3 easy steps to use our website

illustration of a young girl holding her smartphone, with her index finger on her lips while her puppy looks up at her.

What’s the best way to use the website? We get asked this question more and more often so here are 3 easy steps to get you started.

Step 1: Your Puppy’s Development

To get up and running look up your puppy’s age on the Your Puppy’s Development. This will allow you to see what stage of development your puppy is at and what you need to be working on pronto.

The Development Chart has been designed to take you into the key areas using links. So for instance if someone has an 8-week-old puppy the link in the chart will take you to Socialization and Handling exercises.

Step 2: Daily Email Support – The Puppy Bytes

Sign up for Puppy Bytes to get daily training tips via email. These bite-sized tips provide you with time sensitive puppy training information, exercises and games. Each tip is linked back to the web site and the specific exercise or game related to the tip.

Step 3: Step by Step Weekly Training Guide

If you are looking for something a bit more structured then our weekly Step by Step Training Guide is a good option. Whether you have just brought home a puppy or you are a puppy school professional this guide is intended as a lesson plan. We have placed what we believe are the most important aspects of puppy training at the beginning. Each lesson plan links back into the specific exercise.

Resources for Professionals: Vet Clinics, Shelters, Breeders and Working Dog organizations. Please help yourself to the following interactive PDF downloads. They were designed specifically for your use.

Ultimate Puppy FAQ

If you have a specific issue you are dealing with then go to our Puppy Training FAQ. Listed are eleven of the most common puppy problems and where to find answers on our site. This resource is particularly useful to busy vet clinics.

Ultimate Puppy Brochure

A resource you can distribute to clients as a printout or email that includes all the training basics.

Game Plan to Go!

Everyone is saying it. Shelter staff, breeders, veterinarians and trainers are all throwing the word Socialization at you. But what does that mean beyond going down to the local Starbucks with your new puppy? Once you’ve had a chance for a bit of fun showing off with your friends, it’s time to think a bit more about what your puppy needs.

What all dogs need is a robust socialization game plan.

There’s nothing wrong with heading out the door and ad libbing. There are oodles of opportunities to socialize right outside. But what tends to happen is you leave the house forgetting a key piece of equipment that can undermine your success. Or worse, you keep repeating the same encounters. Constant repetition is only good if you plan to live in a bubble with your dog. That is unlikely. The whole point of a socialization plan is to experience a wide range of encounters. This will get your puppy ready for all the situations he may come across during his life.  A dog who is comfortable with a variety of circumstances is likely to be happier. He will be less stressed by the unknown and easier to train. This dog will be a better companion. Its worth the effort, so let’s add some sophistication to your game plan.

We’ve created a handy worksheet that will help you create a plan for each of your outings. Click this link field_trip_worksheet for the PDF.

 

sample of a puppy field trip worksheet

The Field Trip Worksheet is designed to work with the training pointers provided by ultimatepuppy.com. Be sure to print out the Social Schedule and use it as a guide. Your goal is to cover a wide variety of encounters. We would encourage you to focus on the highlighted section of the Worksheet where you should keep notes of your pup’s reactions to new situations.

Reminder

What to do if your puppy is uncomfortable or frightened (trying to run away, tail tucked, or attempts to bite): Jolly him up with a silly voice, a treat, or a game. If a situation is overwhelming your puppy, back away until the puppy is relaxed again. Start from this new distance to build up your pup’s confidence. Gradually get closer to the stimuli. Your ultimate goal is for your puppy to be comfortable and confident around stimuli that was previously scary to him.

This is when keeping notes is helpful, it allows you to focus on weak areas the next time you go out.

Good luck and have fun!

Decoding Your Puppy Raising Priorities

a girl and her puppy with a thought cloud above their heads

 

Congratulations on your new puppy! This little critter is soaking up his environment and everything you have on offer to teach.

Are you set with a good game plan for these coming early weeks? Have you done your homework? Are you prepared with your lessons and a good puppy coach? Do you have all the equipment and supplies you are going to need?

This new addition comes with a whole set of his own priorities and interests. Are you ready to provide this pup with all that he needs to live a well-adjusted, healthy life?

How do you wade through the piles of information available and all the well-meaning advice from everyone you know and some you don’t? When it comes to what you should be doing with your new puppy it can seem like everyone has an opinion.

Let’s break it down to some prioritizing based on a puppy’s development. This helps put things in perspective and can get you rolling with what is crucial right now.

The first 14 weeks

What happens or does not happen during the first 14 weeks of a dog’s life will have a profound impact on his entire life. What you do with your puppy during this time will determine his ability to navigate a life tightly knit with us humans and our weird and wacky ways.

A dog might be called man’s best friend but a dog’s wants and needs frequently cause havoc in households where they aren’t understood or provided for!

The first 3 1/2 months of a pup’s life are when a robust socialization and prevention strategy must be planned and executed. After this time has passed, you are playing catch up. This is not to say that great work cannot be done with a dog after this time, but it is to say that a critical period of development has passed and you will never get it back. You cannot afford to miss out on it, your dog certainly cannot!

A dog’s ability to easily acclimate with his environment stops at about 14 weeks. If he perceives things as threatening, because of a lack of early exposure, the fight or flight response kicks in. Any way you look at it there is stress involved, stress can lead to illness too.

The pup is most malleable now for us to affect his ability to peacefully live closely with us humans. He will need to get used to being alone sometimes. He will need to be able to go to the vet and be handled and to get along and be comfortable with us around his food and toys. If he doesn’t learn how to do this now we may have big problems later on with guarding and biting and stress when left alone at home.

Top priorities

With our understanding of this critical period of puppy development we know that socialization, which for our purposes means a positive encounter and or exposure to a wide variety of people, other animals, sounds, surfaces and situations and; prevention, a game plan that includes specific exercises to help prevent known, predictable, dog behaviors from becoming problematic are our top priorities. This is some seriously time sensitive business that needs your immediate attention. No waiting until the puppy is 4 months old. By then the ship has sailed!

We recommend that you ask anyone who you are potentially getting a puppy from what type of early work they will be doing with the puppy before you bring him home? If you are bringing a new pup home between 8 and 10 weeks that leaves a whole lot of precious early development days in the hands of the pup’s birthplace folks.

What are they doing to help prepare this puppy for life? If your new puppy has had early socialization and preventative work started at his birthplace he now has a sizable advantage over a puppy that has not. Now here we are and you are bringing your pup home at maybe 8 to 10 weeks of age. That only leaves you 4 to 6 weeks to get this all-important education in. It is show time!

Socialization

Print out a copy of the Ultimate Puppy Social Schedule and get to it! Get out and introduce the pup to as many new things as you can. Each new person that your puppy meets should be giving him a tiny, tasty treat. You can drive, take a boat, take the bus or carry your puppy. Take treats and water and toys. Keep the outings to a reasonable length of time. Short fun trips are best. It is not enough to simply go around the block. You have got to get out and go looking for novel stimuli.

Other dogs

Please avoid dog parks and other heavily dog-populated spots. Friendly, healthy, well socialized dogs that you know are fine for your puppy to meet and perhaps play with. Puppy socialization playgroups are the best place for your new pup to have playtime with other pups. These play times are short and monitored, the area is clean and safe and you will learn lots about dog play and body posture. If you are lucky you will work on some recall out of dog play too.

Prevention

Simple, quick, fun run-throughs that help prevent serious problem behaviors, what’s not to love!

These exercises range from basic handling of the puppy using treats, to teaching the pup to easily hop off the couch or move away from the front door or kitchen counter. They also include teaching the pup that there is no reason to stress over you leaving the house, it is just part of the flow of the day. You will also teach your puppy that he never needs to guard his precious resources like the bowl or toy or bone, if you do take it, it will always comes back better!

When a dog guards what he deems important or is not comfortable at the vets or growls at you because you ask him to move over on the couch he is not being bad or unreasonable in his dog mind, these are predictable dog behaviors. Certainly this does not make for a peaceful existence with his humans and it could lead to rehoming or worse euthanasia. This is why preventative exercises are essential with a puppy. Simple yet potentially life saving.

Getting it done!

So now you know! Socialization and prevention are your top priorities with your new puppy. This is because they are very time sensitive and will make all the difference in the quality of life your puppy will have. Puppy socialization classes are readily available and are the absolute best way to learn all about these important lessons. Puppy socialization classes are made available for pups that are under the age 16 weeks. We hope this helps you, whether in preparation for a new pup or in the early weeks of bringing a new puppy home. Enjoy this early time with your new pup and teach him everything he needs to be able to enjoy his life with you.

Barking Basics

 

Bark Basics: how to teach puppies to be calm in crate (and stop nuisance barking)

Puppies bark. The problem isn’t that they bark, the issues arise from how we deal with the barking.

Thankfully more breeders are starting to do some great early work with their pups. This means that the first time the puppy is separated from his mom and littermates isn’t when you bring him home. This means that the first time the puppy goes into a crate isn’t when you introduce him to one. If your new pup is experiencing all these things for the first time know that this is stressful. You may experience different degrees of whining, crying and barking. How you handle it is what counts.

 

The Game Plan

The early crating and structure that you provide for your new puppy as well as prepping him for alone time go hand in hand with helping to prevent problem barking. Other priorities for the puppy include age-appropriate physical and mental exercise, playtime, socialization trips and lots of preventative exercises. It is advantageous to you and the puppy to get into a well-run puppy socialization class and gain the guidance and support of a great coach.

 

Puppy crate training, puppy structure and boundaries, building a desire in puppy to go into crate - all in aid of stopping the barking in puppies

Crate Training Tip

Make the crate a happy place for your new puppy. Build up his desire to want to go into the crate. Hide a trail of delicious treats that leads to the crate and inside the crate place a super high-value prize such as a raw knucklebone or a kong stuffed with steak and cheese. Place this prize just inside the door and don’t let the puppy get to it. Build up a little frustration in your pup by preventing him from getting to the prize. Let him in for just a few seconds then bring him out and close the door again. Repeat this game a few times. Toss delicious treats into the back of the crate, repeat as pup comes out – treats for going in, no treats for coming out. As you toss the treat in, use the phrase, go in or in your crate.

Request Barking

Request barking may start with a puppy barking because he wants out of the crate or to go outside. New starry-eyed puppy parents don’t know what they are getting themselves into. A common but unfortunate scenario you want to avoid is thinking, ‘My puppy is so smart, he is already telling me when he wants to go outside!’ Tread very carefully here! Turn this around; you should be the one who decides when your puppy is going out for bathroom breaks and for playtime. Get to him before he starts barking and provide plenty of opportunity for him to get out of the crate and engage in training, play, cuddles or bathroom breaks. Avoid taking your pup out of the crate if he is barking. If you must let him out try and get at least 30 seconds of quiet first.

Request barking is just that, the puppy is barking at you because he wants something. He wants to go out, he wants to play, he wants you to give him attention, or he wants food. And on it goes, once it starts it will spread to lots of different requests and it can drive new puppy parents crazy. 

Structure At Home

Frequently puppies that bark in their crates are not crated when their people are at home and awake. Too much freedom is given and when folks try and crate the puppy he complains about this new plan by barking. Hey, who likes change! A puppy should be calm and comfortable in their crate for different stretches of time while you are at home and awake going about your regular routine. You need to be the one to teach your puppy this. Always serve up safe and tasty chew things for your pup to enjoy in his crate.

If the puppy is out of his crate, you should be attending to him or he should be anchored somewhere safe and be provided with something appropriate to chew on. Avoid letting your puppy wander unattended around the house. Structure and boundaries now are going to help condition a dog that is calm and trustworthy in the house later. Short cuts make for long journeys.

Alone Time

A lot of the undesirable barking from new puppies is stress or frustration from being left alone or from being crated or sequestered in another part of the house from you or from family activity.

Most dogs will have to spend time alone. It’s our job to prepare our pups to be able to deal with our absences. If you teach your puppy from day one that this is no big deal you should have smooth sailing over the course of his life.

Avoid big goodbyes and emotional hellos when coming and going from your house. Play it cool! This helps to keep your puppy calm.

* Your puppy should always get a delicious kong when you leave (or other safe food stuffing toy) filled with fabulous food that he is interesting in eating and works to get at. Stockpile some and pop one in the crate just before you leave the house.

Your dog’s vocalizing shouldn’t be an annoying aspect of life. A fun part of raising a puppy is learning the different nuances of their voice. Some dogs use their voices when they are happy and playful. Some dogs have a distinct distress call when they must get outside for bathroom quickly. Other dogs are very vocal about their contentment as they get a good tummy rub. Most of us will learn when to speak and when we probably are better off being quiet. Our dogs are no exception. We need to teach them this important life skill.

* Stuffing kongs and other food stuffing toys might take a little time to master but it is well worth the effort. It takes some patience and experimenting to find out what your puppy loves to chew on. You need to stuff the toy just right, not so hard that the pup gives up and not so easy that it comes out in 30 seconds. Be sure and keep your food stuffing toys clean and in good condition. Check out kongcompany.com for some great recipes.

