Saturday, August 8, 2015

New Puppy Day 4 - House training

Hi again Judy,

OK, after a few days things are starting to settle down now.  The puppy understands that crate time is a good thing and is actually sleeping thought the night (well until about 5 am anyway)!  We have the crates all set up and her area in the kitchen is all set up with her crate and bed and toys.  The kids are learning that the more they get excited, the more the puppy nips and chases them, and while they still have trouble with this I now have a way to keep the puppy from chasing them since she’s dragging her tether around and all I have to do is step on it to prevent the chasing and nipping problems we were having before.

My next question is about house training.  She keeps having accidents in the house and I’m wondering if it would be ok to put down pee pads for her?

Judy’s Response

I’m glad to hear the crate and the nipping and jumping are coming under control.  At this stage a lot of training is really about managing the puppy so they can be successful.  I.E. Making sure they CAN’T get into trouble in the first place. 

The same is true with house training.  It’s all about preventing accidents.  I do NOT recommend the use of papers or pee pads as ultimately this sends the puppy mixed signals (do you really want your dog learning it’s ok to eliminate in the house?).

So the trick here is to make your dog successful, this means setting up a schedule that works for you and your dog and taking them out frequently enough and at the right times so that they don’t have the opportunity to eliminate in the house.  In addition we have to help the dog distinguish that eliminating outside is a good thing, so every time they eliminate outside we click and treat!  Make sure you do that just AFTER the dog has finished, if you click too soon (while the dog is eliminating) some dogs will stop to get the treat and then finish the job as soon as they get inside!
Until you get to know your puppy’s routine I recommend you take the dog out at least every hour during the daytime.  Amazingly, most puppies can hold it overnight so no need to get up in the middle of the night unless the puppy is insisting on it.

In addition to the hourly trip outside, any time the pup is active they will need to eliminate more frequently (sometimes as often as every 15 minutes) and any time the pup wakes up from a nap – outside again!

Often house training accidents can be traced to a lack of supervision.  If you puppy is not under your direct and ACTIVE supervision (wandering around the gated area of your kitchen while you make breakfast is NOT active supervision), or outside under supervision then they should be in a crate or small gated off area, this could also be an exercise pen set up with their crate and bedding in it.

While under supervision watch for the tell-tale signs that your dog needs to go. 
-          Sudden disengagement from play
-          Sniffing
-          Circling
-          Running to a corner or hidden area of the room
-          Going to the door and looking at you expectantly (if you are lucky)
While not all puppies give these signs a lot will, you just have to learn to see them!

Good Luck - keep me up on what's going on.

Monday, August 3, 2015

New Puppy - Day 3 - jumping

Hi Judy,

Posi is settling down and getting used to us.  She did not cry nearly as much today as she did yesterday and she also slept much more.  I am sure she is both recovering from yesterday and last night as she did not sleep a whole lot coupled with being more comfortable with us.  While I cannot say she loves her crate yet, she is getting used to it and adjusting and if I had not had the great suggestion from you yesterday to get the smaller airline crate I am not sure where we would be right now.  Tonight she went into her crate on her own and is sleeping quite peacefully.  Not sure how long this will last but we are enjoying the peace and quite knowing she is safe in her crate!  Positive and progress for sure!  

Now onto biting and controlling the jumping.  Oh my goodness....the questions never end.  :))

Judy's Response:

I’m glad to hear the second day went more smoothly than the first, I look forward to hearing how she does overnight.

With regard to the jumping that you mentioned, again this is a very common behavior among puppies and a natural one as well.  Consider that to date, most of the interaction the puppy has had has been with litter mates, and if you got the opportunity to observe the litter for any length of time you know that it is often a chaotic, moving mass of fur and teeth!  Even the Mama dog will put up with a certain amount of jumping and biting for a time, but there comes a time that Mama will also no longer stand for it.

Interestingly most people believe that she will give a correction in the form of a bark and quick bite, and while that does occasionally happen more often than not the way Mama dogs let their pups know that a behavior is unwanted is they get up and walk away! 

So the three ways we teach our young pups not to jump (or bite) is to;
     Prevent the unwanted behaviors from occurring
a.       This means restraining your puppy during greetings so that they can’t jump.
b.      Putting the puppy in for a nap in their crate or exercise pen if they are overstimulated.
2      If they do jump on you, turning around and giving them no reinforcement for the behavior.
a.       This may include walking away from them preferably over a gate or through a door so they can’t follow you.
b.      If they are tethered, it will be easier to walk away as they can’t follow you forever.
3      Finally, and most importantly show the dog that they DO get attention and or treat rewards if they are calm and have all four feet on the floor when people approach.
a.       So once you’ve restrained your puppy (tethers are great for this) and you can move in and out of his/her range as required.  Be sure to return and give your puppy attention once they’ve settled down.

