Behavior Training for Puppies

puppies photo
Photo by Lisa L Wiedmeier

Your puppy loves to investigate his world. From nipping, chewing and digging, he wants to investigate it all. In order for puppies to become well-behaved household pets, they need to be trained in what acceptable behavior is and what isn’t. While it might be fun to watch your puppy acting cute, it?s not fun to listen to barking, pick up scraps of what was once your favorite pair of slippers, or repair the once-landscaped backyard that has been dug to pieces. Behavior training for your puppy is absolutely necessary, for your peace of mind and your little dog’s own protection.

 

Nipping and Biting

Your puppy naturally gets his teeth into everything; for him, it?s fun. For you and your family, not so much. He can, however, learn that people have delicate skin and not to bite.

When you watch a litter of puppies play, you?ll notice they love to pounce on and bite each other. This is normal behavior, and when a pup gets too rough, his playmate will yelp and stop playing. This confuses the biter, but he learns how to be gentler in his approach.

When your puppy bites, tell him ?no? in a loud and firm voice and stop playing. Start to play again until he stops using his teeth. Your puppy will learn that not biting will get him playtime, while biting will put an end to playing. Keep repeating that until he knows not to hurt.

If he starts to gnaw on your finger, give him a chew toy to bite.

There are many reasons why dogs become aggressive and bite. The dog may feel over excited or that he is threatened. A lot of dog aggression comes from the lack of confidence and positive training. It is very important that you socialize your puppy with different people, dogs, children, and environments. Socialization boosts his confidence and reduces his fear in new environments. Remember to give lots of praise and treats to reward good behavior. Go see a vet if your puppy shows signs of aggression constantly.

 

Digging

Puppies tend to view their yard as their personal playground to be dug up and explored. They also enjoy ?hiding? favorite toys. That is natural behavior, but you can teach him to restrain himself.

When you see him digging, clap loudly or use a whistle. This will distract him and let him concentrate on you.

Don?t allow the puppy to play in the yard alone until he learns to control this behavior. When he starts to dig, immediately use distraction to get his attention. An excellent distraction is to toss treats around the area. He?ll go after them and forget, at least momentarily, about digging up dirt.

Since digging comes naturally to your puppy, it helps if you are able to provide a specific area where digging is allowed. To confine him to the designated area, hide a few treats or toys in the digging area. Call him and let him explore for buried treasures. If he moves to areas of the yard that are off-limits, bring him back. Make sure the rewards he loves so dearly can only be found in the marked and specified area. Praise him when he digs there.

You could also discourage him from digging at unwanted places by putting small amounts of diluted pepper in the area. The best way to stop digging is to spend more play time with him and give him more activities and exercise to drain his energy.

 

Crate Training for Puppies

It might seem cruel to confine a dog to a metal crate. However, crates make puppies feel safe and secure as they mimic the dog’s natural den habitat. Crate training your puppy is an excellent idea, especially if you want your dog to sleep in the crate at night or you plan to be out of the house for most of the day. This protects your property by keeping your puppy from destroying your house while you are unable to supervise your puppy. It’s also a way for your new puppy to feel safe. While there might be some whimpering and resistance the first time you confine your pup to a crate, the training will work quickly and your dog will become accustomed to the security of the crate.

 

Buying a Crate

Crates come in a number of different sizes, and you can find crates that are metal, plastic, and even fabric. When shopping for a crate, look for crates just large enough for your puppy to stand and turn around in. If your puppy will soon grow too large for a crate, look for larger crates that include a crate divider. This way, you can use the crate divider to block off half the crate until your puppy grows large enough to fill the crate space, and you avoid the expense of buying multiple crates. If you?re unsure about what kind to buy, consider renting one from an animal shelter. This would work especially well for a puppy that has yet to grow.

Put the crate in your bedroom at night if your dog has separation anxiety. Many people also find that placing an article of clothing or an old towel inside the crate is a good idea; the dog will be comforted by your scent.

 

Crate Training Steps

Start by putting the crate in a familiar and busy area, such as the kitchen or living room. Place a cozy towel, blanket, or toy inside and leave the door open. Most puppies will follow their natural curiosity and begin to investigate. If your puppy doesn?t, play or talk to him by the crate. When he?s used to the crate being there, toss a few treats inside the door, then further inside. If he still doesn?t go in, take a break and try again later. Keep throwing treats inside until he goes inside. Remain patient. This can be a quick process, or it can take a few days.

When the puppy is comfortable with the crate, start putting his regular food close-by. This will increase the good association he has with the crate. As soon as he easily goes inside, place his meals inside. For each feeding, move the food further inside and toward the back.

As soon as the puppy is relaxed with eating inside the crate, shut the crate door while he is eating. Open the door immediately when he is finished. Then start leaving the door shut for longer periods, until he?s comfortable staying inside for about 15 minutes. Let him out if he starts to fuss and whine. You may have rushed him. Start over by keeping him inside the crate for a shorter time.

Once your puppy is used to eating inside the crate, it?s time for him to get used to remaining inside for longer non-eating periods in your presence. Go to the crate and have a treat in your hand. Pick a cue word, such as ?crate,? ?kennel,? or ?inside? and point at the inside with the treat. When he goes into the crate, let him have the treat, praise him enthusiastically, and shut the crate door.

Remain quietly nearby for a few minutes before going to another part of the house. You might hear barking or whining, and that’s okay. Come back into the room after about 10 minutes and sit next to the crate again. Then, let the puppy out. Keep repeating this until you are able to leave the room without your puppy barking.

When you and your puppy get to the point that entering the crate is not a struggle and you can be in another room for half an hour without any barking or begging, you can probably leave the house and safely keep your puppy in the crate. Try not to be gone too long. Puppies don’t have the bladder strength of older dogs, and they will need to go outside every few hours. If you are away all day long, have a dog sitter take your puppy out every few hours. 

Use the crate at night as well. Keep the crate in your bedroom or close by, because the dog may need to go out during the night, and you’ll want to hear the warning signs.

One thing you should never do is use the crate as a punishment. Don’t put your puppy in there as a retaliation for misbehaving, barking, or biting. Crate training requires a feeling of comfort and security for your pup.

 

All dogs are different. You might have a puppy who loves the crate, or you might have a puppy who needs constant treats as bribes to get into the crate. If your puppy suffers from separation anxiety when crated, try having a specially favorite toy or treat that you use just for that purpose. If he receives this toy only when inside the crate, he might start looking forward to it!

How to Handle Accidents

Accidents are going to happen. Just accept accidents as part of the process and do not overreact to them. Your puppy is not being willful, disobedient, or resistant, it’s simply part of the process so do not punish him by spanking him, rubbing his nose in it, or yelling at him. If you notice your pup is beginning to pee or poop in the house, clap your hands or make a loud noise. You want to startle the puppy and get his attention, but you don’t want to scare the dog. Calmly say “No” and take him to his spot outside.

When an accident does occur in the house, simply clean up the accident and move on. You cannot apply a correction after the fact, the puppy will have no idea what is going on, why he is being told “No” or what he was supposed to do. Unlike humans, puppies live in the moment and once it has passed, they do not have a recollection of the accident. Trying to discipline a puppy for a past action will only make him scared and make it difficult for him to trust you. Never strike your puppy when you find accidents, or for any other reason. Hitting your puppy will only crush his spirit and break the bond you are trying to build; striking your puppy will not correct his behavior or make the process faster.

If you brought your puppy home when he was older than 12 weeks, he might have lived and eliminated in a cage. If that is the case, it may take a bit longer to house train him because you?ll probably have to ?untrain? a few bad habits. Don?t worry. You and your pup will get there.

 

Be patient and consistent with your potty training routine and be gentle, kind and loving with your puppy. You’d never yell at, punish, or berate a baby for accidents, so don’t do it to your dog. Follow these potty training tips and in just a few weeks, your puppy will be potty trained and you can feel good about a job well done.

How to Puppy-Proof Your Home

Indoors

? Don?t leave coins lying around ? metal can poison or choke your puppy.

