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Renee PremazaPhone: 609-280-9338Email: renee@JerseyDogTrainer.com

Getting Your Dog Accustomed to Having A New Baby in the House

dog and babyOne of the biggest mistakes that young couples make is failing to get their dog used to having a new baby live in the house, when the dog has been an ”only child.” Sometimes the ”new arrival” is seen as an intruder into the pack, and this can have disastrous effects. Here are some very important steps you should follow when you are expecting a baby. Keep in mind that you should do these training steps well before the baby comes into your lives.

  1. Purchase as life-sized a baby-doll as you can find, preferably one that cries. If you can’t find a doll that comes with sound effects, you can purchase a CD that has baby sounds, which include crying.
  2. Wrap the doll in a clean diaper or blanket, preferably one that already has the scent of a baby on it. If you can’t get one that has a baby’s scent on it, sprinkle the diaper or blanket with some baby powder, and add a few drops of baby lotion too.
  3. Get into a routine where you’re carrying the ”baby” around the house with you. Talk to the baby much like you would if your real baby were in your arms. Pretend to feed the baby, and talk to the baby. Put the baby on your lap and watch TV. Try to make a daily routine with your new ”baby” and follow it so that your dog gets used to your new behavior.
  4. Allow your dog to sniff the new ”baby.” Praise him to the skies for calm and friendly behavior toward the doll.
  5. Put the doll into a stroller and start taking walks with baby and dog. Never forget to praise your dog for accepting the presence of the baby and for being well-behaved while you’re following your new routine as new mother.
  6. If your dog has been allowed on the sofa, you may want to re-think his having this privilege. Keep in mind that you may have your child in your lap, and your dog may now be wanting to jump up on the sofa when you now don’t want him up there while you’re holding your baby. Suppose you want to nurse your baby while sitting on the sofa? How will you react to the dog when he’s jumping up to sit with you? Plan ahead for situations like this, because if you need to change any of your dogs habits that you’ve accepted before, you need the time to do this now, not after the arrival of the baby.
  7. Another item you may want to have in your house during this desensitization period is the baby swing. Put the doll in the swing and turn the swing on. Watch your dog’s reaction to the swing. He may need to get used to this piece of equipment. He might start barking at it, or he may feel afraid of it.
  8. Play your CD with the babies crying everyday. Start out by playing the tape with a very low volume. Gradually accustom the dog to hearing the loud volume of crying babies and watch for any negative reactions. If the dog doesn’t tolerate high-pitched crying, turn the volume down to the level where he’s okay with it. Then begin to turn the volume up again until he’s completely okay with the sounds.
  9. Do not forget that you’ll still need to keep a normal routine with your dog. If you can keep a routine with the dog throughout this early period, the dog will be more inclined to accept everything else that’s going on in the house. Continue taking the dog for his regular exercise. Don’t slack up on this. If your dog isn’t able to expend his own excess energies, his behavior will deteriorate from boredom and loneliness.
  10. Teach your dog to keep all 4 on the floor. If you haven’t devoted too much time to obedience training, NOW is the time to really work on this. If you don’t know how to train the dog not to jump, please visit the Obedience Course at K9U.com and get help in this area. The last thing you want is your dog jumping when baby is in your arms.
  11. Remember that when you first bring your baby home, you may not feel like going out jogging with the dog everyday. You may want to start asking some dog-savvy kids in the neighborhood to begin walking the dog, or playing frisbee or fetch games with him. Get the dog used to new things like this early on instead of waiting until last minute.
  12. Keep in mind that you’re going to have times after the baby arrives when baby is screaming for his meal, and your dog has to go potty. Things can get pretty chaotic for awhile after the baby arrives.

Just as you are planning ahead for the arrival of your new child, please plan ahead and think how you’re going to help your dog become comfortable with the baby. If, during these early days of getting the dog used to the doll, you see any signs that your dog is experiencing severe stress, or he’s showing any indications of wanting to bite the doll, PLEASE enlist the help of a professional trainer who can come to your home and create a program for you to follow with the dog. It’s better to find these things out now rather than have a disaster occur when the baby comes. If you think you need a trainer, you may want to visit http://www.apdt.com to get a list of trainers in your area. If you live in the south Jersey area, I’d be more than happy to get you started on your dog’s training program.

