SIGNATURE DOG TRAINING HELP
SIGNATURE DOG AND PUPPY TRAINING:
Pricing: $55 for one hour (minimum)
Signature Pet Services specializes in training and consultation for any of the following services:
How to pick the right purebred breed of dog for you and your lifestyle, preparing your home for a new dog or puppy, finding the right dog breeder for you, accompanying you to meet your new dog breeder (if local), puppy potty training, puppy crate training, basic obedience for puppies and dogs, and leash training.
I have dedicated this web page to all the new dog and puppy owners out there who need education, information and help with their new dog or puppy. Every so often, I will have a new training tip, book recommendation or helpful information to assist with your new dog or puppy - look for this on my News and Specials web page. In the spirit of things new, I thought it best to start out with some basic obedience training for puppies. Puppies, everyone loves them I know, they are adorable, cute and funny. However, they can quickly become frustrating, destructive and large. You may soon ask yourself "what have I gotten myself into?".
Before you become frustrated and even upset with your new puppy, it is a good idea to get some helpful tools in (what I like to call) the puppy toolbox. The puppy toolbox should consist of things to help you manage your puppy, your stress and of course ensure your puppy grows into a wonderfully well balanced, well trained and well socialized adult dog. Some of the things in your puppy toolbox should be basic dog obedience training, puppy potty training, puppy crate training, one or two good books on canine behaviour, and an appropriate chew toy or two. And, the puppy toolbox will further develop from there. It is very important to get off to the right start before you bring your new dog or puppy home but if you have not prepared for your puppy's arrival, there is no time like the present to get started. Training your new dog or puppy will save your floors, doors, furniture, heirlooms and your sanity. It is also important to note that many young dogs are often abandoned, abused and taken to shelters and surrendered (where they are often euthanized due to overcrowding in the shelter system) after they have grown out of their cute puppy stage and have headed down the road as an adolescent dog who is untrained, under socialized and out of control. You know who they are - your neighbour has one - your co-worker has one. In fact, you may even have one!
BEFORE YOU PURCHASE YOUR PUREBRED PUPPY
Once you have done your research (which may include speaking to your veterinarian, reading books, talking to dog owners and trainers, doing Internet searches and talking to experts on the breed) on what purebred dog breed is most suitable for your lifestyle, pocketbook, family, travel plans, and career demands - it is time to find a breeder who will sell you a puppy. If the breeder is good - expect to be put through a series of interviews, visits and reference checks and you will have to wait for a puppy because a good breeder does not churn out puppies every year. And, be prepared for a wait list and to provide a deposit. It is a good thing to have to wait as it will give you time to prepare and purchase all the items you need to get started with your puppy, including finding a pet services professional to assist with training your new puppy.
Here are the cold hard facts - there are not alot of good breeders out there - so be prepared to do your homework not only on the breed of dog you want but also who to purchase your new puppy from. Please stay away from pet stores that sell puppies (already banned in some cities) puppies sold over the Internet, puppy mills and 'back-yard' breeders. If you do not heed this advice, you will be heartbroken at the very least but more likely heartbroken and financially broken with a puppy that has nothing but problems, medical, physical and psychological. And, your new puppy may not even make it to adolescence.
Some experts say one of the best ways to find a breeder is at a dog show. While this is one way - the way I recommend is to (once you have determined the breed for you and your family) contact the local Club chapter of the breed. For example, if you are interested in a Great Dane puppy then you should head to the Western Great Dane Club of BC's web site for information on how to contact a breeder of these dogs. You can contact any of the officers of the Club and they should be more than happy to talk to you about their breed and will be able to put you in touch with a list of breeders who you can contact. These breeders can also be found at a dog show but a list may help you narrow it down and you may even be able to get a personal reference on a breeder (although not guaranteed). Hopefully, as part of your breed research you have already done this but if not it is never too late to educate yourself. You can also stop someone while they are walking their dog (people stop me all the time and ask me about my dog) and ask them about the breed and their own breeder. This is an excellent way to get candid information about both the breed and the breeder and people love to brag about their dogs.
