Puppy Raising Tips

Happy National Puppy Day!

Everyone loves puppies!  In fact, even people who insist they hate dogs can’t help smiling at  a fluffy puppy being cuddled in someone’s arms.  Puppies are truly adorable and cuddly, with licorice eyes, a button of a nose, a fat little belly, and big, wobbly paws that always seem to get in their way.  Thank goodness puppies are cute, because if they weren’t, we’d all be less inclined to forgive them for the many chewed shoes and bleeding fingers!  Raising a puppy is a joy yet also a challenge, and, hopefully, these tips on puppy raising will help you overcome difficulties which may arise and help you focus more on the fun.

Don’t Spoil Your Puppy

It’s very hard to remember that that tiny bundle of fuzz on your lap will one day grow into an adult.  It’s easy now to excuse jumping, nipping, and barking with just this thought: “He’s just a baby.”  While you do have to make exceptions for your puppy’s immaturity, you still need to be firm in household rules.  Do you want an adult dog constantly barking for attention?  Then nip it in the bud while your dog is still young.  Jumping, nipping, and other bad behaviors must also be controlled if you want an obedient adult dog.  Enjoy your time with your little pup, but don’t forget that, just like all dogs, he will eventually grow up.  It’s always easier to teach manners when dogs are young, so go ahead and start now.

Prevent Problems

Put anything you don’t want chewed on out of reach

Preventing any problems is always easier than waiting for them to happen and then figuring out a solution.  With the case of your puppy, put anything you don’t want chewed on out of his reach, take him outside often to relieve himself in order to prevent an accident, never encourage rough play so you won’t have to deal with aggression later, and enroll him in a puppy obedience class to avoid any bad manners.

Provide an Outlet For Energy

When Rosie was a small puppy, she slept a lot.  She would eat, go potty, sleep, go potty, play, go potty, sleep, and on and on all day!  Soon, however, she became a hyper pup and needed much playtime to keep her under control.  Puppies are filled with nearly endless energy, and an outlet must be provided if you want to keep sane and save your shoes from being chewed to bits.  There are many ways to tire your puppy, some of which include:

Work out a schedule for exercise, and try your hardest to stick to it.  It will greatly benefit your energized puppy.

How to Break up a Dogfight

You’re out walking your dog when suddenly an unleashed dog charges straight at you with a far from friendly attitude.  In fact, his teeth are barred and his hair bristling, and he’s making angry snarls and barks.  You don’t have time to get away; the other dog runs into your leashed dog, who, naturally, fights back to protect both you and himself.  Somehow, your dog manages to slip out of his collar, and a terrible fight ensues.  What should you do to break up this dogfight without getting hurt?

Even if your dog is very friendly, he is bound to fight back when challenged.  Also, dog fights can be started pretty much anywhere, even from your own backyard.  It’s time to get educated on how to prevent a dogfight and what to do if it ever happens.


Do you know the sings of aggressive behavior in dogs?  Barred teeth, growls, and barking are the basics, but also watch out for bristling hair, tails held as straight as a flag pole and/or slightly wagging, prolonged eye contact, ears held forward and alert, standing very tall, and lunging or running at you or your dog.  If you see a dog doing this, avoid him by slowly and calmly walking in the opposite direction, totally avoiding eye contact.  If you are able to get out of sight of the aggressive dog, do so.  Also, if your car is near, get into it to avoid attack.  If you are worried about being encountered by an unrestrained dog, it might be a good idea to carry some form of pepper spray, just in case.

How to Break up a Dogfight

Though it is always safer and easier to prevent a dogfight, sometimes it is inevitable.  If a fight should occur, here are several ways to stop it:

