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”

The Magic Lives In The Details 

A young jack russell puppy’s head has burst through the white paper on the left of the page. He is facing the camera. On the left is text which reads: Did you know that being present is a key component of good training?

Hello! Is Anyone Home?

We could take many lessons from dogs. How about the lesson on being present? They love it when you pay attention to them. Did you know this is a key component of good training?

The difference between a great training session and mediocre one is the attention to detail. Mental presence helps create a connection with your dog. The magic will start to happen once you and your dog maintain eye contact with each other during your sessions and you are both equally engaged in the process of working together. This is good stuff!

If you are taking the time to educate your dog you may just as well strive to make it the best education you can offer. Let’s look at what other components of training are worth understanding and paying attention to.

It Is The Journey Not The Destination

When you are teaching something new or polishing up an existing behavior it is important to stay focused on the process rather than the end result. This is not to say that a goal is not important but the reality is it will take some steps to achieve that goal. Stay focused on the steps. This makes for a great training session.

 

Same puppy ripping through the white paper on screen, This time the text say: Are your training sessions shot, fast paced and fun?

Reinforcement Lingo

A high rate of reinforcement means a lot of rewarded repetitions in a short period of time. This is one of the most valuable things you can strive to do while working with your pup.

I teach my students a game called the 1-Minute Sit Sprint. What it does is gives an accurate account of how many repetitions can be done within the span of one minute. Aim for 10 to 15 rewarded repetitions of sit within one minute. This is a high rate of reinforcement. It will help your dog stay in the game and learn faster. You can teach your pup how to sit playing this game or use it to sharpen his moves and yours too.

Set a timer for one minute, count out 15 soft, tiny treats that your dog loves. Put yourself on the clock. Ask your pup to sit, reinforce the sit with the treat, release , and repeat. This game gives you a clear goal and important information about your training skills. It is a great warm-up before a walk or training session. Playing this game regularly will improve your training skills as well as your pup’s sit and attention.

A strong history of reinforcement translated means your puppy has been rewarded many times for a particular behavior. This means the likelihood of your pup repeating that behavior is increased. Let’s look at the example of calling your puppy to come. If you call your puppy to come 20 times in a fun, fast paced training session (set a timer for three minutes, and each time pay large) and you do this a few times per day you are creating a history of reinforcement with the behavior associated with the word ‘come’.

Conversely if you use the word ‘come’ recklessly and don’t reinforce each time you call you are decreasing the probability your dog will always come when you call. Who wants a pup who won’t come-a-running when called? No one, that’s who!

Timing of your reinforcement is your ability to get the goods to your puppy at the right moment. This should be just a few seconds after the desired behavior. Don’t be slow and sloppy with your treat delivery. Have a treat pouch or your treats easily accessible on a near by table or shelf.

Om

Dogs are always paying close attention to our body language and movement. When you are not reinforcing/rewarding with treats keep your hands quiet in front of you at belly button, side of hips or chest.

Economy of words is a worthwhile effort. We are chatty ones. All this gabbing can get confusing and distracting for dogs. If we have to keep asking for a behavior such as sit or down the pup needs more training. No big deal, we all need to keep working at things. It is a fun game to try and communicate with a dog without speaking. Try just using your body or hand signals. Can you get your dog to follow you, sit or lie down without talking?

Let’s Get Busy

Don’t forget to proof the behavior around distractions and train in different environments. Train in the places and situations you want your pup to be able to perform the behaviors.

Keep your sessions short, fast paced and fun. For a young puppy one to three minute sessions are plenty.

The Origin of Puppy

Please keep your expectations and goals realistic. A new puppy is not going to behave the same as a well-trained adult dog. Focus on ‘puppy- friendly’  moves. Create a solid, thoughtfully constructed base to build on.