When you first speak to your potential breeder you can expect her be a little cold - keep in mind that she probably speaks to a great deal of people looking for a puppy and not all of them have genuine intentions. So consider the initial contact you make with your potential breeder as part of their screening process. Have your ducks in a row and your questions on paper so you do not waste her time and yours. By the time you contact a breeder you should already know a great deal about the breed and you are looking for expert insider information, clarification on health issues and faults of the breed and the chance to be invited to the breeder's home to meet her dogs. Usually, you will meet the dam (mother or potential mother) of your puppy. I can remember back when I met my first breeder and her Dobermans - it was a life changing experience one that I will never forget. While she was testing me to see how I was with her three Dobermans - I was in total awe of this breed that was and still is second to none in my eyes. So when you first speak to the breeder, I recommend not starting off with "When will you have a puppy and how much?" but tell the breeder you are interested in a puppy and you would like to know her process for you to obtain a puppy, i.e.: is there a wait list, does she have any pet quality puppies now that are not spoken for (unless you are interested in showing), how much she may charge, how does the deposit work, does she have a sales contract, what is her return policy, does she socialize the puppies, how old are the puppies when she releases them, what shots do they have, does she offer telephone or email assistance after you take one of her puppies home, etc. You should have already discovered the breed problems through your research and she will be able to elaborate in a way that explains the risk of these problems. Every purebred has them - so beware of a breeder who says otherwise.
The information I have provided here is only a very small piece of the purchasing a new purebred puppy pie - but it will be enough to get you started in the right direction. You have alot of work to do in order to get the best breeder and the best possible purebred puppy. There is lots of information on my web site that will may you as well.
BASIC OBEDIENCE TRAINING FOR YOUR PUPPY
You may begin basic obedience training with your puppy when she is between the ages of eight to twelve weeks. Early training will help with your puppy's learning of boundaries and what is acceptable puppy behaviour, socializing, and understanding and learning to accept your leadership.
To be successful at training your puppy - it is most important to remember two things. Always use accurate training methods and never ever use force with your puppy. Puppies simply cannot learn well when they are being forced (and frightened). Besides, if you are too forceful with your puppy you may have a hard time building a bond with her. I suggest with puppies that you use as much positive reinforcement in your training as possible. Think motivation not force.
The very best motivation for puppies is food (and eventually, also a toy, cuddles and attention). In my experience, I have found that in working with young puppies, that all they needed for motivation was their own kibble. I would recommend training your puppy before her dinner when she is hungrier than usual and give her kibble as a reward. A word of caution - if you start with too rich of training treats for your puppy you may find her stomach is upset and she does not feel well. That is why her own kibble works best.
Every time you ask your puppy to do something and she completes the task or demonstrates the desired behaviour you can give her a piece of her kibble. Once she seems to be getting the hang of it, then only reward when she does the task or behaviour when you consider it to be very well performed. Half efforts and half performances should not be rewarded. Once she is doing what you want her to do, you only then need to reward randomly. This method provides for the longest retention of learning for your puppy.
Puppy Training Tips to Remember
1. Be in a good mood before you start working with your puppy. Don't come home from work after a frustrating commute and work with your puppy - de-stress first.
2. Keep your tone upbeat and encouraging at all times. If you become frustrated, call it a day, say the word "break" (see below) to end the training session. And, reward yourself for taking the time to train your puppy.
3. Always be patient and consistent.
4. Indoor training is easier as there are less distractions - so start there and head outdoors when you and your puppy are ready.
5. This is almost never mentioned but take care of puppy potty break issues before you start working with your puppy.
Remember not to overwhelm her - just do a few of these exercises to start with as she will become bored and you will become frustrated. When you are finished each training session make sure you say the word "break". As this word will signal the end of her training session. You can reward her with kisses, fun and and cuddles. Ultimately, you the owner of the puppy provide yourself as the best reward.
Teach Puppy to Come
To teach your puppy to come all you need to get started is some of your puppy's kibble. Just hold a piece of it in front of her nose by lengthening your arm towards her. Then call her name. As puppy is coming towards you pull your hand to your chest and say come (with gusto). This method of teaching puppy to come is both verbal and physical and eventually you will just need to use the hand signal and she will come running (provided she can see you). Once she reaches you, give her the kibble as a reward. Repeat the process.
