The idea that a dog has been " fully trained" always raises an eyebrow for me, training (in my opinion) is more like having a healthy diet, or working out routinely. Saying your dog is "trained" is kind of like throwing your sneakers in the trash bin and saying "I'm exercised." There's no definitive end to training, it is a daily process that nourishes your dog's need to solve problems and be presented with new challenges.
There are so many wrong perceptions of training. Many people think that training is simply about teaching dogs to respond to words like "sit" or "down" or "leave-it." But it's so much more. Other people think that it means sending a dog to a four week boot camp, where dogs learn to submit to human authority. That's definitely not it. Some think training is about creating a robot - programming the "perfect dog" that will never dig where they shouldn't dig, bark when they shouldn't bark, jump when they shouldn't jump, and chew where they shouldn't chew. But that's not right either. (Though I think they might sell one of those at Sharper Image.)
Authentic training is about acknowledging the fact that every dog (just like every human) has their own set of challenges. Some dogs become fearful of loud noises, others become anxious when they're left alone, others become hyper-territorial of their space or their valued resources. Training is just another word for teaching. It is about improving communication, it is about strengthening your bond. Mostly, it's about helping your dog to become happier and healthier and better adjusted to the world around them so that they can get out and do more. How are you helping your dog unleash their full potential?
Written by Alyssa Lapinel of Legends Dog Training, based in San Diego, California.
The people that will have the easiest time raising a puppy, are those that have realistic expectations for what a puppy is capable of, and the amount of structure that is required in raising them. Here are the most common gaps between an owner's expectation and the reality of welcoming a puppy into your home.
#1 Snuggle Time
People expect to log lots of snuggle time with their pup. They dream of running their hands over their puppy's soft coat, as the puppy takes a loud exhale and curls up contentedly by their side.
The reality is that at times that you want to snuggle, your puppy will be more interested in using your hands and clothing as a chew toy. You will wonder if you brought home a puppy or a piranha.
#2 Puppy Proofing
People expect that "puppy proofing" is a fairly simple process. They think, "how much trouble could this little guy get into?" And they reject the idea of crates, baby gates, and exercise pens as being too restrictive.
The reality is that a puppy's brain is built for exploration and creativity, and will find objects you didn't even know you owned. He will bite, pull and/or shred anything that's not nailed to the ground. You've bought a plethora of different chew toys, but his default is always to pull at the threads of the rug, or chew on table legs when he feels bored.
People expect long walks that will not only burn the puppy's energy, but will also help them to fulfill their new year's resolution to exercise more. A match made in heaven.
The reality is that you will walk 20 feet from your house before your puppy freezes. When you put pressure on the leash to urge the puppy along, he will dig in his heels. He would rather sit still and take in the sights, sounds and smells of his new environment than go on a 20 minute walk. If and when your puppy does start to walk, it will be at a snail's pace. You will have walked approximately 100 feet over the course of 30 minutes because he's so busy sniffing and/or picking up every leaf, twig and cigarette butt (eww).
#4 Potty Time
People expect potty training to be a pretty straight forward process. Puppy has an accident? Lead him over to the accident, show him what's he's done, be stern. Rinse and repeat and in no time puppy will learn not to potty in the house. Leaving the back door open or installing a dog door will make the whole process effortless, since the puppy will take himself out when nature calls.
The reality is that your puppy learns very quickly that you are prone to fits of rage when you see urine or feces. So he considerately "holds it" until you're out of sight, or looking the other way. Going outside is an option, but creeping into the back room or behind the couch also produces the same outcome. So why not?
Your cute puppy runs up to you when you arrive home, and jumps up to lick your face. You melt. You coo and pet the puppy. The more excited the puppy is, the better it feels, so you rev the puppy. When friends and family visit you are warmed by his display of friendliness and proudly stand back watching how free and wild he is when expressing his love. He does the same thing with people he meets on walks, and you can't imagine how this could ever be a problem. The expectation is that the puppy will grow out of this type of "puppy behavior" .... so you might as well soak it in while you can.
The reality is that puppies get better and better at every behavior they practice. Behavior builds! By the time your puppy is a year old you will have an adult dog that goes wild when anyone walks into the house. Long red welts will appear on legs, scratches from the claws of a dog that was very effectively "trained" to demonstrate his love and affection in this manner from a very early age.
#6 The "Non-Barker"
People bring home a 2 month old puppy, and after 2 or 3 weeks confidently declare to their family and friends that they have a non-barker. There is a tremendous amount of relief associated with this, because they know how difficult it can be to live with a very vocal dog. They expect that the behavior that they see now is constant, or at the very least, leaves little room for deviation.
