potty training tips every dog owner should know:
Many things influence potty training. There are many things that influence potty training, not all of them obvious. Before we begin an explanation of how potty training actually happens, we want to identify some things that will impact the training that everyone needs to know about. If you are seeking this information prior to obtaining your puppy or dog, the benefits will begin for you on the very first day that you bring him/her home. But even if your motivation is to find out how to correct potty training problems because things have already gone wrong, knowing this information will be important to resolving your specific situation.
Feed your dog a premium food...
When you bring a puppy into your home, there are certain decisions that you must make about how you will care for him/her. For example, you know you are going to have to feed your puppy, so you need to decide what to feed him/her. Believe it or not, your choice of food can have a big impact on potty training. A good quality premium food is your best choice for many reasons. Premium foods provide the best nutrition, therefore, your puppy will be as healthy as he can be. Premium foods are more digestible than many lower priced foods, meaning your puppy will have smaller stool volume because less of the food is passed out as waste. Fewer, smaller stools mean fewer opportunities for mistakes, more predictable elimination needs, and easier clean-up. Therefore, pick the best quality premium food you can find, and stick with it.
Avoid sudden changes in diet...
Sudden changes in diet should be avoided if possible, as rapid diet changes can cause digestive upset at a time when you are trying to establish predictability. Sometimes the breeder or shelter where you get your puppy will let you know what they have been feeding your puppy and possibly send home a sample for you to take home to avoid making your puppy get used to a new family and a new diet all in the same day. If the food your puppy was eating before you brought him/her home is not what you plan to feed for the long haul, then transition to the new food by adding small amounts to the new food, gradually increasing the new and decreasing the old over several days. when you are feeding the best diet you can, don't change it, unless you are instructed to do so by your veterinarian.
If you already have a dog and your situation is not one of getting a new puppy, your dog will still benefit from the excellent nutrition and digestibility of a premium food. Premium diets are health food for dogs. but just as with a new puppy, any changes in diet should be gradual whenever possible, or digestive upset may occur. If you can, avoid changing your dog's diet while working on potty training, so your dog's elimination needs will remain predictable.
Don't feed table food...
A few words about feeding your dog the same things you eat. We don't recommend it. A tiny tidbit from your perspective is large portion to a small puppy. Make his life (and yours) easier and feed him what is good for him. A dog's digestive system is just not designed to handle the same things your is. Don't blame your dog when he has potty training setbacks because you shared your Swedish meatballs.
When to feed...
The pack leader eats first. There is another reason not to feed your dog the same things that you eat, or even at the same time that you eat. It gets back to the pack behavior we mentioned earlier. In dog society, dogs of higher status (pack leaders) eat first, and dogs of higher status eat the "best." This is really difficult for us to relate to, because most of us truly love our dogs and look on them as members of our family. We teach our children that fairness and equality are good, and that sharing is important. But in the dog's instinctive understanding of the world, when one pack member allows another to et with them, or to et first (with the possible exception of a mother feeding her pups), that implies things about which dog has the higher status in the pack. If your dog eats what you eat, you are sharing your status as pack leader. If you allow your dog to eat at the same time that you eat, or before, you are reinforcing the leader role you have allowed your dog to assume. With some dogs, giving them this much status in the pack can lead them to believe it is their right to eliminate on your property to "mark" it. Avoid this potty training error by feeding your dog his own food, and by not feeding him at the same time you eat.
As for when you should feed your puppy, that decision much be based partly on the needs of you puppy, and partly on your own schedule. If you have a very young puppy or a dog with special needs, your veterinarian is the best person to advise you on how frequently you should offer food. One think is certain during the potty training period: You must not allow your puppy to eat "free-choice." Even if you enjoy the convenience of letting your dog eat from a self-feeder (assuming your dog will not over-eat), giving him/her the opportunity to eat whenever they want to will make it almost impossible to potty train. Dogs have what is called gastro-colic reflex that causes them to need to eliminate shortly after eating, and if he/she is eating whenever they want to, it will be extremely difficult for you to supervise them carefully enough to ensure potty training success. So regardless of your long-term goals for his feeding arrangements, do not allow "free-choice" eating during potty training.
Feed your dog on a schedule...
