Author Archives: Sydney

I Sit. You Sit.

Pomeranian weaves in between lady’s legs as she walks toward the camera. Dog is looking up at the woman.

Watch Me Move

Body language is the subtext for us humans but for our pups, it is their first language. They take their cues from other dog’s body postures and subtle movements as well as being masters at watching people move.

We can inadvertently appear threatening to a dog by the way we move or approach them. Even our own dogs can get weirded out by our strange movement if for example we have a big coat, strange hat or move with a different gait then we usually do. Check out the scary monster game for more on this.

The flip side of being aware of how our posture is perceived by a dog is you understanding what your dog is communicating with his body posture.

pull quote says: Since dogs keenly watch us, we can communicate things to them without ever needing to speak at allCheck out this infographic by the wonderful Lili Chin. Take time to observe your pup as you go through the day and are in different situations. Can you tell what they are communicating or how they are feeling?

Body postures that let you know your dog is feeling happy and relaxed are a loose wiggly body or a play bow. Then there are the less apparent cues to watch for that might indicate stress such as head turns, lip licking, wide eyes or pinned ears.

Since dogs keenly watch us, we can communicate things to them without ever needing to speak at all.

Let’s look at some fun ways to use your pup’s natural inclination to watch you and learn how we can use our movement as cues to the dog to perform a behavior such as sit or lie down.

Marvelous Moves

Settle On The Go (or at home)

This is an excellent skill for any dog. When you sit, it’s their cue to settle. More and more dogs are getting to head to the office with their people. How great is it to have a meeting savvy dog.

Prerequisite Moves

Your pup needs a solid down on a verbal cue or hand signal for this. Some duration on a ‘settle’ cue is a plus too. Of course, this is always something that can be a work-in-progress. More motivation for you to work at your foundation moves with this as a game plan for refining them as your puppy is able.

How do you teach it?

Do multiple repetitions of approaching a chair and as you are bending to sit cue your puppy to down. Reward the dog with three to five treats in rapid succession.

With a treat right against the pup’s nose so they can smell it, stand up and lure the puppy out of the down position. Take a few steps away, do a U-turn and return to the same spot and repeat.

Do multiple repetitions for 1 to 3-minute training sessions.

Fade the verbal cue as your dog starts to get the idea.

Next, add some duration to the down. You are on your way to a pup who chills when you sit down for a bite, a meeting, or whatever brings you to your seat.

A Hand On The Door Knob Is Your Pup’s Cue To Sit and Wait For What Happens Next.

Teaching your puppy to hold his sit as you open the door is helpful in preventing door crowding, jumping on people and of course door dashing. Front door etiquette is a favorite of mine to teach, this is one of the beautiful components of it.

Prerequisite Moves

A nice solid sit around moderate distractions is helpful. Impulse control exercises where the pup has learned to look away or wait calmly for a reward.

How do you teach it?

This is a two-parter – first, you train the auto sit, next you teach the pup to hold the sit as the door opens.

Part One

Begin by having your puppy on a leash and approaching a door.

As you put your hand on the doorknob ask your puppy to sit.

Reward the puppy for sitting.

Lure the puppy away by placing a treat right against his nose – it should be like a magnet in that the pup’s nose does not leave your hand as he is sniffing the treat.

Do a U-turn and return to the spot and repeat.

Continue practicing in short sessions with multiple repetitions until the puppy is sitting on his own as your hand moves toward the doorknob.

Fade out the verbal cue so a hand on the doorknob is all that is needed for cueing the pup to sit.

Part Two

Next, you will teach the ‘hold the sit’ behavior.

This stage requires some good impulse control on your pup’s part so be sure that you have practiced ‘leave it’ or some other good impulse control games beforehand with your puppy. This is helpful for keeping the pup out from underfoot in the kitchen. Out of the dishwasher. Safe from things that drop and helps prevent the dreaded counter surfing.

For this part of the lesson don’t worry about the pup sitting when your hand goes to the doorknob. Focus on one piece at a time. Get both steps smooth. Then put them together.

With your puppy on a leash in the sit position slowly start to open the door.

If the puppy gets up, close the door. Reposition in the sit and try again. The signal to the puppy that we want him to hold the sit is the door closing. We stay quiet and merely control what the door does. Not what the puppy does. The pup figures this part out.

If your puppy holds the sit reward him with a delicious high-value treat and repeat. Sometimes you can also pay him with the opportunity to go through the door with a verbal release such as ‘Okay.’

Lots of different things happen at the door. People come and go, and sometimes the pup stays or goes. Teach your puppy that an open door is not always a predictor of ‘going through it.’ But is a predictor of a big reward.

Refrigerator Door Opens – Pup Heads To A Mat To Settle or Just Outside of Kitchen.

