Training & Behavior

Establishing a routine right away with your new puppy is the key to successful house training. This section includes information on typical puppy behaviors and how to teach them using positive reinforcement. You are learning and so is your new friend. Patience and understanding is key!

House Training

  • Choose a spot outside where you want your puppy to relieve themselves
  • Every time your puppy has relieved themselves in the spot that you have chosen, give them praise or a TLC Health Biscuit
  • Take your puppy outside after every meal, first thing in the morning, after naps, before bed at night and anytime after playing
  • Do not expect your puppy to go all day or night without having to go outside
  • For safety reasons, watch your puppy closely when they are outside
  • Do not distract your puppy while they are doing their business
  • If your puppy has an accident, do not yell at them. Unless caught in the act, your puppy will be unsure of why they are being punished
  • Feed your puppy at consistent times

Tips and Tricks for House Training Success

Keep a diary of when your puppy relieves themselves - this will help you keep track of any patterns your puppy may have with their elimination schedule. After 16 weeks of age, you should start to notice that the intervals at which they relieve themselves will start to spread out, as well as any accidents in the house reduced. Keeping track of when your puppy relieves themselves will also be helpful to your veterinarian should you feel the need to consult them on house training.

Take your puppy out frequently. As a guideline, your puppy will need to relieve themselves roughly every 2 hours. It is important to take your puppy out after every nap, meal and play session, as all of these activities will trigger the need to eliminate. Again, do not disturb them during this process.

If your puppy does have an accident in the house, make sure it is cleaned well so no trace of urine or feces remains. Not only is this for sanitary purposes, this will help prevent your puppy from being naturally drawn to the same area to relieve themselves.

Puppies avoid going to the bathroom where they rest. If you are unable to keep a close eye on them as they roam the house, keeping them in their confined area will keep them from having an accident. This will also prevent them from exploring areas of the house you may not have prepared for them, and potentially eating something within reach that could be harmful. Make sure the crate you buy for your puppy gives them enough room to lie down, stand up, and turn all the way around, as this will make them feel safe and secure.

Pet Tip

It's important to teach your puppy the house rules right away. For example, if you do not want your dog on the couch when they are fully grown, teach your puppy to stay off of it as early as possible.

Behavior

Training your puppy with consistency is crucial. Teaching good behavior from the beginning is important if you want a well behaved dog in the future. Start early!

Your dog’s ancestry traces back to a wolf. Naturally, dogs have a pack mentality. You must establish yourself as the leader of your puppy’s pack in order to command their respect and obedience both now and into adulthood.

Here are a few simple rules to help you with training:

  • Be firm with your puppy and establish who is in charge with a controlled voice
  • Be consistent and be sure to follow through with every newly learned behavior
  • Never physically reprimand your puppy for disobeying
  • Always use positive reinforcement! Love and affection mixed with the occasional small treat will let them know that you’re happy with their behavior

Socialization

Socializing your puppy, at their own pace, from the beginning (after they have had their vaccinations) is very important for the development of their behavior. Try to expose your puppy to positive experiences with a wide variety of people, dogs, other animals, travel, sounds and various places as this will shape their behavior later on in life.

Socializing with Young Children and Other Dogs

Socializing a puppy with infants, toddlers and preschoolers follow the same rules as socializing a puppy with adults - if the puppy does not want to socialize, do not force them to. This is often not the case, but you must advocate for your puppy with whatever they feel comfortable with.

Mixing a puppy or even a full grown dog with a newborn baby can be a handful. The biggest issue most puppy parents run into when mixing puppies and babies together concerns the baby’s crying, and the dog’s barking. The baby starts crying, so the dog starts barking, and vice versa. This is because dogs feed off of the energy that’s in their environment, and a crying baby will make the dog think something is wrong. This can happen in the middle of the night, and it can cause quite a headache for you, and your neighbors. One of the best things to do to prepare your dog for a newborn’s arrival is to get them used to the added noise. This can be done by playing the sounds of a baby crying at a tolerable noise level over computer speakers for long periods of time when you are sure your dog will listen to it or notice it.