Whether you feed your dog six times a day or once a day, you need to develop a specific routine to facilitate potty training. Feed your puppy in the same place each time using his own bowl. Give him his food, and allow him 20 minutes to eat it. If he has not eaten all of his food within 20 minutes, take it away and do not offer him more until his next feeding time. If this is difficult for you to do because you don't want to deprive your puppy, remember that if he was hungry, he would eat. Avoid the temptation to add extras to your puppy's food tot tempt him to eat. Many people do not understand why it is so important to stand firm on this rule. If you fuss over him to get him to eat - if you hand feed him or put tasty tidbits on his food to make it more appealing - you are just showing him that you love him, right? Wrong! You must remember that your dog is a pack animal, and that he will interpret all of your actions through the filter of his own instincts. Paying too much attention to your dog at mealtimes will result in a picky eater who will always wait to see what else you will do for him. Your actions speak volumes about who is in charge, volumes that your dog will interpret the only way he can. (Remember that the pack leader eats firs, the pack leader eats the "best.") Plus, anything you add to his food will likely upset his stomach, creating more potty training challenges for both of you, and you have to admit that it is better for all involved if you just don't do it.
After you dog eats, he will need to "go"...
Once your puppy has had his dinner, you must be prepared to do your art in the potty training ritual, because after he eats, your puppy will need to eliminate. How long after will vary from one up to another. Some puppies will need to "go" almost immediately, others may not feel the urge for as long as 30 minutes. Start by assuming that your puppy will need to eliminate immediately after eating, so you can avoid accidents caused by not responding quickly enough. Once your puppy is in a routine, you will get a pretty good idea of how long it usually takes for him to get the job done.
After your dog drinks, he will need to go...
Similar to the relationship between eating and eliminating, your puppy will need to urinate shortly after drinking. If he has had a lot to drink, as he will need during energetic play, he may need to urinate several times in the next few hours. This is just a reality of life, so be prepared.
If you must leave your puppy alone for extended periods - while you are at work, for example, if you cannot return home to offer him water on your lunch break - leave water out for him while you are gone. Just don't expect him to hold his bladder that long if he is not at least 5 or 6 months old.
Once your puppy is reliably potty trained, you should allow him access to fresh water at all times.
Exercise and play with your puppy on a regular schedule...
Exercise is important to any dog, and play as exercise can take many forms. But for potty training purposes, play should be somewhat regulated, just like meals and drinks. Save play and exercise until after your puppy eliminates. One reason to schedule play after potty times is because playing itself can stimulate your puppy to eliminate. If he hasn't had a chance to take care of business before he starts in on a game, he might just stop without warning in the middle of the game, and you may not have time to respond fast enough to get him to the right spot. Also, as he learns the routine and knows that the games won't begin until he is "done," he will be motivated to do what you want so he can get what he wants.
Never play with your puppy in the precise area where you want him to eliminate. If toilet spots are reserved for that purpose only, your puppy will not be confused about what you want him to do when you take him there.
Getting started on potty training...
There are two important questions to answer before you begin potty training. The first question is:
Where do you want your puppy to eliminate?
Outdoors only, I will walk him every time he needs to go out.
Outdoors primarily, but there will be times when I cannot walk him.
How you answer this question will have a large influence on how you answer the next question, which is:
Where do you want your puppy to live all of the time that you cannot supervise him?
For many dog owners, the expectation is that they will allow their dog to roam freely about the house without them eliminating in the home or destroying items in it. This goal is attainable in most circumstances, but it is unrealistic to expect to start there. Any parent of a young child certainly has an expectation that one day their baby will be potty trained, but the child is not born that way. And certainly no one would allow a small child to wander unsupervised about the home all of the time with unrestrained access to dangerous temptations. Children are taught over a period of time that certain items are off limits to them, and certain bodily functions have an appropriate time and place. Your puppy can learn these rules too. His natural tendency as a denning animal will work in your favor.
Confining your puppy is not cruel...
In order to teach your puppy not to soil your large "den" - your home - he must first learn not to soil a much smaller, puppy-safe area, the place where he will live all of the time that you cannot directly supervise him. Confining your puppy is not cruel, and the need to confine him is unavoidable. Small children are often placed in cribs or playpens when they cannot be completely supervised. Sometimes children cry for a time when first placed in a restraining environment. The good part is, they soon learn to tolerate it, and often come to enjoy the alone times in their safe place. Similar to a child, your puppy may at first protest his confinement. But understanding the need to teach him to adjust to his living arrangement, and knowing that you are providing him with a comfortable environment, will help you resist the urge to "rescue" him when he cries.
