Category Archives: Behavior

Walk This Way

This is an illustration of a woman and a puppy. The woman walks in a straight line towards a tree. The puppy walks all over the place, ending up at the tree. #puppytraining #puppycoaching #puppysocialisation #looseleashwalking #politewalking #karenpryor

Picture an ape swinging from the jungle canopy making her way from point A to point B. A pod of dolphins leaping skyward out of the water and then splashing back in again, a frog hopping or swimming through a pond. How each of these animals moves on the earth is different. Swimming, swinging, slithering, soaring, hopping, no legs, two legs, four legs, wings, fins! Wow!

Imagine if you were required to keep up with a pod of sea lions, take a walk with a kangaroo or keep pace with a snail for a day. Hmm.

With that image fresh in your mind picture what it means to teach our four-legged puppy friends to walk with us. Let’s think about the finer points involved in teaching another species to amble along at our pace. To not do the things they want, but instead pay attention to us.

Does a dog naturally walk in a straight line the same way you do? No. A dog will move forward in different directions, often making turns and big circles, choosing not to follow a sidewalk or a well-worn path but rather, their nose!

 

This is a text graphic which reads: “Brace yourself; They don’t want to walk with you!”

So this is the first thing to consider when we complain about unruly pups on leash. How are we going to interest our dog to walk this way?

The answer is little by little. First building a foundation then adding more and more layers or pieces of the puzzle. Strategically, thoughtfully and with compassion and know-how. Teaching specific things one before the other, as the puppy is ready and as you have prepared him for the next lesson to be learned. This is how you would want to be taught, isn’t it?

In my freshpuppy course I teach polite walking in Puppy Level 3. There are many other important pieces of the puzzle to put into place first. My students may ask “When do we cover leash walking?”, “How do I get my puppy to walk with me?”. Patience Grasshopper, all in good time.

Puppies pull, they lag, they quit, they may be scared, they may be jumping and biting. This is all normal! They are puppies. Brace yourself; they don’t want to walk with you! They would rather sniff, run or chase. They would rather rest in the cool grass or roll in the leaves or the snow. They would rather jump and run over there or over here! They would prefer to grab that leash and have a good game of tug with it. Can you blame them?

I urge you to consider this as well… imagine a stressed, overwhelmed or over-stimulated puppy, who doesn’t know how to sit and who is not interested in checking in with you. Now try to teach that puppy to walk nicely on a leash with you. It’s probably not going to be too much fun for anyone.

There is a ton of other fun stuff for you to focus on with a puppy that will help you move toward teaching the pup to walk politely on the leash and to have a good time doing it. Prioritizing what is important to do and keeping your expectations realistic is so key. Let’s look at some of the foundation work (and play) that will help you gain the willing participation and focus you want from your puppy.

Socialization and exploration

Socialization and exploration trumps polite walking by a long shot! Make sure your puppy is not scared of the world we expect them to navigate. This means a thoughtful and proactive socialization strategy. Use this robust list to help you accomplish this critical work. The socialization field trip worksheet will inspire and help you stay on track with your game plan.

Your dog’s ability to feel safe, curious and capable to deal with complex environments has a direct impact on how well he will be able to walk on a leash with you.

Yoo-hoo!

I’ve dubbed teaching a puppy to check in (with you) ‘Yoo-hoo’. Make it a habit to give your pup incentive to check in. I coach my students to super charge their puppy with lots of tiny treats (about 5) in rapid succession for any sign of this behavior. I won’t prompt a pup for the ‘check in’ but when I get it you can be sure the pup is going to be paid handsomely! Teaching a puppy to check in from a distance is another valuable foundation behavior. You can teach this while doing long line work. Read on.

This is a text graphic which reads: “Do you really want to be less interesting than a lamppost?” #clickertraining #karenpryorgraduate #vettech #puppymythbuster #puppyhowto

Follow me and long line work

Long lines are one of my favorite pieces of puppy equipment. I couldn’t imagine raising a pup without one. It is 20 to 40 feet worth of insurance; it is oodles of hands free fun for you and your puppy. Nothing beats running around hither and yon in wide-open spaces with your pup using treats and toys. This is what dreams are made of! This is how you teach your puppy that you are more interesting than all of the things that are competing for his attention… squirrels, other dogs, leaves, or a lamppost. Do you really want to be less interesting than a lamppost? In addition to running you can walk patterns, big squares or serpentines reinforcing your pup for choosing to stay close by and stop when you do.

