Puppies are little balls of love and sharp teeth! Make peace with the crate, get good chew toys and set your alarm to go their pad or outside every hour or two. You will reap the benefits for years to come.
Potty Training is the easiest concept in the world to understand, take your dog outside every couple of hours. However, it is one of the harder tasks to implement because folks feel so guilty about using the crate in between potty breaks. Seriously, it’s a short term solution and prevents accidents. Many pups learn quickly to pee outside or on their pad, but if left to their own devices, they run around and whoops…accident. Well, the next time they feel the urge, that’s an appropriate place to go. Follow this plan to get your puppy on the right track.
1. Take him or her to their designated space every couple of hours. If you are using a pad, you have to take him or her to the pad every time to assure success. Wait for a few minutes and help a pup out by continuing to place her on the pad or guide him to his spot.
2. Wait for sniffing and encourage it. Praise and treat AFTER he or she has peed or pooped. Immediately. Give it a few minutes. If your puppy does not pee or poop and has not done so in the last hour or two, into the crate! If you engage in a game of fetch or tug at that moment, things will get all stirred up and you will have an accident.
3. If you are not watching your puppy 100% (glancing at your email for one second, grabbing clothes from the dryer for an instant, etc.) he or she should be confined to a crate or attached to you. They are fast little buggers and can quickly run off to pee.
4. If you are playing with your pup, take him or her to their spot every 20 minutes or so. Puppies also need to urinate and defecate right before bed, upon waking and quickly after eating or drinking.
5. Track it! If you know when your pup is peeing and pooping, you can move to a more realistic schedule. As your pup ages, his or her bladder gets bigger so you can start adding 15 minutes in between potty breaks if you are accident free.
A lot of work? Yes! But it will pay off for YEARS to come! More information.
Crate After he’s pottied, give him a Kong with something good in it. Leave him in there for a minute or so and make sure he’s SUPER interested in the Kong. While he’s still working on it, open the door, take it away and reward him (to prevent resource guarding). When he comes out of the crate, no attention or rewards. You are creating excitement and anticipation to go back in. Repeat with the Kong a few times. When you go to put him back in, give him a different chew to settle himself down.
This is a great video to TRAIN your pup to like his or her crate. It’s super important to work on this exercise a few times a day when you will not be leaving your pup alone so you create absolutely amazing associations with the crate.
Nipping Multiple times a day, sit with him while holding a chew toy. Make time to actually sit down with a chew toy in your hand. If you wait for your pup to bite you (they always do) and give the chew toy at that time, you will often reward your pup for nipping you. Keep the toy in your hand and praise him for chewing on it and not your hand. He must “wait” before he’s permitted to chew on it. If he inches up and nips your hand, “uh uh” and both you and the toy are no longer accessible to him. Say “drop”, count to two and show him a treat.
Next, you will want to work on a soft mouth. This is one of my absolute favorite exercises for puppies and credit must be given to Dr. Ian Dunbar for this one! Multiple times a day, lower a toy (use a soft toy that only comes out for this exercise) and tell him “gentle”. If he’s nice, praise and treat him. If he grabs it, say “ouch” and it goes away. This will teach him critical bite inhibition.
Your puppy needs lots of interaction with things in his mouth so he has an outlet for his energy but more crate time when he can’t be managed 100% . Use appropriate chew toys. If after all the above, “uh uh” and take yourself away in whatever way you can. Immediately give him feedback for making the right choice. Remember, moving around a lot is FUN so when he nips, you are a tree so he knows it’s not play time.
Handling Practice “settle” while you hold his chest. This is a tool to teach him to deal with frustration, since it’s new he’s not yet ready to “settle” down when he’s in puppy crazy mode. Stand in the same direction as your puppy with him in between your legs. Hold him at the top of his chest. Make sure you have his entire chest in your arms rather than his legs. When he wiggles, do not let him down. Stay steady and say softly, “settle”, “yes”. Reward with play, attention or his food.
Play the “gotcha” game: GENTLY touch his nose or the top of his head, say “gotcha, yes” and treat for not nipping or backing away. If either of those occur, make the exercise easier. Next, just touch his collar. Do this five or six times if he’s successful and then take a break. This is great to teach pups that being handled by veterinarians and groomers is not scary. Handling and petting are very different things and very young pups are often good with this but practice! As they age, they begin to get fussier and you don’t want important outings to be miserable to your pup, or you!
Puppies are so much fun but do require work to assure they grow up to be the sweet, loving dog you want to share your home with. More great information is available by the godfather of puppy training, Dr. Ian Dunbar.