The reality is that most dogs only find their "voice" in their adolescence or in early adulthood. There is no correlation between the time at which your dog begins barking, and the frequency or intensity with which they will bark as an adult.
#7 Backyard Dogs
Many people decide to get a dog because they have a great backyard. A lot of times they put in a dog door so that the dog has a choice. Or they keep the inside off-limits altogether at certain times during the day. The expectation is that the puppy will be more content outside with more stimulation, and less likely to get into trouble.
The reality is that a puppy or adult dog that is unsupervised outside (whether it's their choice or not) is likely to get into a whole host of problems. They frequently dig up the garden, or with passing time, become hyper-territorial around the fence-line. They are also more likely to vocalize from boredom, or scratch at the back door from frustration. The anxiety and frustration resulting from this type of isolation can manifest into other more serious behavioral issues over time.
Here is a link to a blog I wrote, that briefly touches on different ways to cope with common "puppy problems." It's called Eight Quick Tips for Raising a Puppy.
This article was written by Alyssa Lapinel, CPDT-KA. She is head trainer and founder of Legends Dog Training, based in San Diego, California. For more information about training services you can go to her website: http://www.legendsdogtraining.com . Legends Dog Training offers behavior consultations, private in-home lessons, skype sessions, and group classes. Questions, comments and "sharing" is always appreciated.
Many people experience the worry or frustration of behavioral issues that begin to spin out of control. They may have read articles or watched training videos, but nothing worked so they google local training and find a facility that accepts dogs with serious behavioral issues and guarantees results. They think:
"A one month board and train is $4,000. It's expensive, but I'm desperate and I'll do anything, so long as it works. And oh look, they offer loans AND payment plans."
Here are five reasons why people should think twice before they move forward with that decision to board and train their dog.
5 Major Dangers of "Quick Fix" Guarantees
#1 Know Your Trainer
Most board and train facilities are all about the bottom line. It's a business. The bigger the training business the less likely you will have a knowledgeable trainer working your dog. Most of these kennels will hire "trainers" that are doing a lot of "on the job learning." Are you really going to spend all that money so that someone else can get a hands on learning experience? That smooth talker that made all those big promises and sold you that 4,000 dollar training package, you remember that guy? He may never train your dog.
#2 Understand Their Methods
Your dog is aggressive, so they need a corrections based training approach. Right? Wrong. Many corrections based trainers knowingly (or unknowingly) suppress aggressive behavior. Which looks fabulous in the short-term and can create dire consequences in the long-term. It's like putting a top on a boiling pot of water, you can only hold that steam in for so long before it blows. Many of the bigger training facilities use choke chains, throw chains, prong collars, and electronic shock collars to create quick fix solutions. Have you ever heard someone say "The dog bit without warning!" The dog was most likely corrected for giving warning signs. Corrections based training "solutions" will manifest into more serious behavioral issues before you've finished paying off your payment plan.
#3 The Kennel Experience
The insurmountable stress of being confined to a kennel for 2 -4 weeks is not going to bode well for any dog's mental or emotional well being. You're looking for training because your dog is aggressive? fearful? anxious? Living in a kennel for any length of time will not work in favor of your dog's behavioral training plan. End of story.
#4 The Training Environment
Will the training transfer? You may have asked about this on the phone, and you were probably pacified by the answer. But this is a REAL concern. Even if the dog learns to behave beautifully at the training facility. Who cares? Is the dog still going to go wild and bark when someone rings the bell in your home? Probably. Is your dog still going to switch into beast mode when you pass the neighbor dog's fence line? Probably. Is your dog still going to mark his territory on the rug. Yeah, probably! These are behaviors that are conditioned into your dog's repertoire and won't change until you learn how to get to the root of the problem.
#5 You and Your Dog Are a Team
Real changes will only occur when you realize that you and your dog are a team. Don't send your dog off to "boot camp," call in someone that will coach you through the training process. When choosing a trainer, choose wisely. Your dog is depending on you. Start by looking for people that are Certified Professional Dog Trainers. Look to see if they have a blog or Facebook page that will give you a better indication of their approach to training and behavior modification. If you see references to systematic desensitization and counter-conditioning, that's a good start. If they are casually throwing around words like "alpha" or "dominance"- they probably learned most of what they know from dog training television ... and you should keep searching.
The small print: Be skeptical if you are considering one of these "deluxe resorts" with "intensive behavioral training" - too many dogs pay the price because owners are lured in by promises that are too good to be true. There are honest, skilled, positive reinforcement trainers that are offering board and trains, that are both transparent in their approach to training and realistic when setting expectations. These trainers probably aren't paying the big bucks for massive advertising campaigns, so do your research well.
