Dogs & Our Health | Training tips

How should my house be prepared when I bring my new puppy home?

Your house should be "puppy proofed" - think of a 2-year-old toddler. All electrical cords (hair dryers, curling irons, lamp cords, and don't forget all of the "computer stuff," telephone line cords, paper clips or staples that fall to the floor, etc) should be cleaned up and tied up and off the floor - puppies love the texture, size and feel of these cords. Do not have anything hanging from a table that could be pulled off, and pick up items from the floor that could easily be knocked over. The puppy should initially be contained in a small area where he can be watched - close all bedroom and bathroom doors - obtain baby gates to close off areas of the house where you do not want the puppy to explore. (Hint: buy your baby gates at Walmart, not the super pet stores, they'll be $50 cheaper for the same thing.)

Keep all items off of the floor that you do not want chewed - they can have dozens of toys and chewies, but your new shoes could easily be more appealing. They will love it because it smells like you, so they think they will be close to you and will please you by chewing it up. Not!! They do not yet know that 'shoes' are not a food group. You will need to teach them what is OK to chew and what is not. Do not let them chew on soft clothes or socks, make sure it is a solid item. Provide plenty of chew toys, rubber balls and tennis balls, etc.

Plan on signing up for puppy kindergarten or obedience classes. It will be good exercise for you and a great help to your new pet. Your puppy wants to be good, but he needs you to show him how to be good! Remember, he will look to you for guidance as he sees you as his leader, and he very much wants to please you. This will greatly enhance your new relationship with your dog and builds a bond that will last a lifetime.


How do I potty train my puppy?

Our puppies leave our home already crate trained and using the Potty Park. We can use newspapers in an enclosed exercise pen area, which has an airline kennel crate in it for a private, safe sleeping place of their own. Most dogs will not soil in their sleeping area, but go out to the newspaper area. Later reduce the newpaper area to one smaller area. This will later transfer to placing newspapers in front of the door you would take them out most often. If you make an effort to take your puppy outdoors immediately after waking up from a nap, just before or just after mealtimes, and make a habit of taking them out every 2 hours or so, they will quickly learn where it is acceptable to "go". As part of a good obedience class, which we not only highly recommend, but require for all our families, the puppies will even learn to "pee on command". When you are outside, and when they "do their business", simply praise them with "good boy", etc. This is an especially nice command if you live in an apartment or walk your dog at night, or live where it is very cold in winter. These little guys are very intelligent and love to please - it's just a matter of adequately conveying to them what you desire, and rewarding them when it is accomplished. But you must be consistent and vigilant with yourself to monitor the situation.


Some suggestions:
1) Designate an area in the yard for the puppy to use.
2) Take him there regularly throughout the day, try not to talk as sometimes this is a distraction
3) When the puppy eliminates, give lots of praise.
4) Play outside for ten minutes before taking the puppy back into the house.
5) If the puppy fails to perform, or 'go', try again 20 minutes later.

If your puppy has an accident it is YOUR fault - not his - he has NOT been taken out frequently enough, or you missed him circling and looking for a good spot or you have MISSED the key points throughout the day, which are:

1) First thing in the morning.
2) After eating, and after every nap.
3) After exercise/play.
4) Last thing at night.
5) Whenever you see him sniffing the ground or making circling movements.
6) Just before dinner and just after dinner, yours and theirs both.

Never punish your puppy by pushing his nose in 'it'. If you see him prepare to start eliminating, quickly take him outside to the designated spot. Yelling or punishing your puppy can damage your relationship and can erase all of the positive house-training progress you have made together. The puppy will not realize why you are angry (he's only acting on an instinct) - and that "guilty" look is a "submissive" one, with the puppy doing his best to please his owner, who is angry for some reason. Punishment can also result in hiding to do their business, behind a couch for instance. All training should be a positive one, it does more damage if it is punitive.

We feel that crate training is very beneficial to lead up to potty training. Feed the puppy in or near the crate and after a certain amount of time - take the puppy outdoors. If the puppy does not eliminate, place him back in the crate and wait additional time and repeat the process as necessary.


Scientific data on learning:

Please know it takes a horse about 20 repeated times to learn a new habit, but it takes a human 127 repeated times to learn or re-learn a new habit. But we're smarter than that you say? You're absolutely right, but humans are creatures of habit. Human nature does not like to jump into something new. Remember learning multiplication? We have to teach our brains new pathways to new things and to remember them. Humans are creatures of habit. We learn differently than animals and are smarter, but we rely on habit, as it is easier to fall back into old patterns than it is to learn new ones. Ever try to diet or quit smoking? It's just like that.