Don’t wait until the last minute!

Good luck!

Renee

Housetraining Procedures for Puppies & Adult Dogs

training

If you’re having problems housetraining your puppies or older dogs, are you:

Leaving your dog’s food bowl full all day long? “Free feeding” prevents your dog’s digestive system from having a specific schedule of elimination. Your dog is not a cat! Feed your dog a good quality dog food and feed him twice/day. Keep his food bowl down for no longer than 20 minutes. Whatever he doesn’t finish within that time period, put the rest away and add it to his next meal.

You need to take your dog outside onleash for elimination everytime you think he has to go. This way, you’ll be able to monitor what he’s doing and what he’s NOT doing. If you just let him out and don’t watch him, how will you know if he’s done his business?

Take your dog out:

  1. First thing in the morning
  2. Within 5-10 minutes after every meal
  3. Immediately after every nap
  4. Take your dog out after being played with for awhile. This is very stimulating to many dogs and they will need to eliminate soon after something exciting happens.
  5. Take the puppy out on an average of every 45 minutes to an hour. You might want to keep a log on this to determine just how often he needs to go from how many times you can get him to eliminate when you take him outside. If you have an older dog, you can lengthen this to every hour to hour and a half.
  6. Before taking the dog outside, say to him, “wanna go potty?” and bring him outside on leash to your designated spot. Keep treats on you, so you can reward the dog immediately after he does his business. Within half a second after your dog pees or poops in the right spot, offer a treat and praise him to the skies. You can reward good house training behaviors by then letting him run around outside with you or taking him for a walk or run. Throw him a puppy party ANYTIME he eliminates in his spot.
    Caution: Avoid giving your dog his treat reward when you go back in the house. All you will have rewarded him for is going in the house! A reward must be given with 1/2 second of the behavior for the dog to learn what it was that he was being rewarded for.
  7. If you’re out with your puppy for awhile and he’s been running around and playing, make sure you bring him back to his “toilet” area before going inside. He might have to go again.
  8. When you’ve established a fair amount of success in getting the dog to go in this spot, begin putting a command word on the behavior. For example, when you bring the dog to his spot, as he starts to eliminate, say your phrase, like “go potty.” Then reward him with a treat right after he’s finished.
  9. If you cannot keep your eye on him all the time, (1) put him in his crate, or (2) tether him to your waist with his leash or long-line.
  10. Watch him for certain signals that he may have to go: (1) sniffing the floor, (2) looking a bit anxious or worried, (3) coming to you and just staring at you, (4) preparing to squat or lift leg, acting excited and a bit obnoxious.
    Caution: Don’t expect young puppies to clearly indicate when they have to go potty! Look for more subtle signs as listed above in item 10.
  11. Take the dog outside to potty before bedtime.

IF YOU TAKE HIM OUT AND HE DOESN’T GO, FOLLOW THESE PROCEDURES:

  1. Do not allow him to play outside.
  2. Bring him inside and put him in his crate for 15 minutes to 1/2 hour. This is not a punishment. Give him a toy or a chewy to occupy him until you take him out again for another try.
  3. Take him out again, and repeat all procedures you’ve been instituting. (generally, the dog will go after having been crated for an additional 1/2 hour.)

Please be aware that it is more difficult to train a toy or miniature dog. These tiny dogs have very small bladders and need to be taken out much more freqently.

DO NOT PUNISH HOUSE TRAINING ACCIDENTS!