About me: My name is Alyssa Lapinel and I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer and Behavior Consultant based in San Diego, California. I own and operate Legends Dog Training and work primarily with dogs that exhibit fearful, anxious, aggressive or highly impulsive behavior. Take a look at some of my training videos for a better understanding of what I do and how I do it: https://www.youtube.com/user/legendsdogtraining
Eight Quick Tips on Raising a Puppy
Tip #1: Potty Training
Potty training requires careful management and frequent supervised trips outside, where you are able to immediately reinforce your puppy for peeing or pooing in a desired area. see article about house training - http://www.legendsdogtraining.com/training-blog/house-training-101)
Tip #2: Separation Training
Teach puppy to feel comfortable spending time in a crate or behind a baby gate. When done correctly this will become a "safe place" that will help your puppy cope with separation from family members, and reduce likelihood that your pup will develop separation anxiety as an adult. Teaching puppies to feel content inside of an exercise pen or crate will also facilitate potty training and minimize destructive tendencies.
Tip #3: Training Games
Structured games of tug or retrieve are a positive outlet for your puppy's energy. When you play it right, these games will teach impulse control, play inhibition and build a stronger more meaningful relationship with your puppy. Early on we recommend that you avoid games that encourage jumping, mouthing, pawing, barking or running away from people. Wait until your puppy is an adult to teach tricks like "speak," "dance," "shake," or "high five" or you may inadvertently teach your dog to paw, jump and/or bark when he wants something.
Tip #4: Build Value for Calm Behavior
Sit down with your puppy for 5 minutes each day with a treat pouch, and some nutritious and delicious food, and reinforce your puppy while they sit or lie down in front of you. Train silently if you want to teach your puppy to offer these behaviors as a default, without always having to hear a verbal cue like "sit" or "down." Verbal cues can be learned later. Puppies receive a lot of attention when they are jumping, barking, whining or chewing on things they're not supposed to chew on, it's a really smart idea to create a strong reinforcement history for the behavior that you find most desirable.
Tip #5: Socialization
Learn how to appropriately expose your puppy to "new stuff" given their individual temperament. If they are shy or timid, be patient and go slow, never force interaction that clearly scares your puppy. Here are a few things that you will want to expose your puppy to during their critical socialization period (8 weeks - 16 weeks):
Tip #6: Handling
Teaching puppies to enjoy handling. Learn how to read and respond to your dog's body language and behavior in order to raise a puppy that is very comfortable with being pet, restrained, and examined.
Tip #7: Chew Toys
Teach your puppy to chew on appropriate items by building value for nyla bones or other hard rubber items, limit exposure to "off-limit" items (ie table legs and sneakers). Don't confuse the puppy by allowing puppy to chew on old shoes, puppies can't distinguish between an old shoe and your brand new pair.
Tip #8: House Rules
We recommend that people avoid having puppies and young adult dogs on couches and beds. Most puppies will still have the occasional accident, and it's better to have those accidents happen on the floor than on furniture. Most puppies will also have a natural tendency to use couches and beds as jungle gyms, and while it may seem cute early on, most people find the behavior less endearing once their dog grows up. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
This article was written by Alyssa Lapinel, a certified professional dog trainer and behavior consultant, based in San Diego, California. Alyssa has two (incredible) dogs, Fritz, a lab and basset mix, and Beatrix, a jack russell terrier mix. Alyssa is the founder and head trainer of Legends Dog Training. Legends Dog Training offers skype consultations, online training programs, private in-home lessons in central San Diego and group classes.
This training process will teach a puppy or dog of any age to go potty outside. With structure and consistency, this process takes anywhere from 1-3 weeks. The better you manage the puppy in-between potty trips, the faster he'll learn.
What You Need
Step 1: Create a Management Strategy
You have four management options.
#1 Tether: Keep your dog tethered to you to prevent your dog from running off to have unsupervised accidents.
#2 Crate: Use a crate for those times that you are not able to supervise your dog. Note: Do not use a crate unless you have taken the time to condition your dog to love going inside. Here is a blog about how to take your dog through this conditioning process: http://www.legendsdogtraining.com/training-blog/archives/06-2014
#3 Baby Gate: Gate off the kitchen. It is important that your dog not feel isolated, use a room that is centrally located. It also needs to be small enough that your dog feel some incentive to keep it "clean."
#4 Exercise Pen: This is for small breed puppies or dogs. Exercise pens do not work for large breed puppies or adult dogs, as they are likely to push the pen around with their weight.
Step 2: Create a Potty Schedule
During the initial stages you may need to take your puppy or dog outside as often as every 30 minutes (excitable puppies, that have no bladder control, need to go more frequently). Other dogs may be fine if they are taken out every 2 hours. Set a timer on your phone as a reminder. Gradually increase time when your dog shows you that they are ready for it. (Most dogs can eventually learn to "hold it" for 7-8 hours during the day, and for as long as 8-9 hours at night, when their activity level slows down.)