Sit

Teach a rock solid sit, it’s simple and so useful. Be sure to make it fun.

My aim in writing about this is for you to stop and consider the complexity of teaching a puppy to walk on a leash. To encourage you to be patient with your puppy and yourself! Have fun together. Give your puppy time and permission to be young and goofy and curious. Start with these priority action plans. Little by little all of the pieces of the puzzle will start to fit together and the big picture is realized. Fast-forward 6 months from now and you have a pup that is starting to walk beautifully with you. Checking in, not pulling, interested in exploring. Calm and confident.

Raising an outstanding canine citizen is not a one-way street. It is more like a 10 lane highway. It’s not all about what we want. We have to learn and care about what our dog wants and needs. I know when my dog is enjoying the learning process. I also know the signs when it is not working for her. I pay attention and change gears when her head is not in the game. My goal is to make the experience fun and successful.

I feel like I will never be done learning things and teaching my dog new things. I recently learned that the name of that motion used by some apes that swing with their arms from the jungle canopy is called brachiation. So cool!

 

This is a text graphic which reads: “Give your puppy permission to be young, goofy and curious.” #germanshepherd #labrador #longbeachdogtrainer #fathersday #dogpsychology #trainingcesarsway #lbc #boxer #4thstlb #trotsdogtraining #longbeachdogs #longbeachdogtraining #longbeach #dogbehavior #rottweiler #walking #rottiworld #dog #rottidobemix #rotti #dobermanpuppy #pit #petsmart #dobe #puppy #greatdane #doberman #pitbullsofinstagram #rott #dogtrainer

An additional thought…

As a side note, is it right to expect our dogs to always want to walk where we walk? I don’t think so! Neither does your dog. We need to provide outings where we take our dog’s lead (safety in mind) as they explore a field, a trail, a park, the shore or the sidewalk. Letting them do what they want and go where they want. Imagine never being able to do that yourself!

When I go out with my dogs the walk will consist of different facets. The ‘let’s walk walk’ or the ‘sniff walk’ or the ‘Okay now watch me and lets look smart walk’. There is also the ‘long line walk’ where pup goes where she wants and I walk that way.

It Takes Two

A woman sits on a man's lap while he tries to explain something. The woman is looking away from him with a disappointed facial expression. A puppy is sitting in the foreground with his head tipped to one side as though he is trying to understand what is going on.

When it comes to couples rearing a puppy it’s not uncommon to have different views. We see it all the time. People come with their own history from childhood on how to raise a dog. Our own experience with discipline also affects our training approach. Puppy rearing and training have moved on over the last decade and for most people, “positive reinforcement” (using reward based training) is now the obvious choice. Here, we look at the top four decisions that couples will face in bringing a pup home. We hope that the dialogue will help you and your partner form a consensus on these key issues.

Decision #1.

What style of training will you use?

There are two main types. You need to choose between puppy-friendly positive reinforcement and the use of punitive techniques.

Dog training is unregulated so this key decision is left up to you. Reward based training has been scientifically proven to work. It’s the most forgiving approach and it’s fun and easy to do. Using harsh methods is no fun and unfair to the dog. It can also create dangerous behavioral problems.

No matter the approach, one thing is certain, you must reach a consensus on your training approach, it’s very confusing for a dog to be trained using both techniques and its unlikely to be successful.

We hope the humane approach wins.

Decision #2

Another big decision is whether or not to socialize your pup (with other dogs and our urban environment) before the puppy is completely vaccinated.

You need to know that … the number one killer of young dogs is not disease; it’s a lack of early socialization. Taking a calculated, well-informed risk and socializing your puppy before he is fully vaccinated is the best approach, as explained by the American Animal Hospital Association and the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behaviour. Be cautious of ill-informed professionals, read what the Experts say and get to a Socialization class.

