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Small Dog - Big Dog Training Problems

Small Dog: 5 Big Dog Training Mistakes

My small dog is way too exited all the time. He does not know or follow dog training commands and seems to have a mind of his own when I want his attention. It seems as if I find myself yelling at him and telling him to do the same thing over and over again. He has no good manners, no regard for my rules and it’s just not working.” And Leila had not even said hello yet! The soon to be new client on the phone, was beyond exasperated.

She closed with, “I’m sure you’re going to tell me it’s all my fault!”

Nothing needed to be added to that. She was absolutely correct. Many people who own a small dog have very similar concerns. I have found that they usually have made 5 big dog training mistakes.

Now before I list the 5 big dog training mistakes I want to also say, in their defense, that there are plenty of dog owners with medium and large breed dogs that make the same mistakes. So let’s not point fingers. You can learn here too.

Observation based on experience

 

Small Dog - Big Dog Training Problems

These 5 big dog training mistakes are my observations over time in going from home to home for 25 plus years of in-home training.

I’m not going to just discuss these 5 big dog training mistakes, I will also recommend alternative solutions that will improve your relationship with your dog immensely “if” you choose to change. I hope you do as a lot of a small dogs behavior issues are their ways to relieve stress and anxiety that are created by their relationship with you.

Remember, no matter how old your small dog, it’s never too late to train.

5 big dog training mistakes

Here’s a short list of the 5 big dog training mistakes made by many small dog owners:

1. Too much love and affection
2. Small dog owners don’t set personal space boundaries
3. Don’t do dog training because of their small dog size
4. Small dog owners do not walk or exercise their dogs
5. Small dog owners do not socialize their dogs

 Now let’s break down these dog training mistakes

Small dog owners give too much free love and affection

Most dog owners get their small dog simply because “it’s small”. Like I said before, “small” is much less intrusive and easy to pick up and put on the couch with you, or better yet on your lap. It becomes a habit. You sit down, your dog nudges and you pick him up and on your lap he goes.

Hold it! I’m not saying, “No love and affection with your small dog.” I’m just saying, “Require your dog to earn his love and affection by doing something like a sit.”

Too much unearned love and affection can begin to nurture your dog’s insecurities. What do I mean by that? If you freely pet your dog at every nudge he gives you for attention, then that begins to help your dog figure out “who’s doing what for whom.” Or, “Who is running the show.” He is!

When you turn around and correct him for things he does, that sends a conflicting message now saying you are in charge.

Jim Recommends

Match every nudge with a “”sit requirement” and sometimes send him away and call him back on your terms later on. It sounds easy and it is. It does take breaking old habits though.


Small dog owners don’t set personal boundaries

What are personal boundaries? The immediate space around you including your lap is your personal space. All dogs, large and small dogs alike, pay particular attention as to whether you can control your personal space – or not.

They test the waters and jump on the couch/bed and get in your lap or personal space without asking. They want to see if it is possible. And, in most homes where dogs are allowed to do this freely and “at will,” they get rewarded for doing just that. In many homes small dogs even have custom steps leading to couches and beds to aid in their efforts to invade your personal space anytime and anywhere.

The problem comes up when your small dog now begins to guard “his” bed or couch sometimes even growling or snapping to keep you or others off unless he wants you there to continue providing the constant love and affection mentioned above.

Jim Recommends

Set your rules for getting into your personal space. He must earn it and earn it on your terms, meaning, when and where you want him- not just his.

Believe it or not having rules on your personal space will lower his stress and anxiety. Here’s what we do at our home with our dogs.

If I come into the family room and Sammy (our lab) is on the couch and I sit in my easy chair, Sammy is okay to stay on the couch.

If I come into the family room and decide to sit on the couch, Sammy gets off the couch automatically. He didn’t at first and had to learn like the rest of our dogs. Now, 99% of the time I’ll ask him to sit and invite him back up on the couch. But here are two things I’ve accomplished with Sammy:

1. Sammy now has rules and expectations about personal space. Less stress knowing what is expected. We have a well-trained dog with good manners.
2. When we have visitors over and they sit on the couch, Sammy gets off the couch. Good manners cause our guests to want to visit again.
3. BONUS: You get your cake and eat it too. You never loose out on your warm fuzzies.

Watch out. Don’t let your dog hog your personal space. It’s your space to give, just don’t give it freely. Get something in return. Get a sit.


