People bring dogs into their lives for many reasons. Hopefully, the ?to be? owners have researched the breed, the breeders, the sire and dam of the puppy and the puppy itself before adopting the puppy. But this usually has not happened. Each breed has inherent mannerisms, level of energy and needs.
I have prepared this program to better help you educate yourself about what puppies can do and to give you reasonable goals for achieving a socialized, well-mannered puppy. The sooner your puppy is taught correct behavior and manners, the easier it will be for your whole family. If training is left till later, or for only a single member of a household, bad behaviors may be reinforced, and become habit for a puppy. Early gentle training helps prevent bad habits. Additionally, the smaller a pup?s physical size, the easier it is to physically control and guide it.
If you can keep your eyes on your puppy 24 hours a day, 60 minutes an hour until he or she is 3-5 years old, you do not need a crate. But, since most of us need to sleep, shower, work, etc. most of us need a crate for our puppy. A crate is a safe place for your puppy. Crate training your puppy is the first step to housebreaking, keeping your puppy from injury or accident, and establishing your role as leader. Crate trained puppies also stress less when the time comes for travel or hospitalization.
Puppies in crates are always good. Once they are in their crates, they have done a good thing for us, and should only be given encouraging words. When in a crate their activities are limited by what you allow them. The crate is their special place, their bedroom. They may be noisy for a while, but they do not harm your belongings or themselves. You should not trust a child to be unsupervised, and a puppy is a child that moves much faster and has sharper teeth. The puppies I have seen that were electrocuted by chewing on wires, were not in crates. Puppies cannot chew on your belongings, or toxic substances when in a crate.
You may want to have two crates. One crate can be in your bedroom, and one for the main activity room of the house. At night, many puppies will be more secure if they know you are nearby and can hear you breathing. Most puppies spent their first 5-8 weeks sleeping with their mom and littermates. They tend to be more secure if they are not isolated. The crate in the bedroom is also a good place to keep the puppy if you need to accomplish chores around the house, and the pup may quiet down sooner if in a quiet place. On the other hand, during the day, if a crate is available in their activity area, they can enter into it to take their naps or just to chew on a favorite toy.
We recommend that a puppy that is still learning to be housetrained only have enough room to turn around and lay down in the crate. This helps keep the puppy from activity, and reduces the need of the pup to urinate or defecate until allowed out of the crate. Pups also desire to be kept clean, so they are less likely to soil an area they are unable to move from. Since you may want to purchase a crate to fit your adult dog, the crate can be modified temporarily to allow the pup in only the front part of the crate. You can try placing a firm cardboard box to fill the back of the crate, or develop a divider.
My pup?s crate is in my bedroom. It is a ?Furrari? brand airline type crate. These crates are more enclosed than the wire crates. By the time she was 8 ? weeks old, she would sleep, or be quiet until I got up in the morning. She did not seem to want any pads or blankets in with her. She would vigorously dig/push them aside and sleep on the plastic bottom.
I have a ?lixit? bottle of water for my pup in case she gets thirsty. I feed her in her crate.
If your pup will not quiet in the crate, or she needs to be safe for a longer period of time, try one or more Kong toys. These are lifesavers. Try giving a freshly filled one, and a frozen one that would take longer to empty.
Just like you would insure an infant was in a safe place such as a crib or playpen before you do other chores or take care of your needs, you should crate the puppy any time you cannot be immediately supervising him. It is okay to crate the puppy while you are home so that you can do your chores, care for your family or just take a needed break.
Read the article on In Praise Of Crates. It gives some alternative information. Use whichever method works for you.
Ideally if your pup is not in the crate, he should be allowed freedom in only one room of your house until he has learned to give you a clear signal that he needs to urinate or defecate. This room should have the door you will go through to take your pup out to urinate or defecate. We recommend you use baby gates to block off access to any other rooms. Further, I have found that you cannot expect a child that is less than 18 years old to watch or be responsible for a puppy for you. Even if you purchased the pet for the child, it is really your pet and your responsibility 24 hours a day.
Substrates: Pets develop substrate preferences. Teach them to go on the substrate that you want them always to use. I recommend you teach them to use grass. Grass is readily available in most places. You may elect to teach them to use only a certain area of your lawn. Redwood bark, or other substrates may not always be available.
I recommend against ?paper training? your pup, unless you never expect your puppy to be house trained. Most of the people that I have known that started ?paper training? first have had significantly more difficulty in eventually successfully housetraining their dog. Paper training, then switching to training the pet to go outside is very confusing. If you teach them to use paper, they will always favor paper.
