How You Can Turn Your Puppy into a Great Adult
“Puppies take work to raise properly. The more attention that you pay to them as puppies and arrange for them to experience pleasant and happy circumstances, the more they will develop into happy, well-adjusted adults.
Dr. Nicholas Dodman, BVMS, MRCVS, director of the Behavior Clinic at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine in North Grafton, MA.
When you get a puppy, expect to give that puppy your full attention every time it is with you for one year. Does that sound like a lot of time? Well, if you don’t do this, you will spend a lot more time over the rest of the dog’s life in corrections and cleaning up.
Both you and the puppy need time off, of course. That is why you should have a crate, a room or exercise pen where the puppy can’t do any damage and an area of your yard where a puppy can act like a puppy without getting into trouble. Many people think that crates are cruel; however, we “crate” our children by using cribs and playpens because we love them and want to keep THEM safe from harm and out of trouble. It’s an excellent tool to use when you have young, untrained dogs in the household.
During that year, your puppy should never have the opportunity to get into trouble. You SHOULD give him the opportunity to explore under supervision and learn what is acceptable and what is not. If he is going to chew on something unauthorized, you should be right there to see it, give him a verbal correction just as he is about to close his teeth around the unauthorized item and replace it with a toy or chewy. If you can’t watch the puppy, he should be on a 6-foot leash attached to your waist or in his crate or exercise pen or in the safe area of your fenced yard.
Set your rules now. If you aren’t going to want your dog on the couch or bed, don’t allow your puppy on the couch or bed. If you don’t want a 55-80 lb. dog jumping on you, don’t reward your puppy when it jumps on you … lure him into a sit with a treat and THEN reward him.
After the year is over, you can relax all the rules. Good behavior will have become a habit. As long as you provide lots of exercise and attention, you shouldn’t have any behavior problems.
|Before Puppy Arrives
|Buy and Read a Good Puppy Book (Keep it handy and refer to it often for the next year)
- Andrea Arden’s Dog-Friendly Dog Training
- Before You Get your Puppy
by Dr. Ian Dunbar
- After You Get Your Puppy
by Dr. Ian Dunbar
- The Power of Positive Dog Training
by Pat Miller
- Dr. Patricia McConnell’s booklet, Puppy Primer (with Brenda K. Scidmore) or Beginning Family Dog Training
- Gwen Bailey’s Perfect Puppy
- Jean Donaldson’s book Culture Clash has great recommendations for teaching a puppy.
Join Start Puppy Training — a helpful, supportive group of pet dog owners and pet dog trainers who discuss positive solutions to common puppy training situations like crate/house training, puppy biting, leash training, household manners and other puppy related questions.
Select a Vet: Get recommendations from friends and family. Interview vets until you find one you are comfortable with.
Set aside an outside area for use as a “bathroom” patch. It should be an area of about 10′ x 10′ away from well-used family and entertainment areas.
Puppies don’t need the whole yard for themselves. In many ways, puppies are like children and need the same type of protection. If you have a swimming pool it should have a safety fence to protect kids and dogs. A well-behaved adult dog can have the run of your fenced yard but a puppy will benefit from a smaller area. Perhaps you can fence off an area in a shady spot. You can invest in a portable kennel enclosure or install a permanent facility.
Puppy Proof Your Home
Buy the Supplies your Puppy will Need
- Adjustable Collar (your breeder may provide this)
- Leash – either one of adjustable length or two of different lengths, long and short.
- Food and water bowls – plastic works, but stainless steel or ceramic is better (bacteria can hide in scratches in a plastic surface)
- Grooming supplies – including brush, nail clippers, shampoo
- Cleaning supplies – your puppy will have some accidents at first
- Dog bed or blanket
- Crate. You can get an adult sized crate (Varikennel 500) and use a cardboard box to block off a space for puppy. There should be enough room for puppy to fully stretch out in all directions. Providing too much space encourages your puppy to eliminate in one end and sleep in the other. Crates are wonderful tools. If you want to see an example of why a crate should be used until your puppy can handle responsibility, take a look at this photo submitted by Morgan Kelley, owner of Airedales Gussie, Stella, Phoebe & Oliver.