Small dog owners don’t do dog training

Most small dog owners don’t train them, they love them. That’s the rule. They are simply too small to train. What harm could they cause? Well, let’s see.

If you don’t train your small dog to sit, he will jump on your visitor. Small dogs can pester a guest as much as a big dog. Worse, small dogs can embarrass you by jumping on the couch now inhabited by your guest and crawl all over them. They even (as you probably know) get on the top cushion and crawl on your shoulder and lick your ear. I know because it happens to me every week with small dogs.

Jim Recommends

Start training your small dog to obey your one word commands like sit and down when in the company of your guests. This will probably mean putting him on a leash at first to control him in the presence of a house guest.

Teach him to settle down by your foot as you visit with your guest. And, make him up a stuffed Kong toy to divert his attention and associate something very positive with the guest.


Small dog owners do not walk and exercise their dogs
.

Small dogs have the entire big house in which to run around. They don’t need to walk or exercise outside. True or false? I would have to say that even with small dogs, exercise is a great way to buffer stress and anxiety, especially if it is done every day. Remember, a tired dog is a good dog.

Not to mention, allowing your small dog to satisfy his needs to sniff and explore with his nose in the great outdoors. I also think that dogs that routinely walk everyday are less inclined to escape and run away because of the bond created with its owner in sharing pack activities. Becoming a partner of your dog instead of just his owner is important.

Jim Recommends

Walk your dog twice daily for at least 30 minutes each time if you can. Supplement that with dog training. Do sits and downs on the walk as you move around the neighborhood.
You will be amazed at the difference in your relationship with your dog.

Venture out to parks, the beach and hiking trails near your home. You’ll be glad you did and so will your dog.

Small dog owners don’t socialize their dogs

You would think that because small dogs are so easy to transport, they would get many trips to dog parks or romps with the neighbor dog next door. Many think their dog is just to fragile to play with others so the intention is to protect the little one and not really go to the park to visit other dogs. He might get hurt.

As a result they wind up staying home or get to ride in mom’s purse (totally sheltered) to and from the grocery store or hair salon. A lack of this socialization can equate to unpleasant walks with your small dog as he lungs and snaps at dogs along the way.

Jim Recommends

Doggie day camp environments could provide the ideal solution for your small dog. Do your investigation. He will need temperament testing. Once a week play time with his new small dog friends coupled with walks at home with you might be exactly what he needs. Think about the controlled environment of day camps. Some even provide boarding. What a stress-free way for your dog to enjoy time away from you when you vacation.

Little dogs are just flat out cute. Don’t get me wrong. I love small dogs too. In fact, I always had big dogs and never ever wanted a small dog-at least until I got Sophie. I fell in love. I also recognized straight away that she would need training and structure

She brightens our day not in a small way but a big way. But I trained her and treated her no differently than the big dogs in the family. That’s what has made her a very good dog.

Thanks for letting me share my dog training knowledge with you. Don’t be a stranger. I’d love to hear what you think. Let me know how this article impacted you and the way you think about training. Are you looking at it a little differently?

Remember: “Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”

Jim Burwell, Houston dog trainer for 25+ years, serving 8700+ clients, has a profound understanding of dog behavior and the many things, we as humans, do that influence that behavior – good or bad. Jim has the ability to not only steer dogs and puppies down the right path but to also train the owners to understand their part in having a great dog.

His Ground Rules for Great Dogs is the culmination of these years of training into an easy, step-by-step process so that your dog understands what you expect of him, you empower him to be able to give you the behavior you want and you empower him to be successful at living in a human home. This is a must have for you if you are having dog behavior problems , so grab it now.

 

House Soiling

Dog Training: House Training Dogs

In my dog training business, I often get called out for house training dogs that are old enough to be house trained.

Usually the dog has been house trained as a puppy and did well. Then about the 18 to 24 month age, he begins soiling the house.

Why? A change occurred in the dog’s environment such as a second dog coming in or something is wrong in the relationship between the dog and the owner

If the dog is just under 12 months of age, a poor house training program may be the cause.

Or, the owner failed to provide the dog with enough structure to feel very secure in what his role was. Then the dog may take to soiling in the house or marking territory to feel more secure.

Dogs can become insecure about their role

But what creates these insecurities?

Let’s look at the case of William, an older gentleman who adopted a dog named Skippy at 12 months of age. William wanted companionship and Skippy fit the bill to a “T”. It was love at first sight!