This is helpful for keeping the pup out from underfoot in the kitchen. Out of the dishwasher. Safe from things that drop and helps prevent the dreaded counter surfing.

Prerequisite Moves

Settle on a mat with some duration in place.

How do you teach it?

Start with a mat just outside the kitchen.

Do several warm-ups of just asking the dog to go to his mat.

Reward!

Next, as you put your hand on the refrigerator door cue the pup to go to his mat.

Keep practicing until the dog heads to the mat as you are moving toward the refrigerator.

Fade the verbal cue.

Keep on paying large.

Next, you will add distractions such as washing a plate, opening a drawer or loading the dishwasher.

Keep rewarding the pup for holding his position on the mat as you move about the kitchen.

pull quote says: Can you tell what they are communicating or how they are feeling?That Pup’s Got Moves

The beauty of this type of training is that it takes a lot of pressure off of you and the dog. Do remember to continue to reward the dog for their excellent behavior. The sky is the limit in training. Anything you do on a regular basis can become a cue to your dog about what it is you want him to do at the same time. Get creative, have fun.

Happy Training.

Watch Out For Problem Patterns

puppy pulling back while on leash

Prevent – It’s a thing

Brushing, flossing and visiting the dentist helps us maintain healthy teeth and prevent gum disease. If we don’t brush our teeth one night we won’t suffer the next day. However complications may come later on in our life if we miss years of proper oral hygiene.

This is the way it rolls. We make choices now to prevent problems later. The same goes for our dogs. By making certain choices early in their lives we will help prevent some behaviors from becoming problematic down the road.

Safe Spot Keeps Spot Safe

The safe spot (confinement with a crate or gate) and structure that you provide early on will go a long way to help prevent annoying habits from developing. For example, a puppy with structure will not have the opportunity to door dash, counter surf, jump on guests or chase the kids. Problems prevented! As the pup matures his propensity for many of these behaviors will mellow. You have raised a calm, well-mannered adult dog which is a result of your early efforts of training and management. Job well done!

Let’s look at some other common problem patterns and how to prevent them.

Puppy Hoover

Outside on walks the puppy picks up trash, sticks, rocks and other random debris. We yell ‘NO!’ and grab for the thing in their mouth.

What can develop is intense guarding of objects, running away from you and sometimes growling and or biting you.

Work to prevent this behavior by first understanding that a puppy explores the world with his mouth. Therefore he is always going to be interested in snuffling around on the ground, grabbing things and sometimes eating them. Determine a ‘what’s safe’ and ‘what’s dangerous’ list. Monitor surrounding areas for the ‘dangerous items’. Avoid them or pick them up before the puppy has the opportunity.  Trade or ignore ‘non- dangerous’ items because grabbing for them may lead to resource guarding.

If the pup is doing this inside you need to examine the amount of free, unattended time he has. Be more organized about what is left out for the pup to grab. While it might be a natural reaction to yell and grab for a pup when he picks something up try not to do it since this type of reaction will always backfire on you. Be prepared for the behavior and manage it well.

Are You A Grabby McGrabby Pants?

You can create real problems for yourself as well as stress on the pup with thoughtless handling. A quick swoop to lift him can be starting. A reach for the little one to  put on ‘gear’ like a harness or a leash may seem innocent to you but your pup might feel quite put out by the experience.

Slowly but surely you start to see a puppy that runs away from you when you reach for him.Pull quote: “The result will be a puppy who eagerly participates in getting ready rather than a puppy who runs away.”

A more mindful approach to begin interactions with your pup may look like this. Let the pup come to you and always reward him. Do this with a body posture cue. With a treat in your right hand bend down and put your right hand low, close to or right against your right ankle. When the puppy comes over for the treat place your left arm over the pup and under his belly and feed him the treat as you lift.

The Information Cuepull quote: “Include an ‘information cue’ for the pup by saying the word ‘lift’ as you pick him up.”

Include an ‘information cue’ for the pup by saying the word ‘lift’ as you pick him up. Your body posture becomes a cue for him to come over for the ‘lift’. Always reinforcing this movement with a pup will go a long way to prevent keep away, deke away behavior. Do mini training sessions of multiple reps (3 to 5) of bending, lifting and treating because being picked up by their person shouldn’t be a stressful experience for any pup.Pull quote: “The same type of training can be used to get gear on.”

The same type of training can be used to get gear on. Kneel down or sit on the floor when you are putting on a harness, collar or leash and pair it with a treat. A fun game is to have the collar done up loose enough that the pup can poke his head through. You might lure it through to start. Reward every time, then give it a word like ‘head in’ or ‘gear on’. The result will be a puppy who eagerly participates in getting ready rather than a puppy who runs away.