When adopting shelter or rescue dogs, you may experience housetraining accidents in the very beginning. Just implement these procedures to get the dog back on the right track. Keep in mind that sometimes our dogs regress in housetraining because (1) they may have a urinary tract infection; (2) they may be experiencing separation anxiety; (3) females that have been altered may develop spay incontinence. Speak to your vet and he can give the dog medication to control this; (4) male dogs may mark on vertical surfaces and females may also mark as a way to establish territory. Within a multi-dog household, you should reduce competition for resources (food, toys, you), by teaching the dogs that you all good things come from you and belong to YOU, not them. Use good leadership skills and your dogs won’t feel the need to be competitive with one another.

The success of teaching a dog to go potty outside depends on your management of the situation.

By punishing the dog, he will not learn that going outside is what you want him to do. Punishment will only teach him that you are dangerous. This can result in a dog that will (1) refuse to potty outside in the presence of his owner; (2) come inside and eliminate where nobody can see what he’s doing. Dogs that are not completely housetrained and still have accidents in the house are not spiteful dogs! They are merely looking for an absorbent surface to eliminate on without suffering the consequences of being threatened. Management is key in housetraining any dog. If you don’t have the time to watch your dog or take him out very often, you’re going to have a much harder time of housetraining him!

REWARD ALL GOOD BEHAVIOR AND THAT BEHAVIOR WILL INCREASE!

Introducing Fearful Dogs to Visitors at your Home

Little puppy is hiding under a cupboardThis article addresses fearful dogs, but not dogs who will automatically go into attack mode at the sight of a stranger!! If you live with a dog who displays this behavior, please contact a professional in-home behaviorist/trainer to work on this issue!

The dogs I will be describing below are dogs who choose a flight response when faced with fearful stimuli.

Since I’ve been training dogs professionally, I’ve come to realize that we humans often exacerbate our dogs’s behavior problems. One thing that most of us do is allow our fearful dogs to run wildly to the front door when the doorbell rings. By the time we arrive at the door to answer it, our dogs are already in such a lather that they can’t think straight! We’ve actually taught our dogs to behave this way because we wind up rushing to the door in an excited state, and our dogs have picked up on this.

Then we compound the problem by opening the door and holding the dog back by grabbing his collar to avoid having the dog either jump on, lunge or attack whoever is standing on the other side. We’re now causing our dogs to feel completely frustrated because we’re preventing them from investigating what’s on the other side of that door. Doesn’t this sound like a situation out-of-control? Well… it is.

During one occasion, I was to train a fearful Shih Tzu who was always spooked when anyone arrived at the house he didn’t know. When I rang the doorbell, the owners opened the door, picked up their dog and attempted to hand him to me! Yikes! The dog was already scared out of his little mind, and now his humans were trying to push him into the arms of a person he thought might want to harm him.

So, let me offer some suggestions on how you can create a less stressful way of introducing your shy or fearful dog to a visitor at your home.

Most fearful dogs react strongly to the sound of the doorbell. The doorbell has become such a negative stimulus to the dog because it always represents something scary is about to come through the door! What has worked well with my own clients is (1) putting an “out of order” sign on the doorbell; (2) asking an expected visitor to call right before they arrive at the driveway. This way people have time to put the dog in a nice quiet room with a filled Kong toy or a healthy chew toy (e.g., bully stick or veggie nylabone). Train your dog beforehand to go into this room a couple times/day. First put him in there and stay with him for about 15 minutes. Each time you put him in there, stay less and less, and get him used to being in the room and feeling good about being in there. Also, put a TV or radio on for company. Then, when you know someone is coming, he’ll be very willing to go into this safe room without an “argument.”

Now you can go and let your visitor enter your home without having the doorbell ring or someone knocking on the door. Have this person sit down and get comfortable and ask them if they’d be willing to help you socialize your dog. I find the best place to seat myself is right at the kitchen table. I get lots of treats ready and place them on the table. When the dog enters the room, I already smell like a human supermarket of doggy treats. I sit there like a statue! Give your visitor the following instructions:

1. Do not make eye contact with the dog.
2. Do not speak to the dog.
3. Do not reach a hand toward the dog.
4. Do not try to pet the dog.