Teach Puppy to Sit
To teach your puppy to sit have her in the standing position. Hold a piece of her kibble in front of her nose. Begin to move the kibble slowly over her head. Soon her nose will go towards the ceiling and her bottom will touch the floor. Just as she is sitting say the word "sit" and give her some kibble. If your puppy begins to jump for the kibble instead of sitting this is because you are holding the kibble too high. Some trainers say that you can just sweep your hand in an upward motion and puppy will sit. This is not always my experience so I would suggest just focusing on getting your puppy to sit with kibble for now. Once you and her have mastered the sit you can then begin adding the hand signal (if you want - but this is really not necessary). Be careful not to say "sit down" as this will confuse your puppy. Also, try to only use the "sit" command once otherwise you will train her to only comply with your sit command only when you use it multiple times.
Teach Puppy to Lie Down
To teach your puppy to lie down it is best to have her in a sit position. By now you have the holding kibble technique down pat so all you need to do now is hold the kibble in front of puppy's nose and sweep your hand and kibble to the floor directly in front of her front paws. As soon as your puppy slides into the down position say the word "down" and give her the kibble. Be patient with your puppy during the training of the down as she may not get it the first couple of tries. But, once she has mastered this command she will begin to do it with only your sweeping hand signal. Again, try to only use the "down" command once otherwise you will train her to only comply with your down command only when you use it multiple times.
Teach Puppy to Stay AKA the Long Down or Sit Stay
This is the very best obedience command you can teach your puppy, while she may not get it while she is still a young puppy - she will in the early years to come. With a little practice that is.
To teach your puppy to stay in the sit position for a longer period of time (known as the sit stay) you should begin with her in the sit position. As soon as your puppy is sitting, make eye contact, extend your hand 'in the stop position" and firmly say the word "stay" and back up a couple of steps to start with. Count to three and return to your puppy and calmly reward her with a treat. Repeat the command - soon backing up more steps and asking her to stay for longer periods, say up to 10 seconds. Eventually, once your puppy is a little older, you should be able to have her sit for up to three minutes.
This method also words for the Long Down. The only difference is that you begin with your puppy after you have asked her to lie down and she is in that position.
IMPORTANT TRAINING & SOCIALIZATION FOR YOUR PUPPY
Crate Training for Puppies
Why crate training you ask? Why not I say. Do you not want your beautiful young pup to start her new life out on the right paw? The benefits of 'proper' crate training for your puppy are enormous. Let me give you just a few of the benefits.
Benefits of crate training for your puppy are as follows: safety and security for your puppy, accurate potty training, prevents damage to your home and costly repairs, will make your puppy a great traveler. And, you and your new puppy will bond faster as you will become less frustrated with her and less likely to discipline her out of frustration.
1. Head to your favourite pet supply store and purchase a crate. Make sure you are happy with the return policy (in case you do not like the crate) and you find a sales person who knows what they are doing. In sizing a crate, a dog must be able to stand up and turn around. There are three types of crates: the metal crate, the plastic crate (both will break down for storage) and the soft-sided crate. I recommend the plastic crate to start as the soft-sided crate although excellent for travel may be too easy to chew or tear for puppy in the beginning.
2. Set your crate up somewhere central in your home and not in your garage or basement. Remember this is a training tool and not equipment to punish with. I recommend setting up your crate near your TV so that when you are out of the room the TV can play softly and may help to calm your puppy.
3. Introduce your puppy to the crate with kindness, toss some treats (use kibble) into the crate for her to have and she will run in and eat them. You can even make it into a fun game.
4. When you are ready for the actual training, do not make a big deal about it just do it. Start with a potty break and either a short walk or play and then entice her into the crate with a treat or kibble. Once she is inside the crate, just close the door. Again, do not say bye-bye or fuss or make a big deal. Simply leave the room and see how she does. Now she may just fall asleep or she may cry - every puppy is different. If you are really worried then stuff a kong and place inside her crate for added distraction. If puppy falls asleep - that is great. If she cries, you must let her cry. Do not appease her behaviour or you will very quickly teach her to cry and bark for your attention and this is a behaviour you do not want in a puppy or a dog. Some amount of distress is acceptable and almost expected.
5. If the crying continues, try a spray bottle or making a startling noise outside of the crate. Either one of these should work. Avoid the temptation to yell at her or bang on her new crate. Asking her to 'quiet' or 'enough' is acceptable too. Make sure she has taken care of her business (if she is a young pup) so that she does not need to go potty before you she even enters the crate. The last thing you want your new puppy to do is to learn to go potty in her crate - I have seen it and it is a terrible thing. If this is happening, and no I don't mean a little tinkle or tiny wet spot from excitement - what I mean is a full bowel movement and urination. If this is happening, contact your veterinarian, your breeder or your trainer immediately as something is very wrong.
