QUESTION 1: In puppy class you do not recommend puppy pads - why is that?
QUESTION 2: At what age should I begin trying to housebreak my dog?
QUESTION 3: How will my puppy know where to go potty when we are visiting a new place?
QUESTION 4: Our dog keeps biting his leash. We tried putting bitter apple on his leash, it doesn't seem to bother him. What can we do?
QUESTION 5: What is settle and how do I practice it?
QUESTION 6: My young children want to hug my puppy and pet our dog. How to I keep my dog from harming them if they get too rough?
QUESTION 7: How do I get my dog to come to me every time I call him?
QUESTION 8: Should I just let my dog bolt out the door?
QUESTION 9: How do I get my dog to retrieve?
In puppy class you do not recommend puppy pads - why is that? We are getting frustrated because we cannot watch our dog every second and he pees or poops on the floor constantly. At least when we put out the puppy pads he tries to go on them. If we get him outside he will go but we don't always catch that he needs to go. Also, sometimes when he is outside he is so interested in sniffing around the ground that he doesn't go. When we bring him back in he goes on the floor. HELP! What should we do?
Housebreaking a puppy can be one of the most frustrating things, especially in today's busy family life. This will take an average of 6-8 weeks some dogs are more some are less. The reason we do not recommend puppy pads is because it creates an extra step in your housebreaking and cause problems later on. Once you have taught your puppy it is ok to pee in poop in the house on a pad, you will then have to untrain the "it's ok to pee and poop in the house" idea. This can be a very hard habit to break. If you are gone all day at work, you may consider using a puppy pad in a large pen. This would help in this situation because it would be impossible for your puppy to make it all day without an accident, and at least he would have a designated spot to go potty on. A better solution would be to find a friend or hire a petsitter to take him out during the day. I know it is a lot of work now, but the temporary fix of a puppy pad can cause more work for you.
Puppies pee a lot! You will need to take your dog out on average every hour (whether he is sleeping or awake). Good times to take him out are after he ate, after a play session, if he is sniffing, after a nap, or when coming out of his crate. If you are unable to watch him, place him in his crate or play area that way he won't have an accident on your carpet. Tethering a puppy is a great way to keep your eye on him. Tie his leash around your waist, and wherever you go he must go. When in doubt assume he needs to go out.
Puppies can get so distracted outside that they forget to go to the bathroom. Keep your dog moving. Do not allow him time to sniff the flowers, only time to sniff in the "circling potty sniff". Most dogs love to sniff, some breed of dogs are genetically programmed to sniff more than others and if you think that is all he is doing, keep walking him back and forth in his potty area. Repeat your potty command over and over, if he has already learned to go on command. If he does not yet understand the potty command then only repeat the potty command when your dog is actually in the act of going potty. Give a high powered treat when he finally does go to the bathroom. If he doesn't go and you are sure that he needed to go outside, he must be placed in his crate. Try him again in another fifteen minutes. Repeat until he goes to the bathroom in the correct location. Outside potty time needs to be all business, no play or fun.
Back to top
At what age should I begin trying to housebreak my dog?
It is never too early to begin housebreaking. The mother dog once she gives birth immediately starts training her pups that their personal space is kept clean at all times. A mother dog will stimulate her pups to urinate and have a bowel movement by licking her pups. Then she will either eat it or deposit it outside of the den area. Mother's are meticulous about keeping a clean den space. It is why puppies will not soil their crate if it is properly sized. They know it is not allowed from birth. You should begin housebreaking from the very first moment your dog arrives in her new home.
Your techniques of course will be similar to the mother dog but not quite the same. Take your puppy outside frequently as mentioned in the previous question. Designate a specific area for her to go. Even prepare the area for her by taking the paper towels or other rags you used to clean up her first accident in the house and smearing it in the grass or gravel where you want her to go. The scent will be a powerful signal to her to go in that spot repeatedly. The sooner you start, the sooner she will learn the new rules.
Back to top
How will my puppy know where to go potty when we are visiting a new place?