Morgan captions it “why you just really might not want that ever-so-cute Airedale puppy” Many people think that crates are cruel; however, we “crate” our children by using cribs and playpens because we love them and want to keep THEM safe from harm and out of trouble. It’s the smart thing to consider when you have young, untrained dogs in the household.Crates can also be abused. Read this article about the Do’s and Don’ts of Crate Training
- A supply of the puppy food recommended by your breeder.
- Chew toys
- Dog tags
- Gates – to block off certain rooms or staircases indoors
- Anti-chew spray
- In the last few days before arrival, give your house a good cleaning, remove breakable items from areas where your puppy will be, move all magazines and books to above puppy level, raise all garbage cans above puppy level.
- Spend some time preparing yourself and your family. Children need to know how to act around a small puppy. Read Kids and Dogs: How Kids Should and Should Not Interact with Dogs. Another good resource is: Dogs and Children : 11 Tips for a Harmonious Relationship from Your Dog Advisor.
|From Birth to 10 weeks
|The Breeder’s Role
As the first humans that puppies encounter, the breeder’s role in socialization is important. Interactions, especially those during the first three periods of a puppy’s life, can have a lasting impact on behavioral growth and development.
- Puppies are much more well balanced if you don’t separate the puppy from his mom and litter mates before 8 weeks.
- Scientists have identified the period from 8-10 weeks as the “fear period” for puppies. Traumatic, scary or painful experiences are likely to make a lasting impression and may affect his reaction to similar stimuli later.
- Avoid transporting the puppy long distances during this period, especially by airplane or train.
- Here’s a good article on Puppy’s First Week.
- House training. The basics to keep in mind:
- The dog is NEVER wrong or at fault when it comes to house training.
- You must stay out with the puppy until he goes, doing both pee and poop. If it is cold, put on a coat. If it is raining, carry an umbrella. You must stay with the puppy.
- Put the collar and leash on the puppy to take him outside, even if you have a fenced yard. The leash is not for corrections, but only to keep puppy close.
- If you have children, only allow one child at a time to go out with you and puppy. Puppies are very easily distracted and you want to allow him to concentrate on the job at hand. No play time until the puppy has done his business.
- Allow him to wander around and sniff at the ground in the designated bathroom spot. Pace back and forth (movement promotes movement) and chant your chosen phrase (“get busy, get busy …”). Choose something you won’t be embarrassed to say in public.
- If he eliminates, when he has finished, praise enthusiastically and play.
- You don’t need to wait forever. If you have stayed out 3-5 minutes, bring the puppy back in and keep him on leash with you or confined in a crate. Try again in an hour. Eventually, your puppy will eliminate appropriately and you can give huge praise and play.
- If at any time during the day you notice puppy sniffing the floor and circling or getting ready to squat, immediately interrupt him and take him outside.
- After each success, allow 15 minutes of freedom in the house, before placing puppy back on lead or back into crate.
- If you catch him in the act of going in the house, SHOUT! What doesn’t matter, but it needs to be loud enough to stop him in mid-flow, but not so loud that he runs to hide. This is not an angry shout. Anger is counter-productive.
- As soon as you have shouted, run to the door, calling him happily and enthusiastically and go to the designated spot. It will take him a while to relax enough to go, so be patient.
- Then, put him in his crate or exercise pen or safe room while you clean up the mess. Use an odor eliminator made specifically for this purpose. Ordinary household disinfectants mask the odor from us, but not from your puppy.
- If accidents happen, consider it your fault and take your puppy out more frequently.
- The more frequently you take him out at the appropriate time and the fewer times he goes indoors, the quicker he will learn.
