Friday, July 31, 2015

New Puppy Series - Day One

Hi folks, as some of you know I am out of town this summer, but have several people who have new puppies coming home.  As a result there are a lot of emails going back and forth as I help these new clients until I can meet with them.  I have decided to share their experiences with a series of posts that detail the back and forth communications we are having, with the hopes that it will help others having similar issues along the way.  Here is the first in my new series about new puppies.

Day one with a new puppy. - Crating Issues

I have a question - we brought the puppy home and she is only 7 weeks old.  She has never been in a crate before.  I gave her a few treats in the crate to entice her into it but she has no desire to be in there.  At this stage what do you recommend?  We tuckered her out and tried to put her in and she wailed and howled for about 15 minutes.  I got her to calm down and then took her out to try and have her go the bathroom, which she has not done.  We picked her up at 10:30 and she has not peed since.   She finally fell asleep in my daughter's arms.  I am curious as to your recommendation right now.  I called our vet who said we have to let her cry it out and maybe that is what we have to do.  She is just so young and I do not want to traumatize her.  

Would appreciate your thoughts.  I have read your crate training where you suggest acclimating the puppy to the crate over several days if they have not been exposed.  However, I am curious as to where she sleeps in that scenario.

One more question - how do I leave her, if she is not in the crate?  Do we take her with us during this process?  I wish I could tell you my life can come to screaching halt, but my kids have places to be.  :))  After the next two days, things calm down a bit but they have swim practice and a swim meet tmrw night.  My older dog did not react this way to his crate so I did not consider this.  YIKES......and silly me!!!

Any suggestions you have are appreciated.

Judy's Answer:

Unfortunately, some breeders do not acclimate their puppies to the crate before they go home.  I would opt to bring the puppy with you, as much as you can.  Alternatively, you can gate off a small area in the house like a puppy proofed mud room or bathroom.  Leave the puppy's crate in there with the crate door open, as well as water and a bed.  Do NOT put down pee pads but treat the area as you would a crate, i.e. the puppy is never left in the area more than a couple of hours at a time.   One alternative for larger kitchens or open concept homes is the use an exercise pen which can be configured to look like a crate without a top, and moved to any room you have the puppy in.  Remember the size of the pen should be just big enough to hold the puppy's crate and an additional bed, so that the puppy can sleep near the crate without going in.

In addition some puppies prefer the plastic airline crates as they are cozier, you can get these inexpensively at local retail stores like Wal Mart and Target.  

Here is the section of my training manual that talks about getting puppy used to his crate.

Getting Puppy Used to His Crate

Some breeders will have already acclimated your new puppy to a crate before you get it, but if you do have a dog that is not comfortable with the crate yet the guiding word is go slow!  Start by luring the dog close to the crate with a yummy treat, toss it just inside the crate and let the dog reach in to get the treat.  Do not try to push the dog in the crate or close the door.  Walk away and repeat the process often until the dog is easily reaching in to get the treat.  Then toss the treat a little further into the crate each time, until the dog easily walks into the crate.  Remember, even when he goes all the way into the crate let him turn around and come right back out.  Repeat this process many times a day for a couple of days until the puppy happily runs into the crate in anticipation of those yummy treats!

Once he’s happily entering the crate, toss several treats or a chewy bone into the crate and begin closing the door for just a second or two while he eats his treats. Once he’s finished, let him right out.  Repeat this several times each hour.  Then begin increasing the time he stays in the crate a little bit at a time.  As you increase the time, toss a bone or a stuffed Kong into the crate to keep him busy and happy while the door is shut.  You can use meal time to feed him in his crate too.  You can also use nap time to help him become comfortable, lure your tired/sleepy puppy into the crate for his naps, shut the door to the crate and let him fall asleep.  Be sure to check on him so he can get out as soon as he wakes up!

For a dog that has had a bad experience with a crate or some rescue/shelter dogs that have a bad reaction to the crate, talk to me about the crate desensitization procedure.