Codeword: Have a command that all family members will use. Examples are ?Go Potty?, ?Hurry Up?, ?Do Your Business? or any phrase that works for you. Use this command every time you want your pup to urinate or defecate. This phrase will help stimulate the activity.
Timing: Your pup should be taken outside after every nap, every dinner, and frequently in between.
How: Hang the housetraining bells on a doorknob, so the bells are at nose level for the pup. Use the same door every time you want your pup to urinate or defecate. Jingle the housetraining bells as you go out. Go outside with your pup. Give the codeword, and then stand out on the lawn with your pup. You must go all the way outside with the pup. If you are not willing to go out, your puppy will not be willing to go out. Do not play with the pup until after the job is done. I have found that if you play with the pup, you have done two things to make housebreaking harder; one, is the line of activity is broken. The signal, bell, codeword, duty then praise should be all in one sequence and should stimulate urination and/or defecation. If there is a play session, it leads to confusion. Two, if the pup likes to play outside, then the play session is usually ended when he does his duty. He may purposely suppress this activity to allow for more play.
If after about 3-5 minutes the pup has not gotten serious about the chore, bring him or her back inside. Keep a close eye on the pet for the next 10-15 minutes. Any sniffing activity may indicate the need to go.
When your pet does urinate or defecate outside, give enormous amounts of praise and a treat. After the duty is done, if the pup wants to play outside for a few minutes, allow this as part of the reward.
After 3-4 days of jingling the housetraining bells, show your pup how to jingle the bells. Some pups will catch on to the bell on the first day. Others may never accomplish this. But the bells have worked for many a pup so far. If your pup does not use the bell, you must learn what his signal is. It may be a sniff or two, or it may be circling, or just turning his head to point to the exit briefly. Some pups will change their posture, or change how they are holding their tail. Sometimes you may see the anus open and close a bit. Once you learn the signal and you are attentive enough to spot the signal, your pet will be on the way to being housebroken. If your pet has not had any ?accidents? for 1 week, you may allow freedom to an additional room. Each week, your pup may have greater freedom if not making ?mistakes?.
My feelings about if your pup makes a ?mistake?, are it probably was not the pup?s fault. You just did not see the signal. You may have been preoccupied and your eyes were not glued to the pup, or you did not interpret the signal. If you find a mistake, it was your mistake, because you were not watching the puppy. You wouldn?t punish a baby for soiling the diaper would you? Do not even attract any attention to the mistake. Clean up the mess when your puppy cannot even see you. If you attract attention to the mistake it can work against you in two ways. One, it can make the puppy anxious about urinating and defecating, thereby making it harder to ?learn? control over these functions. Two, some puppies love attention, even punishment. Cleaning up the mess, or attracting attention to it may make another mistake more likely.
If you cannot be watching the puppy, the puppy should be crated. In general, puppies that are raised in a house with children, take longer to housebreak. This is no mystery, the children require supervision and create distractions, and we cannot concentrate on the puppy.
Touching your puppy.
Touching your puppy helps develop trust and establish a leadership role in your relationship with the puppy. A well-balanced pup will readily allow itself to be touched by its owners and any individual the owner has given the okay to. Pups that are either asserting dominance, or are fearful may resist being touched. A potentially dominant acting pup may tense up; growl or even bite if it feels it can be in charge of the relationship. A fearful pup may urinate, whine, pull back or even bite when it is pushed beyond its limits of comfort. One of the reasons for the touching exercises is to help you recognize behavior issues with your pup. Another is to desensitize the pup for examination.
It may be hard to imagine that your puppy will ever need specific care. But, there will be times when your pup will need to be examined and treated. Pups that have learned to trust people enough to allow themselves to be touched will be less stressed. These pups will be easier to handle. I believe these pups will feel less pain. I believe the pups that anticipate pain actually feel it, even if no truly painful procedures are performed. New situations can be very stressful to pups. But a pup that has learned to trust will be more relaxed. A pup that is use to being touched will be more relaxed when it comes time to be examined. Pups that have not learned to trust may even need sedatives just to have minor procedures, such as examinations, vaccines or grooming completed.
Initial sessions should be touching your puppy in petting and holding actions. You should touch the ears, face, inner lips, legs and feet, even the spaces between your pup?s toes. Put your fingers at his ears, and touch the underside and as much of the ear canal as you can softly touch. Every member of your family should do this daily until it seems normal to your pup. This exercise should be repeated regularly weekly. You should hold your puppy on his back until there is no struggle when such position is requested. He should, of course, be held in a secure position in your arms or on the floor or on a secure and soft surface and not have any sense of falling. If your pup resists just a little, perform these tasks until there is no resistance to your handling. If the pup resists much, you may need to gradually condition your pup to these touches. Work on these gentle exercises for 1-2 minutes multiple times a day until the pup accepts it. The pup that resists, is the pup that needs the training the most. With these pups, work only until your pup resists slightly, then end the session before you or the pup becomes stressed. I recommend strongly against forcing the pup. Many times, working with the pup when he is sleepy is a good time to deal with a resistant pup.