  • If you have or can get a blanket (a coat will work too), throw it over the dog who is doing the most damage in the fight.  If you have more than one blanket, throw them on both of the dogs.  This will confuse them, enabling you to grab your dog and escape.
  • If you’re lucky enough to be near a hose or be carrying a bottle of water, pour it on the dogs.  This will often confuse them and cool off tempers.
  • Lift the dog’s hind legs to confuse him.  Be aware, however, that this puts you in danger of being bit!
  • If you have a leash, make it into a noose and slip it onto the head of the dog who is being the most aggressive in the fight.  Give it a hard yank, which will cut off the dog’s breathing for a second.  This will also force the dog to open its mouth and release its hold.  You can also take a dog’s collar into your hands and give it a quick twist to gain the same effect.  Be aware, however, that this puts your hands where they could get bit, so be extremely cautious!
  • It isn’t often a good idea to hit or kick a fighting dog.  In his fury, the dog could lash out at you.
  •  Yelling can sometimes scare certain dogs, but discontinue it if it only serves to escalate aggression.  If you have something that can make a lot of noise handy (if you’re near your house, banging a spoon on a pot could help distract the dogs, enabling you to calmly escort your dog to safety), use that.

Hopefully, you will never have to break up a dogfight.  Do everything you can to prevent it, and, if you find your dog in the midst of one, remember the tips above on how to break it up.  Don’t forget, if you’re concerned about being encountered by an unleashed dog while on a walk, arm yourself with some form of pepper spray.

If your dog initiates fights, you need to consult a professional dog trainer immediately!  Not only is this dangerous for other dogs, it is also dangerous for you and others who try to pull your dog away from a fight, risking getting a nasty bite.

How to Handle a Hyper Dog When Guests Come Over

Full of energy, fun, and excitement, many dogs are put under the category “hyper.”  In fact, Rosie fits right in there.  It can be a lot of fun having a dog who is always ready to go and has excellent stamina, but it can also be tiring and hard.  And, when guests come over, it’s tempting just to lock your dog up in his crate or another room until all visitors have left.  While this can be a good idea if your guests are nervous around dogs or have small children, you must also remember that you need to expose your dog to such situations.  If you don’t teach your dog how to behave when visitors arrive, how will he ever learn?  So, if your guests are comfortable around dogs, this could be a very educating experience for your dog on manners!

First of all, call your friends before they arrive and tell them that your dog is hyper and is still learning manners.  Ask them not to pet your dog until he sits.  Until then, they must turn their backs and ignore him.  Leash your dog before any guests enter, arming yourself with delicious treats that your dog values.  Then, have your guests enter, say hello, and stand around, not mentioning your dog’s name or making eye contact with him.  You will probably be pretty busy holding onto your dog as he lunges and wiggles towards the guests, but remain in place.  Don’t let your dog advance, as this would only be rewarding him for rowdy behavior.  Also, don’t admonish your dog.  He thinks that this is the proper way to greet guests; stay positive and teach him the right way.  Show your dog that you have a treat and ask for a sit.  If he refuses to, remain calm and ask your guests to ignore your dog by turning their backs.  When your dog sits, give your dog a treat, and let the guests (calmly) come and pet your dog.  It might be hard to keep your dog sitting when he starts to get petted, so a better position for you might be to stand directly behind your dog, as close as possible, with your feet around him and hand on his chest.

Would Your Dog Make a Good Therapy Dog?

Have you ever thought of making your dog a certified therapy dog?  Therapy dogs can cheer up the elderly, listen to children read at libraries or schools, visit sick patients in hospitals, and more.  Would you and your dog make a good therapy team?  Read the questions below to find out!

Is Your Dog Friendly?

Of course, this is very important if you want your pet to become a therapy dog!  Is your dog happy and comfortable around the elderly, middle-aged people, teens, children, and babies?  In order to be a therapy dog, he must be friendly towards all.

How are Your Dog’s Manners?

Therapy dogs have to have very good manners, not jumping up or barking at people.  They have to be polite when being petted and be able to do basic commands (often sit, down, come, stay, leave it, and heel).

Is Your Dog Comfortable Being Touched by Strangers?

Your dog has to be fine with people he doesn’t know touching him everywhere; people are going to want to rub his ears and touch his feet and pat his nose.  Little kids are going to hang onto his tail, grasp his legs, and lean against him.  Will your dog be able to handle this with a calm and loving attitude?

Is Your Dog Calm?

Therapy dogs have to be calm in many different environments.  For instance, your dog has to be paying attention to your commands while remaining calm in a loud, crowded room.  Can your dog do that?

Is Your Dog Clean?

