Category Archives: Tips

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!

Just wait ’til I grow up

A thoughtful connection between you and your puppy will take time to cultivate and will require patience and consistency. Set an intention to create such a relationship, its worth should not be underestimated.

You want to create a connection so that your dog is interested in you! As with anything worthwhile, when you put in the time and energy necessary you will reap the rewards. You must be steadfast and true in your efforts to teach your puppy you are someone he can trust and count on and that you are someone worth paying attention to.

I have high hopes for you and your puppy as you go hippity hopping through life, as you walk down the sidewalk, wind through the woods, meander along a path or over a hill and onto the banks of a babbling brook. I want you to experience a reliable behavior from your dog, one that you will come to count on. A quick glance in your direction might seem insignificant to the untrained eye, this is not so. This behavior is far-reaching and valuable in so many ways.

Let’s talk about three simple moves you can work on with your puppy to start to cultivate this bond. They are fun, and you can practice anytime, anywhere. As with everything you teach your new puppy, start in quiet areas with less distractions and work towards busier environments. Introducing, Pause, Yoo-hoo and Play just remember, P.Y.P. or plucky young puppy!

Pause

One component of a healthy mindfulness practice for us humans is to stop and pause throughout our day. Before we go into a meeting, after a workout or before or after a commute from one place to the next. Simply pause and pay attention to our breath and how we are feeling. This same pause may be useful while playing and training with our pups.

In her book On Talking Terms With Dogs: Calming Signals, Turid Rugaas talks about different subtle behaviors dogs use to defuse stressful situations. Some of these behaviors are slight pauses. We may or may not be aware of all these subtle moves our dogs are showing us but it sure is worth learning more about and watching for.

We can add our own version of Pause as we play and work with our pups. When we move from one environment to another, as we leave the house and head out to the yard or the street or when we switch from one exercise to the next. Pause, let your puppy acclimate to his new surroundings, let him have a look around, maybe a little sniff. Wait for him to check in with you and reinforce amply for that. Once he has had a moment, a chance to get his bearings, start whatever it is you are going to do together. You can make pause part of your training strategy wherever you go and whatever you are working on.

 

This is what taking a Pause looks like when you are training a puppy

Pause, a break and time to get a look around

 

Yoo-hoo

We have all seen the dogs that have no idea who is on the other end of their leash. Dogs with their nose to the ground sniffing furiously, dogs leaning hard into their collar or harness, dodging this way and that, sometimes to the point where the person hanging onto the leash might be in danger of falling. It is up to you to teach your puppy that you are someone worth checking in with, paying attention to and taking their cues from and that it is beneficial for them to do this. Translation, good things happen when he tunes into you. Try giving your pup 5 to 10 tiny pieces of high value food for him looking at you. Tiny-tiny but tasty-tasty! Cheese, chicken or hotdog are nice tasty choices of high-value food you might work with. Remember not just one treat here, but 5 to 10 tiny pieces in rapid succession!  The name of the game is to teach your pup to check in with you. Making it worthwhile to your dog when he looks at you is going to increase your chances of staying connected.

 

The puppy is looking up at the young woman, this is what checking in look like

Yoo-hoo, Shelby checking in

 

Woman gives puppy treats for check in with her

Yoo-hoo, Shelby getting rewarded for checking in

 

Play

You will see the benefits of adding Play to your training strategy. Play adds a level of sophistication to your game! Always keep a toy on you. A long soft tug-type toy with a squeaky works great. A puppy can chase this, or play Tug with it, or you can use the squeak to get his attention.

Practice breaking up your sessions with a quick game of Chase and catch up, at which point the puppy can play a game of Tug. Be silly and enticing, experiment with toys and games and learn which ones your puppy loves best. Use these super-hero moves to keep that puppy having fun, and on his toes and engaged.  Be unpredictable. Maybe you are relaxing on the floor together when all of a sudden you are magically producing a new toy and a great game of chase. Super-hero!

 

Woman calls Yoo-Hoo puppy, come over here!

Syd and Shelby play a quick game of Chase!

 

What kind of dog will you raise?

A confident, curious puppy who is interested in the world around him but who is also interested in checking in with you and paying attention to what you are doing is a beautiful thing. Aim for this connection. Incorporate these moves into your everyday routine with your puppy. Try and look at your day-to-day life with your new puppy like every moment is an opportunity to teach and educate him. This might seem like a tall order but with a good training strategy, some understanding of how dogs learn and what makes them tick you are off to a good start. Remember your Plucky Young Puppy won’t be young forever, just wait ’til they grow up!

Take it up a Notch

family puppy

This is a motivation checklist to keep handy while raising your puppy. Check back often to determine whether or not you are staying on track.

UP’s Tips For Creating A Meaningful Relationship With Your Dog

• The desire to meet the needs of your dog.

• A quality education. If you don’t understand what your dog needs you can’t possibly provide it.

• Positive, motivational training backed with science, heart and mutual trust.

• A full treat pouch and a beloved dog toy.

• A sense of humor and patience, with your puppy and with yourself.

Realistic goals and expectations.

• Commitment and dedication to the process.

• Flexibility – be willing to change your game plan when your puppy or dog is faced with challenges and your approach isn’t working.

A Little Less Conversation, A Little More Action

less talk more action - play tug with your puppy!

A fun part of getting to know a new puppy is discovering his preferences. If we pay attention we can learn what kind of treats he loves and which toys and games are his favorites.

In my experience there are few pups that don’t enjoy a great game of tug.

Unfortunately this game has a bad reputation. I’m saying it… Playing tug is not going to teach your puppy bad habits and make him aggressive! On the contrary! When you teach the game with some simple rules and plenty of structure your puppy learns impulse control, great manners and he gets his puppy ya-ya’s out.

The rules are simple, the puppy needs to learn to;

1.     Take the toy only when given the verbal cue to ‘take it’.

2.     Give the toy when asked to ‘give’.

3.     Sit immediately following the give.

In the beginning stage of teaching a puppy how to play tug, work to perfect the give and sit portion of the game. Lots of ‘take it’ with a short stint of tug followed by a trade for a tasty treat and luring the ‘sit’. Be sure when you make the trade, that you use something enticing enough to get the puppy to give up the toy. This might take some experimenting with different treats. Put it right up to his nose so he can smell it, say give, he will let go of the toy, then lure the sit and let him have the treat. Repeat.

Short film clip: How to play Tug with your puppy

Tug Tips

The ‘sit’ following the ‘give’ is an important component of teaching ‘tug’. If you are consistent it will quickly turn into an‘automatic safety-sit’. A sitting dog is not jumping up to grab a toy. He is politely waiting for the cue to ‘take it’.

Practice lots of ‘leave it, take it’ separately.

Play low, keep the toy low and let the puppy do the pulling on the toy. Avoid lifting the puppy up with the toy.

Use a long soft toy that puts some distance between your hand and the pup’s mouth.

If the puppy isn’t letting go of the toy, the trade treat isn’t enticing enough. Switch to something more ‘high value’ to the puppy.

Less talk, more play. Practice makes perfect. Ready, set, go!