I recommend that pups of all breeds and sizes go through this training. It bonds the pup to the family members. It gives the pup a confidence to stand on his own. It develops his mind and a mutual communication between himself and family members. Pups have a natural desire to perform for people they respect. You must learn how to train your pup for him to respect you. Pups that go through this training will sleep more peacefully during rest periods, and be calmer when awake. They will be a positive addition to the family.
If you do not train your pup, who will? If you do not train your kids, who will? Sure you can send your dog off to a boarding school, but do not expect the training to carry over to when the pup is at home. The pup will perform for individuals he respects. The pup learns fast, we learn slowly. That is why an animal trainer can take just about any pet and within minutes the pet will be performing well. The trainer has learned how to handle the pet. The pet recognizes this and respects the trainers. I do not believe in the schools that take pets for several weeks to ?train? them for basic obedience. I think these schools are rip-offs for basic obedience. I have seen plenty of pets go through these sessions, and within a week to a month, are back to their old habits, because they are in their old environment, with their untrained owners.
The puppy should have a collar. I recommend a small web collar. The first sessions are with him wearing the collar and getting use to it. Remove the collar after the puppy quits resisting it. Once the collar is no longer an issue, the collar can be left on. A lead may be left on the collar, but be sure is it sprayed with ?Bandgard? (for sale here) or a bitter apple or lime spray. If bitter apple or lime is selected, read the instructions! You should initially spray some in the pup?s mouth to sensitize him to the taste.
Plan for multiple short sessions daily. These sessions should be fun for you and the pup. If you are getting stressed, the session ends. If the pet is distracted, either the session is too long, or you are not making it exciting enough. Pups are excited about your praise. Do not hold back on giving praise. Play or fun grooming and general happiness should follow each training session.
Treats are very important. Love and a happy voice are the best treats. Each pup will respond differently to various treats. Treats should be small and easy to carry. Bits of dog biscuits, dehydrated liver, pieces of carrot, pieces of cat food or cat treats are usually highly desirable to puppies. Do not use cat food if you also have a cat. You should initially give a treat for every good deed your pup does. However, as training advances, treats are given less often for the basics and more often for the advanced deeds.
Commands should be preceded by the pup?s name. Say the pup?s name in a happy, way, so as to attract his attention. Commands should be spoken with an ?authoritative? voice. Lower the tone of your voice for the command (Women should try to sound like a man). Speak loudly and slowly enough for the pup to hear and understand that a command has been given. Do not yell at the pup. Only give commands when you are prepared to help the pup complete the deed. By this, I mean you are close enough and in position to the pup to help him into the position you are requesting. Give the command only once. Do not repeat the command word more than once per exercise. Once the command word is given, immediately begin to assist the pup into the position you requested or help him to perform the task. If you feel the need to repeat the command, think about why. Are you training the dog, or trying to rule over him or show him off?
You need a release word. This is a word that your pup should listen for to allow him to once again move about on his own. He should otherwise continue to do what you commanded until released. ?Release? is a good word for this. ?Okay? can be used, but is not recommended due to the number of times we use this term in every day life, and frequently as praise. At first, you should release your pup immediately after he has performed your command and when giving the reward. You may also have a release signal. My release signal is to have both elbows down, but hands up, so as to allow me to clap for my pup.
Your pup will learn faster than you can. He will learn both verbal and physical signals for commands. If you and your family members are consistent with your training techniques, your pup will master each step in a matter of several lessons. Your pup has a very limited attention span. Initially, less than 1 minute, to eventually 15 to 30 minute periods of time by the time they are 6 months old. Pups learn with repetition and consistency. Every member of the family greater than 7 or 8 should try to participate in the training. Some younger children will also be capable, and some children that are older will not be able. You must decide which children are capable of helping to train the pup. Children should be supervised in their handling/training of pups. If there is a family member that does not ?take? naturally to the pet and does not want to participate, that person must be excused from these sessions, until such a time that they might really want to, and are committed to helping the pup learn.
Lastly, realize that it is easier for a pup to concentrate when in familiar surroundings. The more excitement there is about, the harder it is to concentrate. Start training at home, but realize that you will need to also practice in a variety of settings if you want your pup to be able to perform in a variety of settings. If you wish to practice at various locations, your pup may have an easier time if allowed to explore the area or become comfortable in an area before starting a training session.
