Playing with Your Puppy


Playing regularly with your puppy will help you form a strong bond. The purpose of play is to develop skills that will be useful throughout their lives, such as impulse control. The more games you play with your puppy, the more he will consider you to be the most interesting thing in his world. Encouraging puppies to play with toys provides a good outlet for their physical and mental energies.

You puppy should have two sets of toys: toys that he can play with by himself and ‘interactive toys’ that he can only play with you. Keep the interactive toys put away so you initiate play and keep you and the toys interesting to your puppy.

Developing interest in the toy
Rather than just offer your puppy a new toy, take it out, play with it yourself, or play catch with another family member and act like you are having fun. Then put the toy away. Repeat this until your puppy is chomping at the bit to join in the play. Keep toy moving/wiggling along the ground. Then select your special toys that you will put away after every play session.

Enthusiasm first, control later
Build enthusiasm for play first, then put in controls like sit and wait later. Keep the games fun!!

Types of Games
Fetch – often preferred by herding dogs, retrievers and hounds
Tug – often preferred by guard dogs and bull breeds
Shake and Kill- often preferred by terriers

Rules of the Games
Invite your puppy to play with you often
With Tug of War, win more often than you lose
Do not play too roughly
Teach him to “Drop It” on command – stop tugging and trade for treat
Stop before your puppy gets bored – play several short sessions per day
Stop playing immediately if you feel any teeth to skin
Stop playing if your puppy begins to growl or gets over-excited
Always put the toy away after the game

Teaching impulse control
Teaching your puppy control during games will help your adult dog maintain control, even in times of stress or excitement. After your puppy has developed great enthusiasm for the games, practice sits/waits, downs/waits and recalls before and during play.

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Creating a Great Relationship with your Dog

Dog training is about building a relationship with your dog and about your dog’s relationship to everything else. This involves clear communication, in other words, teaching your dog English as a second language.
We don’t know what our dogs are thinking, or even how they think. Chances are though, it’s not in the sentences and paragraphs that we tend to use. But we can communicate with them. Communication is the key to training. We can’t blame our dog if they are confused as to what the desired behavior is. We should constantly challenge ourselves to be clearer, more patient, and creative about letting our dog know what we want.

Training should be quick, clear and fun, using as few words as possible. Two minute training sessions interspersed throughout the day are most effective. And/or, every interaction with your dog is a training opportunity. If your relationship with your dog is based on communication, you don’t want your dog to find you confusing.

The most basic form of communication in training is the positive reward marker. It is a signal (usually audible) indicating that the behavior being performed at that very moment is correct or desirable. Some trainers use a clicker (a small device that makes a clicking noise) while others use a word such as “Yes”. With marine animals some trainers use a whistle. The only real requirement is a signal that is distinct.

The marker is “loaded” or “charged” by creating an association between the marker and a reinforcer, usually food. This is done by giving the signal and following it with the food reward. Some trainers will do this in conjunction with a basic behavior such as making eye contact; other will just pair the two stimuli until the relationship is apparent to the dog. This is same principal as Pavlov’s dogs salivating at the sound of the bell.

A clear and unambiguous means of communication has now been established: when this signal is sent a reward will follow. The implication being, “I like it when you do that.” Moreover, we can give this signal at the moment of the desired behavior and then reward our dogs a few seconds later: we not only don’t have to carry the food in hand, we can hide it, paving the way for removing constant rewards and also replacing food with other reinforcers such as play.

Being able to send this clear signal whenever we see what we like (and are prepared to reward it) is very powerful. We can communicate behaviors we want to see more of, even when we didn’t ask for them. For example, every time a jumpy puppy’s rear end touches the floor we can mark that moment. Over time, jumping will decrease. Every time a distracted dog looks at his human, the moment can be marked. Where will the distracted dog’s attention tend to wander to more often?

Training behaviors also becomes much easier. We can now communicate exactly what we are looking for, as opposed to communicating what we do not want, which may mean repeated punishments and maybe even training by process of elimination.

Hand feeding your new puppy is great way to establish your relationship quickly. All the good things in life (the most important being food) come from you. You can use this time to teach your dog his name and train attention or eye contact. Whenever you don’t have time to hand feed, feed your dog in his crate. This will reinforce a great association with his crate.

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New Puppy Tips!

Don’t Expect Your Pup To Understand Sentences
It’s okay to babble along to your pup as you care for it, just don’t expect it to understand anything you’re saying. It will only understand the tone of your address. Dogs can learn a number of word cues (“commands”) – even hundreds of them – but they are just that, word cues. A pup can and should be taught at least a few words of human language. In English, “Sit!” and “Dinner!” are a couple that might be useful on occasion. But if you tell the dog, “Sit in your Dinner”, the meaning is lost. Dogs do not have a language center in their brains like humans do, and they cannot fathom syntax. Use one-word commands when communicating. Say the word clearly. Say it only once. And say it with importance. Reward the desired response immediately. Do not use the pup’s name when addressing it (unless the pup is at a distance). Do not repeat commands. Dogs hear even better than we do. Their “deafness” is usually not attributable to poor hearing. It is selective – they choose not to obey. Remember that if a dog does not respond to a verbal cue it should not be punished. The opposite of reward is not punishment – it is no reward.

