It’s almost New Years here in California and what better time then now to start thinking about New Years Resolutions! Specifically, new years resolutions for the dogs and their dog training and behavior issues.
Do I think you can solve dog training problems in 30 days? NO and YES!
NO because dog training should be done over the life time of your dog not just for 30 days. Through your leadership your dog will learn what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior, but training needs to be consistent. It shouldn’t be just a 30 days and done. You need to constantly work on teaching and training good behavior to your dog(s).
YES because after training/teaching good dog behavior for 30 days you will form a habit and by forming that habit you will consistently work with your dog on his training and behavior problems. Check out this article I read several years ago about how to form a habit.
Try Something New For 30 Days
Dog training habits…teaching shake
Three blog posts popped up in my feed reader the past few days. The first one was from Jessica over at You Did What With Your Weiner (yeah, I love the name of her blog too). Take the 30/30 Challenge With Us was Jessica’s post about her goal to walk her weiners for 30 minutes for 30 days starting New Years day. While I don’t have a problem walking my guide pups 30+ minutes everyday Linus and Stetson are sometimes neglected. So I decided:
GOAL v1.0: Walk Linus and Stetson 30 minutes a day for 30 days starting on New Years day.
Next up in my RSS reader was a blog post from Pamela over at Something Wagging This Way Comes (another great blog name). This one was about Train Your Dog Month Challenge. This one was slightly different then Jessica’s challenge, but I guess I could get away with my 30/30 goal after all I would be working on heeling…correct!? This is a blog about training so I decided I should do a little more than just work on heeling so I decided to up the ante on my 30 day challenge:
GOAL v1.1: Walk Linus and Stetson 30 minutes a day for 30 days starting on New Years day and work on their dog leash aggression problems.
I like to try and stay in Matt Cutts’ good graces so I make sure and follow his blog and keep up to date on his happenings. It’s funny how a light bulb goes off in your head sometimes when you least expect it, but that’s what happened after reading Matt’s blog post and watching his TED video. Matt likes to try something new for 30 days. A few examples are writing a book during the month of November, cutting sugar out of his diet, or growing a mustache. This got me thinking…
GOAL v1.1: Walk Linus and Stetson 30 minutes a day for 30 days starting on New Years day and work on their dog leash aggression problems.
GOAL v2.0: The first of every month start a new 30 day challenge for Linus and Stetson and chronicle on the blog.
It’s funny how a mixture of events (or in my case blog posts) can suddenly get ideas to suddenly click. I like structure and schedule. When I blog only when “the spirit moves me” I end up getting nothing done. A monthly challenge is just the structure I need to start the year off right. Hopefully these 30 day challenges will turn into habits for me and the boys.
Solving Dog Training Problems
So here’s my monthly 30 day challenge goal for 2013:
Identify a dog training/behavior/grooming problem and put together a blog post on the 1st of the month.
Put together a strategy that I can work on with my dog every day for the next 30 days (I may have to modify throughout the month).
After 30 days I will form a habit and continue to consistently work on that problem (that’s my hope anyways).
Report my results on the last day of the month.
I love the feeling of being productive! A minimum of my first 24 blog posts are now at least in their infancy. The first of the month I will write my 30 day challenge post and the last day of the month I will give you an update on whether or not we achieved success (there will probably be a few posts updating you in between).
How about you guys? Do you have any dog training new years resolutions? Are there any dog training problems you’d like to see us tackle in one of our 30 day challenges?
If you’re interested I’d love to have you join our 30 day challenges throughout the year and it would be great to hear about your progress in our comment section below. Maybe by the time 2014 rolls around we’ll all have perfect dogs!
Whether you’re raising a guide dog puppy like Colby here at Puppy In Training or if you have just adopted a puppy as a companion pet for your family, one thing is for sure. Training needs to begin immediately. If you don’t start teaching your pet the right behavior, they will certainly be learning the wrong ones.
