| TEACHING YOUR PUPPY TO COME ~|
Teaching your puppy to "Come" is one of the most important lessons she will ever learn. The sooner you begin teaching "Come" the better chance you have for a lifetime of reliable recalls.
It takes time to teach "Come." Most puppies will "come" to you whenever you decide to walk away because they instinctively follow you. A reliable response to "come," however, usually takes months of consistent and positive reinforcement. You want your dog to literally stop in her tracks, turn around on a dime, and happily come running to you whenever the "come" command is given. This is an end result, so do not expect too much of your puppy too soon.
The easiest way to associate your new puppy with the "come" command is to begin using it on their first day home! Even at 8 weeks old, you can begin to use positive reinforcement associated with the "come" command. Whenever your puppy is already coming to you on her own, wait until she is about 2-3 feet from you and then say "(Dog's Name) Come!" in a very happy voice. When she gets to you (about 2 seconds later), hug her, clap your hands, and basically make a huge fuss over her. This exercise should be practiced frequently and consistently for 3-5 months,depending on the age and response of your dog. Then it should be practiced periodically for the rest of your dog's life. This is a wonderful exercise because your dog will always perform it perfectly. She will always receive praise because she cannot do it wrong. It is of the utmost importance that your dog initiates coming to you on her own, so you need to look for this opportunity, realize it, and then say "Come!" when she's almost at your feet. If she doesn't "come" after you command her to "come"....then you said the command too early. You need to wait until she is almost right on top of you! With this exercise, your dog will learn that "come" is a really good thing. After a while, you can lengthen the distance from when you start to say COME, but be careful and don't push your luck.
One of the biggest mistakes people make when playing with their dog is chasing them. Rule number one: if you want a reliable recall, NEVER, EVER, chase your dog unless it is a dire emergency. Your new puppy may look very cute as she scoots her furry butt around the house while you chase her, but don't. Stop all chasing where you are the "chaser." Instead, encourage your puppy or dog to chase you. Teach your dog to play "chase" by you running around the house or yard, with your dog chasing you. If your dog will not play, you need to be creative. Get down on your hands and knees and "playbow" to her, crawl away real fast then roll on the ground and let her "catch" you. Make it really happy and fun. Don't use food, use fun. It is important that your dog learns to always "chase" or "follow" you, and at the same time, she's learning to never run away.
After a few weeks or months, as your dog begins to enjoy the "come" command, you can start "testing" it as a command. However, you will regress quickly at this point unless you can back up every "test". You can back up your "come" command a few different ways. One way is to periodically put a harness and lead on your dog and let her drag the lead around (under your supervision). Nonchalantly pick up the lead (without your dog noticing), then say "(Dog's Name) COME!" in a happy voice, if she doesn't come on her own, gently tug on the lead to encourage her. If she still doesn't come, pull her to you while saying COME! COME! in a very happy voice. When she reaches you (by gentle force or on her own), give her loads of praise. Your dogs' lead should be attached to a harness, not a collar. When you physically pull her to you, you are not choking your dog, nor causing any discomfort. The harness allows you to pull her at her center of gravity and induces "force" in the least "forceful" manner possible. Many people train dogs to "come" by "popping" a choker collar to get their attention. In my opinion, this is perceived as negative reinforcement for most dogs. I do not believe negative reinforcement establishes the foundation of trust and respect between animal and human that is needed for fool proof recalls.
Another way to back up your "come" command is to have someone else "physically walk" your dog to you when you command her to COME. This is accomplished by waiting until your dog is next to another family member (on your dogs' own free will.) Establish communication with the other family member and confirm that they are ready to "back up" your come command. Then say "(Dog's Name) COME!" in a happy voice. If your dog comes to you, praise lavishly, if she hesitates, encourage her by getting on your knees, clap your hands, etc. If she does not come on her own the other family member (who the dog is right next to) gently but firmly wraps their arms around the dogs' mid-section and lifts gently, pushing gently forward, thus "physically walking" your dog to you. Again, this method accomplishes the goal by moving your dog via your dogs' center of gravity, not by tugging, pulling, or pushing. The same thing can be accomplished if your dog is already wearing a harness. If she already has a harness on, simply grasp the harness at its top center and "help" her along! Now that you are familiar with the exercises, you must practice them frequently and consistently.