Bring your dog into the kitchen onleash and keep him under your control. Try to keep the leash as loose as possible. Avoid holding the leash with a death-grip, or your dog will sense that you’re feeling nervous and he’ll respond in kind! Have a seat yourself at the kitchen table, but at a distance from your visitor. Have your dog sit right beside you while you continue to hold his leash. When you sense that he’s calming down and not feeling anxious about the visitor, allow him to approach this person if he so wishes. If the dog then wants to sniff and investigate this person, here are additional instructions to give your visitor:

1. Begin slowly and quietly dropping treats on the floor for the dog to eat (provide soft and very tasty food treats; e.g., cheese, bits of lunch meat, freeze-dried liver, bits of garlic chicken, bits of hot dogs, etc.). If the dog does eat the treats, you can be relatively certain that his stress levels are lowered. If he chooses not to eat, he is still quite nervous.

2. If the dog is eating, after a few minutes, tell the visitor to put a treat in an open palm and put that hand down by their side. If the dog eats the treat from this person’s hand, you’re probably on your way to a good introduction.

3. Once the dog is accepting hand-fed treats, your visitor can start to speak softly to the dog. Your visitor can begin looking at the dog, but not directly in the eyes. *You* be the judge as to whether your dog should continue staying in the room with this person for the duration of the visit. If your dog seems to be relaxing and gaining trust in this person, that’s a very good thing. If your dog starts to back away from this person, it would probably be best to give him a break in that safe room you’ve created for him. He can always come back out in a little while for a re-introduction.

4. For first-time visits with anyone, I would suggest that you not encourage petting. Sometimes I don’t pet a dog until I’ve worked with him 3 or 4 times. Petting is not always seen by every dog as rewarding! When dogs are fearful, they may resort to nipping a person for trying to touch them. You always want to avoid having your dog practice any inappropriate behavior with anyone. Each time he’s allowed to practice inappropriate behaviors with people, he’s learning to strengthen those bad habits. Both you and your visitor should praise him to the skies for showing friendly behaviors.

5. Instruct your visitor to not get up without first telling you that they’re going to get up. If someone wants to get up or leave the house, *first* call your dog over to you, and take him into another room. Keep him facing *you* and get his attention focused on you! Get his attention by feeding him those delicious treats continuously until the person is gone. Nervous dogs generally get nervous again as soon as the stranger stands up and moves around. That’s probably because the dog doesn’t know what this person is going to do. If you make a practice of feeding your dog when people leave, he’ll again begin to change his association of that behavior from negative to positive because of the prediction of food happening.

The more visitors you introduce your dog to (on a one-to-one basis), the better he’ll get at accepting strangers to the house. What you’re doing here is changing your dog’s associations with strangers. At first it looks like: STRANGERS = SCARY STIMULUS-BAD FEELINGS. After you work on this for awhile, it will look like: STRANGERS = GOOD FOOD-GOOD FEELINGS. He’ll begin to look forward to meeting people at home because they will predict “good things happen.”

Be patient! This will not happen overnight! Depending on your dog’s age, his past learning experiences, and his overall temperament, this could take a couple of months or it could take a year or more.

Playing Tug of War by the Rules

Boy playing tug of war with dogIf you are the kind of person who doesn’t like setting rules down for your dog to follow, then playing tug is not a good game for you to play. Tug of War is a very competitive, but excellent game to play if you want to teach your dog to have self-control. Many trainers and vets advise people to avoid playing tug because “it will make the dog aggressive.” Believe it or not, I taught my own very aggressive Border Collie to stop biting and use good self-control by allowing him to play his most favorite game in the whole world — Tug of War! If played correctly by using very strict rules, your dog can enjoy tugging with you for hours, if you want to play for hours. As you will read below, at no time during this game is your dog permitted to put his teeth on your skin — even if it’s an accident. If your dog mouths you, the game must stop. If you don’t want to follow through with playing by the rules, avoid playing this very fun game. Here are the rules to follow:

Does your dog have a drop it command? If not, first teach him to drop things out of his mouth by placing a treat over his nose when he has a boring toy in his mouth and say “drop it” as he opens his mouth to take the food. Praise him and give him the toy back. As he gets better and better at this, begin having him drop more valuable items out of his mouth, like his chew bones.