House Soiling

William doted on Skippy day and night. Skippy slept with William and was with him practically 24/7 except when William went to his part time job and out to dinner occasionally.

A number of things created insecurities in Skippy. Too much unearned love and affection (the constant doting) reinforced Skippy’s expectation of running the show and getting attention and love constantly. When Skippy got into things that weren’t his and William corrected him that was a mixed message to Skippy.

A lack of structure was the icing on the cake. Skippy was not required to earn anything. This began to create his free-floating anxiety about who was doing what for whom. With no clear leadership from William in sight, Skippy felt compelled to take charge.

This inconsistency in structure and leadership caused anxiety and tension in Skippy who began to mark territory inside the home which made him feel more secure and relieved his tension in the process.

A change in family dynamics also created complications

About a year after William adopted Skippy from the rescue group, he was asked if he (and Skippy) would be interested in fostering a rescue dog. William thought Skippy would enjoy the company so he agreed to foster a small dog.

Not knowing anything about dogs, William brought the Foster dog directly into the house and introduced him to Skippy. Needless to say, Skippy was fit to be tied! Half of William’s attention now went to the foster dog and this didn’t set too well with Skippy.

Skippy did not like another dog in his territory. His house soiling got worse as he increased his peeing and pooping.

A diet change was also in order

Skippy was all of 15 pounds and with the amount of food William was serving, one cup twice daily plus all the table scraps and treats was way too much food for Skippy, thereby adding to the house soiling dilemma.

Recommendations

Here’s what ultimately resolved the house soiling issues:

The foster dog was adopted to another family – Skippy was so happy!
Skippy’s food intake was reduced to match his ideal weight.
Skippy was put on a dog training program of 3 times daily for 2 minutes each to give him a sense of working for William rather than William following Skippy’s lead of “nudge/pet.”

A new house training program was instituted which included:

• Breaking the cycle of inside elimination by supervising Skippy on a leash or containing him in a gated area small enough that he would not eliminate in the house.
• Rewarding him every time he went outside
• Catching mistakes before they happened.
• Skippy now slept on his own bed next to William until everything was well under control. Later on the plan was to reinstitute sleeping on the bed but with rules of sit to earn the right to get up on the bed.

A good six weeks have gone by with no house soiling issues. There were no opportunities given to soil other than outside in the appropriate designated areas.

Dogs can be very sensitive to changes in family dynamics as well as emotional influences in relationships with their owners. This combination can have a devastating affect on both owner and dog as witnessed by William and Skippy.

So, what did you think?  I truly hope you found answers and hope for helping your dog.

“Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”

Jim Burwell, Houston dog trainer for 25+ years, serving 8700+ clients, has a profound understanding of dog behavior and the many things, we as humans, do that influence that behavior – good or bad.  Jim has the ability to not only steer dogs and puppies down the right path but to also train the owners to understand their part in having a great dog. 

His Ground Rules for Great Dogs is the culmination of these years of training into an easy, step-by-step process so that your dog understands what you expect of him, you empower him to be able to give you the behavior you want and you empower him to be successful at living in a human home.

 

dog chewing

Dog Chewing Solutions

“If my dog chews up another pair of my good shoes, I swear I don’t know what I am going to do!” He’s got all the toys in the world but he still chews my shoes.

Fed up with your dog chewing problem? Have you tried all the “usual” corrections like scolding or spanking your dog? My bets are they’re not working.


The bad thing about using punishment is that you wind up correcting the dog too late because you don’t get to him when he’s chewing. Most likely because the chewing usually takes place when you are gone, right?

If you pay attention to your dog, you’ve most likely discovered that punishing your dog has damaged the relationship you have worked so hard to build.

Then, what exactly will work? 

Before we take a look at what works, I think it’s a good idea to look at why your dog chew in the first place, don’t you?

Why Does My Dog Chew

dog chewing

 

First, chewing is a natural dog behavior. Puppies and dogs explore with their nose and their mouths. They are very oral. The object of their chewing is even more interesting if your scent is on the object of interest. Unless taught differently, in the eyes of your dog, everything is a chew toy and is fair game for him to chew. 

Chewing is also a great way to relieve stress and tension.  Now you’re thinking, what could my puppy possibly be stressed about? He’s got a great life!