Step 3: Create a Potty Training Log
Write down when and where your dog goes potty (ie. "accident inside at 11:35 am" or "success outside at 3:10 pm"), this will allow you to see patterns, and thereby better customize your dog's Potty Schedule.
Step 4: Reinforce Your Dog for Potty-ing Outside
Step 5: Be patient
Many people struggle with this process because they want to give their dog free range of the house, before their dog is ready to accept that level of responsibility. Unfortunately, the less regimented you are in the short term, the longer the training process. Set clear expectations, and a well structured routine, and soon enough you will be able to give your dog the type of freedom that you will both enjoy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I tell my dog to "go potty" when I bring him outside?
There is little value to repeating "go potty" when your dog is in the act of sniffing for squirrels. Dogs learn by association, they can easily learn that "go potty" means "sniff for squirrels." It is better to say nothing at all until the point that your dog is consistently peeing as soon as you walk outside, in which, you have the option of pairing the established behavior with the verbal cue.
Should I take my dog on long potty walks?
Exercise is important, but potty training should stand alone from long walks. Time may not always allow a longer walk, in which case, you will need your dog to learn to go potty when you first walk outside, and in close proximity to your house. The above process will train your dog to do just that.
Should I verbally or physically reprimand my dog when he has an accident?
No. Verbally or physically reprimanding a dog for accidents can prolong the training process. It can inadvertently teach your dog to hide from you when he has to relieve himself. These are the dogs that begin peeing behind the couch, in the guest bedroom, or "hold it" so long as they are on leash with you outside. This is a big problem, and difficult to reverse.
Do I have to walk outside with my dog? Can I open the screen door, and reward my dog after he walks back inside from going potty in the yard?
No. Many people that do this will struggle with potty training because their dog is learning to walk outside, and then walk back inside without going potty. Because they are not being supervised, the owner does not realize that this is the case until they find a mess on the living room rug. Dogs need to be reinforced within 1 second of the desired behavior, walking outside with your dog on leash will accomplish that.
Can I house train my dog with a doggy door?
Ninety nine percent of training is about being present. Dog doors should not be used during house training process. They can also create other problem behaviors (for example, digging in the garden, barking through the fence). Be present. Walk with your dog to their designated potty area at scheduled times throughout the day.
Will teaching my dog to ring a bell to go outside help accelerate the training process?
Teaching a dog to ring a bell is a nice trick, but it is not a solution to house training. In fact, I find that it usually creates more problems than it solves. Owners should not be waiting for the dog to let them know when it is time to potty, the owner needs to be the one initiating these activities.
What is Barrier Aggression?
Barrier aggression is the number one reason dogs are euthanized in shelters each year. Barriers, such as; fences, gates, windows, screen doors, balconies have the potential to generate high levels of frustration and stress, resulting in incessant barking, or worse, aggression.
Barriers "train" dogs to become hyper-territorial because it has a built in reinforcement mechanism: people come, people go. People approach the barrier - resident dog barks - people retreat from barrier. The dog, unaware that this was their intention all along, pats himself on the back for a job well done. The same pent up aggression can occur with dogs, cats, squirrels and birds.
Why is this a problem? I want my dog to be territorial.
One benefit to having a dog is knowing that the dog may help deter intruders. The problem is the rate at which territorial behavior can snowball when dogs are left to their own devices. True protection dogs are trained to have an "on" AND an "off" switch. Dogs that are left outside unattended, for example, never learn how to "turn it off." Bites occur when gates pop open unexpectedly, or when you invite a friend to bypass the front door and walk into the yard. Postal workers rack up the most serious dog bites, because dogs have a well established reinforcement history of "barking them off the premises." The day that the postal worker needs to deliver a package to the front door, is the same day that the dog will deliver a bite. The problem becomes even more serious when a nervous dog learns to transfer this aggressive behavior to other social situations.
What to do to prevent your dog from learning to become barrier aggressive:
#1 Supervise your dog when he/she is outside.
Be present. Train your dog to come back to your side when people, dogs or squirrels pass by the fence or window. Timing is everything in training. Recall your dog as soon as your dog acknowledges the distraction, and immediately reinforce your dog for coming to you by giving him/her a high value toy or high value food. Avoid allowing your dog outside unattended if they have any impulse to bark through the fence.
#2 Get rid of the dog door.
Dog doors disconnect us from key rituals of our dog's day. It also allows our dogs to bark through fences uninterrupted and dig up the garden. Get rid of the dog door. Take your dog out for walks, or at the very minimum accompany your dog outside for routine potty breaks.
#3 "Dethroning" your dog.