  1. Start the game off by commanding the dog to sit!
  2. Ask the dog, “wanna play tug?”
  3. Cue him to “take it.” and then give it to her
  4. Play for a little while, and then ask for a “drop it.” The dog should have a bomb-proof drop it and should release the toy immediately. If the dog doesn’t release it, just hold onto the toy and don’t pull on it or look at her. She’ll realize that “well… this is boring” and then should release the toy. Praise her for the release, but put the toy away.
  5. You can re-start the game in about 5 minutes or so (this serves as a time-out for her ignoring the drop it command.
  6. Play again, and then ask for a drop it. If she drops it, praise her and give her the toy immediately with a take it command.
  7. It’s recommended that once in awhile, after commanding her to drop it, that you do a couple of obedience maneuvers before re-starting the game.
  8. With any dog who has shown aggression toward an owner or other humans, never let that dog win a round. If you find that sometimes the dog has gotten the best of you and was able to pull the toy out of your hand, let her think you planned it that way, and say “Take it!”
  9. Whatever toy you choose for playing tug should always be put away and out of the dog’s reach. Remember that it is your toy, as are all others. Put the toy away until YOU decide when to bring it out again.
  10. If the dog makes any mistakes, like touching your skin with her teeth, the game ends immediately, the toy gets put away, and she gets ignored for about 3 minutes or so. Wait several hours after a mistake like that before re-starting the game. Then, put the toy away.

Note: If you are playing tug with a puppy, do not pull too hard. Your puppies teeth are not strong enough yet, and you do not want to strain or sprain any of your dog’s muscles, tendons or ligaments. When playing tug with puppies, do not jerk her head from side-to-side. You may cause spinal misalignments in a very young dog. Allow your dog to pull in any direction she feels comfortable. Let her do most of the pulling. Have fun 🙂

Puppies 101 – Getting Off on the Right Paw

It is vitally important that you begin socializing your puppies NOW! The window for socialization closes at 12 weeks. After 12 weeks, you will be doing remedial work and your dog may never reach his/her full potential for being a normal, friendly dog! Gradually introduce your puppy to all sorts of people: tall people, short people, fat people, skinny people, men, women, children, men with beards and who wear hats, girls and boys who wear baseball caps, black people, white people, and DOGS. When you’re socializing your dog with children, watch your dog carefully to see if he’s getting tired. If he is, remove him from the children and let him rest somewhere, like his crate. Put him in there with a chewy or a favorite toy so he doesn’t see this as a punishment.

Begin this week by taking your dog to 5 new places. Put your puppy in the car and take him/her for rides in traffic. Speak to your dog along the way in a happy voice. Go and get gas at the gas station so your puppy gets used to someone reaching into the car to give you change. Ask the attendant if he’d mind offering your dog a treat through the window. Introduce your puppy to the mailman, to policemen, and anyone you see wearing a uniform. Have these people give your puppy treats. Each week increase the amount of people you introduce your puppy to.

Expose your puppy to many different novel stimuli. Let him see the hose outside, or the rake, or your feather duster and vacuum cleaner. Familiarize him with all different sights and sounds. Let him walk on all sorts of surfaces, like concrete, grass, sand, tile, and asphalt, etc. Purchase a CD that has the sound of thunder on it, and gradually let him hear this recording at louder and louder volumes. Have some toys and treats, and play with him while he’s listening to your thunder CD. If there is a real thunderstorm, play with your puppy and feed him delicious treats during the storm. Even if there is a loud, scary clap of thunder, clap your hands and laugh about it. Expose him to other sounds, like the vacuum cleaner, the dishwasher and clothes washer and dryer. Turn on the food processor and let him get used to that. If your dog shows any fear or discomfort from hearing those sounds, don’t console him because he’ll think you’re rewarding his behavior. Just speak to him in a happy tone of voice, as he will be very affected by your own emotions. This is important to know, folks — your dogs will be very affected by your feelings about all things in general. If your puppy suspects that you’re nervous or upset about something, he will respond in kind. Remember that for the future.