When you are somewhere new, first determine where it will be acceptable for your dog to do his business. If you are at someone's home, ask where it would be allowed. If on public property look for signs listing the rules and follow them. Always, clean up after your dog's bowel movements. Make it a habit to carry extra plastic bags with you. Tie one on your leash, put one in your jacket pocket and put a few in the trunk of your car. You never know when you might need them. Once you are prepared start taking your dog around to many different places and many different surfaces. Teach your dog it is okay for him to go on concrete, in tall grass and weeds, on mulch, in gravel and in mud or packed dirt. You never know where you might be and when your pup might need to go. Get them used to a wide variety or places to go. Don't forget in different climates there are different weather conditions. Get your dog used to going in the pouring rain, the freezing snow and the hot and baking sun at a sandy beach. Don't forget the howling wind, the loud crack of thunder or fireworks too. We know of a dog that was calmly doing his business on the 4th of July. An over enthusiastic celebrant set off fireworks that blew out the windows in the neighbors homes and blasted out a 3 foot hole in the ground. This poor dog is constipated for the week before and after the 4th of July. Get your dog used to just about anything and it will make for a much easier life for your dog no matter where you are.
Back to top
Our dog keeps biting his leash. We tried putting bitter apple on his leash, it doesn't seem to bother him. What can we do?
Remember when using Bitter Apple that it is alcohol based. It will need to be reapplied. If you are consistently reapplying it and he is still chewing it, you may have one of those dogs that does not mind the taste. When he does start chewing on his leash, startle him with a firm, "No, Wrong, or Ehh noise." Praise him for stopping his inappropriate chewing. Redirect his behavior by giving him something to chew on or picking up your pace while walking. Some puppies take more time in getting used to their leashes. Start slowly and only clip on the leash for a few seconds to start. Before he gets to the point of biting the leash, praise the dog, give him a treat and unclip the leash. Each time he is good increase how many seconds he is on the leash, praise treat and release before he starts to bite. Using all of those techniques will help improve the behavior quickly.
Back to top
What is settle and how do I practice it?
Settle is where the dog remains calmly at your side. The dog could be sitting, laying down, or standing. Your dog should not be bothering other dogs around him or pestering the people near him. Pick an area next to you about 4 foot by 4 foot and that is the space your dog has to "settle" in. He can chew on a toy, lay quietly, sit calmly or stand still. This exercise can be used and practiced when you are eating dinner, working on the computer, watching TV, talking with company, talking on the phone, meeting a neighbor outside or whatever else fits in your family and your life. The main goals are self-control and a well-behaved dog. At first, you will need to practice this on leash. You can hold the leash, stand on the leash or even sit on the leash.
Back to top
My young children want to hug my puppy and pet our dog. They do it roughly, as they are young and toddlers. How to I keep my dog from harming them if they get too rough?
Dog training is so much easier when the house does not have any children. The books make it sound easy, but it will take work, patience, and consistency. Your question is actually a dog and kid question. You will want to train your children how to correctly handle a puppy especially your younger children. Puppies need lots of sleep, this is very important for a puppy to grow, so they need to be left alone when they are in their crate. This is hard for youngsters to understand - puppies do not like to be hugged. Hugging is a sign of dominance in dog language. Kids can be bitten when they hug a dog, so it is a good thing to teach children not to hug dogs. The other problem is these bites can be bad because the child's face is right next to the puppy. A puppy will communicate to you that it does not want your attention anymore by first leaving or trying to leave. Your kids need to be taught not to follow a dog that is trying to walk away. If a dog has tried unsuccessfully to leave the situation, the dog might resort to biting or snapping at younger kids the same way that they might do it to one of their littermates. Puppies often view young kids as their equals given their size and high squeaky voices. Kids and dogs should always be supervised when together. This sounds easier on paper than to do in real life (especially when one of the kids is age 2). For the puppy, you will need to make the corrective voice command. A child's voice is just not low and loud enough. Separate puppy and child when either is overexcited. Redirect your dog to a toy to play with (do not do this step if your dog is protective of toys). Your dog is going to be handled differently than a dog that is in an adult only house, and that is just fact. He will have to learn how to be handled a little bit rougher. This exercise is for you and your husband only. Start handling your dog a lot and giving him treats as you do it or feeding his meal to him. Working your way to rough handling, poking, hugging, etc., the whole time giving treats. We are pairing his touching with something positive treats. Dogs will learn to tolerate that behavior and possibly even enjoy it when the reward is worthwhile. Take this slowly and watch your dog for signs that he is still enjoying your handling. If you move too quickly and he doesn't like something, either shorten the amount of time you touched him or go back a step. Expect this to gradually improve over the course of weeks and then months. And remember always supervise young kids and young puppies until both grow up a bit and both learn to get along well.