Social Butterfly

Lots of puppies are is very eager to meet dogs and people they pass on the street. They regularly pull towards new people or dogs and are permitted to meet them sometimes and not other times. However this pattern inadvertently makes the pulling stronger and the doggie emotions run higher.

This pattern of meeting and greeting starts to produce a pup that stops, pulls towards or barks at every person and dog they see on the sidewalk.

Think about alternatives to this style of meeting and greeting. I am not a fan of dog-to-dog Pull quote: “Use other dogs and people as a training opportunity to get your puppy to tune into you.”meetings on leash because it can often lead to problems. If it must happen keep it short. A sniff and move on. Three seconds should do it. Good puppy play can’t happen on leash therefore why allow it? Leashes get tangled, this could make a puppy panicked and in general it is not best practice. Small puppy socialization classes with carefully monitored puppy playtime and curated play dates with selected pups or known friendly adult dogs are my picks for puppy play opportunities.

While on leash be selective about the people and other dogs your puppy is going to meet.  Use other dogs and people as a training opportunity to get your puppy to tune into you. Meet select people for socialization purposes. Everyone does love a new puppy so you must use this to your benefit instead of the detriment of your pup’s behavior?

Prevent Problem Patterns

A keen eye and attention to detail is a winning combination in the thick of puppy raising. Your prevention strategy makes a difference. Annoying or dangerous habits become much less of an option or a challenge. Be on the look out for problem patterns and “cut-em” off at the pass. Happy puppy raising.

Patience

a puppy laying on his belly in the sun with the shadow on a fence on him.

A New Year

As we come to the end of this year and look forward to… WAIT! (cue sound of screeching breaks). Let’s pause for a moment and consider the last sentence, specifically the words ‘look forward’.

Merriam Webster’s definition of the word patience is “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.” 

We will assume since you are here and reading this that you have a puppy, are about to get a puppy or that you are into dogs and dog behavior. I want to talk about the importance of patience in relation to puppy raising.

The ability to be patient might be the single most important part of raising and training a new dog.

Tempo of The Dog

We live in the times of “I want it yesterday” this mentality will not only undermine your puppy raising efforts but may also damage trust in the relationship. It simply will not do when it comes to raising a pup. They don’t move to the same beat.

Our hope for you is that you not LOOK FORWARD with your puppy but rather stay here in the now with him. This after all is where your pup is.

Enjoy all the joys and be patient with the challenges of this path. There will be plenty. From dealing with bathroom training to biting and nipping. Strive to understand the creature before you with all their differences. Their needs and wants. Their fears and joys and their heart’s desire. You can bet it is much different from yours.

The thought of a hot bath may be your idea of fun but your pup’s is more about rolling all over a dead fish.

Thank You!

We thank you for being a part of Ultimate Puppy. For taking the time to educate yourself, or help to educate others thoughtfully and compassionately.

Be patient with your puppy and with the ones you love.

Happy New Puppy (Year)

Warmly, Peg, Syd and the UP family.

a hand shadow of a dog

 

 

3 Reasons To Train Your Puppy

A dynamic view from below of a young woman jumps over a ditch with her sheepdog.

See Me, Hear Me

pull quote reads: Adored, coddled or handled without care, frequently misunderstood and uneducated.We all want to be heard and understood. I remember being at a workshop many years ago, can’t remember when or where, listening to Ian Dunbar (one of my heroes) tell a moving story about the sad fate of many dogs. In brief, I will recount it in my words. It’s the tale of many a puppy. Adored, coddled or handled without care, frequently misunderstood and uneducated. Moving into adolescence they become problematic, annoying and unmanageable. Perhaps from here delegated to the backyard. Problems gaining momentum until eventually the dog is surrendered to a shelter and who knows their fate from there. The odds are not looking good for this dog’s future. What if this dog had been educated early on and his folks knew how to help prepare, ‘prevent’ and/or deal with particular adolescent dog behavior?

An Early Education Helps

pull quote reads: a big part of my motivation is to help the new puppy folks work to prevent specific problematic, yet predictable behaviors.As a dog trainer who specializes in early education for puppies a big part of my motivation is to help the new puppy folks work to prevent specific problematic, yet predictable behaviors. Things like guarding behavior or not being comfortable having their nails trimmed. I teach my students what to pay attention to, how to set the dog up for success and how to do fun, simple exercises that may help prevent the behavior from developing. Another essential part of the process is that I help prepare people emotionally and theoretically that the adolescence stage is coming and with it particular behaviors. Adolescence begins when the dog reaches puberty and ends with social maturity. Different for all dogs, size matters, roughly talking 6 months through to about 3 years.