? Never leave chocolate where a puppy can get it ? chocolate is toxic to dogs.

? All medications and vitamins should be kept out of the puppy?s reach. Never keep pills on the counter, table, or dresser. Your curious puppy can easily chew through a plastic container, and will happily do so if given the chance.

? Everyday cleaning supplies should be kept out of puppy?s reach or behind childproof locks. Also, keep in mind that while you are cleaning, toxic vapors can get into the puppy?s eyes and lungs. Your puppy should be kept in another room.

? Puppies love to chew on electrical and cable cords, which can cause burns or electric shock. You can buy cord concealers or protective cable wrap to keep your electrical cords and your puppy safe.

? Never leave CDs or DVDs lying around. A puppy can chew them into sharp shards, which will do some serious damage.

? Bathtubs and sinks filled with water are a potential drowning hazard. Also keep the lid on your toilet.

? Space heaters, fireplaces, or candles should never be left on when your puppy is alone in a room, even for a minute.

? Put any sentimental or precious items out of puppy?s reach. Even if they?re not toxic, you want to be sure your puppy doesn?t decide some beloved old photograph is a fun chew toy.

? Never leave food lying around. Alcohol, chocolate, coffee, onions, and sugar can cause serious problems to your puppy?s digestive system. Tobacco, smoking patches, and nicotine gum can be fatal if ingested. Be aware that food scraps, such as chicken bones, coffee grounds, or uncooked meats can be a health hazard to your puppy.

? There are puppies that mistake cat feces for food! If you have a cat, keep its litter box separated from the puppy by using a baby gate.

 

Outdoors

? If you have a yard, your puppy needs to be in a fenced-in area or an outdoor kennel to keep him from straying and investigating the neighborhood.

? A swimming pool is a real problem. You could put a cover over the pool until your puppy is old enough.

? Be sure to block any access to a shed or garage that contains insecticide, gasoline, paint, oil, or fertilizer. Your puppy will actually like the taste of rat poison or antifreeze, which can be fatal.

Introduction

A puppy is a fun companion who turns into a loyal and devoted friend as he matures. When he is separated from his natural family, all he wants is a new one that he can love and that will provide him with food and shelter. That new family will be you. The quicker he learns the rules of his new home, the happier both of you will be. A puppy usually wants to please, and it?s up to you to show him how to live in the world.

Training your puppy will help your new friend to understand what is expected of him and to gain confidence. Proper training will also strengthen the bond between you and your puppy and make it possible for you to include your puppy in your daily activities more often. A well-trained puppy is a happy, well balanced puppy, and of course that’s what you want for your new best friend.

This book will make puppy training a whole lot easier for you. The book features proven methods and step-by-step instructions for training your puppy and introducing him to your home, your visitors, and the general public. Chapter 1 introduces how to puppy-proof your home, and Chapter 2 provides you with useful puppy training tips. Chapter 3 shows how to begin leash training and Chapter 4 explains crate training. Potty training is one of the most important tasks when a puppy comes home and this is covered in Chapter 5. In addition, Chapter 6 introduces the best way to teach your puppy obedience commands. And finally, Chapter 7 contains tips on how to stop destructive behaviors.

With patience and consistency, your new puppy will learn what he is supposed to do and you will be well on your way to building an extremely satisfying, lifelong friendship that will be more rewarding than you ever thought possible.

Leash Training for Puppies

leash training photo
Photo by Monkey Mash Button

While playing with your puppy is fun and provides some exercise, walking your puppy is the best way to help him expend pent up energy and calm his mind. Though some puppies are initially wary of wearing a collar and a leash, these leash training tips will have you proudly walking a well behaved, happy pup sooner than you ever thought possible.

Choosing a Collar

A collar is a functional accessory that your dog will wear around his neck. The collar can attach to a leash or a harness when it’s time to go for a walk and it can also be used to hold any dog tags or documentation that you received when you registered your puppy. There are collars on the market that can also be used to train your dog and instill good behaviors. Small dogs do well in a harness so they can’t slip out of their collars. Harnesses can work well for puppies of all breeds.

