First Things First…

January 3, 2011

Welcome home with your new Puppy.  Read these notes as soon as you can as I’m sure you will want to get right down and sort out problems like potty training, bite inhibition and leash desensitisation as soon as your pup has settled down, which at 8 weeks will probably take a day or two.  If the breeder has done her job well, your pup’s ability to fit into his or her new life should be a piece of cake!

Potty Training

Check out Ian Dunbar’s article on potty training for detailed instructions.

You might not want to go to these lengths to potty train your pup, but there are five important points to bear in mind:

  • Put your pup on a schedule with regard to feeding so that you can predict when he has to go.
  • Take him outside immediately on waking and wait with him in the appropriate spot so that you can reward him (either with a treat, or with LOTS of praise) when he doesgo.
  • Supervise him closely when he is indoors with you so that you are aware of when he needs to go so that you can rush him outside when you see the signs, even if you have to tether him to you when you can’t supervise.
  • If you always take him to the same place to potty, and reward him there, he will always be inclined to seek out that spot.
  • If you “catch him in the act” all you need to do is to clap your hands smartly together to break in to the behaviour and when he stops the pee or poo, scoop him up and take him outside where he will be rewarded for going in the appropriate place.

Bite Inhibition

Your pup will already have learnt a lot about bite inhibition from his littermates and mother.  However, he will be inclined to bite when he’s excited or when he wants attention, and with his needle-sharp teeth it’s likely to be a painful experience for you and members of your family.

What he needs to learn is that biting will not be tolerated and that teeth and human skin and clothing do not go together.  This is one of the boundaries you will start setting now while he is still a puppy.  Each and every time your pup bites you will say in a loud voice “Ouch!” and immediately stop playing and leave the room.  Your pup will soon learn that biting you makes you go away (which is the last thing he wants) and playing gently makes you stay.  Apart from the word “Ouch!” you will say nothing – no nagging or chastising – simply get up and walk away, closing the door behind you.  Stay away for a count of 10 and return to your pup to resume the game.  The minute he starts biting again, repeat the procedure.  Removing attention is a very powerful tool to teach the pup what behaviour is acceptable and what is not.

The Collar and Leash

If your pup does not understand about leashes yet, go slowly.  Put the collar on and play a game with her to take her mind off it.  When she’s comfortable with the collar, clip the leash to it and let her drag it around for a while (supervised, of course).  Distract her by feeding her or playing a game with her.

When she comfortable with the leash, sit down next to her and put a very small bit of pressure on it.  Not enough to scare her or make her try to get away, but just enough so that she knows it’s there.  Then, either call her, show her a toy, or anything to show her that SHE can release the pressure by moving WITH the leash (towards you).  Give her a treat when she does.

Remember that it’s a counterintuitive response to push INTO the pressure – so that when the leash tightens, her instinctive reaction is to tighten it more.  She has to learn that moving into the leash and towards you is what releases the pressure.   Once your pup understands this you will have gone a long way to getting your pup to understand walking with a loose leash.

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