8-10 weeks of age
Recommend 1-3 minute sessions, 6-12 times daily at home only. Keep it fun and exciting.
Stand facing your puppy with a small treat in your right hand. Initially, hold your right hand in front of your body, centered at about the waist. Say the pup?s name and then ?SIT? loudly and slowly enough for the pup to hear and understand that a command has been given. Give the command only once. Do not repeat the command word. Once you have said, ?SIT?, bring the treat to your pups nose and raise the treat up and slightly over his head somewhat toward his rump. His nose should rise up, which should naturally help him into a sitting position. If he does not naturally sit immediately begin to assist the pup into the sit position by using your left hand to prevent him from moving backward and by guiding his rump down. If he does not naturally assume a sitting position from this movement immediately apply a small amount of pressure over the pup?s rear. Other pressure points which work in putting your dog into the sit position is a forward pressure or a scooping motion behind the knees, or light pressure/pinching at the flank/lumbar area. Once he is in the sit position give the release command, give the reward and use a very happy voice and praise him. If the treat is released to the pup slowly over a few seconds, then the pup may naturally hold his position, which is to your advantage, and helps teach concentration.
Teaching SIT, STAY
Soon after your pup knows what you mean when you command ?SIT? you may start to prevent him for taking the treat immediately, and command him to ?STAY?. Command him into the sit position, and immediately take hold of his collar with your left hand to prevent him from moving forward. Hold the food treat in your right hand, so he knows where it is but cannot take it, but with your palm mostly open, and move your hand backwards (away from him) a few inches and for a few seconds. Then take the treat back to him, give the release command and tell him how wonderful he is.
You will eventually increase the time he holds the position, and the distance the treat and you move away from him. Remember, though, as you increase the time before treating, that pups need to develop the ability to concentrate, so increase times by only a few seconds after each previously successful episode. If you wait too long before giving the treat, the pup forgets he is performing for you. When your pup is holding the stay, try to start to stand up straight, with your right hand holding the treat in front of your waist. Your pup should learn that when you are holding your hand at your waist, which is the visual signal for him to sit.
Puppies seem to naturally want to come to us. However, we have a tendancy to do things that make them not want to come to us. We may have scolded them. We may have picked them up and held them too much. We may have taken items away from them that they wanted to chew on. So?remember when calling your pup to come you must make it worth his while (exude happiness).
Be sure the come command is only used when you are happy with your puppy and have lots of praise and love to give. It is never used when the pup will be scolded in any way. Do not use the come command unless you are physically capable of easily ?catching? the pup.
Hold a treat with your right hand centered in front of your waist; in the same way you hold the treat for the pup to sit in front of you (because that is what you want the pup to do). To start, have the lead on the pup with a collar that will not slip off over his head, and have a hold on the lead. When the pup is just a few feet away, say his name to get his attention and then say the ?come? command. This should always be done in a voice that shows you want to be close to the best dog in the world. You must make yourself the most interesting/exciting/wonderful thing in his world at that second. The lead should be tugged a little if needed, and you should step several steps backward to encourage the pup to come. As the pup begins coming toward you, you may run backward while repeating the come command only once or twice and the pup?s chasing instincts will kick in and he will have a blast following your command. Once you have gone far enough and the pup is at your feet assist him into a sitting position facing you, then give the release command, a treat and praise. The lead may be passed to different members of the training group, which in turn call the pup and assist the pup into the sitting position. Pups love this. All his favorite people are calling him and paying attention to him. And they give treats, too. Eventually the distance of the lead is lengthened. It is recommended at this point you only do the come command when the lead is on and you have access to it. Be sure to end the training session after only 1-3 minutes. Be sure to play with the pup after the training session.
Goals for 10 weeks old are:
- To have the puppy sit in front of the owner on voice command and hold the position for 10 seconds.
- To have the puppy come from a 4-foot distance and sit in front of the owner.
- To allow the owner to lift the lips and touch the teeth and gums.
- To allow the owner to touch the ears, including visible ear canal area.
- To allow the owner to hold the puppy cradled in an up-side-down position.
10 - 12 weeks of age
Once 10 weeks old I recommend 2-5 minute sessions, 6-12 times daily.
?Sit/Stay?. -- The pup is already able to sit in front of you and stay without moving for 10 seconds. Now, after you give the sit command, you also give the stay command. Now you will start to increase the amount of time the pup is staying and the distance between you and the pup. The key is a little improvement (10-20 more seconds or 1-2 more feet away) with each training session. Remember, if your pup in a ?stay? command, he should be learning that the exercise is not over until you have returned to him. Never use the ?come? command if the pup is in a sit or down stay.