For greetings I like to use the ‘Hands Off’ game with all visitors and kids.

We tether the dog to a solid object so that we can approach and retreat and the dog will stay in place.  The tether can be as long or short as necessary but are typically about 4’ long.

As people come into the house, be sure to secure the puppy to something solid that is far enough away from the door so that the people coming in can comfortably stay out reach.

Let  your guests (or kids) know that they are welcome to pet the puppy as long as the puppy is calm and not jumping or mouthing them.  With very little puppies I do not ask them to sit, only that they keep all four feet on the ground.  As your guest approaches the puppy if the puppy gets excited simply have the guest back up a step.  Often people will raise their hands instinctively which is where the ‘hands off’ name comes from. They can then try again once the puppy has settled down a bit.  This can be a bit challenging in the beginning as they go back and forth, but the puppy will catch on quickly if they are consistent.  The puppy learns that jumping/mouthy behavior makes people go away and calm, feet on the floor behavior makes them come and give pets! 

It does help if your guests/kids do not make a big fuss!  The more they coo and use a baby voice, the more excited the puppy will get. 

A note about the word ‘off’!  I do not advocate (at least at this stage) using the word off for a couple of reasons.  One, it generally doesn’t work and secondly some dogs will learn to jump up just to hear the command off and get rewarded for it! 

Likewise, pushing the puppy away from you often ends up being more rewarding to the puppy than getting petted!  A basic tenant of training is a behavior that is rewarded will repeat.  So if the puppy thinks jumping on you will get them pushed away AND that is a really fun game, you are actually teaching your puppy to jump on you every time you push them off! 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

New Puppy - Day 2


I cannot thank you enough for providing such great suggestions.  Posi is much more accepting of the smaller airplane crate.  She has even already slept in it.  I am sure we are still in for a long and wining evening but how great that she likes her surroundings.  I even took her out in the crate to pick up the kids from swimming and she did fine!  This is my new method of transporting her around the house and she seems to be ok with it.   We also bought her a play pen.  It is not exactly what you had in mind but she likes being in it and has taken a few naps in the space already.  
We have been playing lots of playpen and crate games with her and she seems to like them and loves finding her treats.  

All in all a successful first day.

We made it through the night.  There was a lot of crying and howling from both dogs (Cocoa in response to Posi) but it all worked out.  Posi did end up settling down in the crate although she woke up several times.  I finally got up at 4:00 with her and she did have to pee.  

She is a biter.  We are doing our best to distract her with chew toys and bones but she is biting us and the furniture already.  Do you have any other strategies?  Do you believe in holding their mouth closed and saying no?  Please advise.

Judy's Response:

Biting is normal for puppies, and it typically happens as a defensive behavior and one that escalates when they are tired.  What you may not realize is that most young puppies really don’t like to be petted on the head (or at all in some cases).  Remember their experience to date has mostly been other puppies and mama (who would pick them up by the scruff),  AND the only way the puppies have to interact is with their mouth, combine that with the fact that their teeth are like needles and it can be a bad combination.

So what to do.  
1) Use your hands less to move and position the puppy, instead clap your hands to get your puppy to come with you and reward them with a bit of food (dropped on the floor if she’s got an alligator mouth already)
2) to her collar/harness which she should wear all day, attach a short length of clothes line (usually 3-4 feet) which you are going to let her drag around.  You will use this clothesline to reposition her, move her around and prevent her from getting at the kids ankles WITHOUT having to grab her.  
3) start doing all the Click and Treat exercises outlined in the OMG! Article which you can read here .  This will help her to understand a) what she’s going that’s good and b) hands coming at her have food and are not going to grab her 
4) finally, often puppies get overtired like toddlers and this is when they become most mouthy, this is the time for some crate (or ex-pen) time or to have her tethered nearby.  By the way, anytime she is restrained like this she should be given a long lasting chew toy like a bully stick, Kong filled with peanut butter and frozen, or a frozen bone BUT if she has one of these items no one should approach her or try to take them away (especially the kids!).  We always take the dog away from the bone (remember that drag line in #2), not the bone away from the dog.

And no, grabbing her muzzle and telling her NO is not a recommendation I would make, in fact it will typically escalate the issue.