When you are gathering your supplies, buy items that can grow with your puppy. Collars should be adjustable and checked frequently for a proper fit. Your puppy will grow quickly and you do not want his collar to be too tight or uncomfortable. When fitting your puppy’s collar, be sure that you can fit two fingers between the collar and his neck. This measurement will ensure that the collar is snug enough to keep your puppy secure, but won’t be tight and uncomfortable. When you’re shopping for collars, make sure the collar you select has a sturdy metal ring to attach the leash to when you begin to leash train and walk your puppy.

Choosing a Leash

The leash accompanies the collar, especially if you don’t have an outdoor space where your puppy can run free. It might seem like walking on a leash should be second nature to your puppy, but it’s actually a learned behavior.

Look for a leash that is secure and fits well on the collar or the harness you’re using. When selecting the first leash to use for your puppy, pick one that is lightweight. A heavy leash may add pressure to the puppy’s neck and make leash training more difficult than it needs to be. Give the puppy enough leash space to roam around independently, but not so much leash that the dog can run into traffic or get into trouble. Retractable leashes are often a good option because you can decide how long the distance should stretch between you and your little buddy.

Introduce the Collar

When you first introduce the collar to your pup, be sure it fits properly. Make putting the collar on fun by using an upbeat, but calm voice and reward your pup with a treat once the collar is fastened. Some puppies will try to push the collar off or scratch at it, after all it is a new sensation! If your pup does this, distract him with a toy, a treat, or scratch him behind the ears. Anytime you see your pup messing with his collar, apply a positive distraction, and soon your puppy won’t even notice he?s wearing a collar.

leash training photo
Photo by vastateparksstaff

Introduce the Leash

Once your puppy is used to the collar, it’s time to introduce him to the leash. Select a lightweight leash so there is no unnecessary pulling that may make your puppy leery of the leash. Clip the leash onto the collar and call your puppy to you. Some puppies will have a major reaction to the leash and thrash around wildly trying to get off the leash. This is normal, so simply drop the leash and allow your puppy to pull it behind him as he wriggles, squirms, and hops. Do not let your puppy out of your sight since the leash can become caught up on something and hurt your puppy. Continue to put the leash on for short periods of time, dropping down to one knee and calling your puppy to you and rewarding him when he comes. Once he reaches you, pick up the leash and walk him short distances around the house. Repeat this a couple of times a day until your puppy is accustomed to the leash. Make the process fun by verbally praising your puppy and offering treats.

Never pull or tug harshly on the leash, fight your puppy on the leash, or yell at your puppy, as those negative behaviors will only confuse the puppy and set your training back. Be patient with your pup and keep a consistent routine of attaching the leash and letting your pup get used to it slowly and at his own pace.

Learn to Walk on the Leash

By now, your puppy is used to walking short distances inside on a leash and it’s time to take the fun outside. The outside world offers lots of fun and distraction. All the sights, smells, and sounds will be new and a bit overwhelming. Even though your pup knows how to be led on the leash, he may act differently outside. If he pulls, stop and stand completely still, and do not move until he comes back to you. If he lunges at other dogs, squirrels, or other distractions, distract him with a treat or verbal command. Be patient, start with short walks at first and soon you and your pup can increase the time and distance of your walks.

Obedience Training – Teaching ?No?

dog photo
Photo by sk8geek

Your puppy needs to learn right from wrong just like an infant. And like an infant, he may choose to ignore you or simply become confused. Responding by yelling louder and louder is unproductive. The puppy hears the noise, but may have a hard time relating it to any specific behavior. This can become frustrating for both of you.

Many people combine the noise with punishment, which only exacerbates the problem.

The ?no? command will ensure that you have a well-behaved and welcome puppy anywhere.

Obviously, ?no? can only be taught and reinforced when your puppy misbehaves, so you?ll be working on his time schedule. Keep your voice calm. Always use the same command word instead of confusing him with, ?Don?t do that,? ?Stop it now,? ?Get down,? etc.