Therapy dogs, naturally, have to be very clean and well groomed when they go on visits.  If your dog is the type that can find a mud puddle in a drought, you might have to take extra precautions after his bath, like only taking him outside on a leash.  If you aren’t willing to do this, you and your dog would not make a good therapy team.

If you can say “Yes” to these questions and are interested, start looking around for a dog training class on becoming a therapy dog, or you can train at home if you learn the rules for whatever therapy club you want to join.  If you said “No” to any of the above questions but still want your dog to be a therapy animal, start training!  Basic problems like not knowing basic commands or jumping on people just need some consistent training along with patience and treats, but, if your dog is afraid or aggressive of strangers, dislikes being touched, or is nervous in different environments, consult a professional dog trainer.


Quick Tip: Help Your Dog With Name Recognition

Do you have to repeat your dog’s name three times before getting his attention?  Perhaps you need to sharpen his name recognition skills with some simple training sessions!

sissy 13 yr haircut lookingHave some treats in your pocket and casually approach your dog.  He will probably stare at you curiously for a while, so wait until he gets distracted and looks away.  When his attention wanders, say his name.  If his head whips around in recognition, say, “Yes!” and give him a treat.  If he continues to ignore you, wait silently until he finally turns his head to face you.  When he does, immediately say, “Yes!” and give him a treat.  If you reprimand your dog for giving you a slow response, he will think that you’re punishing him for recognizing his name.  Don’t worry about him taking a long time to focus his attention on you at first.  He will get faster the more you train.  Practice this exercise perhaps twice a day until your dog turns to you immediately after you say his name.  After that, practice it about once a week to keep your dog’s name recognition sharp.



Teach Your Dog to Sit Whenever You Stop

sitting-shepherdYou’re walking your dog and stop to check your phone or talk to someone, and your dog starts sticking his nose into things.  Oh, what a delicious pine cone!  Hey, is that a beetle?  If only your dog would stay still a minute!   What if your dog sat beside you every time you stopped walking?  That would take a super star dog, right?  Actually, any dog can learn to do it!

One time, when some of my humans were little, they were on a walk at the park, and a woman with a Giant Schnauzer came up to talk.  Giant Schnauzers weigh anywhere from 75-95 pounds, and such a big dog made the kids a little nervous.  The owner, however, immediately asked for a sit once she stopped walking, which the dog happily did.  Such a command puts people who aren’t used to such a huge dog at ease, as they see that the owner is clearly under control and that the dog is obedient.  This sit-when-you-stop isn’t just for big dogs, though!  It’s a good thing to teach small and medium sized dogs too.

How to Teach it

sitting-dogIf your dog doesn’t know how to sit on command, teach him that first.  It’s very convenient and essential for a well-behaved dog.  Now, if it gives you more control, leash your dog and get a baggy of small pieces of lunch meat or hot dog in your pocket.  Wrap your fingers around a treat so that your dog can only lick and nibble at it and not gobble it down in own bite.  Next, show your dog that you have a delicious treat and give him a little taste.  Now that you have your dog’s full attention, lead him around the yard or house as if you were on a walk.  Give him a few nibbles of the meat to keep him motivated as you go along.  Then, come to a halt and ask your dog for a sit.  If he complies, give him a taste of the treat.  If he doesn’t, remember to be patient with him! This is a very new thing for your dog, sitting while on a walk, and not something that you can force your dog into.  Wait a little bit to let the command fully sink in, and if he doesn’t do it, repeat it.  If he still doesn’t obey, you need to go back and work on sit!  After your dog sits at your side, he may pop right back up after you give him a nibble of meat.  So, work on holding his sits for about five seconds by not giving him a treat until you count silently to five.  You can slowly increase the time he has to sit before getting a treat as time goes by.  Continue walking around the house/yard with your dog at heel, asking for a sit every five steps or so, waiting a bit, and moving on.  When your dog starts sitting immediately when you stop without having to be told a command, you can start implementing this (still with meat treats, though!) on your normal walks around the neighborhood or park.

