Monday, October 26, 2009

Tips For Success With Puppies


CHOCOLATE PUPSWho does not LOVE a little puppy? But we have to remember that puppies quickly grow to be dogs. It is important that we start setting boundaries and rules on the first day. I make all my dogs sit and stay until I release them on their name to go to their food. I start that training the very first meal the pup has at my house. By the second or third day, the pup usually understands sit and stay for food.

We get many calls for help with house training. I always tell the caller that there is no "silver bullet" for house training. The greatest success comes with using a crate only big enough for the pup to stand, turn around, and lie down. So for a Labrador Retriever pup, I use a very small crate to begin with--one about the size of a cat carrier. The pup will outgrow it in one to three weeks, and then I replace it with the next biggest size. I progress through four to five different sizes of crates as the pup grows.

Dogs are naturally denning animals. They seek out small, dark places to sleep and for safety. Many people tell me they think that using a crate is "mean," or "cruel." It is definitely not! The first night home, I put the pup in the crate and set it on a chair--right next to where I sleep. This helps the pup feel safe. She can see me and hear me breathing. If she is fussing a lot, I might even move the little crate next to me in bed. She feels part of a pack and does not feel alone. But she can not go off in a corner and make a mess. Then, early in the morning I carry the crate with the pup in it to the sliding glass door and open the door to the crate to let her go outside. And praise her like crazy when she goes outside.

I start teaching the dog to come, sit and lie down, using food and praise for treats. (Most dogs love food, but enthusiastic praise is even more exciting for most dogs.)

Socialization around people and other dogs is super important. If you can find another puppy owner, it is a great idea to get together and let the pups play together.

Never hit or shake a puppy. This will only cause her to fear you, and possibly create fearful or aggression problems in the adult dog.

If you have a dog that you want to play retrieving games with, remember to keep retrieving super fun for the dog. And remember to quit playing with the pup before she gets bored or tired. Always leave them hungry for another play session.

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