Puppy Training: Raising Your Puppy

Puppy Training: Raising Your Puppy

This is a general guide to owning a puppy and the more common things a dog owner should pay attention to and work on. Obedience training 
Don't make the mistake of putting all your focus into obedience training at this stage. If you can accomplish these 4 things in the first 2 to 6 months of your puppies development, you will have a balanced dog ready for obedience training.

The social development of dogs and the two extremes: spoiled and underdeveloped 

These types have two things in common: weak coping abilities and their need for human intervention.

1. How to avoid underdevelopment

When raising your puppy it is critical to avoid creating a habit of coddling when ever something scary or stressful occurs. Offering a comforting touch every so often is fine but if the puppy sees that you will always be the one to rescue them and they never learn to self soothe they will rely heavily on your intervention and comfort. Allow your puppy to walk through and process new encounters even if they seem a little stressed. The greatest mistake often occurs when you remove the puppy just before they decide to take another step closer and sniff. A step that would have given them the breakthrough of understanding and understanding the breakthrough of confidence. 

There are some dogs who are naturally more nervous/timid in temperament but the same rules apply for these types. While they are young expose them to as many environments as possible. Take them to parks, malls, pet stores, river walks, mountain trails, near bikes, gyms and treadmills. Get them around children, dogs, cats, the elderly, wheelchairs, fires, vacuums, and cars.

Once you notice a nervous response, backup and get some distance until you see they are a little more comfortable. Finding the right distance away depends on your dog. As you are moving away from the trigger watch your puppy. What you are looking for is changes in the tension of the muscles and stance, tail in a neutral position, steadier movements, and disengagement from the trigger. If your puppy does a shake off your probably good to go. Once you see any of these signs go ahead and stop you have found a good enough distance for recovery. allow your dog to stay here for a little while then bring them towards the trigger. once you see any sign of concern go ahead and stop. Wait here for a moment then move back to the recovery distance. repeat this process in such a way that you are getting the puppy closer and closer until finally he is able to co-exist and even explore the trigger. Be sure and add lots of praise and rewards for good decisions.. Hint: if the trigger is an inanimate object you should be able to walk through this process faster.

*(Disclaimer: be very cautious about what kind of adult dogs you allow to interact with your puppy, not all adult females or males are cut out for puppy raising.)

2. How to avoid spoiling your dog

If you are a dog owner how considers themselves a parent or grandparent to an adopted or purchased puppy I would like to propose to you that anthropomorphizing your dog may have some serious repercussions. Consider for a moment that your dog is not a human being, or your child or grandchild. This beautiful creature is in fact privileged to be a part of domestication (the process of taming for domestic uses). There was a time, after all, when dogs were owned strictly because of their use to their owners. For thousands of years, dogs have adapted to work and live with us. Don't make the mistake of thinking that your little pup is special and requires more assistance than any of his/her ancestors.

It is extremely rare for a dog to need 10 scheduled daily treats followed by a massage each time and three walks in their stroller. One very common mistake owners make is to reward rude behavior. If your puppy is showing signs of stress and begins to bark at your house guest excessively, do not pet him/her while saying in a soothing voice “No, Zoey its okay, he's a nice man.”

At that point what the dog likely hears is “Oh, Zoey when you bark I will always give you my attention and focus.” 

The best way to deal with Zoey in that example is to either remove her correct her, or ignore her. The most effective way of avoiding spoiling your dog is to endeavor to not reward or reinforce pushy behaviors and to be mindful of entitlements (things your dog expects from you).

3. Housebreaking & crate conditioning

Crate conditioning can be an in-depth discussion but I’ll just cover the basics. Introduce your puppy to the crate in a relaxed manner. As long as they are not stressed or uncomfortable place them in the crate or lure them in with a treat. Practice this for a full day. Next begin to close them in the crate. Don't leave just yet, stay close to the crate and read a book or watch television. Keep them in for 15 to 30 minute a time. Do this for a day or two. Now practice leaving them in the crate and walking away. If your pup begins to whine or bark try not to return until you hear a break in the begging. At this point your pup can stay in for one to three hours.

Always feed your dog in the crate and offer high value treats when placing in the crate. Allow them to have time with the crate while you are home. One common mistake is to only place your dog in the crate when your leaving the house. It wont take long for your dog to think the crate means “that place I have to go to when everyone leaves without me.

4. Potty time

The key to successful potty training is giving your puppy every opportunity to relieve themselves outside and not setting them up to fail inside. Typically puppies need to relieve themselves every 20-30 minutes after consuming food or water (depending on the pups breed, size, and age). When you are outside for potty time, go to the same grassy spot every time. Act like you are the pups anchor and he is the boat. They don’t need much more than 5 feet in any direction with you as the center. Say a word or phrase to indicate its business time and wait. As soon as your pup eliminates and you are sure they are done go straight back to the house.

Your goal should be to create a ritual for the dog. You want him to understand that this is the spot we go to when we potty not play.

If your dog isn't in the crate, they should be watched. If you catch your dog in the act use a shaker can or a loud shout. Immediately pick up the puppy and take outside to the designated potty area. While your taking out the puppy, delegate someone to clean up the mess with an enzyme cleaner. If you find a mess but did not catch them in the act, say nothing to the dog, you’ve missed the window of opportunity. Just clean it up and be more vigilant in your watch.

Monitor all food and water intake. The easiest way of doing this is to feed your dog in their crate for a specific amount of time. If they do not finish all their food within the given time-frame simply remove the food and offer again at next scheduled feeding. By doing this you have a clear idea as to when they will need to eliminate. Offer water 10 minutes before you plan to go outside with your pup and cut off water 2 hours before bedtime.