Important things to remember:
1. NEVER chase your dog.
2. NEVER scold your dog when she comes to you.
3. For the first months of practice, and until your dog comes to you reliably, NEVER command your dog to COME unless you have the lead in your hand to back up your command (or someone else has their hands on the dog to back up your command.)
4. If you need your dog for something and you don't have the lead in your hand, go and get your dog. Don't test the COME command when you are unsure of her response.
5. Never call your dog using the "come" command, and then ignore her refusal. Always back up your command! Go and get your dog. As you approach your dog tell her "STAY!" until you reach her. Then walk her back to the spot you originated from repeating "COME! COME!" When you get to the spot, praise her for coming. You must show her that she should have "COME" in the first place.
Do these things for about 3-5 months. During this time, your dog will learn that the COME command is a wonderful thing. She never does it wrong. She always gets praised. After your dog repeatedly and thoroughly demonstrates that she understands the "come" command, you can start slowly testing your dog. When you test your dog, never tell her to come if you think she won't, always go and get her instead. Remember, make it easy for her to do good. The only time to tell her to come when you are unsure of her response is in an emergency. Otherwise, go and get your dog.
If you have a dog that does not respond well to the "come" command due to negative reinforcement in the past, change the command to "Here!" or anything else that you can say in a happy voice with one syllable. Start doing the exercises mentioned using the new command and you will begin to build respect, trust, and a reliable recall in your dog.
TEACHING YOUR PUPPY TO "LEAVE IT" ~.
The "Leave It" command is a very useful command to teach your dogs. You can use it in a variety of ways that are practical, convenient, and sometimes life-saving.
You can start teaching your puppy the first step as early as 4 months old. Your puppy may not understand what you're doing for a few months, but it will lay a strong foundation for the command. The first step is to put a new type of food treat on the floor. Don't use one he's used to, as it may confuse him to think that "all of a sudden" he's not supposed to have a treat that he's always been able to have at leisure.
Begin by placing the small treat on the floor and make sure he sees you put it there. Walk him by the treat (with him on-lead). When he tries to sniff the treat say "Leave It!" When he looks away from the treat, praise him with pats on the sides and "GOOD Leave It!" Depending on your dog, you may need to physically turn him away from the treat. Then pick up the treat from the floor, inspect it, then tell him to sit. When he sits, give him the food treat and say "GOOD Sit!" Release him and play with him so that he likes this new "Leave It" command.
As you progress in your teaching, start periodically putting the food treat in your pocket after inspection, and offering an "old" food treat for the reward when he sits. This teaches your dog the true meaning of "Leave It" because the reward does not match what he wanted in the first place. In most instances of actually using the command this will be the case. After a few weeks of practicing, start using the command whenever you deem appropriate. Some instances may occur when he finds garbage on the ground, or when he wants to say hello to an aggressive dog (or unknown dog). In any case, ALWAYS follow the "Leave It" command with praise! "Leave It" is a difficult thing for a dog to do, and he will be more willing to respond to your command if he knows what a GOOD thing "Leaving It" is.
TEACHING YOUR PUPPY NOT TO BITE.
Puppies play with other puppies by biting each other. It is a very natural thing to do. It can be very confusing to a puppy if you scold him for playing the only way he knows how, and then encourage him to play again.
Next time he bites or nips you "yelp" in a noticably loud and high-pitched voice. Usually, the pup will look at you kind of funny, like he doesn't understand, and then proceed to bite you again. This time you "yelp" louder and in a very high pitch, maybe jumping back at the same time as if you're really hurt. Whenever you do this technique, you must always immediately furnish an appropriate chew toy for him to bite and play with. After a half dozen times of this, the pup usually gets the message. But, he is still a puppy, and he will "forget" next time he wants to play and bite again (after all, that's the only way he's played for his whole life!) It will take a week or two until this pup finally "gets it." Some learn much faster, and others more slowly, but this technique has never failed me as long as every person is consistent. That means every time the pup bites, "yelp!" Tell children and visitors to do the same. (Yes, really tell them to do the same, and make sure they do it; maybe they'll learn something in the process). If your puppy or dog reacts in a frightened manner of your yelping, then try it again in a softer, less frightening manner. You do not want to frighten the dog, only let it know that biting too hard hurts.
As the pup gets older, if he is not 99% reliable not to bite, after you "yelp," put your hand over his muzzle gently but firmly (sometimes referred to as a nose-hug) immediately after you yelp and when you say "No Bite!" Then immediately give him a chew toy and say "Good Bite!" You always want to end a lesson being taught with praise, that way, your dog will be more willing to learn. This will also teach your dog to go get a chew toy when he gets so excited that he just must bite something.
If these methods fail to work another option you have is to get up, turn your back to your dog and walk away whenever he bites or nips you. No reprimand, no emotion, simply turn your back to your dog immediately after he bites you (the *first* time) and walk away. After about 10 minutes, approach him again. Be sure that you are praising him when he is biting appropriate things and not you. This will teach your dog that he will not receive the attention he desires unless he behaves appropriately.
What if none of these things work? The problem you are experiencing is one of the hardest solutions to describe via the Internet that I have come across. That is because, if the old standby's (yelping and no bite, and walking away) don't work, then the problem is usually based on a lack of communication in general ~ Meaning, the dog does not understand what you are trying to communicate, so it becomes frustrated at your attempts at getting it to stop biting and in its frustration, bites more. This can actually make the problem worse.
The first thing to look at is if your dog is getting enough physical and mental stimulation on a daily basis. Your puppy should be able to be off-lead (off-leash), running around quite a bit to expend some of energy. Depending on the age, she may require up to 2 hours per day of vigorous activity. Playing fetch and going for walks does not suffice for all dogs. Both of these activities are quite mindless and can be done for very long periods of time without much mental concentration.
TEACHING YOUR PUPPY TO STAY ~
Puppies can begin learning short "stays" between 4 and 6 months of age. Begin by putting your puppy or dog in a "down" position (lying down). Sit next to your puppy with your hands lightly positioned on his sides/back so that he does not get up. Do not hold him firmly unless he tries to get up.
Next, put a food treat (small pieces of hot dogs work well) on the floor about 6 inches in front of him so that he cannot reach it. Put the palm of your hand in front of his face and say "STAY!" Remove your hand from in front of his face, wait about 3 seconds, then say "OK!" (or whatever your "release" command is). During all of this time, you should have your other hand lightly on his side/back to ensure his "down" position. When you say "OK," release your dog at the same time. When he is eating the food treat, PRAISE him and tell him what a good dog he is.
Repeat this exercise three times a day for 1-2 weeks. This exercise teaches your dog the "meaning" of "STAY." He should never be corrected or punished, he should always BE GOOD and DO GOOD, so be sure to make it impossible for him to fail. By teaching this way he will also learn to LOVE the "STAY" command.
Somewhere between the first and second week of this exercise, begin lightening your hold of your puppy during the 3-second "STAY."
The next stage of the exercise involves lengthening the "STAY." You can begin lengthening the time between your "STAY" command and your release command after your puppy (or dog) is "staying" on his own for 3 seconds. Begin lengthening the time to 5 seconds for a day, then 10 seconds for the next, etc. Remember, he should never be corrected or punished, he should always BE GOOD and DO GOOD, so be sure to make it impossible for him to fail. If he tries to get up, simply firmly keep him in his down position and repeat the command "STAY."
Begin teaching your dog at times when she is already resting so it is easy for her to succeed. You can also teach her an "easy" command by holding a treat within your fist and allowing her to gently take the treat. When she is forceful, she does not get the treat, as she becomes gentler and more "easy" she gets the treat. You will be rewarding her for inhibiting her bite and her aggressiveness. This takes many, many repetitions. If your dog is biting and nipping continually and getting consistent attention for it (negative or positive) she may have already learned that she can get what she wants by using force. You need to change this so that she receives more and better rewards for being "easy," for "settling" for "leaving it" etc. When you reward, use a two and three-step approach. At the instant the good behavior is initiated ,give her the verbal reward "Good Girl!" This is her cue, so that she learns exactly what behavior pleases you. After the verbal reward, give her a food treat. (step 2). And while she is eating the food treat,pat her on the sides for the physical-touch (step 3) reward. The food treat (step 2) can and should be omitted periodically.
You need to convince her that it is beneficial and in her best interest to behave the way you want her to. Setting her up to succeed so that she can be praised is the best method to do this. Using times when she is more relaxed in the first place... and then giving her a chew toy to chew on and praising her for a good "easy" as she leisurely chews on the chew toy may also help.
Right now, your focus may be on all her biting and rough-play antics. You may be giving her the most attention during these times. Turn this around, so that you are giving her more (and better) attention when she is behaving appropriately. This can be quite difficult with puppies and young dogs, and her appropriate behavior may disappear quickly ~ but it is important that you recognize it and praise it in the instant that it is there.
Think about "What am I communicating to my dog?" And "What is it like to be trained by me?" Puppies and dogs that continue to nip and bite relentlessly, usually do not understand you.
TEACHING YOUR PUPPY THE OFF COMMAND ~
A jumping dog is a happy and excited dog!!! Start teaching the "OFF" command when your dog is still a puppy and you will spare yourself many muddy shirts!
When most puppies are little, their "people" inadvertently encourage them to jump up. It is not very distressing to have a little pup jumping up on your ankle or shin, in fact, it's kind of cute. So, the puppy learns from early in life that if he wants attention, he should jump up on his "person" and they will reward him for it with praise and attention. As the puppy gets older and bigger his "people" all of a sudden decide that what they have taught him to do (jumping up for attention) is now putting paw prints on their favorite shirts! You can start teaching "OFF" at this point, or if you're lucky, you will have taught your puppy "OFF" from the beginning! Teach your dog the "OFF" command when he is not excited, and doesn't particularly want to jump up. Say "UP" and encourage the dog to jump up on you or on a piece of furniture. When he jumps up say "GOOD UP!" and praise your dog. Then say "OFF!" and push your dog's chest so that he must release and put all four paws on the ground. When all four paws are on the ground say "GOOD OFF!" Kneel down so that you can give your dog praise and attention. Keep doing this exercise, at least three times a day. ALWAYS end the teaching lesson by kneeling down and giving your dog praise and attention. This will make him eager to obey the "OFF" command. After your dog is familiar with the "OFF" command (about 2 days to 2 weeks) begin using it when he's really excited and jumps up on you. (Usually when you just come home.) The most important thing to remember when executing the "OFF" command is to kneel down and give your dog praise and attention IMMEDIATELY when he puts four paws on the ground! If you are teaching a dog that has been used to jumping up to receive attention, this command may take many months of consistent and positive reinforcement before your dog will become reliable.
TEACHING YOUR PUPPY TO SETTLE ~
We've all been there! Your dog is running around in circles like the Tasmanian Devil and nothing you do or say seems to make a difference. Many times dogs that are uncontrollable or unruly in the house are crated or end up being "put outside." Unfortunately, this doesn't solve the problem, it only postpones their excitement until they're free from the crate, or brought inside the house again. Dogs are social animals, they thrive on social interaction and are usually their happiest when they are included in the daily activities of their "people." Consistently isolating your dog in a crate or in your yard (or doing so for prolonged periods) may lead to a socially starved dog. This isolation can make your dog so overwhelmed when he receives attention or is brought into the house that the same unruly behavior intensifies; thus a vicious circle begins. One of the most important commands that you can teach your dog is a "Settle" command. It can be taught, learned, and reliably performed at a very young age. It can save your dog from being isolated in a backyard, specific room, or crate and it can help you enjoy your dog, have control of him, and help establish leadership. The Settle command can even be taught before "sit" and will contribute to the bonding of you and your dog. This command is most easily taught at a very young age, but even old dogs can learn new tricks! So start teaching your puppy or dog the "Settle" command today. If you have a puppy, you may start teaching him as young as 8-10 weeks. Lie your pup on his back gently; if he squirms, try to gently keep him on his back until he relaxes. If he REALLY squirms, and tries to bite, then lie him on his side. Puppies that exhibit biting or nipping behavior when being placed on their backs may grow up to be very dominant dogs. If your puppy exhibits this behavior, it is your responsibility to educate yourself on the special needs and considerations that a dominant dog requires. Generally, a dominant pup will squirm a lot and maybe try to nip or bite, "mouthing" on your hands as you're restraining him. A submissive dog may squirm a little, but will usually relax quickly and will look away from you. Avoiding eye contact is a submissive gesture, so do not try to make your puppy look at you. In fact it is best if he looks away, this reinforces the pack hierarchy that establishes you as "leader." While you are gently holding your puppy on his back or side, say "Settle" in a gentle, firm, and pleasent manner. Don't be lovey-dovey with him (even though he'll look so cute). This is teaching a command, not love-play. At the same time, don't scare him into settling by screaming the command. When he squirms, tighten your hold (gently but firmly) and say "Settle" until he relaxes. When he relaxes, say "Good" and loosen your hold. Each time he squirms, tighten your grip and repeat "Settle." Then repeat "Settle" when he relaxes. If you have long hair or floppy sleeves, make sure you are not tickling your dog, and thus making him squirm! Try for 20 seconds of a continuous settle. This may be impossible for the first few times, so 3-5 seconds of a continuous settle is perfectly acceptable, then release him with LOADS of praise. (The praise part is VERY IMPORTANT EVERY TIME.) Do this 3 times a day at times when he will most likely comply. Don't "test" the command for a few weeks or months, until you are sure he knows and thoroughly understands it, and you can handle him. Some puppies and dogs respond quite well to being gently restrained, others are as squirmy as a wet worm! The easiest way to combat the squirmy dog is to practice this command when he is already resting. You want to make it as easy as possible, when teaching a new command, for your dog to "Do Good." If you have a particularly hyper dog that never seems to be resting you will need to be physically and mentally prepared for your first attempt! It is important that the first time you attempt the "Settle" command that you are able to, at the very least, gently restrain your dog. If you start teaching him the "Settle" command by saying "Settle" and then allowing your dog to squirm his way out of it, you are essentially teaching him a great new fun game! If you have a wiggle-worm dog that seems to be void of a spine and feels like he's got an extra pair of paws, you will need to be ready for his antics! If you are teaching an adult dog the "Settle" command, the same technique applies but you need to be aware of your dog's personality before attempting the command. If your dog is known to be very dominant and/or aggressive, or if you feel there is any possibility that your dog may try to bite you, do not attempt the "Settle" command, but get professional advice from a reputable animal behaviorist. If your adult dog will perform a "Down" command for you, you should be able to teach him a "settle" command quite easily. After "downing" your dog, lie him completely on his side and say "Settle." Don't let him raise his head or squirm; keep him on his side for 3-20 consecutive seconds with no motion. When you release him, PRAISE, PRAISE, PRAISE!!! If you can not "down" your dog, you can begin to teach the "Settle" command at times that your dog is already lying quietly and is relaxed. You can condition your pup or dog as he begins to learn this command, to execute it in whatever manner you deem necessary. For instance, if you say "Settle", do you want your dog to lie down and roll over on his back? Maybe so, but a more practical use is to basically calm down, lie down, or lie still. My dogs do all three. If they're running around being too rowdy in the wrong place or time and I say "settle" they stop whatever they're doing, sometimes they lie down. They know that it is a "non-release" command, meaning they can play quietly again if they wish, sometimes escalating to another "Settle" command). Also, if they are in a new place pacing about, I can say "Settle" and they will lie down and stop their pacing. You can also accomplish this by holding your pup in a cradle position, giving the "Settle" command, and slowly tipping the dog so that his head is lower than his backside. (This is also a "trust building" exercise). Don't over-do it the first couple of times, you want him to be successful at his "Settle." Another way to do this is to lie him on the bed and slowly slide him onto the floor (with you supporting him of course) giving him the "Settle" command. Of course, before you even attempt these trust-building exercises you need to have enough confidence in yourself first. This means that first you need to know you have the strength to hold your dog, and you'll also need to portray confidence, not laugh, and sometimes hold the pup tight enough so that he "knows he better settle." On these "intensive settles" it is best to give a release command. I differentiate the non-release and release by this: If I say Settle and don't physically touch my dog, he knows not to wait for a release command. If I say Settle and physically touch him in some way--to position him, to clip his toes, or whatever--then he is to stay "settled" until I give a release command. Every time you clip his toenails, look in his ears, or do anything that requires him to stay still, use Settle.
TEACHING YOUR PUPPY HOW TO WALK ON A LEASH ~
The easiest way to teach your dog how to go for a polite walk is to start while he is a puppy. Let him drag the lead around the house, under your constant supervision, to get him used to the idea. I recommend also getting him used to a harness. Attach the lead to the harness instead of his collar. I know that many obedience instructors insist on a collar. Many obedience instructors say that a harness does not provide the "control" needed. However, I have found that although leads attached to collars have their place, leads attached to a harness have less chance of being grabbed, chewed, tugged, and pulled on by the puppy/dog than when attached to the collar. When a lead is attached to a collar it is very close to the puppy/dog's face, and very bothersome at that. It usually dangles under their chin, tickling their chest or it brushes against their cheek or eye inviting them to take a chomp out of it. A lead attached to a harness is "out of the way" and does not bother the puppy or dog, as long as he's already used to the harness. The harness, collar, and lead should always be associated with FUN & PRAISE. You want your pup to LIKE wearing it, so after you put it on play his favorite game, take him for a fun ride in the car, or take him for a walk.
Puppies and dogs learn "Let's Go" the same basic way, with a few variations applied. The best way to teach your puppy/dog to stay near you without pulling is to practice the "Let's Go" exercises as a game. Puppies have a greater tendency to follow you around up to a certain age and then they begin to get a mind of their own and want to go where they want to go! Therefore the game will be more challenging for older puppies and dogs, but on the other hand, it will take puppies months instead of weeks to learn because of their short attention span and development level.
Put a 6-foot lead on your dog, take him in the yard and if he already knows the "sit" command, tell him to sit. When he sits, or after you help him sit, be sure to praise him! (Cut-up hot dogs or other small treats work well, along with vocal and physical praise.) Be careful not to scold, correct, or in any way make this game "not fun" for your dog. Even a seasoned "sitter" should be "helped" so that he only receives praise. Stand at the side of your dog so that you are both facing the same direction. He should remain seated, but if he gets up don't correct him, just remember to tell him to "stay" next time. If he's a puppy, don't worry about the sit if he doesn't know it yet. It is mainly used to get your dog's attention. Next say, "Let's Go!" and begin walking at a faster pace than your dog. If your dog is a maniac, then you'll need to jog or even sprint. After about 5-20 feet (depending on the size of your dog, and your speed) stop abruptly and call his name in a happy, excited voice. He should turn around and come to you. When he does, give him a treat (that cut-up hot dog again) and praise him with some pats on the chest. If he doesn't come to you, you'll need to "reel him in" and then give him the treat along with vocal and physical praise. Tell him to sit again, and repeat the "Let's Go," going in a different direction this time. After a few times of getting the hot dog piece, he should come more than willingly. Do this for about 3-5 minutes, 1-3 times a day. After a few days, start the next step. (For puppies: no longer than 3-minute sessions.)
For the next step, begin the same way. Start with the sit, praise, then "Let's Go!" After 5-20 feet stop abruptly, call his name, and start walking/running backwards in little steps. You want your dog to be constantly moving toward you while you are moving backward. Of course, he will be concentrating on that hot dog piece in your hand, but that's fine. When he catches up with you give him that hot dog and PRAISE! Now, you want to repeat the exercise, but with variation. Sometimes start with a sit, other times just surprise him and say "Let's Go!," taking off in another direction. Always end each exercise by calling the dog's name, running backward, and giving him the treat and praise. Do this for 3-5 minutes, 1-3 times a day, for about 3 more days. (For puppies: no longer than 3-minute sessions, and continue until your pup knows the "sit" command, and responds reliably to his name. Depending on the age of your puppy, you may be at this stage for a while.)
The next step is the same as the previous one, but now, do not always call the dog's name when you start running backwards. Sometimes say his name, other times just do it, he should be becoming aware of your body, and he should be starting to respond to it. (Skip this step with young puppies, they need to hear their name as much as possible!) When your dog is responding well without your saying his name, move on to the next step.
Finally, increase the distance of your initial "Let's Go!" Your dog should be ready for you to back up at any moment! Also, instead of backing up all the time, you can simply change directions and run the other way! Start omitting his name unless he does not respond to your directional change. If he does not respond, do not snap the lead or say his name harshly; instead call his name in a happy, excited voice and make him believe that going YOUR DIRECTION is a GOOD THING. If he gets out of control, put him in a sit and start the "Let's Go!" again.
At this point, you can also start having longer intervals between his hot dog treats. He no longer needs a treat at every change of direction, the game is to keep up with YOU. Begin to vary how often he gets a treat. Sometimes give him a treat after one change of direction, other times do three or more change of directions before you give him the treat. Gradually, and I mean very gradually decrease the amount of treats he gets per session, but never decrease the amount of PRAISE! If your dog stops responding well, then reinforce him with the treats on your first change of direction more often. You should be almost constantly talking to your dog , and touching him periodically; he should be reading your body language and interested in hearing your voice. If you don't know what to say to your dog, try something like this:
"Let's Go! Good Let's Go! ....How did you get to be so good? "Good Boy!..... It's a great day today, isn't it? Are you listening? You listen Good!..... We're gonna mow the lawn tomorrow and the grass won't be so high for you...... "Alright! Good Boy!" and give him his piece of hot dog.
If you want your dog to be responsive to you, you need to be exciting, or at least not boring. Always give him variation. Vary how often you change your direction, your speed, and how often you give him treats. Talk to you dog, tell him how your day was, tell him how good he is over and over again. If you teach with praise you'll have a dog that is eager to please you.
After you and your dog get used to this exercise, when he is responding well and is not in need of loads of hot dog pieces, start using this command on your daily walks. During your walk, you do not need to talk to him constantly, but rather frequently. If he begins pulling and not listening, quickly change your direction and call him if he doesn't respond. Remember to keep PRAISING him every time he responds to you. You probably won't get all the way around the block at first, only go as far as you can so that your dog can be successful. Your goal is for you and your dog to have a FUN TIME on your walk. Your daily walks should be enjoyable for both of you. He will enjoy himself if he gets to run a little bit, sniff around, pee & poop, and respond to you for praise and hot dog treats. You will enjoy yourself if you don't have to constantly fight him on lead.
It is your choice whether to use a collar or harness. What you choose will depend on your dog, his size, and your ability to time your change of directions correctly. Other teaching devices you may want to try are the "no pull harness" and the "Gentle Leader."
You also have the option of teaching the "Let's Go" command without a leash in a fenced area. In this instance, you will carry your treat in your hand and you will praise the dog with a one-syllable word (Good! or Yes!) or "click" (if you would like to use clicker-training) the instant that he is walking beside you and looking at you. Immediately after you say "Yes!" you will give him a very small treat. Continue walking and whenever he is walking beside you and looking at you, say your praise word (or click the clicker) and then give the treat. This tends to work very well with dogs that are very food motivated, and also with young puppies.
If your dog wanders off while you are teaching, that's OK, just turn around and start running in the other direction! When your dog sees you running, he will most likely catch up to you and when he is beside you and looking at you, Praise or Click! Three to five minute sessions should suffice. Your dog will learn that being beside you and looking at you is a good thing. As he learns this, begin to vary how often you praise and treat. At first, praise and treat as soon as he is beside you and looking at you. As he becomes accustomed to this position, sometimes praise and treat after he is beside you and looking at you for two of your steps, and then three of your steps, then go back to just one step, all the while continue walking so that your dog learns to be beside you.
If your dog is too slow, the walk faster or jog. If your dog is too fast, forging ahead of you, turn around and go the other direction. Variation in all aspects will help keep your dog interested.
When your dog chooses to walk beside you for longer periods of time you can begin to incorporate the leash.
Even if you have a dog that responds well to you, there will be times when he is very distracted by or very attracted to a certain thing. Therefore, teaching him the "Leave It" command will usually come in handy, and the "Settle" command wouldn't hurt either.
TEACHING YOUR PUPPY NOT TO CHEW
ALL puppies chew. It is what they do naturally. They chew on mom, on each other, and just about anything that fits in their mouth that doesn't taste bad. They "explore" a new item by putting it in their mouths and taking a good bite into it. Chewing is normal to them. It is we "people" who view it as "bad" or "destructive." Therefore it is our responsibility to teach our pups what is appropriate to chew, and what is not.
First of all, supply your puppy with a variety of chew toys. He needs chew toys that outlast his teeth (rubber "Kong" toys, some nylabones, hard dog bones, etc.), and others that he can really get his teeth into (stuffed toys, rawhides, real sticks, etc.). Add some squeaky toys, balls, tug-o-ropes, and whatever else you think your pup will enjoy that won't hurt him.
Now that you have lots of toys and a good variety, put all of the non-perishable ones in a "toy box" for your pup. The toy box can be made out of anything; however, expect that it will also be chewed! Now that you're prepared, you must teach your pup how much fun his toy box really is, that it's more fun than shoes, or socks, or table legs. You begin by hiding a favorite toy or a food treat in the middle of the toy box, and then bring him over to the toy box saying "Go Look in Your Toy Box!" (you are teaching him a command that he will inevitably learn in a few months, as long as you say it consistently and happily.) Start rummaging through the toy box yourself, with your hands, encouraging him to look at (and put in his mouth) things that you pull out. If he starts rummaging himself praise him and be real happy about it. When he finds his favorite toy play with him with it, if he finds a food treat, praise him while he eats it.