Some dogs use couches or doorway thresholds like a throne. They might sit sentry and bark when people or dogs approach their post. If your dog has the tendency to bark through windows or screen doors you can use X Mats to keep your pooch off the couch, a baby gate to prevent front row access to the screen door - or better yet - keep the front door closed to prevent auditory and visual stimulus from triggering your dog's territorial instincts.
Written by Alyssa Lapinel, Certified Professional Dog Trainer and Behavior Specialist
Legends Dog Training
Based in San Diego, California
Note: Dogs should not be left in a crate for more than 4 hours during the day, and for more than 8 hours at night. Young puppies will have to go potty more frequently and duration of time should vary accordingly. The general rule is that a puppy can "hold it" for the same # of hours as they are in months. Two months = two hours. Young puppies, just like adults, will be able to hold it for longer at night when their metabolism slows down - but this will vary from puppy to puppy. Consider hiring a dog walker or pet sitter to come visit mid-day while you are at work.
The average puppy , with no prior negative associations with crates can be moved through this training process in 3-7 days. If your puppy or adult dog has been forced into a crate without the necessary training he may exhibit fear and anxiety and this process may take 2 or 3 weeks - or longer - depending on the intensity of the fear and anxiety.
What You Will Need in Your Training Toolbox
1. High Value Reinforcement: we recommend using Happy Howie rolls or Red Barn rolls. Happy Howie rolls are preferred if you are able to locate a distributor, but Red Barns rolls are easier to order online.
2. A Crate: use crates with doors that swing open and closed, avoid crates that have sliding doors.
3. A Treat Pouch: recommend Pet Safe or Olly Dog treat pouches. A good treat pouch improves your timing by allowing for easy access to food. Avoid plastic bags! The crinkly sound will be extremely distracting to your puppy and weaken your training results.
Step 1: Step Right In
Sit down with your puppy in front of an open door crate. Throw a several pieces of food inside the crate and allow your puppy the opportunity to step in and search for the food. He does not have to put his entire body inside the crate. If he seems nervous (stretching out to grab the food, and/or running away from the crate) make it easier for him to get the treats by placing the food at the opening or outside the entrance.
Do not move forward if you are seeing any apprehension in body language or facial expressions (no stretching, or suspicious glances).
Step 2: The Turn Around
Throw a few pieces of food in the back end of the crate. Your puppy will likely step in with one or two paws and back out. She might even put her entire body in, before reversing out. Continue scattering food until your puppy makes the decision to step inside and turn around. Capture the turn around by immediately delivering food. Offer as many reinforcers as possible before she even thinks about walking back out.
Move on to Step 3 when your puppy is waiting inside the crate, eager to receive another treat. Do not move forward if you are seeing any apprehension in body movement or facial expressions (scrambling to get back out of the crate, uneasiness about walking inside).
Step 3: The Texas Two Step
Once your puppy is comfortably walking in and turning around in the crate you can move on to the “Texas Two Step.” Offer reinforcement when they step in and turn around, and withhold reinforcement when they step out. Empowering your puppy to choose between being inside and outside the crate will reduce anxiety and form a positive, relaxed association with these crate training exercises.
Reinforce your puppy for 15-20 seconds using a high reinforcement rate. Then entice your puppy to walk back out by drumming on the floor in front of the crate. Withhold on reinforcement when your puppy steps out to create contrast and build value for being inside.
If your puppy focuses on you, be still. Don’t move or talk to your puppy. You want to give her the opportunity to re-orient to the crate. Move on to Step 4 if your puppy starts to walk back into the crate even when you have not prompted the behavior. Do not move forward if your puppy is exhibiting any apprehension about walking inside or staying inside the crate. Go back to previous steps if necessary.
Step 4: Sit in Crate
Once your puppy begins to show a clear preference for being inside the crate, you can raise the criteria by luring her into a sit. Again, reinforce for the duration of time that your puppy remains in a sit inside the crate, and then ask her to step out by drumming on the floor. Repeat this a few times over until your puppy walks into the crate, turns around and settles right into a sit.
Step 5: Closing the Gate
If your puppy is comfortable and confident with all exercises up until this point, you can begin to raise the criteria further by closing the crate door. As soon as you close the gate give your puppy 4-6 rewards in rapid succession before opening the gate again. If you’re able to, give your puppy 2 or 3 more rewards if she doesn’t attempt to “bust out” as soon as the crate door is open. Repeat this process a few times overs. We want to make sure that she is just as relaxed with the gate closed, as she is with the gate closed.
Loss of appetite, pawing or biting at the gate, stress whining, frustrated barking and rushing the gate when you open it are all indications that you should drop your criteria and go back to a more basic exercise. Pushing your puppy past their comfort zone will only prolong the training process.