Create a puppy-safe zone...
Creating a puppy-safe zone poses some challenges, but there are several ways to do it that work quite well. Later on, we will talk specifically about three different types of living quarters that you might consider for your pup. There are other ways to create an appropriate environment, but the training methods used for these three types of puppy-safe room; and the puppy playpen (including "paper"training and why we don't recommend newspaper). Whether you choose just one of these techniques, or a combination of them, you will have the information you need to successfully potty train your pup.
Potty training: Essential information...
Your puppy was born with a natural desire to keep his living area clean. He will not be able to demonstrate this tendency until he understands the difference between his living area and his toilet area. Whether you are planning to have him eliminate indoors or outdoors, you must teach him the proper place for him to "go."
What triggers a puppy's need to eliminate?
There are certain events that will stimulate a puppy to eliminate. Assume your puppy needs to "go" when:
Puppies usually need to eliminate within 30 minutes of these activities, but you should start your routine by assuming that your puppy will need to "go" almost immediately, thereby avoiding potty training mistakes by not getting him to the right spot soon enough. Before long, you will recognize his individual tendencies and be able to time it pretty well.
Ways your puppy tells you he needs to "go"...
Watch your puppy's body language. There are certain ways your puppy will "tell" you that he needs to "go." At first, the signs might be hard to spot, so watch your puppy carefully. Body language can be subtle, but observing him closely just before he actually "goes" will help you learn after a few times what to watch for from your particular dog. Puppies do not all use exactly the same body language, but here are some common behaviors dogs use that signal they are about to eliminate:
Teaching your puppy where to "go" outside...
Each time your puppy experiences one of the events that triggers his need to eliminate (eating, drinking, waking, play or removal from confined area), take him to the designated "spot." How you get him there will depend on whether he can "hold it" long enough to get to the spot if he walks on his own, or if you need to carry him. Young puppies (under 8-10 weeks) or very small puppies (toy breeds for example) may not be able to cover the distance fast enough to be allowed to walk on their own, and should be carried. Otherwise, the best way to get your puppy to his spot is to put his collar and leash on him, and lead him there. He needs to experience how to actually navigate the route to the spot, and will learn this much faster by walking on his own. If he can't make it though, or you aren't sure, carry him first to avoid mistakes.
Take your puppy to the right spot...
Even if you have a fenced yard, don't just push him out the door and expect him to figure out what you want. Do take your puppy to the toilet spot, or he will be left with the impression that your entire yard is his toilet. Additionally, unless you are watching so you will know when he is "done," he may wait until he gets back inside where he feels more secure, and you will have a mess to clean up.
Use the same path...
Use the same path to "the spot" every time, including going out the same door. Don't throw him a curve by taking him via the many scenic routes. (If you have a dog door that you will expect him to use later on, save that step until after he is potty trained. During this initial phase,, it is best to keep it simple. We'll tell you how to introduce the dog door a little later.)
Don't distract him...
Lead him (or carry him) to the spot, then wait quietly. Your part in this is very important, because he will read your body language carefully. If you play with him, he will think the purpose of the walk is play. don't be impatient or annoyed, because he will pick up on that, and you could end up with a puppy who actually avoids eliminating in front of you because he is intimidated by your mood.
Praise your puppy for going in the correct spot...
a word or phrase that you will use to tell him the purpose of the walk,
such as "go potty," and softly repeat it while you wait. Once he begins
eliminating, praise him softly, but not exuberantly so you do not
distract him. When he is finished, praise him all you want and give
him a treat. Then lead him away from "the spot" and back in the same
door you exited. If you play with him outside afterward, take him to
another area in the yard.
Soon he will go to the door on his own...
If you take your puppy out to eliminate after each of the triggering events, and any other time when he displays any of the body language signals that tell you he is needing to "go" (dedicated sniffing, circling, arching back, squatting), soon he will begin to understand where the toilet area is. He will start walking toward the door on his own when he needs to go, so be watching for this and take him out when he does. Add walking toward the door to your list of body language signals to watch for.
