Category Archives: Prevention

Dogs are not born “domesticated,” but given the right guidance they can adapt to our way of life. This is what has made them our best friends over the years, their ability to follow our guidance and adapt to our environment.
There are behaviors that dogs will do naturally that can cause problems. They are all avoidable if you spend the time to show your pup an acceptable alternative.

6 Tips That Will Help You Calm Your Puppy Down

puppy sleeping while woman meditates

Find The Puppy Om

A new puppy does brings lots of fun and excitement. Along with that adorable bundle of joy also comes their natural puppy behaviors that can quickly get overwhelming for folks without a game plan and some know-how. Do you have a new puppy? Are you struggling with your puppy biting, jumping up or running away from you? Read on to learn how to bring some calm into your day.

Set the precedent of calm right out of the gate.

Organize and execute a calm exit from the crate. Have food ready as you open the crate door. Ask or lure the puppy into a sit and reinforce 5 times quickly for looking at you, staying close by or not jumping up. Use a variety of delicious HIGH VALUE food.

Be still.

We can tend to jerk away from a wild, biting puppy. It’s natural! Those razor sharp teeth can hurt. Adding to the chaos is the fact that this movement often makes them more excited. Be aware of your moving body parts. When wanting more calm and focus from your dog become calm and focused yourself. Keep your movements to a minimum. Avoid flailing arms and upper body.

Be quiet.

We can be such chatterboxes with our pups. It seems we never stop talking, singing, cooing or chasing after them while hollering ‘whoa puppy!’

The good news is if you have a pup who is timid or reserved that sing songy communication can be helpful. But if you are dealing with an amped up puppy all this yapping can have a stimulating effect. If there is a situation where you want to ensure your pup is ‘chill’ be mindful of your outside voice.

Please Handle with Care.

Surprise and gasp, often our new furry friends are not as fond of all the reaching, picking up, petting and adoring that we shower them with. Our constant thoughtless ‘hands on’ can manifest into behaviors from the pup such as:

—running away from us
—a negative association with a harness and leash
—not wanting to be picked up
—growling and biting

When it comes time for lifting, cuddles or putting gear on, be gentle, pair lifting with a treat (every time). Pet the puppy in a way they enjoy. Avoid the head or right around the neck.
Use firm long strokes rather than short light pets.

Tie it up and clean it up.

Long dangling hair, clothing or jewelry is a very exciting attraction for a puppy. They will be motivated to jump and bite for all these dangling delights. Be sure that you don’t have bits and pieces hanging down that will inadvertently be encouraging your pup to jump up at you.

One last piece of advice to. Try keeping your play and training sessions shorter. And be sure your pup is getting enough cozy, undisturbed sleep time in their crate.

Happy puppy raising!

Companion Animal Psychology 2019 Blog Party

We’re pleased to be participating in the #Train4Reward Blog Party. Be sure to check out all of the other great blog postings at Companion Animal Psychology!


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Has Your Puppy Taken Over Your Mornings?

A woman with a big cup of coffee is looking out the window.

How Will You Greet The Day?

Good Morning Sunshine!

Or is it?

A few extra minutes for yourself in the morning can make a big difference in how your day goes. If your morning routine with the new puppy is starting to get you down read on.

You Need Your Time and Your Puppy Needs His

If there are periods throughout the day where you feel overwhelmed with the new pup take the time to take stock of each particular situation. Make a plan and get organized so you can avoid the stress. Learning how to set yourself and your pup up for success is time well spent since it makes you feel better.

What Is It Time For?

Let’s look at some situations and define whose time it is.

After pup’s morning bathroom break crate him with a delicious chew or food stuffed toy, my favorite for this is the Toppl Treat toy by West Paw. Put a bit of the pup’s breakfast in along with some other type of higher value food.

Now you’ve created some time for yourself to have a coffee, stretch, check your email. Whatever it is you want to do when you first get up. 

Your puppy has had a bathroom break, some love and a stretch. Back in his crate for 15 or 20 mins while you wake up is not a problem. In fact you are doing right by the pup providing structure if you are not supervising. Bonus!

Meal and kid time are other examples of when you are focused on something other than your pup.

These times can be high energy or stressful already. The addition of a rambunctious puppy makes it a big old mess. This is family time and or meal time. Crate your pup with a ‘high value’ food stuffed toy or chew.

High value is a very important consideration. Your pup HAS to love what’s in his crate. If he doesn’t it’s up to you to experiment with food, toys and chews to find a combo that WORKs for this purpose.

Check out our Toytorial for inspiration.

Eye On The Prize

A puppy will demand your full attention and patience when you have him with you. Be prepared for this.

One of the most helpful things you can do is have a PLAN for the puppy when he is out of the crate.

Set specific times in the morning and throughout the day to spend FOCUSED on your puppy. Playing, training or romping. The key word here is focused. All your attention should be on him. Not half an eye. The half an eye approach spells disaster and this is where people get stressed and the pup can get frustrated or confused.

When you take that puppy out for a romp that’s HIS time. You should be prepared with food, toys and TIME for your pup.

Meander with him. Engage him. Have a plan for your outing. Check out our leash and long line training plan here.

Finding A Balance

Quality time for yourself and for your puppy is the goal. With a bit of practice and forethought you will find this balance. Happy puppy raising.

 


 

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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.

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.

 

Shut the Front Door!

Small brown dog is peering out the front door or a house.

Front door etiquette for your puppy is an important set of skills to teach early on in the game plan! And no I am not talking that malarkey about your dog having to go out the front door behind you!

The doors and large windows in our homes can elicit excitement in a pup. There is the opportunity for viewing or smelling or greeting that can cause a puppy to become over aroused or stressed and ultimately become a problem.

As with any of the preventative exercises that we do, we embark (pun intended) on them with a knowingness that this is predictable doggie behavior that just might get them into some serious hot water (putting it nicely) if we don’t pay attention and do our due diligence.

You can teach your puppy that the front door is not such a big deal. Even if their favorite person arrives bringing treats and toys. Santa, is that you! (I know your weren’t expecting him to use the front door) No matter what is happening at the door you want to be able to get your pup to settle with relative ease and play it cool.

Hey all you puppy people, games are the way to go! Your training sessions should feel like a game. Aim to make them fun, short and lighthearted. With some practice under your belt you can start to put these skills into play in ‘real life’ situations. Just like all the magic that happens with your pup’s education, training is all about layers. Teach your puppy basic skills and build upon them as he learns and matures.

Here are some foundation behaviors for you that teach a puppy the ins and outs (pun intended) of door etiquette. Continue reading