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Hints and Tips
A pup’s temperament is largely influenced by its genes and that cannot be altered; that’s their genetic blueprint. However, environment and life experiences are the ‘wild card’. If socialisation is done correctly and at the right age, this will enable them to mature into a relaxed and confident dog that can take life in their stride. Up until the age of 14 weeks a puppy is like a sponge, soaking up new experiences. After that age, they will be reaching ‘saturation’ point and it will take longer for them to absorb and cope with anything new.
The older they get, the more suspicious they will be of people, other dogs and events that they have not already experienced or exposed to. Poorly socialised puppies are the most likely to display fear aggression in later life!
For more information on this and other puppy topics can be found in my book The Fast Track Puppy Survival Kit; this can be ordered by clicking on the Shop page.
The 3 golden rules of behaviour
Reward the behaviours that you like
Ignore the behaviours that you don’t like
Distract the behaviours that you can’t ignore for safety reasons
If you take good behaviour for granted it will happen less and less. That won’t be the fault of your dog, it will be YOURS!!!!
House training problems
It’s not called house training for nothing. You have to train your dog where you want it to go to the toilet.
When a puppy (or even an older dog) goes in the wrong place, it’s usually because the owner hasn’t taught the pup properly or has given mixed messages and that has caused the pup to be confused.
The ‘old fashioned’ method was to wait until the pup made a mistake and then rub its nose in the mess. Would you rub a baby’s nose in its soiled nappy when you are potty training it? No, because it’s cruel and ineffective.
Many people still put newspaper on the kitchen floor, or buy the expensive puppy pads that seem to be the ‘in thing’ these days. However, what you are actually teaching the pup is that its bathroom is in the kitchen; or whatever other room you put them in. When you decide to remove the newspaper or pads, the pup looks around and sees that the ‘floor covering’ has been altered but they are in the right location. They go to the loo where they are as that’s where they have been for the last couple of weeks or more.
So establish a routine, where you want the pup to go to the toilet, and then reward it for going to the right place.
NB. Pups and older dogs that have been punished for going in the wrong place often start to ‘eat the evidence’ or hide it behind the sofa. This is because they have learnt that you get angry when you discover wee or poo and they start to fear you. Do you want your puppy to think you are a nasty bully?
Diet – You Are What You Eat
We all know that good quality, fresh ingredients, that are home cooked, are much healthier for us than processed convenience foods; the same applies to dogs. However, in reality we often have to compromise and do the best we can.
Many commercial pet foods contain chemical colourings, flavourings and preservatives that can have a detrimental effect on a dog’s behaviour and are nothing more than junk food; the same also applies to commercially bought packets/bags of dog treats.
When choosing a particular brand, owners will often put their trust in the well-known brands that have been around for years; especially if it’s regularly advertised on TV. You have to bear in mind that these are multi-national concerns who can afford to spend billions a year on advertising. In short, they are businesses that are out to get your money. Your pet’s health and behaviour is not their main concern but the content of your purse/wallet is!!!!
There is a website www.allaboutdogfood.co.uk that I strongly suggest you look at. It is run by a guy who worked for the pet food industry for years and he knows all the tricks of the trade and how owners are often hoodwinked into believing they are buying the best!!!
Bored dogs will make their own entertainment
Like children, if you don’t channel your dog’s mental and physical energies into something appropriate they will wreak havoc; this especially applies to puppies and young dogs.
To a dog, your home is just a huge adventure playground. The contents of your cupboards, shoes, soft furnishings, mobile phones and the TV remote are all just toys!
If you don’t want your personal possessions damaged or destroying, put them where your dog can’t get them.
Coming when called
Many owners tell me that their dog is good at coming back to them if it’s anywhere in the house, yard or garden. However, when they are in the park it’s a different matter entirely. Their dog gets is more excited at watching a leaf blowing in the breeze, playing with another dog, chasing birds, chasing squirrels or even rolling in fox poo, or whatever.
When in the park, does your dog find you as interesting as watching paint dry?
Do you tell your dog off or smack it when it finally returns?
Do you immediately clip it back on lead when it eventually decides to come back?
If you have answered yes to one or more of these questions then start thinking about YOUR OWN behaviour. If you have a pleasant attitude and you are fun to be with, teaching a good recall will be much easier.
Strange as it may seem, this is actually a people problem! When someone gets a puppy they find it very cute if their pup puts its front paws up on their leg. People then make a huge fuss of the puppy but that is the very beginning of the jumping up behaviour.
In the early days, most people don’t seem to mind the pup doing this if its paws are clean and dry. However, they get angry when the pup starts to grow and leaves dirty paw prints and dog hair all over their nice clean clothes.
Even if you don’t mind your dog jumping up at you, how is your dog supposed to know that it cannot do the same to your visitors or passers-by in the street?
Pulling on the lead.
Dogs pull on the lead because people follow them! Instead of teaching the puppy or older dog not to pull, they will resort to yelling ‘heel’, smacking, kicking, using a choke chain, or prong collar.
Teach your dog what you do want and stop punishing it for what you don’t want.
My dog is so naughty!
Dogs are often labelled as ‘naughty’ or ‘defiant’ when in actual fact they haven’t been TRAINED well enough; if at all.
Whether it’s a good dancer, musician, chef, decorator or footballer, they haven’t got where they are today by magic. They first have to be taught and then it’s all down to practise, practise, and practise.
My dog will do anything for food
Any dog that is motivated by food is an absolute dream to train!
Stop thinking of food treats as bribery and instead think of them as your dog’s wages for a job well done. I don’t get paid for sitting at home and watching TV; I have to work for it.
Each treat is now the equivalent to a pound coin. You can use part of your dog’s normal daily food rations as ‘wages’ instead of buying bags of dog treats.
Extra tips and information
You will find further information in my two books.
Fast Track ‘Puppy Survival Kit’ covers all normal puppy behaviours up to the age of 20 weeks.
Fast Track ‘Dog Survival Kit’ deals with adolescence and associated problems.
Both of these books can be purchased by going to the Publications page.