Decision #3

Crate Training

These days most people crate train over night. This is excellent, but daytime Crate Training is often overlooked. A puppy with too much unsupervised freedom is at high risk and will develop annoying behaviors. Nipping, biting, housetraining issues and a lack of focus are a few problems that are likely to occur. Structure and boundaries with supervised “play” and training when out of the crate is the healthiest approach.

You and your partner need to decide that you can put up with some puppy peeping until he settles down in the crate. Don’t worry, it’s natural, your pup will soon settle into the routine of being in his crate and you’ll be happy that he’s not underfoot. Take him out regularly, do some training and put him back in the crate while you are both still successful. He’ll tire quickly at which point, he doesn’t learn well, so keep time spent out of the crate short and successful.

Decision #4

What to prioritize first? House Training, Puppy Junior Obedience, Preventive Training or Socialization?

We think it’s important that you and your partner understand that Socialization and Preventative Exercises should be your priority.

House Training is what most people focus on. In the big picture, it’s the easiest thing to do and a no-brainer when you get some help and stick to a game plan. This is why we put House Training at the bottom of the list.

However for your puppy to be successful, it’s really important that you understand that there’s a small window of opportunity between birth and sixteen weeks when your puppy is highly adaptable and must learn to socialize with other dogs, meet new people and become comfortable in a complex environment. To be successful, you must both work hard to socialize him during this very short period of time.

Along with Socialization comes the idea of Preventative Exercises, these are games and training exercises that prevent the development of problem behaviors like food (or toy) guarding, biting and nipping and separation anxiety. The need for early-socialization is increasingly well understood and it’s likely to be recommended to you by your vet or trainer. However, the need to do training exercises with your pup to pro-actively stop the development of undesirable behaviors is a relatively new concept. So, please read up on this and incorporate preventative exercises in your game plan.

You may be surprised that we don’t give Puppy Junior Obedience training top billing. Manners are important, but understand that like house training, obedience training is not time-sensitive, so focus on Socialization and Preventative Exercises.

From our own experience, we all know couples that wait until they have a child before discussing their values. It’s not surprising that the same thing happens when people get a dog. Bringing a puppy into your life together should be something that brings you together, so discuss the big four issues and do a little reading before you start on what will be a great experience.

 

An Important Step

 

Smiling young woman facing the camera holding her border collie.

April 2017 Syd and her 9 month pup Fen

 

Sydney has recently graduated from and become certified with the prestigious Karen Pryor Academy.

Dog training is an unregulated business with highly variable levels of education and training ability. Professional certification from schools like the Karen Pryor Academy and the work of associations like the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers and the Society of Veterinary Behaviour Technicians are moving our industry closer to becoming a self regulating profession. Sydney has taken a big step in continuing education that will benefit her clients and people using Ultimate Puppy.

Congratulations Syd!

Victorious Vet Visits

Veterinarian listening to puppy's heartbeat

The veterinarian we choose should be considered a ‘partner’ in care. We’re responsible for making sure that clinic staff can safely handle our dog without risk of being bitten. It’s up to us to ensure our dog is comfortable at the vet and can tolerate routine check-ups.

The stress surrounding a waiting room can be reduced by some simple work. A robust socialisation and handling strategy is key with a puppy. This should start with the breeder or foster family and carry on with you. Doing this gives your dog a sizable life-long advantage.

Be sure that you have plenty of delicious treats for your puppy when visiting the clinic. You puppy should be getting treats throughout the visit. Starting when you enter the clinic. Then carry on during the exam. On the table and once off the table. Try tossing some treats onto the scale for fun. You want a dog that is happy to climb on for weigh-in time.

Non-Treatment Social Visits

To prevent negative associations with the vet be sure and get into the clinic for strictly social visits with your puppy.  Non treatment visits will help when done a handful of times as your dog matures. Let your dog receive treats from the reception staff. Play a quick game of tug and then off you go. Keep it short and fun.

Fear-Free Vet Visit is an excellent initiative that was created by Doctor Marty Becker.  For some tips on fear free vet visits you can watch this short video by Doctor Becker.

Thank you to Dr. Paul McCutcheon and his staff of East York Animal Clinic & Holistic Centre in allowing us to photograph Fen’s vet clinic visit. Dr. McCutcheon was operating a Fear-Free clinic long before it became popular to do so.

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.