New Dog or Puppy

Stair Training for Dogs and Puppies

Many puppies are thrown off by stairs: they can’t make sense of the depth and angle. Although it’s tempting to sooth and lift your puppy up and down, try not too—your pup will develop learned helplessness! Here’s how to encourage a Can-Do Attitude!

* Ask a helper to stand a the top or bottom of the step. Place your puppy a few stairs from either end.
* Put him down gently and lace your fingers securely about his ribs to support him and alleviate his fear of falling.
* Ask your helper to wave toys or offer treats to excite his determination. If he’s still nervous guide him through the movements with your hands and reward him at each step.
* Gradually increase the number of steps your puppy must conquer until he is rewarded. Leave on a Hand or Finger Lead to support and guide him through the motions until he is confident and proud of himself.

Excerpt “Teach Yourself Visually Dog Training,” Sarah Hodgson

Training Your Dog: The First 24 Hours

The first day your dog is with you is both exciting and a little odd. After all the anticipation and preparations your dog is finally home. Some jump right into the swing of things; others take a more reserved approach. Don’t compare your puppy to others you’ve known and don’t worry if he seems too rambunctious, too cautious or too anything! You’re home will be new to him and he’s trying to figure our what’s going on. Here are some quick tips to get you started:

* Confine a room with gates or a fold out playpen: too much freedom is overwhelming to a new puppy. Decorate this area for your new addition and puppy proof it by removing mouthables and other distractions like wires and dishtowels. Use gates, a crate or a fold out playpen to keep your puppy contained for the first few days. Place a dog bed or mat in one section of the area, and his food and water bowls in another. Have one area papered or a route organized to take your puppy out if he needs to potty. Hang a bell if he must get through a door to eliminate.

* Let your puppy do what he needs to do. If he wants to sleep, let him. If he wants to sniff about you can watch him and clear away distractions that would tempt him. Provide food at mealtimes but don’t be discouraged if he won’t eat at first: there are a lot of changes. Supervise him, but don’t overwhelm him with commands or over-excitable praise. If you think he needs to potty, direct him calmly and praise him when he’s finished.

* You puppy has been used to sleeping with his littermates. The first few nights will be an adjustment. If possible bring your puppy to your bedside in a crate or box. He may whine but he’ll feel safer than if he’s all alone. He may need to get up in the night: take him to his bathroom spot and then back to his enclosure. Don’t play games or give him attention at 3AM unless you like the habit. If the bathroom is out of the question crate him or enclose him in a small area, like a bathroom. Consider placing a snuggle puppy by his side: a similar affect can also be had with a clock and a stuffed toy.

Ahh…the joys of puppyhood.

For more helpful hints on pre-puppy considerations can be found in Sarah’s book: Puppies for Dummies.

Training Your Puppy Not To Nip

Puppies use their mouth a lot like children use their hands and their voice. They nip to interact and play and discover. Puppies need to learn another alternative with humans, but nipping is normal and can be shaped out with patience, consistency and repetition.

* Spread butter on your hand or arm and encourage your puppy to give “kisses.” Encourage friends and family to do the same.

* When your puppy is playful focus on toys and do not try to hold or pet him. Like babies they cuddle best when calm.

* Puppies like babies have five basic needs: to eat, drink, play, sleep and go potty. When a baby is needy they cry; puppies nip when they’re needy—when they’re overtired or need to go to the bathroom. Leave a drag lead on your puppy when supervised and re-direct him, don’t correct them.

* Remember corrections are often seen as confrontational play and make the matter much worse. When a puppy is nipping use butter or toys to re-direct their enthusiasm.

* Use a long line or indoor drag lead on your puppy and direct them away from you using a command like “Away!” Redirect them to an object or consider what else they might need.

Harsh corrections (muzzle squeezing or pinning) only frighten a puppy and make them more confrontational or fearful.

For more helpful hints on raising and caring for puppies refer to Sarah’s book You and Your Puppy, written with James DeBitetto, DVM.

House Training Your Dog

Potty training is hard step for puppies. Their internal regulation is one gigantic step towards independence. Set aside the time to help your pup re-organize their day to include potty trips.*

Follow these quick tips to get started:

* Chose a potty area—indoor or out. Like a bathroom it should be secluded and close by.

* Take your puppy to his area after eating, resting, playing or containment.

* Hang a bell and encourage your dog to signal you when he needs to go to his area. Tap the bell as you’re walking through a door or other otherwise blocked threshold.

* Say a short phrase like “Get Busy” as your puppy eliminates. Say it once in a clear voice as your puppy either pees or poops for two weeks. Soon this cue will prompt your puppy.

* If your puppy gets fidgety, nippy or moves towards and rings his bell take him to his spot immediately.

* Praise lovingly and reward him with calm, reassuring affection.

For more help with Housetraining refer to Sarah’s Puppies for Dummies and her Teaching Lead training video.

* Excerpt from Sarah’s syndicated column on the Bedford-Katonah Patch.