Along with your puppy’s first bark, he’ll need to learn to be quiet. Along with their first happy trots around the house, you’ll want to teach them to keep all four paws on the floor (no jumping!). With their first accident, you’ll want to teach them where to potty. Along with these behaviors, you will also want to teach him basic obedience. With so much to do, how do you know where to start?
Natalie and Emma
Training techniques and opinions are a dime a dozen. Every pet parent has one and there are so many methods to choose from. With a new puppy, Positive Reinforcement is the easiest method. Positive Reinforcement is defined as adding a reward to a behavior that is being performed so that the good behavior increases. To teach Emma basic commands, I use a Lickety Stik® to encourage her good behaviors. For example, when your puppy is making the right decision to chew on his Busy Buddy toy, instead of your shoe, and you walk by to praise him, the puppy enjoys the petting and will increase how often he plays with that toy. Read on to see instructions for other specific behaviors.
Puppy Basic Obedience
Sit: This was the first command I taught Emma, and you better believe I used a Lickety Stik®. It was so important for her to learn she had to put her bottom on the ground before she could have her reward, and it was so easy to teach her! All I had to do was hold the treat a little higher than her nose and say “Sit.” As she raised her head to reach the treat, her bottom would drop. Soon, as soon as I said sit, her bottom would hit the floor. I still encourage her with treats and attention!
Bed: I use this one the most in our office, but it is also useful at home when I have guests. The last thing any of my visitors want is my puppy overwhelming them at their arrival. I started by having her “sit” in her bed on a leash. I would start to step away from the bed, but still holding the leash in my hand. If she stayed, I would step back in and reward her. If she stepped off, I would guide her back to the bed while saying “bed” and reward her once she sat back down on it. As she got more comfortable with what I was asking (and understood what she had to do to get the treats), I could walk around the bed and eventually drop the leash. Now, she knows she has to go there until I call her to get a treat or some attention.
Off: Jumping up on people can certainly be an issue, and I can’t say Emma has quite mastered this one but we’re working on it! I use this command to instruct Emma to get off, let go, or step away from anything she is currently on. For example, when I come home and Emma is so happy to see me, she jumps up to get my attention. However, she cannot have that “reward” until all four paws are on the ground. Therefore, I turn my back to her and ignore her until she gets off of me. Then I will reward her good behavior with the attention (and treats if I have them on me) she was seeking in the first place!
What about you? How have you taught your puppy basic obedience, or what commands are you interested in? Leave your comments below and I’ll give you the best advice I can.
As the PetSafe Brand Marketing Specialist, Natalie Lester manages The Paw Print blog and generates other brand related content including public relations and promotions. Before PetSafe, Natalie worked in the local media covering politics, education, and religion. Natalie’s puppy, Emma, spends almost as much time in the office as she does.
Dublin got to wear a monkey dog Halloween costume a couple years ago.
We’ve learned many things over the past 6 years as guide dog puppy raisers. Before we were raising guide dog pups we brought home our first pup, Linus from the shelter. We never dressed him up in dog costumes for Halloween or Christmas and really didn’t think much about it. Two years later we were raising our second puppy, Stetson.
Stetson was second pup, but our first guide dog puppy in training. We knew quite a bit about raising and training a puppy after our experiences with Linus. One thing we never really thought about was handling our pups and why it’s a good idea to play dress up with your puppy in training.
Why Dress Up Your Dog In A Halloween Costume?
We’re not as clever as many of the people out there on the interweb, but we do like to be somewhat original. The last few years we ordered children’s Halloween costumes from Amazon (aff link) and turned them into our very own Do-It-Yourself Dog Costumes. Check out Dublin in his monkey outfit:
Dublin in his monkey dog halloween costume
One of the things we are taught when raising our guide dog puppies in training is to make sure we constantly handle our dogs paws, tails, ears, head, basically they’re entire bodies so they are used to being handled when they move on to their working career. A visually impaired person needs to inspect their dogs from head to toe with their hands rather than their eyes to see if their dog has any lumps, dry skin, allergies, etc that require medical attention.