Let me ask you to think about this. Lots of love and affection given to your dog all the time could cause him to miss you terribly when you’re gone. When you leave for work or any outside-the-house activity, your absence is too much to bear. Your dog now becomes very tense.

Somehow, he has to relieve that tension. For him chewing is a perfect outlet for tension relief.  Bingo. You now have a dog chewing problem.

Leadership role is crucial in having a well-balanced dog. Lack of leadership can cause anxiety in your dog and anxiety is handled by your dog in chewing, barking etc. Chewing takes their mind off their anxiety. Being a leader to your dog also means he will obey when you tell him to let go of an object he is not allowed to chew on

When your dog was a puppy you certainly noticed and dealt with their drive to chew on anything. But if your adult dog is now or still chewing your stuff, it can get expensive unless you begin to work on your dog behavior problem.
The key to getting your dog to stop chewing your stuff is to be able to give “well-timed redirects” to him onto appropriate doggie chew toys.

Some tips to remember as you start your corrective program on your dog’s chewing problem

 He has to know the difference between what is okay to chew on because it belongs to him, versus chewing on your stuff, which does not belong to him

Here’s an exercise you can do to help teach him the difference:

  • Get some of your “off limit” items and place them on the floor. 
  • In the middle of your “off limit” items, put something of his he considers “high value.” His rope toy, stuffie, something he adores.
  • When he grabs something of yours and begins to chew, give a simple, non-emotional “No. Off.” 
  • Do not yell. 
  • Take that “off limits” object and substitute your object with something that is OK for him to chew.

“But I’ve done that,” you say. “And it doesn’t work.” I know.

But here’s my secret: Do not make a big fuss over the puppy or dog chewing the wrong thing, but make a big fuss over the puppy or dog chewing the RIGHT thing.

I don’t want you to ever, ever hit a dog for chewing an inappropriate item. First I don’t believe in hitting dogs and second, the more emotion and interest you put on the wrong item, the more interesting it is to the puppy or dog. You’re sending the wrong message.

Give your dog the opportunity to succeed, not fail.

Puppy and dog-proof your house until they learn not to chew your stuff.

If you leave shoes, TV remotes, kid’s toys all over the place before your puppy or dog understands not to touch, then you are continually setting him up to fail and you are consistently promoting learned behavior you do not want.

Make sure that “what you allow your dog to chew on” is interesting. Dry bones will only be fun for so long. A Nylabone is just plain boring. Try a Kong toy that you can stuff with treats or keep a variety of interesting toys and yummy bones for your dog to choose from.

We all have our ways to burn off energy. Chewing is your dog’s way to burn off energy.

Just how are you helping your dog manage his energy?

If you don’t walk your dog and the only way the dog gets rid of his energy is by playing in the back yard or being rowdy in the house then you can expect out of control behavior.

This is a big one! If your dog uses up his energy outside with no one to supervise behavior, the dog does not know that the outside behavior is not OK inside.

Let me say that again. If your dog uses up his energy outside with no one to supervise behavior, the dog does not know that the outside behavior is not OK inside.

Walking is important to your dog because it is a great way to constructively manage his energy AND if you do your walk correctly, a great way to practice your leadership role with him.

Finally, your dog is very much like a child. He has to learn to behave appropriately. Good leadership, patience and setting your dog or puppy up to be successful takes work, but in the long run a lot less work and aggravation than not teaching your dog. Wouldn’t you agree?

So, what did you think? I truly hope you found answers and hope for helping your dog. Don’t be a stranger. I’d love to hear what you think. Please come over to my Facebook page to let me know how this article impacted you and the way you think about training. Are you looking at it a little differently? Remember:

“Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”

Jim Burwell, Houston dog trainer for 25+ years, serving 8700+ clients, has a profound understanding of dog behavior and the many things, we as humans, do that influence that behavior – good or bad. Jim has the ability to not only steer dogs and puppies down the right path but to also train the owners to understand their part in having a great dog.

My Ground Rules for Great Dogs is the culmination of these years of training into an easy, step-by-step process so that your dog understands what you expect of him, you empower him to be able to give you the behavior you want and you empower him to be successful at living in a human home.

 

Dog Behavior and Your Habits

Dog Behavior: Your Addicting Habits Can Cause Dog Problems

Most of us have habits with our dogs to which we never give a second thought. Most times there’s never a problem. However, some of our habits with our dogs can create dog behavior problems and we don’t even realize we are at the root cause.