Once your dog has had its first set of shots, try to arrange play-dates with other vaccinated puppies of similar age and size. Make sure you know and trust the owners of these dogs when they tell you their dogs are healthy and friendly! Be careful not to overwhelm your dog at first. Do this very gradually. Most vets recommend that you keep your puppy off of any surface that might have been soiled by unknown dogs.

If, at anytime, you see your puppy begin to look stressed or anxious, please give him a break. Puppies can become ill if they are feeling overwhelmed.

If you notice that your puppy seems afraid of anything, DO NOT CONSOLE HIM by picking him up, petting him and cooing to him. This will only reinforce the behavior, making your puppy think you LIKE his behavior! Speak confidently and offer him treats as you desensitize him to the things he’s afraid of. Help him learn that SCARY THING = GOOD THINGS HAPPEN by pairing up a negative with a positive (treats or toys/games).

This is the time you should begin handling your puppy all over his/her body. Message your puppy’s feet and give him treats while you do this. This will get him ready for grooming and nail clipping. Bring out the nail clipper and put treats around it. Make his association with this instrument a positive one. Pretend to clip his nails with the clipper, but don’t actually cut them yet. You might want to take your puppy to a professional groomer the first time to make sure his first nail cuts are done without incident. Let the groomer show you the right way to trim nails to avoid accidentally cutting too close to the quick.

LEARNING RESTRAINT & ACCEPTING HANDLING

Some of you may have puppies who don’t like being restrained, handled or being picked up. Do NOT become alarmed. Work on these problems by using food rewards to encourage him to like these things. Pair up being handled or restrained with being given very tasty morsels of food so that the dog will learn to associate being handled as a good thing! If you pick your puppy up and he squirms, DON’T put him right down! Hold on to him GENTLY, but firmly until he settles down and stops fussing. THEN put him down. Here are some handling exercises you should begin doing with your puppy to accustom him to being restrained and touched all over his body.

Bring your left arm around the front of your puppy’s chest while your right hand and arm supports him under his chest and belly. Gently restrain him with just a tad of pressure and then release him. Praise and reward him with a nice treat if he remains unaffected. Reward him each time he accepts what you’re doing. Little by little begin to lift him up while you support him against your body. For each step you take, praise and reward your dog. You will be shaping behavior that you may need in the future for veterinary exams, lifting him onto a vet or groomer’s table, and in general, getting him used to being held, picked up and moved around. Touch your puppy all over his body, including his ears, paws, belly and genitals. Get him used to your putting your finger in his mouth to brush his teeth and stroke his gums. Touch him around his collar and do gentle collar-tugs. The more handling you do now, the more he’ll accept being handled by the vet or by other people.

A word of caution here: Please do not take anyone’s advice when they tell you to flip your puppy on its back and restrain him to settle him down if he becomes overly excited. This will scare your puppy, and he will learn that you can’t be trusted. A puppy will feel very vulnerable to being attacked while he’s got his belly exposed. This is instinct here. If you try to flip an adult dog on its back, be prepared to get bitten!

Many people like to pet puppies and dogs by reaching over their heads. Desensitize your pup to this now so he won’t feel afraid when a stranger decides to extend a hand and place it over his head. So, pet your puppy by placing your hand over his head and patting him, and then give him a tasty tid-bit for a reward.

Always praise and reward with treats when your puppy doesn’t show fear or alarm at being handled anywhere on his body. If you notice that he’s sensitive in certain areas, begin to SLOWLY desensitize him to touch by touching him gently and then offering some treats. The more you handle your puppy, the better he’ll like it.

Believe it or not, many puppies and dogs don’t like being hugged or kissed. If it’s going to be important that your puppy accept our human affectionate behavior, teach him to like it by giving quick gentle hugs and then offer a treat reward each time you do this. If you have children that love to hug your puppy, make sure you desensitize the pup well to avoid nips on childrens’ faces.