Step 6: Walking Away
The next step is to close the gate and walk away momentarily. The goal throughout this entire process is to keep the puppy below their stress threshold. The more gradual you are in building criteria, the better your results will be. Close the gate, reinforce, walk away 5 to 10 feet and then IMMEDIATELY walk back and reinforce your puppy. Repeat this a few times over before opening the gate. Again, reinforce your puppy if she remains calmly inside the gate when the gate opens.
Every puppy will progress at a different rate. The better you are at reading your puppy’s behavior and body language and adjusting criteria accordingly, the better your training will be.
Step 7: The Finishing Touches
To close the gap between these formal training sessions and practical; start by having the puppy in the crate while you grab a glass of water, take a snack from the refrigerator, or go to check the mail - intermittently reinforce the puppy for calm behavior as you gradually increase the duration of time she spends inside a closed door crate.
If she is comfortable with this you can begin reading a few chapters from a book in a nearby chair or watch a show on netflix while your puppy chews on a bully stick. It’s also extremely helpful to have your puppy sleep in a closed door crate near your bed at night, so that she associates it with a place of rest, relaxation and safety.
Article written by Alyssa Lapinel, CPDT-KA. Founder and head trainer of Legends Dog Training. Legends Dog Training is based in San Diego, California. Fill out an assessment form if you would like customized training advice for your dog.
Here are 6 reasons why your puppy will benefit from using a crate early on:
note: dogs should not be left in a crate for more than 4 hours during the day, and for more than 8 hours at night. young puppies will have to go potty more frequently. the general rule is that a puppy can "hold it" for the same # of hours as they are in months. Two months = two hours. Young puppies, just like adults, will be able to hold it for longer at night when their metabolism slows down - but this will vary from puppy to puppy. consider hiring a dog walker or pet sitter to come visit mid-day while you are at work.
1. Rest and Relaxation: Every puppy needs good rest and relaxation to grow up to be physically and emotionally healthy adults. However, puppies (just like kids) are not very good at self regulating their sleep needs. When puppies do not have scheduled sleep time you are more likely to exhibit poor social skills and highly impulsive behavior (like mouthing and jumping). Schedule in nap time in the crate each day, to ensure that your puppy is getting sufficient sleep between play sessions.
2. Separation: Most puppies from the ages of 2-5 months of age will act like a duckling. They want to follow you everywhere. And while this is a normal behavior it does not fit in with the way we live our lives. No matter how much you want to, you will not be able to be with your puppy 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. When a puppy is conditioned to a crate, he will feel safe and secure in that space. Ultimately, this will significantly reduce the stress that he may otherwise feel when left alone. When used correctly a crate will actually decrease the likelihood that your puppy will develop separation anxiety.
3. Destructive Behavior: Puppies love to chew. Puppies need to chew. It's a fact of puppy life. You will see an increase in chewing when their new adult teeth come in around 4 months of age and you will see another surge in chewing through adolescence when their curiosity and energy spikes and they look for more creative ways to "explore" their surroundings. This natural impulse will need to be managed through careful supervision, puppy proofing and use of a crate when these other options are not feasible.
4. House Training: If you have sized the crate correctly, most puppies will have a natural desire to keep their immediate space clean. This can give puppies the necessary incentive to "hold" their bladder and bowel movements until they are given access to a large space. We recommend setting a timer to remind yourself to take your puppy outside every half an hour. Walk with your puppy on leash, carrying a high value reward. When your puppy goes potty - immediately reinforce the behavior with the high value reward (reinforcement should come within 1 second of elimination). You can increase the time interval at which you bring her outside once you have a better idea of your dog's individual potty habits.
5. Puppies That are Timid with New People: It's very important that you create a "safe place" for timid puppies to retreat to when they feel overwhelmed. Forcing a shy dog into social situations may reinforce the fear or uncertainty that your puppy is experiencing. If you notice that your puppy is showing signs of stress or fear you should encourage him to retreat to an open door crate, allow him to make the choice to approach unfamiliar people when he's built up the curiosity and courage.
6. Puppies That are Excitable with New People: Your friends and family members will LOVE to get your puppy excited during greetings. They will not understand or listen to you when you ask them not to reinforce your puppy for jumping. Have your puppy in a crate for the first 5 minutes that a new person walks into your home. Reinforce your puppy with treats for keeping all four paws on the ground inside of her crate. This will teach your puppy to be calm when new people come into the house and will save yourself a lot of frustration in the long run.
Feel free to share this article with friends and family members if you feel this information is helpful. What have your experiences been in using crates? Have you ever had a puppy or dog that LOVED his or crate? Have you ever had a puppy or dog that hated it? Stay tuned for an article about the right way to condition any puppy to a crate.