Training: Setting Your Dog up for Success

chewing shoesIt is always better to prevent mistakes than to let them occur.  For example, rather than leaving your favorite shoes in the middle of the floor to tempt your dog, you put them out of his reach.  Have you ever thought of implementing this into dog training?

Prevention, not Correction

fearful dog
You don’t want your dog to obey you out of fear

In training, your dog responds best to that happy, exciting voice.  If you shout out commands like threats or growls, your dog will quickly shut down and not obey you – or, if he does, do so out of fear, not wanting to please you because he loves you.  The best relationship to have with your dog is one of love, not fear.  Yes, you do have to occasionally correct your dog – see an article on Proper Correction for Dogs here – but your shouldn’t be constantly pointing out the bad things he does.  No, Fido, bad dog!  You can’t chew on my shoes.  No, Fido, don’t chew on that either.  Stop it, Fido!!  Okay, you’re going in your cage…  Obviously, it would have been better if the owner showed Fido what he can chew on, handing him a toy or bone and encouraging him to play.  The same goes for training your dog.  Don’t correct your dog.  If you’re irritated with a certain trick, take a break by playing with your dog or rubbing his belly (studies show that petting a dog can help lower your heart rate!).  It is always best to prevent such irritations and fails.  Here’s a quick example:

class 3 rosie layingWhen my humans train Rosie, they have to catch her in her “calm moods.”  For instance, right after a nap or before bed at night are perfect times, as she is a little tired and not wanting to rip about the house and play.  Rosie will do a long stay and wait if she is tuckered out.  My humans set Rosie up for success in training with no option of failure.  Therefore, there is no such thing as breaking a stay for her or not sitting when she’s told.  There is no correction, just prevention.  Sometimes, Rosie does break her stays or waits, but my humans don’t say a word of correction and try it again.  You will soon get the hang of it, won’t you, Rosie?

Labrador_femelle_chocolatSee what times are best to train your dog and do it then.  Some dogs focus best the minute they are out of bed, while others like calm evening times.  There might even be a particular room that your dog is most comfortable in because it is quiet and much easier to listen to you.  Also, it is always a good idea to train your dog before a meal, as he won’t be full and uninterested in your treats.  Sometimes, my humans train Rosie with her own lunch, and she doesn’t even know it!

Proper Correction for Dogs

correction chewing pantsYour dog has really acted up today.  He chewed up your new shoes, barked nonstop for extra dinner, and jumped up on the leather furniture, making big holes with his sharp claws.  “No, no, noooo!” you cried when you caught your dog in the act.  He ignored you until your voice rose to a threatening scream.  Then he stopped the unwanted behavior and simply stared.  You repeated “no” and put him in his crate for a time out.  Problem solved, right?  Actually, you aren’t fixing the problems by simply shouting at your dog and crating him.  Yes, your dog does need to know that what he did was wrong, but you’re missing the key to success.

Verbal Praise and Rewards

What is this magic key to success?  Actually, it’s just as simple as verbally praising your dog correction happyand rewarding him for obeying you.  When you catch your dog chewing up something he shouldn’t, say a quick “no,” trade him for one of his own toys, and praise him.  You see, if you just snatch away the forbidden shoe and yell “no, no, no” at your dog, he will think, “Oh, my human certainly didn’t like that.  I will try chewing on a book now.”  By giving him his own toy, you are teaching him what he can play with.  As for the verbal praise, you are assuring your pet that this item is appropriate and that he is doing a pleasing behavior.  The same goes for jumping up on you or the furniture.  Your dog is probably doing this for either your attention or a comfy seat, so gently escort him to his own bed or ask him to Sit before giving him a load of praise.

Note: I believe that it is much better to prevent any mistakes that your dog may make.  Put your belongings behind doors or on shelves, out of your dog’s reach.  Encourage your dog to play with his own toys by putting one in each room and giving him a yummy bone.  This way, you will have no cause to get upset with your dog.

