Getting Started

A tiny puppy with no bad habits is far easier to work with than a big out-of-control dog.

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No control…

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Control.

Junior Obedience

This program will also guide you through teaching your puppy basic obedience requests.

Being able to do such things as walking on a loose leash, sit, down, stand, stay, and coming when called are essential for a dog to respond to in order to live safely and harmoniously in our lives.

We have all heard the ‘bad’ dog stories: dogs that bark non-stop, dogs that bite, dogs that soil in the house, dogs that chew prized possessions, dogs that pull hard on the leash, dogs that don’t come when called! Dogs are predictable. It is no big secret: they will grow up and do the things that dogs naturally do. Without our intervention, dogs are not all that domestic!

The Nature of the Beast

You are in the process of establishing a new relationship with a dog (not another person). It is important that you understand what makes your dog tick.

How Do Dogs See the World?

Most behaviors that we perceive as problematic are natural for the dog.

Most behaviors that we want from our dog on a regular basis are unnatural for the dog.

They don’t know the difference between right and wrong; they are amoral.

Dogs are concerned with two things: what is safe and what is dangerous.

Dogs don’t do things out of spite or jealousy. It is dangerous for us to impart human values on them.

Dogs are predators; they want to chase, catch, and chew.

Dogs are not born with a desire to please us.

How Dogs Learn

Dogs learn from their experiences, be they good or bad. If, after a certain behavior, something good happens, they are likely to repeat that behavior. Conversely, if something unpleasant occurs after the behavior, they are less likely to repeat it.

The Motivation Factor

Considering that dogs are not born with a desire to please us and that they learn faster and retain more of what they have learned if the situation is a pleasant one, how do we motivate our puppies to work and play with us?

The strongest motivator for most dogs is food, although there are some dogs that would prefer a game of retrieve to a bit of liver.

Other strong motivators for dogs are games and toys and play time with other dogs. Look at a motivator as something that your dog wants; you will use this to get the dog to do what you want him to do. Remember dogs don’t do things for free, they want a positive reward. (See How Dogs Learn for more information on this topic.)

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Believe It or Not

Many people believe that dogs are born with a desire to please us. This would mean that from the minute the puppy recognizes us as his companion, he is immediately filled with a desire to do everything he can to make us happy.

If you think about it, there is really no organism that comes into this world wanting to please anything else. It just so happens that children respond to praise, attention, and affection, but every parent knows that there are times when the last thing their child is thinking about is pleasing them.

If dogs want to please us, why do they chew up our furniture, our shoes? Why do they soil on our carpets? Why do they take off out the back gate and ignore our calls and pleas to come back? Why do they growl and snap at us when we reach for their toy, their food bowl, or when we usher them off the couch? Do these behaviors describe a dog who “wants to please us”?

Popular culture has helped perpetuate the myth. Hollywood would have you believe that dogs want to please us because it makes for good entertainment.

Popular culture has helped perpetuate the myth. Hollywood would have you believe that dogs want to please us because it makes for good entertainment.

We tend to project our own human values and emotions (this is called anthropomorphizing) onto our dogs because it makes us feel better. When we are sad, they look at us with their big brown eyes and we think they understand. It comforts us. They listen to everything we have to say and never respond with a negative word. No wonder we easily fall victim to these false notions of dogs and their motives. It may be natural for us to spontaneously believe this fallacy; after all, we are bringing the puppy into our home. He is a new member of our family. We love him and want him to be happy, and we believe that he will reciprocate these feelings. But in truth, these misconceptions are unfair and dangerous. You owe it to your new puppy to understand what really makes him tick.

When you have a dog that stays in the garden even when the back gate is wide open, that chews on the things that you provide him with and nothing else, that does his business outside in the chosen location, and is neutral about you touching his food or toys, this is not a dog who is living to please you. This is a dog that has had the benefit of the important early input, that you have responsibly put in place.

Blending It All Together

As you go along, you will find that most of what happens in our relationship with dogs is interwoven and connected. Socializing naturally occurs during obedience work and vice versa. Games take place during both socializing and obedience. Although we have broken things down into specific sections, everything is connected, interwoven, and works together.

Start where you feel most comfortable. Use whatever tools work best for you. Keep in mind that if you are not making progress using one method, there are usually several other examples to try. Do not lose sight of the big picture. Ensure that you are covering all the different issues involved in raising a good puppy.

What This Site Contains

You will find the following:

Sections

Each area of importance has its own section, for easy reference.

Chart: Your Puppy’s Development

This chart shows the stages of your puppy’s development. It shows the age and the development period, both physically and mentally. It explains what you should be doing with your pup at each stage. Check it regularly.

A Social Schedule

A Social Schedule is a comprehensive socialization list. The list is broken down into categories to ensure that you cover everything. Your puppy needs to be exposed to a wide variety of people, places, and things. The list is to be used as a reference. The list can be found at the end of the Socialization section. Your objective is to successfully expose your pup to as many of the things on the list as possible.

Step by Step

The Step by Step four week Training Guide is for anyone who has just brought home a new pup, or for puppy school professionals who want to use our training as part of their program. This Guide provides a more structured plan on how to mix and match the five sections of Ultimate Puppy. While there are no hard and fast rules regarding what should be done or when, we have placed what we believe are the most important aspects of the training at the beginning.