During our puppy kindergarten classes we are encouraged to dress up our puppies in training because it teaches them to be handled in different ways. They also learn to be tolerant while being handled.
In puppy kindergarten we usually just put baby clothes (shirts, shorts, and socks) on our pups. Dog Halloween costumes can have some added accessories including hats, scarfs, bracelets/anklets, etc. giving the added bonus of handling our pups heads, necks, paws, and ankles.
Dressing up your puppies in costume may be fun for both you and your dog. However, here are a few things to remember when dressing up your dog this Halloween:
Make sure nothing is too tight so you don’t cut off circulation.
Don’t leave your dog unattended in costume. Some dogs may try to chew and eat parts of dog costumes.
Dog costumes can get warm. If it’s warm make sure your dog is not over heating. Just think you’re dog is already wearing one coat, that costume might be like wearing a second coat!
Over the years I’ve heard people complain that dressing up your dog is humiliating for the dogs. However, as I mentioned it helps us to handle our pups in different ways making them more comfortable when moving on to their visually impaired handlers. Also, I don’t know of too many dogs who hate spending extra time with their owners at say a dog Halloween costume party.
So what about your dog? Do you dress him/her up? Have you decided on a dog Halloween costume for this year? What costume safety tips do you have when dressing up your dog? Tell us about it in the comment section below.
People often ask me, “I just got a new puppy when shall I start working on his training?” I quickly shoot back, “You should start working on puppy training the moment you bring home your new pup!”
Whether you like it or not puppy training starts on day 1. Your puppy is constantly learning new things. Since your pup is already learning you may as well teach him good behaviors rather than bad behaviors.
Teaching Your Puppy Obedience Training
We started working on Derby’s training the moment we picked him up from Guide Dogs of America We started by first allowing him to feel the texture of grass for the first time and by letting him “get busy” on the grass. We also worked on simple things like teaching him to sit and wait before he ate his food. He got so good at his sit-stays and down-stays he could do them with his eyes closed…literally…
Derby is so good at down-stays he can do them with his eyes closed
Derby actually isn’t doing his down-stays with his eyes closed we just happened to catch him mid-blink
So what are a few things you should think about teaching your pup the moment you get home?
Leash and collar – most pups have never worn these two things
Puppy’s are adorable! We tend to let them get away with more than they should. I often times see people let their pups do things that will bite them in the ass when their puppy is older. Here are a few things you should think long and hard about before allowing your pup to form bad habits:
Jumping up on people – An adorable 7 week old 10 pound Labrador Retriever is pretty cute when jumping up on your leg for attention. If you allow him to do this he’s learning it’s okay to jump up on people. Now think how much you will enjoy this behavior when he’s an 80 lb adult dog!?
Sitting on your lap – That same 10 pound Lab puppy fits nicely on your lap, but can you say the same when he wants to sit there as an 80 lb dog?
Barking for attention - It might be cute when they have a little voice, but when they get that big dog voice it might not be so fun. I would avoid encouraging this behavior.
While your first day at home with your new puppy can be a lot of fun your puppy’s first night home can often be very difficult as it’s his first day away from his momma an litter mates. Here are a few tips just in case you’re having some issues with your pups first night at home.
If you’re looking for some more ideas on things you might want to do and not want to do on your first day of puppy training then check out one of our favorite puppy starter books, Puppies For Dummies (aff link).
So when did you start working on your puppy’s training? Did you start working on basic obedience skills from day 1? Tell us about your puppy training experiences in the comment section below.
Ever since we dropped Apache off at Guide Dog College to start his “formal” education Linus, Stetson, and I feel like we’ve been non-stop puppy sitters. If only it was a paying gig we’d be rich!!!
