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Puppy Training Help
Your puppy is a pack animal, and he still follows the call of the wild.
Your family is your puppy's pack.
Who will be the leader and who will be the follower?
There are some ways to set yourself and your family up as top dog.
You want to earn your puppy's respect.
That can mean being firm, but always fair. Read more about Becoming a Pack Leader.
Puppies do feel fear, but it's not useful for your dog to fear you. Never hit your dog.
Puppies don't have the ability to link cause and effect abstractly;
that is, remember a past action and link it to your present reaction.
Never scold for something your puppy did a while ago. Your puppy will have no idea what the problem is and will think that you are mad for no reason.
Only correct your dog when caught in the act.
Because puppies are pack animals, they crave your attention and approval.
Use this to your advantage when teaching your dog. Learn more about Training Basics.
Take the time to teach your puppy what you want.
A puppy arrives in our world, often having just been born two or three months earlier.
We should not expect him to understand anything but to love us.
We get to teach him the rest - using persistence, patience and affection to shape him into the companions that we want and he is capable of becoming.
Your Puppy's Senses
When you notice the way your puppy reacts in situations,
remember that dogs live in a world that looks,
smells and sounds quite a bit different than ours.
You might think a situation seems quiet and safe,
but your dog may sense something you do not that causes agitation -
a sound too high-pitched for you to hear or the scent of another animal you can't detect.
Dogs can see with less light, detect motion, and see flickering light better than humans, but the clarity of their distance vision is typically poorer.
The popular theory that dogs only see shades of gray may not be true.
Some theories suggest they see blues and yellows but can't see reds and greens as humans do.
A dog's hearing is more sensitive than yours.
They hear higher pitches and lower volumes.
Dogs are able to register sounds of 35,000 vibrations per second
compared with 20,000 per second in humans.
This sensitive hearing can alert you to visitors or danger,
but it also means you should take care with loud noises,
and be patient when your dog howls at a train whistle or siren.
A puppy's sense of smell is much more acute than a human's -
tens of thousands of times more acute by some estimations.
We'll never fully understand what their world looks like, smells like or sounds like,
just as dogs will never even be able to understand how different our world is.
But we both understand one thing: affection.
Kindness crosses all barriers and lessens all differences.
‘DOGPROOFING’ YOUR HOME
Before bringing your dog home, you'll need to ‘dogproof’ your house.
Here's a simple checklist to make sure your home is safe before letting your dog run free.
You’ll also want to read our pages on Home Safety and Poisonous Plants to supplement this information.
Make sure all poisonous household items are securely stored out of reach
Put household cleaners, laundry detergents, bleach, disinfectants,
insecticides, cleaning fluid, fertilizers, mothballs, antifreeze, insect poisons,
rat poisons and other items in cabinets or on high shelves. Read about Home Safety.
Check your plants
Many plants in and around your house can be harmful to your dog.
Did you know that the pits of apricots and peaches,
as well as spinach and tomato vines,
can make your dog sick and, in large dosages, can even be fatal?
Read about Poisonous Plants. For a more complete list of dangerous plants,
consult your veterinarian.
Look at your house from your dog's point of view
Get down on all fours and look around.
Move or remove dangling electric cords, loose nails,
plastic bags or other tempting objects that will be in reach.
Pick up buttons, string, sewing needles, pins and other sharp objects,
and anything small enough to swallow
If your dog swallows any of these objects,
they may cause damage to the mouth and internal organs.
String and other entangling objects, such as curtain pulls,
six-pack holders and the like may cause abrasions or strangulation.
Keep your toilet lid down
Dogs are often tempted to play in or drink toilet bowl water.
This habit can be very hard to break.
It’s unsanitary and toilet cleanser may be harmful if swallowed.
Unplug, remove or cover any electrical cords in your dog’s confinement area
Chewing on these cords can cause severe mouth burns, electrocution and fires.
Close off balconies, upper porches and high decks
Puppies in particular are so little that they can slip through openings and fall.
Buy a book on dog care
Place a handy reference guide on a shelf in your bedroom, den or kitchen.