Finding Fido – the Savvy way to Search

the sound, healthy way to find  the right puppy for you

 

You’ve finally taken the leap and decided to get a puppy. Knowing what kind of dog you want is the first step, but there are still many things to discover. All too often, the important question of how to determine the best place to get your puppy is ignored.

Red flag: Anyone about to get a puppy is susceptible to a naturally occurring, common affliction. We call it “puppy-love-haze.” Symptoms include a heightened emotional state; a tendency towards small, furry cuteness; and impulse buying.

Puppy-love-haze skews our better judgment; leaves us wide open for making poor decisions and could have serious side effects. There will be plenty of time for the puppy love-fest, but when making your decision about where to get a pup, a dispassionate approach is critical to the future success of your relationship with your dog.

 

puppy_love_hazeWP

 

Why is this important?
Birth to 16 weeks is considered the “golden learning window” during which you have an opportunity to positively affect the future behavior of your dog. Certain things must take place during this critical period in order for your puppy to grow into a well-adjusted dog. Socialization, preventative exercises and house-training are all important.

Most puppies go to their new homes at about eight weeks of age. So half of this “golden learning window” is spent in the care of a breeder or animal shelter. How do you know that the person raising your puppy has been committed to the puppy’s healthy development from day one?

Asking some questions will help you determine the right source. By “right,” we mean the place where those responsible for your pup’s first couple of months are proactive and concerned about canine socialization and an enriched development program.

Interactive Interviewing
A reputable puppy seller or shelter is going to ask you questions. With approximately 40 percent of all dogs being surrendered during their first year in a new home, they want to be sure you are a suitable match. It is not uncommon to be asked about your lifestyle and about the time you are willing to devote to caring for the dog; you may even be asked to sign an agreement to enroll in classes…and show proof of completion! And the list goes on.

It is important that you have a list of your own questions. Regardless of where you get your pup, you are searching for the best-case scenario. Is the source making your job easier or more difficult? Taking the time to find out is well worth the effort.

The Savvy Search Checklist
• Can you meet the parents and see the facilities where the pup is being raised? It is always nice to meet both parents of the pup if you can, though often, the mother is the only one available. It’s also a good idea to meet these dogs before the puppies are born, so that your observations are not swayed by the cuteness factor. Take the time to observe what their personalities are like. Specifically are they well socialized and friendly around you. If the mom shows signs of being unfriendly towards strangers, there is a chance that her pups will too.

In a situation where you have decided to rescue a puppy from a shelter you may not have the opportunity to do this background check. You should still gather as much information on the puppy as you can. Some shelters make use of “foster homes” so the puppies won’t have to be brought up in a shelter environment. Are you able to visit the foster home, see the facilities and meet the dogs?

•Is the area where the pup stays clean? Can s/he leave the sleeping and play area to eliminate? Are the puppies being raised in an area where there is plenty of activity, as opposed to being shut away?
Has a range of stimuli been provided for the pups? How complex (while safe) has their environment been? Have they encountered a variety of surfaces and objects to explore and play with? Have they been exposed to sounds that are out of the ordinary for the area in which they live? Have the sounds been increased in volume to “proof” them against noise sensitivity?

What type of early socialization have the pups had? What numbers and variety of people have they met? Have they had early exposure to children (of all ages)? Have they been exposed to gentle handling and received treats from the different folks they encountered? Have they been for car rides? Have they visited a vet clinic? Was the car ride and visit pleasant?

What type of preventative exercises have been started? Have the puppies been fed individually to help avoid food guarding. Have “trade-you” games been played in order to reduce the likelihood of food and toy-guarding? Have they had a positive introduction to gentle handling exercises? Have they had a positive introduction to grooming tools? Does the puppy-raiser keep notes on the individual pup’s development? If so, may you read the notes?

Have the puppies had a positive introduction to a crate? Have they been separated from their littermates for short periods of time? Or is the day you bring your puppy home going to be the first day s/he is separated from the litter and introduced to the crate?

The Happy Beginning
Once you’re armed with answers and know-how, life with your dog-to-be should exceed your puppy-love-haze expectations. What a great way to start your time together!

To discover more about the importance of early education, socialization and preventative exercises please visit ultimatepuppy.com