We like volunteering our time to help out the community. In the past we used to volunteer with several non-profit organizations including Habitat For Humanity, Working Wardrobes, and the Special Olympics. More recently we decided we wanted to help dogs/puppies and began fostering homeless dogs and pups for one of our local animal rescues.
Puppy Sitter For Guide Dogs of America
That brings us to our current volunteer activity as guide dog puppy raisers. We love being puppy raisers! We get the opportunity to bring home future guide dog pups at around 7 weeks of age and train them in basic obedience, socialization, and good house manners until they are approximately 18 months old.
Yes, it is difficult to give them up after putting so much time, effort, and love into them, but it’s all worth it knowing that our pups will move on to help a visually impaired person regain their independence.
#1 Tasha – A 4 Month Old Yellow Labrador Retriever
Last Tuesday we helped puppy sit little Tasha at our group meeting. Tasha was a little bit restless and anxious at the meeting. So we worked with Tasha so her handler could have a little break and discuss our puppy raiser manual with some of our other puppy raisers. At 4 months old Tasha is very mouthy as her adult teeth are coming in.
Tasha getting tubed at Puppy Kindergarten…Brea watches…
PUPPY TRAINING TIP #1: If you have a mouthy puppy make sure you get lots of different textured dog toys including KONG’s, pressed rawhides, plush toys, nylabones, etc. When your pup bites down on your hand slowly remove your hand and replace with one of the toys and let them chew on the toy rather than your body part.
A second thing that you can try is using Bitter Apple Spray. Spray a little bit on your hand and let your puppy put his mouth on your hand. Most pups really don’t like the taste of the Bitter Apple Spray and will eventually learn not to bite your hands.
#2 Treacle – A 13 Month Old Black Labrador Retriever
Next up was Treacle! Treacle had a 2 day stay with us so she could work on mingling with other dogs (Stetson and Linus). She did great and had a little bit of play time with her new buddy Linus. We also took a nice long walk on the golf course, went to lunch together, and finally got to watch an awesome roller hockey game! Go Team NDENSUM!
Treacle was very good with our dogs and played like a lady. However, we have heard she sometimes isn’t so lady-like and can be very rough during her play time. So we initially introduced her to Linus and Stetson on leash, but soon found out she did just as well interacting with the boys off leash.
Treacle, guide dog pup and golfer!
PUPPY TRAINING TIP #2: Does your puppy play too rough with your older dog? Try keeping your puppy on leash when he is interacting with your older dog that way you can better control any inappropriate behavior.
#3 Sable – A 15 Month Old German Shepherd Dog
Finally, the past 2 days we watched Sable. There are very few German Shepherd Dogs in our guide dog program so we felt very lucky that we had the opportunity to watch Sable. German Shepherds and Labrador Retrievers are very different breeds. Lucky for us we had lots of experience with German Shepherds when we were fostering puppies.
Sable was a very good girl, but the only real problem we had was having her “get busy”. She refused to potty! It took her nearly 24 hours before she agreed to make #1 and #2 while she was in our care. It was very reminiscent of when we took Linus camping. He would not potty in the dirt (he was used to going on the grass). Again it took over 24 hours to finally get him to potty on the dirt.
Sable giving us a nice down-stay with the little head tilt…
PUPPY TRAINING TIP #3: Make sure you train your puppy to potty on all different surfaces. You never know when you’ll want him to go potty somewhere other than the grass. Guide dogs travel everywhere with their handlers and need to potty on command anytime, anywhere so we train our guide dog puppies to go on cement, grass, rocks, dirt, etc.
So those were our puppy sitting assignments for the week! As you can see there was some mischief going on with the pups. Did your dogs get into any mischief this week? What lessons did you learn from their mischievous behavior?
Do you have an adorable puppy who’s driving you nuts? Not long ago we brought home our first guide dog puppy and after the initial excitement wore off we soon realized we were in for an extreme test of our patience.
My name is Colby and I’ve been raising and training guide dog puppies for the past 5 years. Follow me and my pups on our journey from puppy to working guide dog.