Keep this routine up until your puppy understands that crate time is good time, filled with fun toys or chew bones, and a place to go when they are tired and want to get away.

There is a series of videos on You Tube showing Crate Games you can play to help this process.   Press Ctrl Click here to see crate game videos

Where to put the crate.

Locating your pup’s crate is often the key to success.  It should be in the room you use most often, but tucked off in a corner so when the pup is asleep he won’t be getting ‘his cage rattled’ by thundering hordes of kids as they stampede past.  The crate should be big enough for the pup to comfortably stand, turn around and lay down again.  Many large crates now come with dividers that can be used to make it smaller for the new pup and grow with the pup to full size. Consider draping the divider so that the pup can’t see all the empty space behind it. 

Tip:  I always recommend that new puppies sleep in a crate next to your bed, especially for the first couple of nights as they acclimate to their new home. If they stir during the night do NOT get up right away, just like people puppies will partially wake during the night and often go right back to sleep, so drop your hand down to the puppy and let them know you are there but don't jump right up!  Wait a bit to see if the puppy settles down again, if so go back to sleep, if not take the puppy out for a potty break and bring them right back to the crate for more sleep.  

Friday, July 24, 2015

Summer Blast #2

Hi folks,

Welcome to my 2nd Summer Blast.  I hope you are all having a great summer!  I know we are.  I am still working on the final draft of my training manual (too many nice weather days!), those who have requested updates will get them before September.  I am also working on a major update to my web site, so if you go to (or send someone to) right now you will be redirected to my blog.  Hopefully it won’t take me too long to get the new web site up and running again.

The good news is – I have loaded the REGISTRATION LINK FOR GROUP CLASSES onto the blog.  For those of you who are anxious to reserve your spot in class here it is. Please feel free to contact me (email works best) if you have any questions about how group sign up works.  All the instructions are detailed at the top of the page.

For this edition of my Summer Blast I would like to encourage you all to bring fun into your relationship with your dog.  Remember that training while necessary, should also be fun not only for your dog, but for you!  With that in mind, below are some of the fun games I’ve gleaned that you can play with your dog or puppy.  If you are working with a new puppy, remember to make it easy so they don’t get frustrated and give up.

One note about games:  Don’t play any game to excess or it starts to look and feel like a training exercise!  Remember you never want your dog to walk away from a game, always quite while they still want to keep playing, that keeps  the game fresh and fun and they will look forward to playing it again the next time you offer.

Hide and seek
If you have two people – have someone hold your dog while you find a place to hide (remember to keep it easy for beginners). When you are ready, call your dog and wait until he finds you. When he does, make sure that you praise him and reward with a favorite treat.  You can play this in the woods off leash by waiting until your dog isn’t looking and hiding behind a tree.  If they need a bit of help call their name, clap your hands or make kissy noises to get them started.

The Run Away Game

This is a simple game to reinforce the dog for coming to you.  In a secure area (fenced in yard or big field) let your dog wander a big, then show the dog that you have yummy treats, when he starts toward you drop a couple treats at your feet and immediately run away.  The dog will likely run and eat the treats and when done look up to see where you’ve gone.  As soon as he looks up click or say Yes! And drop a couple more treats at your feet and run away.  Pretty soon the dog will be automatically eating and running to wherever you are and you will likely not have time to even say yes.  The game ends with lots of praise and treats when you can’t get away from your dog!

Keep Away/Monkey in the Middle

This is a two person game and is one for dogs who like to chase things.  Get a ball that your dog really likes to play with.  Sit 10-15 feet away from the other person.  Show your dog the ball and when he comes for it roll it to the other person.  Remember that nobody likes to be monkey in the middle all the time so you may have to let your dog get the ball a few times to keep their interest.  Also, when your dog does get the ball PARTY!  Yell happy noises and celebrate with your dog, after a minute or two, offer your dog a treat for the return of the ball so you can continue to play.

I would love to hear about games you’ve found that work with your dog and encourage you all to post any additional games on my blog where this notice will also be posted.