When your puppy does something inappropriate or objectionable, such as biting, barking, or jumping on a guest, clap firmly and say the word “no” in a strong, loud voice. You only want to say it once because you’re training the dog to listen the first time. The clapping should startle and confuse the puppy enough for him to stop performing the inappropriate act.

If he stops, reward him with praise and a treat. If he doesn?t stop, be firmer. Slightly stamp a foot, if necessary. (This is not the same as punishing and frightening him. It is meant to get his attention.)

If your puppy continues to misbehave, attach his leash to his collar and hold him firmly. The leash will prevent his behavior (such as jumping on people), and it will negatively ?reward? him with disappointment.

When you take off the leash, if your puppy behaves, praise and reward him. If your puppy continues to misbehave, start over. Clap, say a firm no, and hold him with the leash. He?ll figure out that disobedience results in not being able to run freely.

You won’t be able to train your new puppy overnight. However, with time and structure, obedience training can be conquered.

Obedience Training – Teaching to Come

dog training photoPuppies always want to come when they’re called. They want to know what you’re up to and they’re eager to be close to you and a part of whatever you’re doing. However, it can be difficult to get your puppy to come if the dog is preoccupied with something else. Maybe the puppy is digging in the backyard or stalking a squirrel, or completely obsessed with the scent on some random car’s tires. The trick is to teach the dog that coming to you is the best decision that could ever be made.

For training purposes, call your puppy from one room to another. Stand in the kitchen when your puppy is in the living room and call your puppy’s name. When your puppy comes running, get excited, pet the dog, and provide a treat. When the puppy is able to understand that coming when called means only positive things, the dog will obey immediately.

Obedience Training – Teaching to Heel

dog heel photo
Photo by CCFC Manitoba/Saskatchewan/Nunavut

Teaching your puppy how to heel is important, especially when there are other dogs around, or people that your dog might want to jump on without invitation. To heel means to walk at the side of, or next to you. When you teach your puppy to heel, he will be keeping your pace. He?ll stop when you do. He?ll walk when you do. This lets your puppy know that you, the pack alpha, are in charge. It?s also an excellent way for the two of you to walk without a leash, when that is possible. This is a difficult thing for puppies to learn, especially since they are so energetic and curious by nature.

Use a long leash for heel training. This will give your puppy more wiggle room for mistakes and give you more chances to correct those errors. Before starting, make sure he has mastered walking with a loose leash, that is, without tugging.

The key to this part of puppy training is of course, with treats. Start by standing with your puppy on a leash and keep a few treats in the hand that isn’t holding the leash. The puppy needs to understand the command, so tell your dog to heel. Once he sits still next to you for about five seconds, give the dog a treat. Then, take five steps forward and allow your do to follow. Say the word “heel” and wait for your puppy to sit down next to you. Reward with a treat. Continue doing this so your puppy understands. The dog will associate your movements and words with the expected behaviors.

Once this is successfully completed in the same location, introduce some other people and distractions. You might feel like you’re starting the process all over again, but that’s only because your puppy will notice those other people or bouncing balls or moving cars. Repeat the process with the treats until your dog is obedient and able to heel on command.

Obedience Training – Teaching to Lie Down

Your puppy should start this training in the ?sit? position, so do this after he knows how to sit. Also, be careful about what cue word you use. If you use ?down? to tell him get off the couch or bed, he?ll be confused.

Begin with the ?sit? command in an area without distractions. Make sure the floor is reasonably comfortable. Small dogs especially may find a cold, hard surface unappealing. A carpeted area is good.

When your puppy is seated, give him the verbal ?down? cue. Hold a treat in your hand where he can see and smell it. Move your hand with the treat downward to the floor. The puppy will bend down to follow the treat by getting in a lying position.

Make sure his entire body is down. If you need to, lower your dog’s body to the floor so the puppy understands what lying down means. If his rear end is up, he doesn?t get a treat, and you start from the beginning. As soon as your puppy is lying down, give him his treat and praise him.

When he has mastered this, start using a downward hand movement without the verbal command to get him to lie down. When you do this, keep the treat hidden to allow the puppy to focus on your hand.