Another issue that arises having a newborn baby and a dog in the same house, is that the dog or puppy receives less attention than before the baby arrived. You still must make time for playtime and walking, as your puppy relies on you, and only you for it’s exercise and attention fulfillment. It is also important to let your puppy know that especially now, the newborn baby ranks higher on the totem pole. With walking for instance, always make sure whoever is holding or pushing the baby in a stroller leaves the house first, ahead of the puppy. This helps establish that the newborn is the pack leader and subconsciously lets the dog know that the baby takes precedence.

The best way to introduce your new puppy to older children is to get them to stand a few feet away for the first time. This way, if the puppy wants to say hello, he or she can without having his or her personal space invaded, which could make your puppy nervous or over excited. If in a large public area (a park for example) with unfamiliar children, it is always a good idea to ask the child’s parent(s) if it is ok for their child to greet your puppy. The parents know what their child’s behavior is like, and will be able to judge how the situation will go on the child’s behalf. If that child has been given the OK, give them a few treats that they can give to your puppy. This will teach your puppy that kids are a good thing, and if they behave, they will get a treat. It is recommended to put the treat on the ground opposed to hand feeding, as this will discourage your puppy from getting used to taking food out of people’s hands, especially a stranger’s. As far as petting is concerned, make sure the child is instructed on what to do. Many kids (especially the very young ones) will like to pull on the ears, tap on the head, etc. and may not be giving your puppy what he’s used to. Once the child is done playing with your puppy, it is best to give your puppy a break. You do not want to overwhelm your puppy with too much too fast, as this could give them a negative first impression of children.

Training through Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement training methods are one of the most rewarding methods of training, for both you and your puppy. Your puppy will do what you ask of them, and in exchange you get to reward them with their favorite treat, affection, or game which will always make them happy - a true win-win situation!

TLC’s Whole Life Health Biscuits are ideal for training purposes, due to their ability to break into smaller pieces. When you are training your puppy with a positive reinforcement method, you are rewarding your puppy with what they like almost as much as your affection - treats!

Positive reinforcement can be used to complete many different types of training tasks. Teaching your dog how to sit, lie down, shake a paw and many more useful commands can all be taught using positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement training can also prevent bad behavior such as jumping on people, running out the front door whenever it’s opened (also known as door-darting) and begging for food.

The more simple commands such as “sit”, “come”, “stay”, “heel” etc. are all relatively straight forward to teach, however they all require persistence and consistency. Make sure if multiple people are training your puppy, they are all using the same words to get an action out of your puppy. For example, if one person is trying to get your puppy to stay in the same sitting position, one person using the word “stay” and one person saying “woah”, will conflict with each other and will confuse the puppy. Persistence and patience are two virtues that will help you in the training process, so don’t give up! Some breeds are by nature harder to train than others.

Timing is also very important with positive reinforcement training. For example, when trying to teach your puppy to sit, reward them with a treat or affection immediately upon sitting (within a few seconds), not when they stand up, as they will think that the motion of standing is what you want. Using a clicker in conjunction with giving your puppy a treat can also help. Use the clicker to signal or mark the good behavior and use it every time they do what you wish. The goal of using the clicker is to get them to associate the sound of the clicker with both good behavior.

Positive reinforcement training can also be used as a tiered training method for teaching more difficult tasks. For example, the act of “shaking a paw” requires more than one step. The dog must lift their leg, hold it out, wait for you to grab his paw, then put his leg back down to the ground once the shake is done. If your dog is not able to get the trick in one motion, try rewarding your puppy at each step, by giving them a small piece of the treat, until they put it all together. Use this tiered method for other methods like “roll over” and other tricks and commands that require more than one step.

Teaching your Puppy Tricks

How to Bow

The “Bow” is exactly what it sounds like - the dog puts their elbows and head to the ground, while keeping their hind legs and rear in the air, then popping back up to the standing position.