Too Much “no” can be a bad Thing

correction sadNaturally, reprimanding your dog is necessary for him to learn what is not acceptable, but too much can be a very bad thing.  Submissive dogs, for instance, respond badly to even one “no.”  If this is your dog, it is best to totally skip verbal punishment and immediately ask for a different behavior, like Stay for a dog who is trying to wiggle out of the front door with you.  You can ruin you and your sensitive dog’s bond by using a harsh voice.  Even for confident dogs, however, too much “no” can seriously harm them.  It can transform your normally confident dog into a shy, scared dog or simply cause him to ignore you.  For instance, if someone was calling your name all of the time but, when you arrived, said nothing except “shame on you,” would you keep coming every time your name was called by that person?  Of course not!  You would either ignore the voice or simply leave.  The same goes for your dog.  If he hears you shouting “no” over and over again for what appears to him no reason, he will ignore your reprimands, and for him the word “no” will become meaningless.  Remember, “no” has to have a meaning for your dog, so when you use it, only use it when you catch your dog in the act.  Then, distract him with a toy or praise him for stopping the displeasing activity.

When you tell your dog “no” in that harsh voice, do it only when your dog is doing something very grave.  When you catch your dog in a small act of naughtiness, contain your irritation and deal with it by either distracting your dog or asking for a different behavior.  Trust me, your dog will sense that you’re upset even if you don’t say a word.  Canines are very good at watching how your body tenses up and hearing how your breathing increases.

What is off Limits?

It is very easy to cry “no” at our dogs all day for what we consider bad behavior.  For instance,correction all muddy after saying “no” to your dog for jumping on you, you catch your dog rolling in the mud and admonish him as you drag him into the bath.  To your dog, however, rolling around in the mud is as fun as riding on a roller coaster.  You probably shouldn’t have let your dog outside after that long rain without his leash on.  Always think of what could get your dog into trouble and try to avoid it.  Also, decide what it “off limits” for your dog.  Is he allowed on the couch?  If not, never let him on, even when he’s a small puppy.  Can he jump up on people?  If you decide that is not proper manners, start discouraging it and ask for a Sit instead.  And please don’t keep changing your mind about the rules or bending them!  To your dog, if you allow him to jump on you, he can jump on guests.  If you let him on the couch one time because he’s bathed, he thinks that he can get on it even when he is muddy.  Remember that your dog thinks in a simple manner and cannot understand that he should not track muddy paw prints through the house.
Always keep your head when your dog is doing something displeasing and to never yell or scream “no.”  It should be delivered in a quick, low voice with just a hint of harshness.  Also, never hit your dog, as this can lead to him being fearful of you or trying to bite back.  Keep in mind that your dog gives you unconditional love and never doubts your decisions or judgement.  He totally relies upon you for food and shelter and truly wants to please you.

How NOT to Correct Your Dog

A prong collar

As I said before, you have to correct your dog to show him proper behavior, though you must make sure to also reward him for obeying you.  However, there are some horrible ways of reprimanding your dog.  Snapping the leash when your dog misbehaves is one of them.  With this correction you are instilling a sense of fear towards the leash and even you.  Your dog will hate it when you come towards him with the leash, remembering the last time you snapped it while telling him “no.”  This is not fair to your dog and can ruin the wonderful bond between him and you.  Please never treat your dog this way.  Another awful way to reprimand your dog is to use a correction collar on him.  Choke, prong, and shock collars are cruel and highly dangerous.  If left on your dog unsupervised, he could easily choke himself to death.  Choke collars are usually made of metal and squeeze your dog’s neck when he pulls.  The same happens with prong collars, only they actually have pointed pieces of metal that go into your dog’s neck.  As you can see, these are terribly cruel things to put on your dog, so please avoid them at all costs.  With shock collars, your dog wears a special collar that allows you to shock him with a press of a button.  This has made many dogs terrified of certain people of situations.  For instance, if you shock your dog when he is about to jump on a stranger, he has a great chance of becoming fearful of strangers in general, not jumping on them.  Please do not use any of these so-called correction collars.  They do not solve any problems and only hurt your dog.  Instead, find a professional dog trainer who only uses positive methods.

He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog.  You are his life, his love, his leader.  He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart.  You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion.

— Unknown

Puppy Food Aggression

puppies eatingWhen we first got Rosie, my humans noticed that, if they rubbed her back while she was eating, she growled or barked menacingly.  This was certainly a problem that needed fixing!  If some unknowing visitor patted Rosie while she was eating, she could growl or, even worse, bite.  My humans did some internet surfing and brain storming to think of ways to get Rosie to accept being pet while eating and having her food touched.