Practice putting your puppy on a high surface, like on top of your washer. This will help him get used to being on a vet’s table. While he’s up there, do a physical examination of him, much like the vet would, checking his ears and feet and his teeth. Begin cleaning your puppies teeth using special doggy toothpaste – not human toothpaste! Good dental care is important, especially for the small breeds of dogs that are prone to dental disease. Dental problems can lead to other physical problems.

SETTLE DOWN!

If your puppy becomes over-active and obnoxious — AND HE WILL…– Here’s an exercise that will teach him to settle down:

Put your dog onleash and a flat buckle collar or harness. Sit in a chair in a quiet room with your dog. Watch what your dog is doing, and anytime he behaves calmly, say “Good Boy/Girl!” and toss him a treat. If he gets all excited again, and starts jumping on you or pawing at your clothing, IGNORE HIM or get up and walk out of the room leaving him alone! The instant he stops this behavior, say “good boy/girl” and give him some very tasty tid-bits of food. He will learn that a good default behavior is being calm and quiet. Set these training sessions up a couple times each day. Just sit there and wait for behaviors to reward him for. Remember to ALWAYS ignore your dog when he’s demanding your attention. If you put your puppy in his crate, and he immediately starts to whine or bark, put cotton in your ears and don’t run back to him. Otherwise, you’ll have a dog that knows he can get out of his crate by barking and whining. If, however, you’ve put your pup in his crate for the night, and later you hear him whining or barking, you’d better check to see if he needs to go out and potty.

ALONE TRAINING

One more important suggestion is to get your puppy accustomed to being left alone. Even if you are home everyday, all day, do not neglect to teach puppy that it’s okay for him to be in his crate by himself for short periods of time. Leave him with a nice chew toy (e.g., filled, frozen Kong). Make sure you do this everyday while you extend his alone-time little by little. When you do put him in his crate, pretend to go out by opening the front door where he cannot see you, and then close it. Quietly go to some other area of the house for about 20 minutes at first. Return to your puppy WITHOUT FANFARE and release him. Do not make the mistake of getting all excited when you come back to greet him. This actually is one thing that can create separation anxiety in dogs. When you leave him, make it a non-event, and when you return to him, that also should be a non-exciting ritual. If others live with this dog, please have them get involved in his alone-training. Separation anxiety is not something you want to reinforce in your puppy or any dog! It can be very complicated and involved to modify a dog’s behavior once he is displaying symptoms of this disorder, and it can be very expensive in terms of dealing with possible destructive behavior. Let’s prevent the behavior from happening NOW.

DOGS & KIDS

If you have young children in the family, please teach your children safe and proper handling of your puppy. Do not allow very young children to pick your puppy up while they’re standing. Chances of dropping the puppy can cause his death or serious injury. Many puppies do not like being picked up because they feel vulnerable to being dropped. Have your child sit on a chair and then place puppy in the child’s lap to pet gently. Do not allow children to pull your dog’s ears or tails. Do not allow children to lay all over your dog and jump on him. Some dogs will NOT tolerate this childish behavior and will snap or bite children for doing this. An excellent website to visit to learn about how to avoid dog bites with children is: www.doggonesafe.com Be sure to click on all the links as this site is packed full of very important information.

Do not allow your young children to lie on the floor with your dog! Make sure you supervise both kids and dogs whenever they’re together. All too often, kids and dogs get into trouble with each other because the dog gets overly excited around the child, or he misinterprets the child’s behavior, and then bites the child on the face. When children play with puppies or dogs, the children should be standing up or sitting on a chair or sofa and the dog should be on the floor. This eliminates all possibilities of child and dog being at face level. If you cannot be there to supervise, then your dog should be in another room behind a baby gate with a toy or chewy to occupy him. When kids and dogs are together, the keyword is SUPERVISE, SUPERVISE AND SUPERVISE! If your child is mature enough, allow that child to begin issuing sit commands to your puppy. Place a treat in your young child’s hand to offer puppy while your own hand holds onto your child’s. Many children inadvertently tease dogs by offering a treat and then pulling their hand away before puppy gets the food. Puppy then grabs at the child’s hand and might nip. Again, SUPERVISION WITH YOUNG KIDS AND PUPPIES/DOGS IS CRUCIAL.

