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Puppy Head Start

Posted Tuesday, October 23, 2007, at 6:12 PM

Puppy Head Start

I've read loads of training tips for dogs but I have a few for you that aren't commonly printed. There are also some behavior tips that I've picked up from some of the better books I've read like The Dog Listener, Jan Fennel, The dog Whisperer, Cesar Milan and Victoria Stillwell's It's Me or The Dog.

- When picking a puppy, pick the ones that are happy to see you and want to play with you, don't pick the one that cowers in the corner and isn't playing with the other puppies, those that cower won't be as comfortable with strangers and are potential bite hazards.

- When you have a highly energetic dog like a bird dog (ie Labradors & Pointers), try exercising them before you try training on and off lead. They'll have less energy to chase the squirrel and more focus on what you want them to do. Keep in mind that feeding puppies and adult dogs before exercise may cause a problem like a twisted stomach & spleen requiring expensive emergency surgery.

- Start leash training between 8-10 weeks. After 14 weeks they start acting like teenagers and would rather do their own then than do anything for that reward.

- Come is always rewarded, no matter how frustrated you are, no matter how long or how far you've chased the puppy. Where's the fun of coming back if you get scolded?

- You walk through the door before puppy does. The leader always walks somewhere first.

- You eat before puppy does. The leader always eats before the rest of the pack does.

- When you arrive home, don't great the puppy. That leads to separation anxiety- they believe they need to be nearby to protect you or control you. Do something else for a few minutes and then go say hi. In doggy language, if you get excited to see them then you are just telling them they are the boss and you are happy to have them as the boss.

- It's really is okay if they like your face (other than the spread of germs). The pack leader gets his face licked by all the other dogs. What does this mean? No matter how much you want to or how adorable puppy is, don't kiss his/her face.

- You'd like to know the best trick of all for house training? Remember that within 20 minutes of puppy eating, he/she will need to poo. Take them out soon. Have regular feeding times (older/larger puppies don't need fed as often as smaller/younger pups). I've heard of people hanging a bell near the door that the pup can learn to use to tell you they need out but I prefer that they come and ask you.

- When you do find accidents in the house, only scold them when you catch them. If you come home and find a brown present that's already cold, scolding doesn't have any effect other than making you look like an irrational dog. Dogs live in the now. Anything more than 10 seconds ago is not in their brains. Consider a travel crate while you are out of the house or don't have the time to watch them. Most pups won't go in their little house (not completely true with pups that come from large breeding kennels).

- Encouraging pups to jump on you and other people isn't a great idea. Especially when your pup is a Great Dane or a St. Bernard. These giants would knock over Granny or little Billy without realizing they could injure these people. And being covered in muddy paw prints while wearing your Sunday best would keep your friends very long either.


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