You never know when you'll need a quick answer.
In the last few days before arrival, give your house a good cleaning
and remove breakable items from areas where your dog will be.
Also, spend some time preparing yourself or your family.
Small children need to know how to act around puppies and dogs.
BECOMING PACK LEADER
There is no equality in dogdom.
You’re either ahead or behind your dog in line and that is decided
by how you interact with your dog.
Being a good leader means being calm, kind and consistent.
Here are a few suggestions:
Teach your dog to control his mouth. If he mouths or nips you,
react with a startling “No biting!”
This will teach him that you are not another puppy and he needs to treat you differently.
Have him ‘sit’ or ‘down’ before you give him anything he wants, from petting to tossing a toy.
When he responds to you before you respond to him, he will start to look to you to set the rules, while at the same time getting in daily training practice.
Practice submission exercises daily.
These include holding him in your arms or on his side
and speaking to him gently until he stops squirming.
When he stops, release him, praise and give him a kibble of food.
Gently handle his ears, mouth and paws so he learns to accept this.
These exercises are easy with most dogs but if your dog really struggles
or gets upset, seek assistance from a qualified dog professional.
Use tone of voice to communicate.
A higher than normal pitch is exciting and playful and perfect for praise.
A normal tone - direct and confident – is your command tone.
A lowered voice your dog hears as a warning, like a growl.
With practice, your puppy can learn to understand your mood through your tone of voice.
When you get home, you and your family should eat in your dog's presence
before setting out the dog food.
Among dogs, the most important dogs always eat first.
Walk through doors first.
Remember: Pack leaders NEVER share their food with other dogs.
If you follow all of the steps above and then give your dog table scraps
and bites of your sandwich you are sending mixed signals to your dog.
If you do these things consistently, you can elevate yourself in your dog’s eyes,
which can make all the difference in training.
FIRST WEEK HOME
When you bring home a new dog or puppy, there will need to be some time for adjustment.
By following these tips, you can lay the foundation for a long and happy life together and make the transition as easy as possible for everyone involved.
Plan Ahead: Make all your purchases ahead of time so you have supplies, food, toys and everything you need ready to go, and have your house ready for your newcomer.
Read about items you need to have and how to prepare your home.
Make Time: The best time to bring your newcomer home is at the beginning of a weekend.
If possible, add a few vacation days. This gives you time to acquaint your dog with its new home and begin housetraining and other training.
Choose a Name: Agree on a name ahead of time and make sure everyone uses it all the time when talking to your dog.
This will help him recognize his name and avoid confusion.
See the Veterinarian: As soon as possible after you acquire your new dog, take your new pet to your veterinarian.
Bring any immunization information you may have received when you acquired your pet to your veterinarian to begin a case history for future reference.
Get Everyone On Board: Once in his new home, remember that your dog is adjusting to strange new surroundings and people.
Children can become especially excited. Explain to them that their new friend needs time out for naps. Show children how to play nicely.
Be a Leader: Simple things like always walking through doors ahead of your dog and eating in your dog’s presence before you feed him make you look like a ‘pack leader.’
This will make it easier for your dog to accept that you (and your family) are in charge.
Feed Your Dog: It is best to bring home the pet food that your new dog has been eating to make the transition to a new home as easy as possible.
New sights, new environment and all the attention can be very stressful. The only familiar thing may be the food he has been eating.
If you plan to switch foods, you can minimize digestive upsets by having enough of the old food available to make the change a gradual one.
Place food in the spot where the food dish will be kept to set a routine. If your dog doesn't seem to be eating, try moistening the food with water to make it easier to eat.
Be Fair: Never hit your dog. Never scold for something your puppy did a while ago. Your puppy will have no idea what the problem is and will think that you are mad for no reason.
Instead, encourage the behavior you want and prevent the ones you do not. It’s a much more productive approach.
Learn more about behavior issues and how to address them.
Get Out: Begin socializing your puppy as sooon as your veterinarian gives the OK. Take him out and gradually introduce him to new people and other dogs in controlled, safe settings.
It is one of the most important things you can do for him. It teaches him to be a good citizen and gives him confidence and social skills.