GOOD MANAGEMENT

Attached is a section on teaching bite inhibition. Please begin this training NOW. All puppies bite, because they’re teething, and because that’s how they’ve played with their littermates. It’s important to teach your dog to have a soft mouth. All dogs are capable of biting! If your dog has been taught good bite inhibition, if he’s ever provoked to bite during his lifetime, he will not do any damage because you will have taught him to bite without pressure!

Do NOT wrestle and roughhouse with your puppy. You will be teaching him that physical aggression is a fun thing to do when he reaches maturity. I watched a situation where the owner of 3 Pomeranians enjoyed teasing his dogs and he thought it was funny when they’d come back and try to bite him. Two of the 3 poms in this household have both shown serious aggression toward the owners and toward each other. Always think about what behaviors you are reinforcing! Again, use good common sense when you’re raising a puppy. Whatever behaviors you reinforce now will follow through into his adult life. Reward appropriate behaviors and he will behave appropriately!

When the mailman comes or the UPS driver pulls up to your house, give him a treat to give to your puppy everyday! By doing this NOW, you will avoid having a dog who wants to kill the mailman or someone else wearing a uniform or hat. Let your puppy know right from the get-go that the mailman is a good thing because he represents treats. Take puppy for a walk around the neighborhood and let him meet and greet anyone who is willing to politely greet your pup. Have treats on you so you can give your neighbors and/or their children treats to offer the puppy. If you see a patrol car or fire truck anywhere, seize the opportunity to introduce your puppy to a police officer or fireman.

If you don’t want your puppy to learn to chew on or steal socks or other laundry items, do not make them available! Keep laundry items in a closed hamper. Keep all food items off the kitchen countertops from the very beginning, so your puppy won’t want to “counter surf.” If you start out doing the right things, you won’t have to “fix” these training problems later on. Use good common sense when training and interacting with your puppies. Keep tight lids on all trash containers. Puppies LOVE toilet paper, paper towel and used tissues.

I know that many of you have had to get things out of your dog’s mouth – maybe your dog has stolen your children’s toys, or the dog has tried to eat something he found in the trash. Many of you have been told that it’s important to pick up your dog’s food dish so that he knows you’re “the boss.” I want to caution you about forcefully taking things away from a dog. Now…I fully understand that when there are small kids in the house, you need to teach your dog to relinquish items just in case the child tries to take something from the dog. But there’s a better way to teach a dog to relinquish something rather than grabbing it from him. If you work on training your dog to obey a DROP IT cue, he’ll relinquish anything you ask him to. If you continue forcefully taking things away from him, you might create a dog that becomes a resource guarder. Dogs who guard their food bowls, bones, or certain locations, or people, or their toys are resource guarding. Sometimes this behavior is instinctual, but sometimes the dog learns to do this because he feels he has to protect his stuff from everyone who keeps taking things away from him. I usually see this type of behavior develop in puppies at around 6 months of age, which is the very beginning of adolescence. Learn to make food exchanges with your dog. If you need to take something away from him, put a treat right on his nose; when he opens his mouth to take the treat, tell him, “drop it” and then reward him with that treat. You might want to do this a lot with his toys so he’ll learn a drop it command very quickly. You can reward him with that treat, but also give him his toy right back! You’re working on developing a good trusting relationship.

When your puppy is young, get him accustomed to being lightly stroked as you approach him and his food bowl while he’s eating. Toss something really delicious into his bowl when you do this so he looks forward to people being around him when he’s eating. Include your children of all ages when doing this work, but make sure to closely supervise them during this training. Watch your puppy’s body language to see if puppy seems stressed when approached around his food, bones or special resources