This article was written by Alyssa Lapinel, CPDT-KA - founder and head dog trainer at Legends Dog Training. Legends Dog Training is based in San Diego, California.
Make sure that you are setting your dog up for success in their new home by following these Ten Training Tips. Too many dogs are relinquished to the shelter each year for problem behaviors that could have been prevented, here's how to get your dog off on the right track:
#1 Confinement Area: A safe, cozy area in your home where your dog can stay whenever he is unsupervised. An appropriate confinement area will facilitate house training, prevent destructive behavior and can be an important tool when working dogs through issues related to fearful, anxious or aggressive behavior.
#2 Potty Training: When bringing a new dog into a new home, do not assume that house training will carry over. For the first 3 days you should take your dog out every 1/2 an hour. Accompany your dog on leash, and reinforce with a high value treat when they do go potty. Not only will this teach your dog to potty outside, but it will also ensure that your dog learns to go potty as soon as they go out - without getting distracted by sights, sounds and smells. After 3 days you can modify your dog's schedule based on your individual dog's potty habits.
#3 Feeding Schedule: The average adult dog should be fed two times per day. Pick up any food that is not finished after 5 minutes. Feeding schedules facilitate a good training program by building value for food. It also allows you to monitor your dog's health. Keeping your dog on scheduled meals will allow you to recognize loss of appetite; a red flag that your dog is not feeling well and should be seen by a vet.
#4 Learn About Dog Body Language: The most dog savvy people are experts at reading canine body language. Listen to what your dog is trying to tell you by learning about stress signals and appeasement gestures. Recognizing early warning signs of fear, anxiety or hyper-excitement can save you time and frustration by treating early warning signs before they manifest into serious problem behavior. Proactive training leads to happier, healthier dogs.
#5 Introducing Dogs: Neutrality is important during early stages of relationship development. When introducing two dogs allow for parallel interaction on a long walk in neutral territory. Dogs should only be allowed to greet when they are in a calm state. This might take 5 minutes, 20 minutes or multiple greetings. Be patient. When bringing them back into the house be sure that there are no bones, toys or food laying out which could trigger a fight.
#6 Introducing People: Use your powers of observation when introducing a dog to new people. Recognize signs of stress and lead the dog away if necessary. People should never force unwanted petting. A dog that licks their lips, issues a low tail wag, nervously licks a person or slowly and submissively exposes their belly is exhibiting stress signals and is asking for space. Over time aggressive behavior can develop when stress signals are repeatedly dismissed.
#7 Introducing Kids: Careful supervision is a must. Kids should be taught how to interact with dogs appropriately and should not be encouraged to hug, kiss or lie on top of a dog. Adults should look for signs of stress and lead the dog away if necessary. Dogs and kids should be separated by a baby gate or crate if close supervision is not possible.
#8 Basic Training: Training promotes good emotional health by establishing attention, impulse control, trust and communication skills. Look for positive reinforcement trainers that make learning an enjoyable experience for both you and your dog. Don't wait for problem behavior to start training, be proactive.
#9 Training Toolbox: Set yourself up for success by having the necessary training tools; a training pouch, high value training food, a clicker, training toys, a long line and a training mat.
#10 Natural Instincts: Provide opportunities for your dog to practice his natural instincts. This is a great way to burn energy and reduce stress that may otherwise contribute to behavioral issues. Activities that fulfill your dog's natural instincts can build confidence, be a great relationship builder and unleash your dog's full potential.
BONUS TIP: When adopting a new dog use a long line when bringing your dog to open parks. Do not let dogs off leash for the first 6-12 months that you have a dog as it takes time to properly bond and learn everything there is to know about a dog's individual temperament. Dogs should only be allowed off leash in open spaces once you have trained a reliable recall, and proofed this training in the presence of high level distractions.
Fill out the behavior assessment form on legendsdogtraining.com if you would like us to outline a customized training and wellness plan for you and your dog. Let us know what you think of these training tips in the comment section below, and become part of the team by liking Legends Dog Training on Facebook and contributing to training discussions.
Article written by Alyssa Lapinel, CPDT-KA of Legends Dog Training. Legends Dog Training is based in San Diego, California and uses training methods that promote trust, communication and respect for a dog's individual needs.
Train Your Dog to Pee/Poo on Cue
Life is easier when your dog knows and responds to a potty cue. It's good for:
Reason #1: The Distracted Dog
Your dog is distracted by sensory information: sights, sounds and smells; and consequently forgets to go potty.
Reason #2: The Shy Dog
Your dog prefers to go potty in privacy. If a dog received verbal or physical reprimands when he or she went potty in the house, your dog could have unintentionally learned that it is safer to go potty when people are not present. In some cases, a dog can go out for a two hour walk and "hold it" until you return to the house - and subsequently sneak away to eliminate in a concealed area of the house.