Feed by Handpuppy hand eating

Because Rosie grew up with a bunch of brothers and sisters, she had to hurry and eat her
meals or a greedy siblings would.  This is why a lot of dogs gobble up their food as if you are going to steal it.  In order to survive, a puppy has to bark, growl, and nip at litter mates to keep them off of their food.  Rosie, however, had to learn that, unlike her brothers and sisters, we weren’t going to steal her food.  My humans then had the idea of feeding Rosie by hand.  They grabbed a few pieces of kibble and offered it to Rosie right from the palm of their hands.  At first, Rosie was a little leery.  She didn’t know about eating like this.  A few words of encouragement, however, convinced her otherwise, and she quickly wolfed it down.  Now she actually prefers to be fed by hand, like a little princess!

Add Some Treats

puppy biscuit eatingRosie couldn’t stand having her food touched while it was in the bowl!  In fact, she is still a little nervous about it.  A good idea to fix this is to take a few steps away from where your dog is eating and toss a treat into his bowl.  Once the puppy looks for more, take a step forward and toss in another.  After that, wait a few minutes until your dog starts eating his kibble again.  Then, take another step forward and put the treat in the bowl.  Finally, after the after the last step, show your dog that you have a treat and place it directly into his bowl.

Keep on Petting

No matter how much it irritated Rosie, my humans continued to pet her while she was eating.  With much praise, they started with gently stroking her back.  At first, Rosie was outraged, gobbling her food even faster and growling.  She was given a sharp correction, which put an end to that.  Then the petting continued with much praise.  My humans later went on to petting her head and cheeks.  Now Rosie actually likes being pet while she eats!puppy and mom eating

Now, these tips are just for puppies, not adult dogs.  Food aggression is a much more serious matter with adults, as they pack bigger bites and are set in their ways.  If your adult dog has food aggression, consult a professional dog trainer.

Motivational Treats

class 3 rosie does't want cheerios
Rosie doesn’t want her normal treats

Have you ever tried to train your dog with food and not gotten any of his attention?  You know that he loves his bacon-flavored dog treats, but he has suddenly lost interest.  Maybe you need to find something new to really motivate your dog!

A similar situation was happening with Rosie during puppy class.  For the first two classes, she loved Zuke’s Mini Training Treats and Cheerios as rewards for a job well done.  At the third class, however, she started to lose interest.  She didn’t want to do tricks for the training treats or cereal that typically made her jump for joy.  After that class, my humans went to the store to buy her some new treats to truly motivate her.

Find a Treat

When you notice your dog losing his enthusiasm for his treats, try a few different things.  Somedog treats
dogs go wild over slices of banana or apple, but others can’t stand them.  Rosie really loves the bacon-flavored Canine Carryouts, which you can get for a dollar or so at Dollar General.  My humans diced these treats until they were pea-sized so Rosie wouldn’t get full too fast or take too much time chewing.  They also bought a bag of Pupperoni and cut them up (those are very smelly treats; yum!).  Rosie likes the bacon treats better, but I think that they are equally delicious!

Evaluate the Treat’s Value

Now that you have found a treat that your simply loves, find a treat or two that your dog still likes but not as much.  I love all treats except for dog food (it’s far too bland), but Rosie will do tricks at home for her own dog kibble and Cheerios.  At class or outside, however, Rosie needs something to really get her attention, as there are more distracting things to see or smell.  Find out what treats are great and mediocre for your dog and reward accordingly.

It Doesn’t Have to be Food…

Have you ever considered rewarding your dog with something besides food?  I am a food-puppy toysmotivated dog, so just praise and petting doesn’t work that often for me, but Rosie loves toys and belly rubs.  For instance, she gets too excited learning Fetch if you reward her for returning the ball with a treat.  Instead, she likes to have her belly rubbed as a reward.  My humans also ask Rosie and me to Sit if we want attention.  Try different reward systems with your dog.  He might like playing tug or getting a belly rub better than getting a dog treat.