Let’s take a look at what creates a habit.

First there is a cue, something that triggers your brain to go into automatic mode. Each habit has a specific cue that triggers you to do a routine. And finally there is the reward that consistently feeds back information to you (your brain) if the routine is worthwhile repeating.

Before you start thinking this is a science class, let’s take a closer look at habits so that you will better see how your habit can affect your dog.

The example is eating a meal, specifically dinner. You eat dinner and your habit is always having something sweet after dinner. Eating your dinner cues your brain to expect something sweet after dinner. The routine is having something sweet after dinner. The reward is that sweets taste good and it gives us a lot of pleasure. We want to repeat that over and over again. That’s how a habit gets set into place. The cue produces a routine and the reward follows the routine.

Now let’s take that explanation and let me give you an example of a habit you could have with your dog that could be creating dog behavior problems.

Your cute puppy jumps on the couch (cue) and you immediately begin petting your dog which is the routine that happens every time your dog gets on the couch. That gives you that warm fuzzy that wonderful feeling that says, “Oh, my dog loves me!” (reward.) I know this sounds familiar. And because it feels so good you are very, very likely to do that again and again and again…….there’s your habit.

Trick Question

 

Dog Behavior and Your Habits

 

Here’s the trick question: Is that a good habit or a bad habit. I know what you’re thinking, “It feels good so it must be a good habit, right?” Well, yes and no.

The “yes and no” answer.

The “yes” answer says: Yes, petting my dog feels good so it must be a good habit.

The “no” answer is the qualifier and says: No, it’s only a good habit if done in moderation, just like eating ice cream. Too much dessert can cause serious weight gain and lead to diabetes and other health problems.

If you constantly dote on your dog, to an extreme, every single day, it can lead to consequences that will be difficult to reverse. It can cause your dog to become insecure and miss you terribly when you’re gone creating separation anxiety. It can also create house soiling in insecure dogs.

Aggression in dogs, nuisance barking and a host of other unwanted behaviors can also develop in dogs that receive too much unearned love and affection. Additionally in these households I usually find little to no consistent structure. The dog is running the show.

The Solution

I’ve said it before but it bears repeating. Moderation is the key in doling out your love and affection to your dog. Here are some helpful tips to think about as you notice your dog coming up and nudging your hand or arm:

1. Always require your dog to sit before you pet your dog.
2. Don’t feel as if you have to pet your dog every time he comes over to you and requests to be petted. Send him away and call him back a few minutes later.
3. Keep your dog off the couch for a few minutes (dog leashed with foot on leash) before you invite him up.
4. When you finally invite him up, require a sit first.
5. Once on the couch, don’t let him in your lap. Require him to sit by your side.
6. Balance time on the couch with equal required time off the couch.

In summary

Patterned routines or activities that you do with your dog every single day can become healthy habits too. These daily patterned routines become predictable. Your dog learns to count on them every day. Knowing what’s going to happen and when it will occur every day will lower your dog’s stress.

If you actually feed, walk, train and play with your dog at the same time every day, you might be surprised at how less stressed you dog becomes. These are good habits to get into with your dog.

If you recognize a habit that seems like a good habit at the time, look a little closer. See if you can tell if your dog is developing a behavior problem because of a habit you are doing.

Then modify your habit that will allow you to turn a seemingly good habit into a great habit. Example: Always sit before petting and pet in moderation. And remember, habits never really go away so once you modify your habit, be consistent. The old habit is still there, etched in your brain. If you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself in the old habit allowing the dog behavior problem to easily surface again raising its ugly head.

Thanks for letting me share my dog training knowledge with you. I truly hope you found some things to think about.  Don’t be a stranger.  I’d love to hear what you think.  Please come over to my Facebook page to let me know how this article impacted you and the way you think about puppy training.  Are you looking at it a little differently?  Remember:  

“Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”

Jim Burwell, Houston dog trainer for 25+ years, serving 8700+ clients, has a profound understanding of dog behavior and the many things, we as humans, do that influence that behavior – good or bad.  Jim has the ability to not only steer dogs and puppies down the right path but to also train the owners to understand their part in having a great dog. 

His Ground Rules for Great Dogs is the culmination of these years of training into an easy, step-by-step process so that your dog understands what you expect of him, you empower him to be able to give you the behavior you want and you empower him to be successful at living in a human home.