Growing Up Is Hard

pull quote reads: Top 3 reasons to train a puppy... the adolescent dog, the adolescent dog, the adolescent dog.It is normal that your adolescent dog jumps, bites, and seems to have lost some of the behaviors you had previously thought were well established. There are lots of changes going on during this stage of development. Some you can measure, Such as adult teeth, others are not visible, hormones and brain development to name two. There are fear periods that the dog goes through as well, one or more coinciding with the adolescent stage of development. All of this combined can make for a trying time for your pup and for you.

Adolescent Lab stealing a cookie from the kitchen counter top

4 Tips To Help You Navigate Adolescence With Your Pup

Structure. Even though bathroom training might seem perfected don’t rush ahead of yourself and give your puppy too much freedom too soon. Structure in the form of crates and gates remains a helpful strategy for the adolescent dog.

Light Hearted Approach. Avoid showdowns. Keep training moving forward with a playful, fun tempo. Concentrate on moves your dog enjoys. Targeting behaviors – such as ‘go to your mat’, targeting your hand with their nose or using a paw to target different objects, eye contact, tug and short recalls on leash are all good bets.

Work-to-eat-toys and lots of games. Enriching opportunities for your dog to get his ‘dogginess on’ should be a priority. Experiment with dog puzzles, snuffle mats, hide and seek games and food-stuffed toys.

Calming massage and gentle handling. Calm voice, calm environment. While your dog is stretched out and relaxed try gently running your hand from nose to tail. There are lots of examples of dog massage you can explore on the Internet. Interacting with your dog this way will promote calm, comfort and bonding.

The top three reasons to train your puppy… the adolescent dog, the adolescent dog, the adolescent dog. This piece is dedicated to all the dogs that got the short end of the stick.

 

Make A Habit of It

A woman walks barefoot along the beach with a beagle puppy walking at her side, looking up at her

 

Your good habits are what will determine your new pup’s behavior.

Little things that you do on a regular basis can make a marked difference as the big picture unfolds.

pull quote that says: We often don’t see the benefit or the fallout from our choices until later.

We often don’t see the benefit or the fallout from our choices until later. If you handle your pup’s nails every Wednesday and Friday, trim them every Sunday, use high value food when you do, let him remain standing while doing it versus holding him, use a skid proof mat, a helper and have good lighting. Trimming your dog’s nails will not be a chore for you or your dog. There is something to be said for good habits!

 

Knowing that the habits we put in place ‘now’ will help ensure a happier stress free ‘later on’ is often not enough motivation. Lets look at some simple things you can do to set yourself up for success with these helpful habit-building tips.

Crate

We all want our pups to be calm and settled in the chosen area of confinement. Mine is usually a crate. This happens by consistently using it, ensuring the puppy is entertained when inside, and always working to build a positive association with it.

If you have a multi-storied house you could have crates in multiple spots. When I raise a pup I have crates on every floor. No matter where we are if the puppy needs a quick break, or I do, there is always one near by. This way I am setting myself up to succeed.

When I crate a puppy I always want to make sure they are going in with some tasty treats. Keep jars of treats on top of your crate of near by so that every time the pup goes in you have your treats handy to toss in ahead of him.

 

Train

When you do training sessions with your pup they should be short, fast and fun. pull quote: When you do training sessions with your pup they should be short, fast and fun.

Play some fun music while you do a training session with your pup (no headphones please). Make it something you love and something up beat, when the song is over the session is over. You got some training in, maybe a little dancing, you feel happy and your pup does too.

If you find that you end up not setting enough time aside to get to the practice part of training try doing the training right before something that you are consistently doing with you pup. For example, if you bring the pup on the couch to cuddle while you watch your favorite show. Before each cuddle session do a 3-minute training session.

Walk

We need to take treats out on walks and socialization expeditions. This is an absolute must. Forgetting treat bags at home shouldn’t be an option. No one ever wants to be caught out and about with out a poo bag so stash your poo bags in a front compartment of your treat bag. This way you won’t leave home without either.

Gear On pull quote: Hang your treat pouch with your leash or keep a jar of treats where you keep your gear.

I see a lot of pup’s gradually become stressed when having gear put on. They become uncomfortable with the sound or sight of their harness or collar.

Hang your treat pouch with your leash or keep a jar of treats where you keep your gear. This way you will see it when you are putting your pup’s gear on. Always pair the harness or collar going on with food. This helps prevent the pup from developing an unpleasant association with this process.

Build It And Practice

A way to help build good habits is to create an environment or a routine that causes you to think or act in a particular way. The behavior it prompts will make it easy for you to practice something helpful with your puppy. Hence you start to create ‘good training habits’. The by-product of this is a happy, well trained, stress free pup.

Use these techniques and think about what habits you want to build and how you can build them. We would love you to share your ‘happy pup, habit building tips’ with us.

 

puppies looking up at words that say “the secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine”