New Puppy Tips – Aprl 24, 2013

With “new puppy season” upon us, here are some general tips and guidelines. Feel free to contact me directly for further assistance!

Socialization is the most important part of puppy training. Introduce your pup to as many people, places, and friendly dogs as you can. Have strangers feed your dog some treats. Get your friends and family to do the homework with you and show them how to teach Sit, Down and Stand. Good places to bring puppies include: Cub Scout or Brownie meetings, shopping centers, baseball and soccer games, and your friends’ houses. Have a puppy party at home, invite lots of people of different ages and ethnicities, and practice the handling exercises like we did during “Pass the puppy” in class. Read about socialization in your handout.

Bite Inhibition – Step 1: React to Hard Bites
Biting is a normal puppy behavior. It is important to first teach your puppy to bite softly before teaching him to stop biting people altogether. Allow soft bites for now. When you feel a harder one, screech “Yiiikes”. This week’s rules are:
1) Allow soft biting.
2) When your pup nips hard, screech “Yiiikes” then get him a safe chew toy to bite on instead.
3) If he continues to bite hard despite “Yiiikes” then give him a one-minute time-out.
ANY biting of faces or clothing counts as a hard bite.

Preventing Food Guarding: Hand Feed Meals
We want our puppies to like having people around them when they eat. Sit next to your pup’s dish and feed him kibble, one handful at a time. Now and then, approach your pup while he is eating from his dish and drop a spoonful of cottage cheese or meat into it. Occasionally remove the dish and put in an extra-tasty morsel before putting the dish back down. Do this exercise once a day, during a meal.

Chew Toys – How to Keep those Puppy Jaws Busy and Tired!
Provide safe, fun chew toys to keep your puppy busy chewing only the right things. Kongs, Goodie Ships, and hollow Orka toys are great because they can be stuffed with food to keep your puppy interested. The Bustercube is a great kibble-dispensing puzzle that will keep your puppy busy for. Chewber is a terrific safe multipurpose toy – it is a frisbee, tug toy, chew toy and food dish, all in one. Nylabones come in a variety of natural and synthetic designs, and the company makes some especially for puppies. Tire Biter is a hardy nylon tire that you can wedge treats in, smear a bit of peanut butter inside, or play fetch with. High quality chew toys are a smart investment – they are safer and last longer than low quality toys, and they help protect your household belongings from destruction.

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Puppy Biting and Nipping – April 17, 2013

Puppies explore with their mouths just like babies explore with their hands. Puppies have sharp teeth and weak jaws – so this is the time to teach them to bite gently – and then not at all – before they develop the strong jaws of an adolescent dog. It is important to teach your puppy to reduce both the force and frequency of his biting.

To do this, play with your puppy. Sit on the floor and purposely put your hands near your puppy’s mouth. If you feel a hard bite, say Ouch! And stop playing. If your puppy stops biting, lure him into a sit and reward and start playing again. If your puppy ignores the ‘ouch’, and continues to bite, say OOOWWW and leave the room. Come back after a 20 second time out and do a little sit/down training before starting to play again.

An excellent way to practice this is to tether your puppy in an area where he can’t have any fun except with you. Sit on the floor and play with your puppy and when you feel hard bite, say Ouch! Then get up and leave the area for 20 seconds. Repeat this 10 times in a row twice a day. You should be able to play longer and longer between hard bites. Then start reacting to the softer bites as well. If you have children, each person should practice this exercise separately, starting with the adults.

Another way to teach your puppy to have a ‘gentle mouth’ is to hand feed him. Your puppy only gets the food when being gentle – and not grabby. If your puppy likes to bite and grab pant legs, stop moving immediately and interrupt him. Call his name and then ask him to do something else such as Sit.

Be aware that when your puppy is excited, he’ll be more mouthy and bitey. So first practice when he’s calm. When he is calm, you can do a lot of gentle petting and give him a nice belly rub. If he bites, then all petting stops for 20 seconds. Another consequence to biting is 30 second time out in his crate. Don’t do this in anger – it’s just a neutral consequence to his biting – “Oops – time out – in your crate.”

If you don’t see an improvement in reduced biting, consult a Certified Professional Dog Trainer in your area.

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Helping Dogs who are Hand Shy – April 4, 3013

Many owners are do not recognize hand shyness in their dogs and this is something that should be worked on. If you call your dog and when they come to you, you reach for them and they back away, this is something you should watch for. Also, for general petting, especially when reaching over their heads, notice if your pup flinches a little. If your dog is uncomfortable with hands reaching toward their head or neck, you want to teach them that this is a positive thing, so they don’t feel ‘punished’ every time they come to you. The following exercises will help you ‘desensitize’ your pup to reaching hands.

Accept Reaching Hands and Touching

This exercise will help hand shy dogs become more comfortable with being touched. It is important to begin practicing with familiar and accepted adults first. Again, keep in mind that your objective is not for the dog to merely tolerate, but rather to remain relaxed and enjoy the process, and that an inexperienced helper can get bitten if you proceed too quickly without making sure that the dog is truly accepting rather than merely tolerating the touching.

Goal 1: Relaxed Dog will accept face touch from owner and/or helper.
1. Reach toward dog, stop 6 in. from side of dog’s face, treat from other hand.
2. Repeat reach toward dog, stopping 3 inches from face, treat from other hand.
3. Repeat reach, stopping 2 inches from face, then repeat stopping 1 inch from face.
4. Lightly touch the side of dog’s face.
5. Repeat toward chin.


Goal 2: Relaxed dog will accept collar and body touch from owner and/or helper.
1. As you feed the treat with one hand, touch the dog’s head with the other.
2. As you feed the treat with one hand, touch the dog under the ear and on the ear.
3. As you feed the treat with one hand, touch the side of the dog’s neck.
4. As you feed the dog with one hand, touch the collar.
5. As you feed with one hand, touch the dog’s chest, front legs, back, lower back, belly, down the back legs, the tail, and finally the paws.
6. Progress to touching from different positions and at different speeds.

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