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Training a new puppy


Choosing a new puppy
You can easily teach your dog to eliminate in an acceptable location by keeping a close eye, recognizing his signals, understanding his instincts, and rewarding his appropriate behavior.

Puppy Basics 101

A new puppy can be a wonderful, exciting addition to your family, but the excitement can quickly turn to frustration and may ultimately lead to finding another home for a puppy who "misbehaves".  A critical part of responsible puppy ownership is teaching it how to be a "good citizen".

Puppies are like 2-year-olds--they are very curious, and explore constantly.  It's important to "puppy-proof" your home just as well as you would baby-proof it.  Keep everything out of his reach that he could possibly decide to chew on!  This includes shoes, socks, toys, electrical cords, all small objects, and anything else you don't want destroyed, or that could harm your puppy.  Look at your home from your puppy's viewpoint...on your hands and knees...and be vigilant about keeping things out of the way.

Keep your puppy under constant supervision; she can't get into too much trouble if you are there to instantly interfere!  Have her on a leash tied to your waist as you move around the house; it's a great way to get her used to a leash, you're developing a close relationship, and, if she has to relieve herself, you'll know it immediately and be able to run outside (see the above housetraining article) with her.  Dr. Sophia Yin has a great video on using this technique:  drsophiayin.com/videos/entry/yellow-lab-goes-through-the-learn-to-earn-program.

Early obedience training is the best way to learn how to teach your puppy what you want him to do.  There are several things that are simple to do, are fun, and reinforce your role as leader of the pack; first and easiest is to teach him to sit by holding a piece of food close to his nose, and moving it slowly back over his head while saying "Fido...Sit!".  His head will go back to follow the food, and his bottom will automatically tuck into a sitting position.  Immediately give him the treat, and praise him!!!  Repeat this multiple times every day, and it will quickly be an instant reaction.

As soon as your puppy has had at least 2 vaccinations against distemper and parvo, she should start going to a good, positive-reinforcement based puppy class.  Please always visit a trainer's classes before enrolling any dog; make sure they use ONLY positive methods, and not punishment or rough methods.  Do NOT ever let a trainer use a pinch collar on your puppy, do an Alpha-Down, or jerk your puppy on its leash.  The trainer may get results, but for the wrong reason; the dog learns to react out of fear, and can ultimately be ruined by these methods.

Puppies have a very critical socialization phase between about 8 and 16 weeks of age; they need to be around other well-vaccinated puppies, and all kinds of people, before they become fearful.  Books that are especially good for puppy owners are:  "Perfect Puppy in 7 Days" (Dr. Sophia Yin); "Puppy Primer" (Patricia McConnell), and "How to Teach a New Dog Old Tricks" (Ian Dunbar).  All are currently available on Amazon.com.

A crate is essential for any puppy who's going to live in the house (and, they all should!).  Start by feeding your puppy in the crate, and give her treat-stuffed Kongs to work on when she can't be right with you; this will make her feel very comfortable about being crated.  The above books have excellent sections on crate-training.  To help housetrain, the crate should not be much bigger than room to turn around in; you can block off excess room with a cardboard box.

Please ask me, by phone or by e-mail, about any issues you may have with your puppy; many things are normal behavior, but can be very frustrating to cope with if you don't know how to correct the behavior.  I'm happy to help!