Step by Step:
  1. Start with the dog standing.
  2. Take a treat and hold it at the tip of your dog’s nose, slowly moving the treat towards the ground while keeping it close to his or her body. This will lure him or her down until the elbows touch the floor/ground and hind legs still up.
  3. Once they are in the desired position, get them to hold this pose for a few seconds (2-4). After this, use the treat to guide them back into the starting/standing position.
  4. After this has been completed, give your dog praise (saying “good”, petting, etc.) or use the your clicker if you have trained your dog using clicker training in the past.
  5. Go through this process 2-3 times a day for 5 minutes or less. Sooner than later, this should work on command!

Some troubleshooting:

  • If your dog is not keeping their rear end in the air when luring him down to the ground with the treat, take your free arm and place it beneath their belly while you do the luring motion. After a few repeated attempts, you will not need the second arm anymore.
  • Like many tricks that involve more than one movement, sometimes it is best to break the trick down into steps, and teach the steps individually.

How to Wave

Here is a very impressive, but relatively easy trick you can teach your dog - how to wave hello and goodbye! All you need is some TLC health biscuits and a clicker if your dog has been trained with clickers in the past.

Step by Step:
  1. The one prerequisite to learning this trick is your dog should know the “shake a paw” trick.
  2. Move your hand higher than you usually do for the “shake” command so he or she has to reach to complete the “shake”.
  3. When he or she moves their paw high enough so that it looks like a “wave”, click the clicker (if you’ve used one before), or give them a treat and some praise. Repeat this step a few times.
  4. Once he or she has moved his paw high enough 4-5 times in a row, give the “shake” command. When he moves his paw out to shake yours, say “wave” (or whatever you want the command to be), and hold your hand higher than you usually do, enticing him to reach again.
  5. Repeat step 4 and only say the “wave” command until he is consistently raising his or her paw high enough to look like a wave. It is important to remember to reward your dog with a small treat every time the trick is completed correctly.
  6. Once your dog is getting very consistent with the “wave” command, you can start to be selective in the waves you reward him for - eventually just reward him if his paw is straight up in the air, if that’s what you desire!
  7. This may take a while - practice this command 3-4 minutes a session, 2-3 times a day and no more, as your dog may get frustrated.
  8. Impress your friends and family!

How to Speak/ Be quiet

Teaching your dog to speak and quiet down is both fun and useful. Here’s how to do it:

Step by Step:
  1. Pick a word you want for your dog to bark in response to - “Speak” or “Talk” are the most popular choices. One key to making these words stick is to not make them sound like other words they are already familiar with, so try to run through the words they know in your head so they don't get confused.
  2. Do the same thing for the “quiet” command. “Quiet” and “Hush” are both good choices.
  3. The quiet command is what you will start with, and once this is mastered, you can move onto the speak command.
  4. When your dog barks, check to see what the source is, then walk over to your dog. When they are done barking, acknowledge this by saying the command you want to use for quieting them down, and give them a treat with some praise.
  5. Repeat step 4 until they thoroughly understand it.
  6. Next comes the “Speak” command. Do something that you know will make them bark - like having someone ring the doorbell or knock on the door. When they bark, say your “speak” command in a happy, clear voice and give them a treat/praise.
  7. Next, try the “speak” command without creating a situation - when they understand this, you are good to go! You can now use the “Speak” and “Quiet” command together - have them bark a couple times, then quiet them down with your calming command.

Tips:

Some owners prefer to teach the speak command first, which is just done in the reverse order as just described. There is nothing really wrong with this and is all about preference and comfort level. Also, make sure you are patient and consistent when teaching any (old or young) dog a new trick. It is also recommended to wait a while with a new puppy before teaching this trick, due to their lack of ability/willingness to produce a full bark.

Training Tip

TLC Whole Life Health Biscuits break easily into small pieces, so you can reward your dog for multiple training tasks using only one or two biscuits. Order TLC Biscuits today- We have Free Delivery.

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