 

Puppy Training: 5 Critical Tips for Training Your New Puppy

Christmas is a big time for people to get puppies. I want to emphasize to those of you thinking about getting a puppy that the most important thing to do is to start puppy training from day one. This is truly critical to your new puppy and his life with you.  I have a complete step by step “nose to tail” video series for you also.

Why? Because your new puppy will form lifelong behaviors (good or bad) within the first 2 weeks to 4 months of his life with you. Yup, that fast. It’s really so much easier to begin training good behavior from the beginning than having to go back and fix what you broke.

Here are 5 critical life skill tips that you must focus on teaching him if you want a lifetime of great memories with your new puppy.

First Tip: Understanding house manners

Your puppy has only learned to greet his litter mates by sniffing crotch and butt, then immediately engaging in puppy social play as they hump, jump, bump and carry on.
Your House manners should be very clear that your puppy learn to sit quietly to greet.

Your puppy’s play includes running, chasing, biting and chewing on his litter mates. That’s how puppies play naturally.

Your House manners should require your puppy to learn to play nicely with children and don’t bite when they catch them. Not a bad idea either to teach children how best to play with your puppy. That way it sets him up to succeed.

Your puppy sees everything as a chew toy! He won’t discriminate between your good shoes and a chew bone and if it smells more like you- that’s even better!

Your House manners should teach your puppy to appreciate and leave your valuable stuff alone. Constant supervision and redirects to appropriate toys works best. Crate him when you can’t supervise his activity.

Your puppy will tend to go potty when he feels the need to go no matter where he is, unless you teach him differently.
Your House manners should be very specific about not using your home as his toilet area.

Even though you’ve set your house manner requirements, you will discover that your puppy has an unquenchable thirst for exploring, getting into everything. If you already know this then you’ve discovered your puppy is an opportunist.

 If you leave your dinner plate on the coffee table as you make your way to the kitchen to refill your water glass, you may return to find that last piece of pizza you so badly wanted – gone!

 If you leave the front door open, he will inquisitively go through it to explore.  And, the list goes on.

The good news is that your puppy can learn your crazy house manners and more – if you teach them and are very consistent every day.

Start your house manners the day you get your new puppy. You’ll be glad you did. Take advantage of his opportunistic nature by trading things he wants for things you want.

Be extra careful and pay attention to your new puppy so that he doesn’t develop any bad habits like chewing on the couch or coffee table. Have plenty of chew toys like a stuffed Kong toy or Nylabone ready for a quick redirect. How you handle the correction (never harsh) will have a lifetime affect on your relationship with your new puppy.

Second Tip: Getting up close and personal with family, friends and strangers

I think micro-managing your biting puppy around your family or friends, that just want to pet a cute puppy, should not be what you have to think about all the time.

The best way for you to get your puppy okay with everyone is to start working on this the day you get your new puppy. There will be many opportunities for your new puppy to willingly accept pets, hugs and belly rubs.

In order for him to conform to your personal need of close contact, immediately begin to socialize him to children and adults alike. You can never have a puppy that’s too socialized. Don’t you agree?

I remember when we first got our black Lab Sammy. I had him up at Randall’s shopping center asking everyone coming out of the store if they would pet my puppy and give him a treat.

Remember, your puppy’s window of socialization closes somewhere between 3 ½ to 5 months of age. Plan to map out a strategy to achieve maximum socialization by 5 months of age. A good rule of thumb is 90 kids and adults in 90 days

Since you probably got your puppy from the breeder at about 8 weeks of age (2 mos.), that’s when the socialization clock starts ticking. Beginning the day you get your puppy, all family members should be touching his ears and paws as well as examining his mouth (teeth) and private parts while associating food treats with the process.

Begin to socialize your puppy to places you will eventually take him. Take your puppy to the veterinarian; have them give him a cookie then leave. If you will eventually require the services of a professional groomer, do the same thing and put him on the groom table while he listens to the dryers, gets a food treat and gets comfortable with the environment.

If your puppy gets stressed by groomers, vets or strangers he will be more likely to bite. So if your puppy missed the opportunity to get that much needed socialization by the time he is 4 to 5 months of age, you will need to ramp up your socialization process. You must commit to doing the work, remembering to take it at your puppy’s own comfortable pace.
They are not all built the same. Some take readily to people while others shy away and need more time.