Make Introductions: Introduce your new pet to resident pets in controlled situations –
if the resident pet is a dog, perhaps on neutral ground where neither will feel the need to defend territory.
Give each pet its own food dish, and give all pets attention to avoid competition.
Do’s and Don’ts
Avoid bringing home a new pet during busy times such as birthdays and holidays.
The noise and confusion may frighten the pet. Family members are generally too busy with the festivities to devote adequate time to help the dog become comfortable in his new home.
Do make sure your entire family knows how to act, and agree on commands and rules. Complete cooperation of all family members is ideal.
When a pet receives mixed signals, it can become confused and not know what to do. Do have fun. Dogs of all ages love a good time.
FIRST VISIT TO THE VETERINARIAN
When should you first take your new dog to the veterinarian? The short answer is, as soon as possible. And it must not end at one visit.
Your puppy will need more veterinary care in the first year of life than at any other time.
Not only are there concerns of immediate importance, there is a lot your veterinarian can do and recommend that will help keep your puppy healthy even when he is all grown up
Ideally, select a veterinarian even before bringing your puppy home. Read more about selecting a veterinarian.
Once your puppy is home, the first meeting of veterinanrian and puppy should happen as soon as possible - ideally within 24 hours.
In addition to a general check up and examination for parasites, you and the veterinarian should work out a specific schedule of visits and vaccinations at that first meeting.
First Three Months
In the first three months of your puppy's life,
your veterinarian will probably want to meet every three or four weeks for vaccinations.
Read more about vaccinations.
How long this schedule continues varies by location,
but going until 16 weeks of age is not unusual.
Three to Six Months
Rabies vaccinations sometimes are regulated by local laws
and often begin between three and six months.
Between four and six months, your puppy should be checked
again for parasites and your veterinarian may recommend heartworm treatment.
Also watch for your puppy's permanent teeth to come in.
Spaying or neutering is recommended between four and six months.
The procedure is simple, and males usually feel pretty good in a day.
Females may take two or three days. This is an important decision.
With the number of unplanned dogs born every year,
having your puppy sterilized is the responsible thing to do.
Six Months to a Year
After six months, the veterinarian visits usually taper off.
There are boosters at about one year, and these will be repeated on a regular basis,
following your veterinarian's recommendation.
In general, it is a good idea for adult dogs to make at least one visit a year
to maintain the healthy start they got as puppies.
Perhaps the most loving,
responsible thing you can do for your pet is to see that
he receives timely health care from a qualified veterinarian.
His life depends on it.
HOUSETRAINING A PUPPY
When you bring a new dog or puppy home,
you should move to establish a routine as soon as possible.
The faster you get things on track, the fewer mistakes you’ll have to clean up.
Although there are different strategies and ways of housetraining a puppy or dog,
the following instructions are a good way to teach your pet to eliminate outdoors.
Housetraining Step By Step
Housetraining can take different amounts of time for different dogs.
But by applying schedules, setting boundaries for where elimination is acceptable,
a verbal command,
praise and crate training, you should see progress over time.
If you do not see progress, consult your veterinarian or a behaviorist.
Establish an elimination spot outside. That takes the guesswork out of the trip.
Ideally, housetraining should be done in conjunction with crate training.
Read about Crate Training.
When you think your dog is due to go to the bathroom,
or if your dog exhibits signs like sniffing an area or
(once better trained) whining or going to the door, clip a leash to his collar and take him to the spot.
Pick a phrase like "Go potty" or "Hurry up," then say it calmly whenever your pup is going.
Praise your puppy after he is finished. Over time, he will come to link those words with those actions and you’ll have a dog who goes on command.
Go inside for food and water. About 15 to 30 minutes later, go back out again.
During the housetraining period, keep your dog in sight.
If he should start to do something in front of you, interrupt him and take him outdoors quickly.
Praise him for completing the job outside.
Through repetition, your dog will learn that there is one place where elimination is appropriate,
and when he needs to go he will alert you.
Maintain a regular feeding, drinking and elimination schedule.
