|Tips on Training your puppy/dog.
With the internet these days.... there are many many knowledgeable websites that
can give you a wealth of information on tips and training of your puppy or dog. I
would suggest trying the internet first before you run out and purchase any books.
Many dogs experience separation anxiety when left alone. They will often whine, bark,
cry, howl, chew, dig, scratch at the door, soil the house or destroy your home and yard.
We often unintentionally train our dogs to behave this way because whenever they
throw this kind of tantrum when we leave, we quickly come back to reassure them, give
them attention or even a bone or biscuit. If you do this, your dog will soon learn that he
can control you with emotional blackmail.
Long, drawn-out farewells can create separation anxiety problems by first exciting your
dog and then making the isolation more obvious when you're gone. Just when he gets
all worked up and ready to play, suddenly you disappear. With all this energy, your dog
will either try his best to get you to come back or he will have to vent his energy in some
other way. Since he can't build model airplanes or invite his buddies over for a hand of
poker, he does doggy things - like chew, dig and bark.
Perhaps it is not separation anxiety after all! We often think our dog is destructive
because he is angry and spiteful that we left him, but he could actually be just trying to
have some fun since there is nothing else to do. He may be relieved to be able to do
those things he normally can't do when you're home. He may be thinking, "Thank
goodness the owner is finally leaving! Now I can chase the cat, dig up the tomatoes, get
in the trash, and bark at the neighbors. They never let me do those things when they're
Some dogs with separation anxiety are stressed, nervous and insecure when they are
left alone. They express this nervous energy in typical dog fashion - chewing, digging,
barking and house soiling.
To prevent separation anxiety, dogs need to feel happy, secure, and comfortable when
you're away. It's important to give them things to do while you're gone. Provide them
with lots of toys, such as a kong or havaball stuffed with treats, or a digging pit. in the
yard. Often another companion pet can help alleviate the boredom.
Another way to prevent separation anxiety is to set aside scheduled time periods to give
your dog undivided attention, play and exercise. A happy, well-exercised dog will usually
sleep contentedly during the day while you are gone. Be sure that one of the scheduled
play sessions occurs before you must leave for the day. Give your dog a chance to
settle down before you leave and don't make a big deal of your departure - just leave
without any emotion or commotion.
If your dog is already experiencing separation anxiety, then gradually accustom him to
your leaving. Practice leaving and returning several times a day until he gets used to
your departures and realizes that you are not abandoning him forever. Gradually leave
for longer and longer periods of time, but start out by leaving for just 5 minutes and
Crate training is one of the most efficient and effective ways to train a dog. The single most important aspect of dog
and puppy training is that you reward and praise your dog or puppy each and every time she does the right thing.
For example: praise her when she chews her own toys instead of the couch or eliminates outside instead of in the
house. The more time you spend with your puppy or dog, the quicker and easier it will be to train her.
The key to house training is to establish a routine that increases the chances that your dog will eliminate in the right
place in your presence, so that she can be praised and rewarded; and decreases the chances that your dog will
eliminate in the wrong place so that she will not develop bad habits.
It is important that you make provisions for your dog when you are not home. Until your dog is housetrained, she
should not be allowed free run of your house. Otherwise, she will develop a habit of leaving piles and puddles
anywhere and everywhere. Confine her to a small area such as a kitchen, bathroom or utility room that has
water/stain resistant floors. Confinement is NOT crate training.
Crate training can be an efficient and effective way to house train a dog. Dogs do not like to soil their
resting/sleeping quarters if given adequate opportunity to eliminate elsewhere. Temporarily confining your dog to a
small area strongly inhibits the tendency to urinate and defecate. However, there is still a far more important aspect
of crate training.
If your dog does not eliminate while she is confined, then she will need to eliminate when she is released, i.e., she
eliminates when you are present to reward and praise her.
Be sure to understand the difference between temporarily confining your dog to a crate and long term confinement
when you are not home. The major purpose of confinement when your are not home is to restrict mistakes to a small
protected area. The purpose of crate training is quite the opposite. Short term confinement to a crate is intended to
inhibit your dog from eliminating when confined, so that she will want to eliminate when released from confinement
and taken to an appropriate area. Crate training also helps teach your dog to have bladder and bowel control.
Instead of going whenever she feels like it, she learns to hold it and go at convenient scheduled times. Crate training
should not be abused, otherwise the problem will get drastically worse. The crate is not intended as a place to lock
up the dog and forget her for extended periods of time. If your dog soils her crate because you left her there too
long, the house training process will be set back several weeks, if not months.
Your dog should only be confined to a crate when you are at home. Except at night, give your dog an opportunity to
relieve herself every hour. Each time you let her out, put her on leash and immediately take her outside. Once
outside, give her about three to five minutes to produce. If she does not eliminate within the allotted time period,
simply return her to her crate. If she does perform, then immediately reward her with praise, food treats, affection,
play, an extended walk and permission to run around and play in your house for a couple of hours. For young pups,
after 45 minutes to an hour, take her to her toilet area again. Never give your dog free run of your home unless you
know without a doubt that her bowels and bladder are empty.
