Thursday, June 23, 2011

Puppy Training Tips

This could also be titled, “How to Turn Your Puppy Into a Great Dog in Two Million Difficult and Time-Consuming Steps”. LOL Great title, huh???

I won’t lie to you there is no easy quick way to train a puppy. In fact, I am fairly sure that my three boys were never as much work as one little puppy!

But here are some of my favorite “tricks” for raising a puppy and keeping your sanity: REMEMBER! YOU’RE THE BOSS!!!

1. Never let your puppy out of your sight! This one is a tough one but if you don’t want your new shoes chewed to bits or your carpets soaked with pee, you’d better do it! :o) This way you can also watch for signs that puppy needs to go out. If puppy starts sniffing about, it’s a pretty good sign that it’s time to go out.

2.  Don’t let your puppy chew on things! Back to your new shoes. If you don’t want them chewed to bits or don’t like to be the favorite chew toy yourself, always have something on hand to stand in your place. If puppy decides to chew on some forbidden item, be right there with a toy to stick in his mouth instead. It may take about a billion times, but it will work eventually. If puppy insists that you make a better teething ring, try holding puppy’s mouth shut and then offering the toy. Be sure to have lots of interesting toys for puppy to choose from! Right now our puppy’s personal favorite toy is a bowling ball! :o)

puppy training 02 3. Routine! Puppies like to have a routine schedule. If at all possible make wake-up, meals, snacks, walks and bedtime all on a schedule. Puppy will know what to expect and will learn it quickly!

Routine also helps for house training. If you always take puppy out after meals, when getting up from naps or after playing hard, he will learn to wait until then. Taking them to the same place every time also helps teach the puppy what to do when he has to go off-schedule.

4. Food! A well-fed puppy is a happy puppy! Food is also a phenomenal training tool! Always have a pocket full of treats (aka dog food) to use to reinforce positive behavior. You would be surprised how fast your puppy learns to do what you want when there is food involved! Always reward with praise and love, too! Then you can begin rewarding with food or praise interchangeably. Before long puppy will obey just to receive your praise!

Another great tip we learned was to avoid food aggression (our first dog had this issue as a puppy) Only let puppy eat food when you say “ok”. Make puppy sit until the food is on the floor and you give the ok to eat. You may need to hold puppy back at first and then release at your command, but they do learn what to do. The second tip is to take their food away while they are eating, make them sit, put the food down and make them wait until !you give the ok. This tip worked great! We had everyone in the family take turns doing this and the food issues disappeared! Don’t forget the love and praise when puppy does it right!

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5. The Rope Trick! Our first puppy was quite a handful! In fact she was such a handful that we finally sought professional help. It was worth every penny! But the best advice she gave us was to buy 6 feet of soft cotton rope and a connector. Puppy should wear this extra “tail” whenever not in the crate. If you do it from day one, they hardly even notice it is there. Sometimes it even acts as an instant toy when necessary… LOL But its real purpose is instant obedience! If you call puppy and puppy decides it is more fun to run away from you, you have a way to stop puppy fast! You can use it to encourage puppy to come when you call, keep him out of dangerous or unwanted situations, whatever…  They will get it tangled up but it’s usually an easy fix!

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6. The Crate! A crate is a worthwhile investment for you and your puppy. It is your puppy’s own little den. Get a crate that is larger than your puppy so that there is plenty of room to move around in. We got one that would be large enough for our dogs when they were full grown.

Puppy can sleep in the crate (be sure to include a warm blanket and a few toys). After only two weeks, both our puppies walk into their crate at bedtime all on their own! Just say “crate” when you put them in with their toys, unhook their rope and they’re ready for bed!

Crates can also be a safe place to keep puppy when you have to go out or need to be where you can’t watch them all the time (like the shower). Just don’t keep them in too long and don’t forget the toys!

We have also found the crate to be a good place for a “time out”. Sometimes puppies and their families need them to have some time out. Neither of our dogs were ever confused about the crate or refused to go in when we were leaving or going to sleep. Puppies know when they are going in for time out versus another use. Time outs don’t include toys and we usually say “time out” when putting them in. We also do not leave them in more than 15 minutes for a time out.

We also use the crate for traveling in the back of our van.

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7. Puppies Don’t Like to Be Ignored! Like naughty toddlers, who only want to throw a fit if you’re in the room, puppies don’t like to be ignored. Our trainer gave us this hint. If puppy is doing something you don’t want them to do. Ignore them. Stand up and turn your back to them! You may become dizzy from turning away from them so many times but they will eventually give up. This trick works well for young children.

8. A Tired Puppy is a Good Puppy! Wear your puppy out! Play with him, take him on walks, give him a bath when he needs one, make him follow you around the house, anything to keep him active.

puppy training 04puppy training 10One of our favorite games is called “Come, Sit, Stay”! This is best played in a large area but can be played just about anywhere. Play with two or more people. One person tells puppy to sit and treats (and praises) when they do. Another person calls the puppy and treats them when they come and sit on command. The first person (or another person) then calls the puppy to them and the process repeats. If the puppy has to run in between callers, it is even more fun! Puppies love to run! Eventually you can add “stay” to the list of commands before giving the treat. Puppy will probably take a good nap after a rousing game of “Come, Sit, Stay” but be sure to take them potty before they fall asleep! :o)

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9. Love and Patience and Persistence! Don’t give up and don’t give in! Your puppy is stubborn and you have to be more stubborn. Be consistent. Decide what rules and boundaries you are going to set up and stick with them! Don’t decide they can be on the couch one day but not the next. Don’t let them sleep in your bed the first three weeks so you can sleep unless you are willing to do it forever or fight quite the battle to get them to quit! Be strong and stand your ground!

But above all just love your puppy and be patient! All of this work will pay off in the end!

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