When Your Dog Makes a Mistake
Every dog and puppy will make mistakes when first being housetrained.
Watch these mistakes and see if you can spot a cause.
Mistakes are a sign that your puppy or dog does not know what is acceptable and so you,
as teacher, must find the source of confusion and fix it.
Too much freedom too quickly is the most common error.
If your dog has an accident or two, back up and slow down the training.
Providing a crate that is too big for your dog encourages him to eliminate in one end
and sleep in the other.
Also, if you place food and water in the crate,
he'll fill up on both and be forced to relieve himself.
It does no good to drag him off to the site of a mishap and punish him.
A dog is unable to connect punishment with a past mistake
and will believe you are angry for no reason,
possibly leading to fear and confusion on your dog’s part.
Changing your dog’s diet can cause digestive problems that might result in an accident.
Late night snacks and not enough exercise can also lead to accidents.
Even well-trained dogs may have accidents.
Clean the area with a pet odor neutralizer so your pet won't be tempted to repeat the mistake.
Watch for territorial marking – spraying urine on objects. That's not a housetraining mistake.
Your dog is vying to be leader of the pack - which is your family.
When you see this behavior, step up obedience training.
Don't rule out a bladder infection.
Spaying and neutering can help reduce the risk. Talk to your veterinarian.
Litter Training: A Housetraining Alternative
There are different approaches to housetraining.
An innovative approach involves dog litter, such as Purina® secondnature® brand dog litter.
Using litter, a puppy or dog (up to 35 pounds) can easily be trained to eliminate in one spot indoors,
reducing the need for trips outside in the middle of the night
or messes that are found when you get home from work.
It also is a good option for apartment dwellers.
Training information is available with the purchase of secondnature®.
Visit www.doglitter.com for more information.
LEASH TRAINING A PUPPY
Dogs need to be comfortable walking on a leash.
From a practical standpoint, a leash means control and safety.
But it also means quality time together for you and your dog.
Why To Leash Train
There are many reasons why you want your dog to be
comfortable being on a leash with you on the other end.
It keeps your dog from taking off during a walk.
It allows you to control your dog when excited or agitated.
It’s a tool you can use in other training,
be it potty training, learning to ‘come’ or other lessons.
In many urban areas, leashes are required in public areas.
It allows you to bring your dog with you, whenever you can.
How To Leash Train
The first step is a collar. All dogs need to be comfortable wearing a collar,
so put a nontightening one on as soon as your puppy or dog comes home.
Don’t let your dog’s displeasure dissuade you unless it’s too tight or causing skin issues.
If you leave it on, he’ll get used to it. Be sure to remove all collars if you crate your puppy.
Then:Attach the leash and let your dog drag it around the house under your supervision.
Guide your dog to your designated potty area with the leash during potty training.
If your puppy resists, use a toy or a piece of kibble or two to lure him along.
Make sure to give him slack and praise him warmly when he heads in the right direction.
That more than anything will signal that he made a good choice.
Get your dog used to walking on your left side by simply guiding him there each and every time you go outside together.
Praise and reward him any time he shows up in that position.
Encourage your dog to focus on you when you go for walks by using plenty of encouragement. Give commands and communicate.
Make it fun! Dogs generally love fun.
You’ll also want to start teaching the ‘heel’ command when you start taking walks.
In short, start with your dog on your left, then start walking.
When your dog drifts away or tries to pull away, say, ‘heel’ and turn to the right.
Your dog is now behind you and will run to catch up.
You may need to reel your dog in while giving the command to reinforce its meaning.
Read about Obedience Commands for more on heeling.
This is a behavior many people struggle with. Finding a good local training class can help you learn how to handle your dog and teach him this basic but useful behavior.
Preventative training teaches your dog what not to do in a very simple way:
by not letting it happen!
Principles Of Preventative Training
The idea is simple. If you never leave your dog unsupervised where he can cause trouble,
he will learn which activities are allowed and which are forbidden much more quickly than if he’s allowed to make mistakes.
If your dog is left unsupervised often and does unwanted things, he believes these things are OK because he enjoys doing them and no one is there to say anything different.