During this crate training procedure, keep a diary of when your dog eliminates. If you have her on a regular feeding
schedule, she should soon adopt a corresponding elimination schedule. Once you know what time of day she
usually needs to eliminate, you can begin taking her out only at those times instead of every hour. After she has
eliminated, she can have free, but supervised, run of your house. About one hour before she needs to eliminate (as
calculated by your diary) put her in her crate. This will prevent her from going earlier than you had planned. With
your consistency and abundance of rewards and praise for eliminating outside, she will become more reliable about
holding it until you take her out. Then the amount of time you confine her before her scheduled outing can be
reduced, then eliminated.
If you ever find an accident in the house, just clean it up. Do not punish your dog. All this means is that you have
given her unsupervised access to your house too soon. Until she can be trusted, don't give her unsupervised free
run of your house. If mistakes and accidents occur, it is best to go back to the crate training. You need to more
accurately predict when your dog needs to eliminate and she needs more time to develop bladder and bowel
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Socializing Your Puppy: Why “Later” Is Too Late
It’s a common scenario.
You’ve just brought home your new puppy. Eight weeks old, all roly-poly fluff and cute as a button.
You’ve heard that puppies need to be “socialized,” and you definitely plan to work on that when you get a chance. Maybe sign up for a class with your local
trainer, or start taking her for walks around the neighborhood. But not just yet.
You’ll start when the weather gets warmer. When your work schedule eases up a bit and you have more time. When the kids go back to school. And you
want to make sure she’s had all her shots first, right? There will be plenty of time for socializing later.
Unfortunately for many new puppy owners, it’s easy to assume that there’s no need to worry about training or behavior issues at such a young age. I talk
to owners about puppy kindergarten classes and socialization during every new puppy exam at our veterinary clinic, and it’s a constant refrain: “Oh, we don’
t need to start anything like that yet. She’s doing fine right now, no problems. Maybe when she’s older.”
The fact is, “when she’s older” will be far too late. Scientifically, here’s the reason why: puppies go through a critical socialization period from 6 to 16
weeks of age that will dramatically impact their behavior for the rest of their lives. During this period, their brains are like tiny sponges – soaking up
everything they experience and filing it away for the future.
(I should note here that some experts in the field consider the socialization period to end as early as 12 weeks, and there is also some evidence to suggest
differences in the optimal socialization window for different breeds – which is a fascinating topic in itself, but beyond the scope of today’s post! Suffice it to
say, as a general rule of thumb, 16 weeks is a good estimation.)
Whatever puppies see at this age, they will consider a normal part of life as adults. Kids on bicycles? Fine. People with umbrellas and shiny coats? No
problem. Lawnmowers, crying babies, men with beards and hats – for a well-socialized puppy, these things are all a normal part of the world around them.
BUT… beyond 16 weeks, something happens. New things, which before were accepted with cheerful curiosity and a wagging tail, are now met with
suspicion. Anything that the pup has not already encountered is automatically assumed to be dangerous and scary – so bicycles, umbrellas, lawnmowers,
etc. are now terrifying monsters to be barked at or cowered away from. You may have met adult dogs who are fearful of everyday objects or unfamiliar
people; in many cases, this is the end result of poor socialization during this all-important period.
This is actually a pretty staggering fact – nothing “bad” has to happen at all. A simple lack of exposure at the right time can result in an adult dog who is
unable to cope with normal life. And in practice, this is one of the saddest things I see.
Why are dogs wired this way? From an evolutionary standpoint, in the wild, having a short window of time for accepting new things makes a lot of survival
sense. For wolves, coyotes, and foxes (the domestic dog’s closest wild relatives) as well as for feral dogs living on their own, odds are high that anything
truly “new” is bad news – something that may hurt or kill them.
Thus, there’s an expiration date on how long the canine brain is open to novel experiences. An adult wolf or coyote that happily walks up to unfamiliar
things (like other predators, cars, or even humans) won’t survive long. Even though our pet dogs lead comparatively protected lives with little to fear from
their environment, they have inherited this hard-wired behavior pattern from their more cautious ancestors. This is why no amount of cajoling and coaxing
can convince a poorly socialized adolescent dog that a plastic bag blowing across the parking lot is no big deal – to her, escaping from it or defending
herself is a matter of life or death.
So when should you start actively socializing your puppy? Right now. As soon as possible. From the very first day your new pup comes home, the clock is
Now, one final caveat… what about vaccines? You may have heard that your puppy should not go anywhere until she’s had all of her shots.
You should absolutely be careful! Diseases like parvo, distemper, and others can be deadly, and are unfortunately common in many areas. But consider
this – your puppy will not be fully vaccinated until after she’s 4-5 months old. If you wait until then, you’ve already missed your opportunity.
The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) feels so strongly about this issue that they published a position statement on puppy
socialization in 2008, stressing that owners should be introducing their puppies to new places, people and other dogs prior to completing their vaccination
series. In particular, they strongly recommend beginning puppy kindergarten classes as early as 7-8 weeks of age.
So, what does this mean for you? It means to be smart about where you take your puppy before she’s fully vaccinated. I normally recommend avoiding
places like dog parks, pet stores, and high-traffic public areas where lots of strange dogs are walked. Instead, visit friends with healthy, vaccinated pets.
Go for car rides – visit McDonalds, Starbucks, or the drive-thru lane at your bank or pharmacy. Walk your pup around the block to meet your neighbors.
Invite the kids playing outside to say hello.
Just do it before 16 weeks of age. Someday, when she’s a happy, well-adjusted adult, your puppy will thank you for it.