Have a happy, fun filled rest of your summer!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

New Website Underway!

If you have reached this blog via my web site at rest assured you are at the right place!

While my website is under construction please find all the salient information about my services here in my blog.

Welcome to Proper Paws Dog Training, a service dedicated to helping you develop a loving and mutually enjoyable relationship with your canine companion.  Proper Paws is located in Concord Ma. and is owned by Judy Bernard CPDT-KA.

Involved with dogs her entire life, Judy has trained her own dogs to be successful in obedience competitions and as therapy dogs.  In addition, for over 15 years, she has trained many dogs as family pets. She is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, Certified Tier 2 Wag it Games Instructor, a Professional Member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, a member of the Pet Professional Guild, and an approved Evaluator for the AKC Canine Good Citizen Program and AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy Program. Judy and her dog Winter also hold a Therapy Dog International Certification and regularly visit local nursing homes.

Judy has experience with many different types of dogs and creates a customized training plan that is fun, simple, and effective, reflecting each owners' unique goals and needs. She specializes in households with children and understands the unique challenges of raising puppies with children present.

Judy takes a positive approach to training the dogs as well as their people.  She has the experience to help you train your puppy right the first time or fix any issues that have developed with your dog over time.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Summer Update

Hi folks I hope you are all having a great summer.  As you may know my summer is being filled by travels and travails.  So far I have managed to get my son off to his summer adventure in Colorado and begin re-writing my training manual as well as visit friends I haven’t seen for a long time.  If you are interested in receiving an updated version of the manual, please let me know and as soon as it is done I will send it to you.  It is going to have some new games, video links and an expanded tricks section!

Just a few reminders for pet safety since we are now in the heat of summer;
-          Never leave your dog in the car even for a few minutes with the windows cracked!  Cars can heat up extremely quickly and our dog’s cooling systems don’t work like our making them extremely susceptible to heat stroke!
-          Make sure your dog has plenty of fresh cool water available when you are exercising them on a hot day.  The only way for a dog to cool down is through panting or drinking cool water.
-          Keep your dog off the hot pavement – it can burn the pads of their feed and cause them to overheat quickly.
-          Never shave your dog thinking that will help them to keep cool.  Actually, double coated dogs with a thick undercoat like Goldens, Shepards and Sheep dogs are kept cool by their thick undercoat and shaving them exposes them to sunburn, bug bites and overheating. 
-          Don’t soak your dog with water (especially their back) as the insulating properties of their dense undercoat will be rendered useless if you do. 
-          Ways to help keep your dog cool include:
o   Clipping the hair of their underbelly and underarms
o   Providing cool and/or wet items for the dog to lie on like towels soaked in cool water
o   Providing shallow wading pools for the dogs to walk/lie in
o   Providing plenty of shade for them when they are in the heat
o   Providing plenty of air circulation (fans) in warm areas
o   Give your dog an ice pop!  Add a bit of chicken broth to water and freeze into ice cubes, it makes a great treat when the dogs are hanging out in the heat!

For those of you who have been helping me test my new group class scheduler – a big thank you!  I believe it is very close to going live now.

For those that are looking forward to training again with me next fall there will be a few changes to my schedule.  Lesson appointments will extend from 8 am – 3pm next year, as I’m shifting my schedule up by half an hour and adding another appointment block from 2-3 pm.  I will also be offering a couple of new group classes in the fall – Puppy Kindergarten Group Class with the option to combine that class with 2 private sessions, a Beginner Obedience Class for people with older dogs, rescues and/or puppies over 6 months old who need the basics and Manners 1 which is a more advanced obedience class targeted toward those who’ve done Puppy K and Graduate Puppy who want to concentrate on taking those behaviors they’ve learned to a whole new level (lots of field trips in that class to public areas). 

The class schedule is already posted on my blog at and I will soon have an all new on line scheduling program ready for you to reserve your spot in those classes – like me on Facebook for updates on schedule availability .