You cannot correct a dog after the fact – dogs can’t connect a punishment with something they did hours, minutes or even seconds ago.
Until you catch your dog in the act, the unwanted behavior is reinforced every time he repeats it.
Practicing Preventative Training
First off, plan to spend a lot of time with your dog for the first several weeks
or even months after you bring your dog home.
Make sure you have a crate for your dog.
Confine your dog to the room you're in and litter it generously with chew toys.
If your dog starts heading toward trouble,
distract him with an appropriate toy and praise him when he takes it.
If your dog is already into trouble, interrupt him with a firm ‘No!’ then when the dog stops,
offer a toy and praise him for interest in it.
Or give an obedience command and praise your dog for obeying.
When you can’t be around, keep your dog confined in his crate, a pen or in a small,
(Read about Crate Training for more information)
It’s that simple. And it’s extremely effective because:
It sets you up immediately as pack leader.
It doesn’t allow bad habits to start, so you don’t need to untrain them later.
It quickly builds a strong bond between you and your dog.
Do’s and Don’ts
Do use the right tone of voice to communicate: higher pitched for praise;
matter-of-fact for commands; lower, growling tones to show displeasure.
Don’t hit your dog. Dogs and puppies do not understand being hit or grabbed.
They will only learn they cannot trust you and learn to fear you,
making them even harder to train.
Do praise your dog warmly and often for doing the right thing.
This will help your dog to make the right choices in the future and besides, it’s fun!
Where does your dog prefer to nap? Under a table, desk or coat?
Dogs feel secure in a small, enclosed space.
It is like a den to them.
You can recreate that feel – and develop a healthy training environment – with a crate.
The Principle Behind Crate Training
Dogs like small, enclosed spaces because of the security it offers them.
Crating is not jailing your dog, and the crate should never be used for punishment.
Instead, it draws on your dog’s preference for small spaces and allows you an extra measure of control over your dog.
If you practice preventative training, your dog will spend time in the crate
when you aren’t around to set boundaries.
One benefit of a crate is in potty training.
Dogs try not to go to the bathroom where they sleep.
If you keep your dog in a crate when you’re not together during potty training,
your dog will try to hold it until you let him out and take him outside.
Your job is to keep a reasonable schedule with plenty of chances to play and eliminate.
Choosing a Crate
Choose the right size crate for your dog.
Your dog should have enough room to stand up, turn around and lie down.
Anything bigger and he may eliminate in one end and sleep in the other.
If you have a puppy that will grow into a big dog, you will either need two crates of different sizes
or a crate with a divider that you can move as your puppy grows.
If your dog is past the chewing stage, make the crate comfortable with a blanket and favorite toys.
You want the crate to be a place your dog wants to spend time but you won’t want him to spend his time ripping up bedding.
Some pups never chew bedding, others do.
Never use carpeting or anything in the crate that could be dangerous if swallowed.
Practicing Crate Training
Introduce your dog to the crate in a low-pressure situation,
not when you’re about to leave.
Leave the door open and let your dog explore.
Remove all collars before you crate your puppy.
If your pup is frightened by the noise of a metal crate on a hard floor,
put a towel or mat underneath the crate to muffle noise and prevent slipping.
Toss a treat – ideally a kibble of food – into the crate, then use a simple word like ‘kennel’ to get your dog to enter.
Praise your dog and close the door. Open it after a few moments.
Slowly increase the time your puppy spends in the crate with the door closed.
Don’t open the door because your dog whines. It will only teach him to whine more.
A general rule for determining how long your puppy can be confined is one hour for every month that your puppy is old, plus one hour.
Most three-month old puppies can stay in for four hours.
Do NOT crate your dog for more than eight hours.
It is unfair to leave the dog without a chance to eliminate or exercise any longer than that.
The more confinement your dog has to cope with, the more exercise he needs daily.
Crating is a tool that should never be used to avoid training
exercise and spending time with your best buddy.
Maintain a regular schedule of trips outdoors so he can relieve himself.
And so the reason for the trip is clear, always take your puppy on a leash to the same place.