*The following steps are only for those situations where your puppy has a safe, securely fenced yard that is appropriate for him to wander in unattended.
When your puppy starts walking toward the door to let you know he needs to go out, you can begin taking him out without his leash. The goal is to eventually get him to go to the toilet area on his own when you let him out, but as will all training, you have to teach in smaller steps.
Carry the leash with you in case you need it, but try getting him to follow you by offering him a treat. Using the word or phrase that you have chosen as a cue to tell him what the walk is for, such as "let's go potty," see if he will follow you all of the way to "the spot." If he does, give him the treat and praise him. If he will not, hook on his leash and lead him. Keep trying to get him to follow you without the leash each time you go out. Eventually he will walk all of the way with you off leash.
he will reliably follow you every time to the correct spot without the
leash, stop just short of "the spot," tell him what he is there for
("go potty"), and see if he will go the rest of the way on his own. If
he will not, walk with him. Don't let him stop short of the correct
spot to eliminate. Eventually he will catch on and go the rest of the
way himself. Wait until he finishes eliminating in the right spot, then
praise him. Work on this until he will always goes the rest of the way
on his own when you stop a short distance away, then gradually increase
the distance. Don't let him get lazy -- made sure he goes all of the
way out there. Walk with him from time to time if you have to.
Keep increasing the distance that he walks on his own until he demonstrates his understanding of where he is to "go" by walking all of the way to the spot while you stand by the door. Getting to this point may take many days, even weeks, so do not expect too much too soon. Your puppy's own motivation and maturity levels will dictate how quickly he can learn these exercises. When he is reliable with you standing just outside the door, let him into the yard while you remain inside. As he walks out, use his cue word or phrase ("go potty"). Make sure you can see him, and be prepared to go out if he gets distressed and forgets what he is supposed to do. With practice, you will have a dog who goes to the door when he needs to go out, and uses only a specified area in your yard as his elimination spot.
Introducing the doggy door...
Dog doors are a wonderful convenience for many owners. Dog doors take the worry out of leaving your dog in the house for a l longer period of time than he can wait to eliminate. Once he is reliably potty trained, your dog can use the dog door to "walk" himself.
Get a friend to help if you can. If your puppy has never used the dog door before, the best way to introduce it to him is with some help from a friend or family member. Get your helper to keep your puppy near the dog door inside the house, while you go outside and lift the flap. Call your puppy enthusiastically, and use treats to tempt him through the opening while you hold the flap out of the way. He may come bounding out to you without hesitation, or he may be greatly concerned about this new hole in the wall. Once he is used to the idea of a new opening in the den, and has practiced going in and out while you hold the flap, move the flap so that it gently touches his back when he goes through. When he gets used to the new sensation, close the flap and call him. If he doesn't walk right through, move the flap an inch or two with your fingers so he can see you, praising and encouraging him as he attempts to reach you. Most dogs learn to use a dog door in one quick session, but don't be discouraged if it takes more time than that. Just keep trying until he gets it.
When your puppy is using his dog door confidently, you still need to teach him to associate its use with going outside to eliminate. This part is easy, if you have followed the previous steps.
When it is time to take your puppy out to eliminate, go outside, but leave your puppy inside. As you close the door, use his command phrase that tells him it is time to go out. He may come bounding through the dog door with no further prompting needed. If he doesn't, go to the dog door and call him. (If he doesn't come right out, don't wait too long to go in and get him You might have a mess to clean up if he can't wait until he has figured out what to do.) When he comes through, repeat the command phrase. If you need to, walk out with him tot the spot. Continue these steps until he always goes out through the dog door when you use the command phrase and walk outside through the conventional door.
Soon he will be going to the right spot on his own...
The next goal, of course, is to get him to go out the dog door and take care of business on his own whenever he needs to. He may still require your help in understanding that this is the expectation. Proceed to this step by taking him to the dog door and using his command phrase. He may not understand that you want him to go outside without you, so if he doesn't go out, walk toward the door as you would have in the previous step. Repeat the command phrase. Praise his efforts if he moves toward the dog door while you are still inside. Wait to see if he will go on out. If he does, he may come right back in when you don't show up. Keep encouraging him to "go potty" without you, and watch him to make sure he does. You may have to go back to the previous step and walk outside with him for a while before he learns that he can go on his own, but keep working at it and he will eventually understand.