This article is written specifically for the "distracted dog." The "shy dog" is a little bit more complex. If you feel that your dog falls into this shy dog category you should contact a certified professional dog trainer to learn how to re-establish trust in order to show your dog that it is "ok" to urinate or defecate in your presence. If you have a "distracted dog" - read on.
The Training Process
The training process usually takes the average dog 7-10 days if you are consistent in training protocol. Inconsistency will prolong training process. You will need a leash, high value treats -- I recommend using Natural Balance rolls. This is a high quality food, that is moist and meaty, and loved by most dogs, a timer (optional) and a training pouch (avoid using crinkly plastic bags to hold treats, they can be a big distraction). It is helpful to know your dog's potty habits, ie. knowing that your dog always has to go pee and poo immediately after feeding will help you to effectively schedule your outings and set expectations/criteria. Block access to a doggy door, and prevent your dog from spending any unsupervised time outside during this 1-2 week period of time as this will also hinder the process.
Step 1: Reinforce the Behavior
Take your dog outside on leash, armed with treat pouch filled with high value rewards. Walk up to your designated potty spot and wait for 2 minutes (set timer if you have it). During these 2 minutes say nothing. Don't talk, walk or do anything that might distract your dog. If your dog pees, wait until he or she has completely finished and then within 1 second of completion say in a calm tone "good dog" and deliver 3 treats - one after the other. If you are too enthusiastic in your praise your dog might forget that he or she still has go #2(!!) avoid this mistake. After you have delivered the third treat your dog might remain staring at you for more treats, ignore this behavior: stare at the sky, cross your arms. If your dog goes poo, wait until completion and then in calm manner say "good dog" and deliver 3 more treats. If your dog neither pees nor poos by the end of these 2 minutes you should walk back inside, bring your dog to a potty free zone (any area that your dog will likely want to keep "clean": crate or gated kitchen is ideal for puppies or adult dogs struggling with house training). After a 20 minute wait, repeat the process. If your dog pees and does not poo, you can make a judgement call. If you feel that your dog has to "go," but was too distracted, bring your dog back to the potty free zone and try again in 20 minutes. If you feel it's "safe" to give your dog free roam - go for it. If you're wrong .... change your training protocol accordingly.
Step 2: Put the Established Behavior on Cue
I will usually spend 3-5 days creating a reinforcement history for a desired behavior. I only add a "cue" once the behavior is at least 90% predictable. In this case, I would only add the cue if I was 90% certain that my dog will potty when I walk him or her up to the designated potty area. If my dog is still getting distracted I will extend Step 1 as needed, or modify my training strategy. Modifying my training strategy might entail increasing the value of my reinforcement, playing a game of fetch to get the dog's digestive system stirring or re-scheduling potty trips outside to better match the dog's potty patterns. If the behavior is predictable -- add the cue! Walk up to the space and then just as you see your dog going through the "pre-potty motions" you should give the cue "go potty" (or whatever you want your cue to be). Say it ONE TIME. Now wait. Once your dog potties you will again say "good dog" and provide three high value rewards. For best results deliver the cue approximately 1 second before your dog begins to potty. This requires skill on the trainer's part. You need to be able to predict when your dog is about to "go." Continue to pair the cue with the behavior for another 3-5 days. Note: Establishing the cue simply implies that you are pairing English words with a predictable behavior in order to teach the dog what the words "go potty" actually means. It's like teaching a second language.
#1: Using the verbal cue too soon!!! Saying "go potty" over and over again to a dog that is sniffing for rabbits will not teach your dog to potty on cue. This can effectively teach your dog to believe that "go potty" means "find those rabbits." Dogs learn by association. Create a solid reinforcement history first, and then pair the cue with a predictable/well established behavior.
#2: People stand inside the house and let the dog go potty unsupervised. If they provide reinforcement it is only after the dog has returned inside. This teaches your dog that coming into the house is a highly desirable behavior. This can teach dogs to walk outside and walk back inside in order to receive a reward. Have you ever seen a dog that walks out and walks right back in? Most dogs were unintentionally trained to offer this behavior. Reinforcement for potty-ing has to come within 1 - 1.5 seconds of elimination. Otherwise, your dog will not understand what he or she is being reinforced for.
If you have questions or comments regarding how to train your dog to pee/poo on cue, feel free to comment or contact us directly: Contact Us.
This article was written by Alyssa Lapinel, CPDT-KA of Legends Dog Training, based in San Diego, CA.
Alyssa Rose, CPDT-KA
Certified by the Council for Professional Dog Trainers