Always keep his toy box in an accessible place (you can keep it in your bedroom, but if he chews the legs on the coffee table you may need more than one toy box.) If you want to keep your table legs you've got to think more puppy-like! If he chews the coffee table legs, put the toy box by or under the coffee table. You want to make it as easy as possible for him to do good! Which also means, don't put every toy in his toy box. Depending on the chewing ability of your pup, you may need to strewn out a lot of chew toys and have a reserve in his toy box. Put chewtoys where your dog most often chews inappropriate items. If he chews pillows, have at least 3 different types of chew toys for him to discover before he gets to the pillows. If he steals shoes from the closet, keep your closet door closed! If you can't seem to manage closing the door, than put chew toys outside the closet so he'll find them before the shoes. Your pup now knows he has a toy box, he's got plenty of toys in it, and there are other toys around the house for him to stumble across and chew. Now you get to start teaching. Don't discipline your dog for chewing something you deem inappropriate after the fact. After all, you weren't there to tell him it was inappropriate, and it was really good to him! If you find your favorite book torn to shreds, take it as a reminder not to leave it on the floor (or on the table that the pup can reach) next time. You must catch the pup in the act. So next time you see him running down the hall with your shoe, or chewing anything inappropriate, quickly and in a surprising manner "swoop" it out of his mouth. The goal is not to hurt him, it is to surprise him. Say "No Chewing" and very quickly replace the inappropriate item with an appropriate chew toy, (another reason why it helps to have them all around the house.) Give him his chew toy and when he takes it say "Good Chewing!!!" Give him LOTS of Praise!!! If there is not an appropriate chew toy around, (and/or after he begins understanding a little) you can run him over to his toy box after the "No Chewing" command and say "Go Look in your Toy Box"! Make it a big game, help him find a good toy and give lots of Praise. Remember that you are teaching your pup a lesson every time he chews something inappropriate, so always end your teaching lesson with PRAISE. You will have a dog more willing to please you.
Well, that's basically it. Easier said than done! The most important and most difficult thing about this is to be consistent. You will feel like you're getting nowhere at times, but hang in there, he will learn it! The most effective part of this teaching process is the praise part, so never forget or belittle that part. Your pup will learn much quicker if he is convinced that you are ecstatically happy about him chewing on his chew toys. He may begin to bring you toys as a "prize," so you will praise him. Don't neglect this wonderful opportunity to reinforce desirable behavior! If your pup brings you a toy, praise him, take the toy from him using a "Give," "Drop It," "Leave It," or "Thank You" command. Look at the toy with enthusiasm, and then give it back with more praise. By doing this you are encouraging him to pick appropriate chew toys as well as beginning to train him to let you take things out of his mouth. (This is invaluable if he ever gets into something bad for him).
So, you've done everything right, you have a very smart puppy, and he is just a ChewManiac - he chews all his toys, but isn't satisfied for very long and keeps looking for more interesting items! Take his Kong toy, or bone, or ball, or anything that has a hole through it, and put peanut butter inside the hole (some people prefer Cheeze Whiz.) This is very useful when you leave the house because it keeps him busy for quite awhile, lessens anxiety, and tires his "chew muscles" out a little bit. Another good time to give him the "find the PB" treat is when he has a usual Chewmania time. I had a pup that wanted to chew until kingdom come in the early evening. I don't know why. He just had a lot of "chew" energy then, I guess. If your puppy is overzealous, first exercise him!!!! Get him tired physically, then tire out his chew muscles.Your puppy will appreciate softer items around 5 or 6 months when he will be teething: stuffed toys, cardboard, and also ice cubes help numb the gums and can lessen the teething pain. Another numbing chew toy can be a cloth soaked in water, twisted, then frozen. He may also experience a renewed interest in chewing around 8, 9, or 10 months. This is usually when his last molars are coming in. The problem here is that your dog may be much bigger and stronger than when he was only 5 or 6 months old! If you took the time to teach him the appropriate things to chew when he was younger, it will be much easier on you (and your furniture). If your 8-10-month-old dog decides that furniture legs are the new thing to chew, I suggest you block access to them if possible, and bring in some big sticks (yes, real sticks) the fat kind that he can't break in two. I've found that this seems to get most people through this period quite well. You must be willing, however, to clean up shredded sticks! I opt for that over furniture any day!
Remember that your puppy is just a puppy.He wants to please you more than anything in the world. Give him every opportunity to do just that! Never tell him "NO" without teaching him in the process. Always say "NO SOMETHING" not just "no."
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