Puppies are in their prime learning stage at the age of 8 - 12 weeks to learn new habits such as where it is acceptable to eliminate. Keep practicing, be patient and he will learn at a faster rate than humans. If you potty-trained a one-and-a half or two-year-old toddler, you'll know what I mean and you'll understand. Toddlers may argue with you, but puppies just want to please you. No arguments, no manipulations, no begging. Be vigilant in your efforts, the more aware you are, the shorter this training will become. One good hint is to tie a bell to the door you take them out. When its time to go potty, ring the bell, open the door and go out. You can teach the puppy to ring the bell when he wants to go out. It does work with a little bit of practice.

Raising a puppy that is up to 6 months old, treat him like a toddler; for a puppy 6 to 12 months old, treat him like an adolescent/teenager. This is a good general rule as this is their growth timeline.

Why do puppies spend so much time chewing on the wrong thing??

There are several reasons why they do this. First of all, chewing is normal puppy behavior. Watch a mother with her pups and you will see how much of this goes on. This is why breeders should not sell their pups before they reach 7 to 8 weeks old, giving the mother a chance to raise the pups with manners, and learn not to bite.
Puppies do have a need to chew, especially when they are teething. But they must be taught what is appropriate for them to chew on, and what is not. Be sure to supply your puppy with appropriate things, like puppy rawhide, rubber balls, ropes, etc., making sure they are things that won't break off into small objects, where they can choke to death on them. Besides teething many puppies bite us for another reason, they want to be the alpha dog. Dogs are pack animals, recognizing a clear order of hierarchy within their "pack" (which includes the humans in the family). Biting is one of several behaviors related to dominance. Puppies start early determining their future status in the pack. Since the pack leaders are alphas and the alphas get the best of everything, it is only natural that puppies will want to become the Alpha Dog.

What can I do to teach my puppy to stop biting?

When the pups? mother teaches the bite inhibition to her pup, she will let the puppy know that what he is doing hurts by a yelp, the next time she may try yelping. If he does not stop, she will growl, or/and lift her lip at him. If the puppy doesn't back off to these warnings, she will, growl rather fiercely, grab him by the neck and will pin him to the ground. She will continue to hold the pup until he relaxes (submits to her). If the pup doesn't submit, to her, she will increase her jaw pressure until he does. So when your puppy bites, try yelping and push him away or walk away. If he continues to try to bite you, then you can growl by talking in a very low, firm voice, telling him to Stop, don't bite. The words don't really matter, your tone of voice does. If the puppy still bites at or on you, grab him by grabbing his cheeks with both hands, pulling him around to face you. It is very important that you are not causing him pain by pinching his cheeks. With a good grip, pull him up off of the ground, leaving his back legs touching the ground, stare directly into his eyes, in a growling harsh voice say STOP IT NO BITE. Your tone of voice is the most important thing here. Do not shout in a high pitched voice. Hold the pup in this manner until he submits by looking away and relaxing. After he has submitted lower him down, and tell him in a soothing voice what a good boy he is. With a young pup you need to start out being very mild, you don't have to go overboard with him. If you are dealing with an older puppy you may need a firmer touch, but it is best to start out mild, you can always increase your touch the next time, as a mother would with her bite. With an older dog you may have to let yourself sound very angry, again don't hurt him, but let him know that you are mad.
Important Rules: Don't let go until he relaxes. When he does relax, go and speak softly to him, good boy or something. Expect him to try it again. That's okay, you do it again too. Some puppies get the message right away and that's the end of your problem, some will need it repeated several times. For some pups, the behavior will get worse before it gets better, he might not want to give up. Be ready for a dominant puppy to throw a total fit by screaming bloody murder wanting you to think you are killing him. As long as you are not physically hurting him in any way, keep holding him, eventually he will submit. Hopefully this will be the end to your biting problem. When the disciplining lesson is over, throw a ball or something for him to play with. This is known as redirection.
Remember every home has to deal with destructiveness of some kind, at some time, when you share your home with them. Animals chew when they have teething discomfort, when playing, when they are hungry, to show dominance, and to explore.

Quoted from the web site:  www.ejrtca.com        

The English Jack Russell Terrier Club Alliance, Inc., 1999. front page link to article, author unknown. 

 


Dogs & Our Health | Training tips