Don’t Allow Young Children (Under 6 Years Old) To Interact With Your Pup Unsupervised
It comes as a surprise to many people to learn that children and puppies, though both cute, cannot be trusted alone together. Bad things can happen. Children are naturally curious. Often a child will do “something bad” to the pup by way of experimentation. In one case, a dog bit a child and the dog had to be euthanatized. On post-mortem it was found that the child had jammed a pencil into the dog’s ear, snapping the end off after penetrating the dog’s ear drum. If accidents like this are to be avoided, complete supervision is necessary. It’s not usually the dog that starts the trouble, it’s the child. If you can child-proof your dog, there should be no cause for concern.

Do Not Feed It From The Table.
Puppy food is best for pups (Check labels for high quality ingredients). Adding an assortment of human foods in who-knows-what quantities will not only detract from the optimal (proprietary) food but will encourage fussiness. Also, if the human food is fed from the table, you will wind up with a dog that mooches around the table at mealtimes, always begging for food. Start out the way you intend to continue. Set limits and be firm about them.  Make sure that you feed your pup a good quality food.  This is essential to his good health. 

Do Not Expect Love And Attention To Substitute For Good Puppy Parenting . Young pups are so adorable that it is very tempting to always give them all of the love and attention you possible can. But it is also important to set limits of acceptable behavior. This is especially important as they go through the canine equivalent of “the terrible twos” at about 4-5 months of age. Bad behavior, like excessive or hard nipping, should be punished by immediate withdrawal of attention (following sharp exclamation of a word like “Ouch” or “No-bite”). This is how puppies communicate their likes and dislikes to each other. Spare the “Ouch” and spoil the dog!

One simple rule is to make the pup work for food and treats. “What’s work?” you ask. It’s having the pup “Sit” or “Down” in order to receive food and treats (like Grace). This will make sure that the pup always views you as its true (resource rich) provider and, therefore, leader. Problems of owner-directed aggression downstream can be all but completely addressed by this simple measure. Don’t give everything away. Insist on good puppy manners: Manners maketh the pup.

Work hard to remind yourself, whatever happens, that this is a baby you are dealing with. If you lose your cool, you will act incorrectly, your puppy will think you have gone crazy, and you will lose its respect and trust. Be a good puppy parent. Think cool.

Following these simple rules of what NOT to do can help create the dog of your dreams as opposed to a canine nightmare. The basics are the same as in child raising. Be fun, be fair, but be firm (the 3 F’s) and set limits. Children are happier when their parents are obviously at the helm, and so are dogs. Dogs need strong leaders if they are to be model canine citizens.

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Teaching Your Puppy His Name

1. The foundation of everything you need to teach your puppy starts with him responding to his name. When your puppy hears his name, no matter where he is or what he’s doing, we want him to turn and look at you as if to ask, ‘what do you want’? If you teach your puppy nothing else, no matter where he is or what he’s doing or how far away you are, if you can say his name and he’ll turn to look at you, you’ll always be able to call him away from trouble or prevent from doing something you don’t want him to do.

2. Start by sitting on the floor next to your puppy in a quiet room with no distractions. Say his name in a happy voice. If there are no distractions, the sound of your voice should get him to turn his head. The second he does, say “Yes” and give him a treat. Repeat this a few times. Then say his name again. Praise him when he turns his head but put the treat near his nose and move it slowly up to your face to get eye contact. Say YES and give him the treat.

3. Make sure you say his name only once. Don’t repeat his name over and over if he’s not looking at you. If he doesn’t look at you, say his name, then immediately put the treat to his nose, wiggle it to get his attention, and then move it slowly up to your face so he does looks at you. Then say YES and give him the treat. Make sure to say YES the moment he looks at you. This helps him understand exactly what he did to earn the treat and it’s faster and easier than saying good boy or good girl.

4. Practice often so your puppy starts turning his head to you whenever you say his name. Then slowly start to add difficulty. Work in different rooms. Put a toy on the floor as a distraction. Have one person petting your puppy while you call his name. Then add some distance – say his name when you’re standing 3-4 feet away. Then add longer eye contact. Praise him as he’s looking at you and delay giving him the treat for a few seconds.

5. Next, start working outside. This is a lot harder for your puppy. You’ll probably need to use a food treat at his nose when you first try this outside. That’s ok. The key is to help your puppy understand what you want from him. Adding difficulty as you practice is like teaching the behavior from kindergarten to college. Add difficulty slowly while keeping your puppy successful.

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