6. Once your puppy has accepted her crate, you can place some dog bedding or soft towels inside. Be very careful about chewing though as you do not want her to learn to chew in her crate. In the beginning, I suggest a kong inside her crate and put some padding under the crate on the outside so that the flooring is not too hard and yet she has no chew temptations.
7. Never ever use a crate for punishment - it is not meant for that.
Puppy Socialization - Risks vs Benefit
Lately I have noticed new puppy owners carrying their puppies in their arms while they walk around the neighbourhood. Perhaps a well intentioned veterinarian told these puppy newbies that if their puppy touched the ground they would get sick and die. I certainly hope not, but you never know these days. This very strange and commonly occurring behaviour has prompted me to do a little research into this with the hopes that there was some kind of intelligent answer. And, I think what may have happened is that these puppy newbies took the advice a little too far.
There is always concern that puppies will get sick and the threat of Parvovirus is very real but according to my understanding and interpretation of a recent article from Veterinary Medicine that while it is important to vaccinate your puppy it is equally important to socialize them and get them into a proper structured puppy class (if you lack the time and discipline to follow your own socialization plan for your puppy. There is a critical time period where puppies must be socialized and it ends, according to the experts, at around 16 weeks. Puppy classes help with both socialization, bite inhibition, and leash manners, etc. Studies indicate that these early classes go a long way to bond the puppy to its new owner. Often times, when puppies grow out of their cute puppy stage and into the trying adolescence stage they are either dumped at shelters, abandoned at the park or side of the road or relegated to the garage. Yes, I have seen it over and over again. Without proper socialization, puppies have the potential to grow into aggressive dogs on the road to euthanization. According to the American Humane Society, 56% of dogs and puppies who enter the shelter system are euthanized. Just Google it.
If you are worried that your puppy may pick up Parvovirus at puppy class or while socializing - there are excellent vaccines available so talk to your veterinarian. Although, some puppies (about 8%) do fail to generate enough protection with two vaccines and they need their final one around 14 to 16 weeks of age.
To minimize this risk, ask your puppy class organizer what their vaccine policy is. At a minimum there should be one vaccine or even better two. Do the first vaccine at seven weeks and the second at nine. Ask the organizer how they keep the floor clean - do they use a special bleach solution to clean up feces and prevent contamination. They should never allow a sick puppy in class and should pay attention to all the puppies and send anyone home with a sick puppy. Puppies can be carried from the car to the class (if you are worried and depending on where they are in their vaccine protocol). And, no this is not the same as carrying your puppy on an outing - that is ridiculous and will only cause your puppy to grow into a fearful dog.
Again, according to Veterinary Medicine, puppies benefit from early socialization from puppy classes (or do like I did with Madeline my own dog and make your own socialization plan using advice from Dr. Ian Dunbar's many puppy books). The benefit outweighs the risk of infectious diseases so long as basic precautions are taken. It is far more likely that a puppy will die from behaviour issues due to lack of proper socialization than from an infection picked up at puppy classes or from walking around your neighbourhood.
So all those people carrying their puppies - please won't you put them down and take them for a real walk. And, absolutely no running please until their puppy bones have developed.
Make sure you do your research and check with experts like a trusted veterinarian before you make any decisions regarding your beloved puppy.
QUICK DOG TRAINING TIP:
I Hear this over and over again and while it gives me a good chuckle (because I too did this when I first began working with dogs) it really is very frustrating to hear for both experienced dog handlers and (I am sure) the dogs themselves. What is this you ask? Well, it is the command that is repeated over and over and over again. The classic is the sit command. The dog handler asks Spot to sit and of course Spot would rather do anything else but sit. So Spot continues to well you guessed it....not sit. So then the inexperienced dog handler begins to repeat his command and it goes like this: sit, sit, sit, sit. Eventually, Spot will sit. However, Spot has now learned to stall when asked to sit. His stalling has become a learned behaviour and is very hard to break. If this is happening to you and your puppy or dog then you need to head back to basics and restart your sit training. You know that old dog saying sit means sit. Well, when you ask your dog to sit you should mean it.