Back to top
How do I get my dog to come to me every time I call him?
I wish I had a quick solution for this one, but it will take time and management. It will take two years to have a dog that will come no matter what is happening around him, so I can't say your dog would be 100% reliable for quite awhile. However, there is a lot that you can do in the mean time. First, your dog will need to be on leash or in a fenced area of the yard when he is outside. This will eliminate him from seeing and chasing the neighbor's dog, a squirrel, or who knows what might interest him across the street and cause him to bolt. If he is bolting from you while he is heeling on leash, use your "off" or "leave it" command and "watch" command. Practice with low level distractions when he obeys your "off or leave it" command 100% of the time work. Then move on to harder distractions. For example: ask a neighbor that your dog isn't overly excited about is your accomplice, as he is walking up and down his sidewalk. You instruct your dog to "off or leave it" and then give him the "watch" command. If he doesn't respond create more distance between you and your neighbor. Use a higher power treat to lure or bribe him into the watch. Praise, treat, and play with your dog when he obeys you. A gradual level of raising the distractions you use will be based on your dog's hierarchy of interest, but it might look like the following: the neighbor's son playing basketball, either one of you across the street talking to someone, another dog walking by, etc.
You can practice this in a similar way and add the "come" command. Allow your dog all eight feet of his leash. When he is distracted by your set-up across the street command "off" and "Your Dog's Name, Come". You will begin to back up, clap and encourage your dog. He will naturally be following you because he is connected to the other end of the leash. Be careful not to jerk on the leash. Our goal is for your dog to come quickly, and enthusiastically not to correct him. Praise, treat, and reward grandly for him coming. This is the most important of your commands so when he does come it deserves the best rewards. That will help your dog understand that coming to you is the very best thing in the world for him to do. Gradually start working the distractions to become more difficult, but never distract more than the dog can tolerate.
Back to top
Should I just let my dog bolt out the door?
An important skill for any dog to learn is that he can only leave the house with permission. An open door does not give your dog permission to just bolt outside as he pleases. You will use your "wait", "stay" or "stop" command at all doors. and your release word when you decide your dog can go out the door. You should always go out the door first.
Don't practice this until your dog understands and obeys the wait, stay or stop command by the door. Place your dog in a sit and command wait. Turn the doorknob. If he remains in his wait, praise, treat, and release. If any time he does not obey, tell him "wrong" and command him back in position. Repeat exercise, but this time make the exercise a little easier. You will take gradual steps from turning the doorknob, to cracking the door open, to opening the door completely, to walking out the door without Carson, to greeting people, and door open while you pretend not to be paying attention. This will be a great skill for your dog to learn with especially for any household that has kids. Kids have a way of leaving doors open. Practice these exercises and you will be well on your way to having a well-behaved dog who won't bolt across the street.
Back to top
How do I get my dog to retrieve?
There are a couple of things that you can do to help encourage your dog to bring a toy directly to you. First, remember that the most motivating reward is to have the ability to retrieve again. As soon as your dog gives you the toy throw it again. Offer a play bow when your dog picks up the toy and run in the direction that you would like him to go while you are clapping and encouraging him to come your way. Don't attempt to chase him or catch him; it will only become a game of keep away. If he isn't willing to come to you, make yourself more interesting. Use food, play with another squeaky toy, make fun noises, or whatever else will encourage your dog to come towards you.
In a hall of your house, practice this skill. Throw his favorite toy. Use the same techniques as above, but add a lure into a sit directly in front of you. Put this behavior on command "Front" or "Here" or whatever word you would like to use. Body-block him if he attempts to get past you. Praise and reward him for sitting in front of you with the toy. Make this a fun game that you both enjoy. Slowly, make this harder. Move to a room in your house. Throw a longer distance. When you head outside throw it for short distance at first.
Many dogs will be terrible at this at first, especially with other dogs around because your dog will be attempting to keep the toy away from them as well. When your dog learns giving it to you means he will go retrieve again, he will start bringing it to you more often. Soon he will become very reliable and keep bringing the object back until both you and your dog become exhausted.
Back to top