?Down?. ? First command the pup into a sitting position. The treat is in your right hand centered at your waist. The pup should be watching you (or the treat), say the down command ?Down? and immediatedly quickly raise your right hand straight up to about your shoulder level, then quickly lower your hand and the treat, passing by his nose toward the ground and somewhat toward his chest. Most pups will naturally go into the down position. Remember do not repeat the command. If needed assist your pup into this position by gently pulling/sliding his fore feet forward. It may help to train on a slick surface, or to have an assistant also place slight downward pressure over the pup?s shoulders. This places the pup in a ?sternal? position. Alternatively, once in the sit position, lift and gently pull one fore leg in a forward motion, and place gentle but firm pressure on the other shoulder. This places the pup in a ?lateral? position. Just to reiterate one point, any pressures you apply, should be firm, but gentle. If you are rough or otherwise not careful, you should stop the exercise until you are calm and have more patience in a few hours. Never use force. Give the treat once the pup is in the correct position, or as close to that position as possible during that session. The pup should eventually learn that when you are raising your right hand upwards from waist level that action is the hand signal.
?Down/Stay?. -- Pups that need to hold a stay for longer than a minute or two should be on the down/stay, not the sit/stay. Basically, this is a modified procedure for the Sit/Stay.
More Touching exercises. ? You should continue your touching and holding exercises. While you are doing the touching, you should be encouraging the pup to sit quietly.
Remember to have a great play session after any training/desensitization exercises.
Goals for 12 weeks old are:
1) To have the sit/stay for 1 minute with the owner in front of the pup.
2) To assume the sit and down positions on voice command.
3) To have the down/stay for 30 seconds with the owner 4-6 feet away.
4) To come from a distance of 10 feet, and sit in front of the owner.
5) To allow the owner to lift the lips and touch the teeth and gums.
6) To allow the owner to touch the ears, including visible ear canal area.
7) To all the owner to hold each foot and touch the nails with a dremel.
12-14 weeks of age
Once 12 weeks old I recommend some sessions be lengthened to 3-6 minutes 3 times daily.
Other shorter sessions can also be completed 3-4 times daily. These should be worked into your routine.
No new exercises are required, now you want to concentrate on having the pup hold his commands for a longer period of time. You?ll want to continue the touching exercises, particularly continueing with desensitizing with the dremel to file the nails down. You should also spend time grooming your pet. The coat should be brushed if needed. The pup should allow facial folds to be gently wiped with a Q-Tip. The pup should not fuss when any eye discharge needs to be wiped away.
Now that your pup is proficient at assuming the sit command, you should teach your pup to sit when approached by people. This simple act prevents pups from jumping up onto people, unless specifically prompted to do so.
Have your pup sit every time before he is allowed to go through a doorway. He should allow you to clean his feet if needed, and wait for you to pass through the doorway first, and/or wait for the okay to pass through. Remember to have a great play session after any training/desensitization exercises.
Goals for 14 weeks old are:
1) To maintain the down/stay for 2 minutes with the owner 10 feet away.
2) To come from a distance of 15 feet, and sit in front of the owner.
3) To have pup sit down and wait to pass through a door until given the verbal okay.
4) To have the pup not put his paws on people, nor jump up.
5) To be 100 % housebroken.
6) To be crate trained fully and not bark and whine when crated.
7) To allow the nails to be dremeled without significant fussing.
8) To allow any required grooming required for the breed (or apparent breed/mix).
14 - 16 weeks of age
Once the pup is 14 weeks old I recommend 6 to 8 minute sessions 3 times a day.
Again, other shorter sessions can be added 3-4 times daily.
Goals for 16 weeks old are:
1) To maintain the down/stay for 2 minutes with the owner 10 feet away, moving in and out of site.
2) To come from a distance of 15 feet, and sit in front of the owner.
3) To have pup sit down and wait to pass through a door until given the verbal okay.
4) To have the pup not put his paws on people, nor jump up unless specifically prompted.
16 weeks of age
Once 16 weeks old, I recommend some sessions lengthened to 10-12 minutes 3 times a day.
Recommend other shorter session 3-4 times a day.
At this stage, your pup should be enrolled in, or completing obedience classes. These classes will reinforce the above training, plus teach you leash skills. You should find, that this class is extremely easy if you have followed our recommended program.
Goals for 16 weeks old are:
1) To down/stay for 2 minutes with the owner out of site.
2) To come from a distance of 20 feet, and sit in front of owner.
3) Be enrolled in, or completing a basic obedience class.