Third Tip: Potty in the right place

Now you’ve probably heard this before. Your puppy usually won’t potty or soil in his den or crate where he sleeps. When you finally get your new puppy to your home don’t make the mistake and assume that cleaning up potty mistakes is going to be a natural part of your house training process. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Don’t make the assumption that your puppy should be able to “tell” you when it has to go potty. Until your puppy is closer to 4 months of age, there is not a strong connection between their brain and their bowels and bladder. When your puppy has to go, he squats and goes right there. Your job is to be proactive, not reactive.

The key is managing your house training process with crates, exercise pens, leashes and hands on supervision. Okay, but what if you’re saying, “I already do that!” If you are really using these things “correctly” it is entirely possible for your puppy to never have an accident in your home. Not using these tools correctly sends a confusing message to your puppy.

Fourth Tip: Help your puppy develop confidence being alone in his crate

Puppies are “pack animals” and that is probably the one trait that closely resembles our family orientation. Your puppy is no different.

Your puppy, especially in a new place, will not do well being by himself, at last at first. So an important part of raising your puppy is to teach and condition him that being by himself in his crate is okay. In fact, you will not be available 24/7.

To condition your new puppy to being, “okay” by himself, randomly crate him for varying lengths of time when you are home – nights and weekends.

When we were training our lab, Sammy, we would crate him in a bedroom, shut the door and let him stay there for 30 minutes, an hour or sometimes two hours. We put his crate in different rooms where he could also see us. He quickly learned to not worry about being crated.

We also downplayed our departures and arrivals. It’s important to build on the amount of time you leave your puppy in the crate. The most important message is “you always come back.” One other note – never let your new puppy out of the crate when he is whining or barking. Once your new puppy is quiet, then let him out of the crate.

Some physical activities that will help your puppy cope better with his time alone are:

  • Exercise on walks will help to manage his energy
  • Games like fetch or tug-of-war, all with specific rules
  • Doing sits and downs (obedience training) creates mental fatigue

All of these activities will give your puppy novel sights, sounds and experiences to process in your absence. In some extreme cases puppies can develop a separation anxiety disorder caused primarily by spending too much time with the owner and not enough time alone. Make sure you integrate alone training into your puppy training experience.

Fifth Tip: Appropriate play with humans

Puppies naturally play with their teeth so teach your age-appropriate children appropriate play with your new puppy.

Instead of playing chase, play a game of fetch, tug-of-war or hide and seek – all with rules to teach kids, train puppies and keep your puppy’s mouthing to a minimum.

When playing with age-appropriate family members, it is best to always have rules to every game you play with your puppy. With tug-of-war for example, the game rules should go like this:

  • Start the game with a “Sit!” command
  • Offer him his end of the tug toy with “Take it!”
  • Now the fun begins and when you are ready to end the game,
  • End the game with a “Sit!” command
  • Collect the tug toy with, “Drop it!” and “Good Boy!”

Game over. Always maintain control of the tug toy. Any attempts in biting or mouthing human flesh during the game results in a time out in his crate for two minutes.

Since your puppy uses his teeth for many things like eating, chewing on things and initiating play with his litter mates, it’s going to be very important that he learn not to mouth human skin.

Teaching your puppy a “Drop it!” or “Leave it!” command is the best way to retrieve tug ropes and tennis balls from your puppy during games thereby preventing your puppy from challenging you over the toy. Use a food treat initially to swap for the toy as you say, “Drop it!” Eventually wean him off the food treats.

Remember, the habits and rules you set in the very beginning with your puppy will be forming a life-time of behaviors. You have a golden opportunity to make them good behaviors.

P.S. Your puppy is even learning when you are not formally training, so be very careful!

I am excited to share my dog and puppy training knowledge with you. I truly hope you found some great suggestions for helping your puppy. Don’t be a stranger. I’d love to hear what you think or if your have questions

Remember: “Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”


Jim Burwell, Houston dog trainer for 25+ years, serving 8700+ clients, has a profound understanding of dog behavior and the many things, we as humans, do that influence that behavior – good or bad. Jim has the ability to not only steer dogs and puppies down the right path but to also train the owners to understand their part in having a great dog.

His Nose to Tail Puppy Training is the culmination of these years of training into an easy, step-by-step process so that your puppy understands what you expect of him because you know how to teach him. You empower him to be able to give you the behavior you want and you empower him to be successful at living in a human home. The result – one awesome puppy and one happy family.