- Adult dogs have better bladder and bowel control and can “hold it” for a longer time than puppies. The rule of thumb for a puppy is: his age in months, add one, and that’s the number of hours the puppy can “hold it” during the day. If the puppy is active, he needs to go out more frequently. Even if it has been less than 15 minutes since the last time you took your puppy out, take him out shortly after each feeding, after playing, after exercise, after any excitement (e.g., visitors arriving), immediately upon waking, last thing at night.
- SLOWLY extend the time between eliminations to half an hour and then 45 minutes and then 1 hour, etc. After 3 consecutive days of success, increase freedom by 15 minutes. Watch your puppy. If accidents happen, you either allowed him too much unsupervised freedom or you have pushed faster than his bladder has developed. If there is an accident, decrease freedom by 15 minutes for 3 days.
- Puppies have only a limited control over their bodies. You cannot expect them to last through a 6- to 8-hour night until they are at least 12 weeks old and even then, some puppies won’t have developed the physical control necessary.
- Anger or punishment for unwanted behavior is counterproductive. You can control your anger if you accept the fact that there will be accidents. Remember that a human baby may be 2 years old before it is house trained. You don’t get angry at a baby for going in its diaper, right?
- Praise for correct behavior and ignoring accidents gets the fastest results.
- Consistency in goals and training methods is crucial.
- Patience is the key.
- Teach your puppy what is acceptable and what isn’t. When your puppy is out of his crate or exercise pen, have lots of chew toys available and watch him at all times. As soon as he goes to an electrical cord, or a chair leg, distract him and offer him a chew toy. You will need to do this many, many times. Have patience and when you don’t have time to supervise, put puppy back in his crate or pen.
- Make necessary veterinary visits fun adventures by taking your puppy’s favorite toys and encourage the veterinarian and staff to give the puppy food treats and lots of praise.
- Your vet’s office is NOT the place to let your puppy socialize with other dogs.Dogs with infectious diseases may have been in the waiting room. Whenever you call your puppy to you, give him a reward … a treat and a scratch and a wrestle. You should NEVER call your puppy and then punish him. You should NEVER call your puppy and then do something that the puppy will perceive as punishment … such as bringing him inside when he wants to stay outside. If you are ready to go in, but puppy isn’t, go to him and pick him up and talk to him sweetly as you take him inside. A reliable “COME” could save your puppy’s life and you must not do anything to weaken his desire to come to you.
- This is the prime socialization period for a puppy to learn doggie etiquette and interaction with people. Get your puppy used to having his belly rubbed,ears and paws touched and mouth examined. Expose your puppy to many different people, different settings (car rides, a friend’s home) and different stimuli (vacuum cleaner noise, kitchen cooking smells and friendly older dogs).
- Your puppy may not like to be brushed. Keep sessions short. Be gentle. Use treats. Everything that you do to make it enjoyable for your puppy will pay rewards for the dog’s entire life.
- Enroll your puppy in an organized socialization class to hone his social development and learning.
- You should know, however, that there is some risk of disease involved when young puppies are exposed to the world at large before they’ve been fully vaccinated. Most pups do not get their last set of puppy vaccinations until about 16 weeks of age, but the critical period of socialization is from about 3 weeks to about 12 to 14 weeks of age. If you wait until your pup is fully vaccinated, you risk inadequate socialization; but if you take your pup out and about you risk disease! It’s a compromise either way, and a decision you have to make for yourself. Keep in mind, though, the indications are that many more dogs die from behavioral problems than from disease! Talk to your vet about ways to cut the risks, while still taking advantage of this sensitive, critical period of socialization. From Puppy Primer, by Brenda K. Scidmore & Patricia B. McConnell, Ph.D.
- Here are some good Do’s & Dont’s for Puppy socialization from Perfect Paws.
- Start teaching your puppy to“settle”, to potty on cue (as the puppy begins to potty outside, give him a verbal cue such as “Go potty.” When he is done, say “Yes” and feed him a treat), to come when called and to “leave it.” Some of these articles refer to a clicker, but you can use a word … “GOOD!” or “YES!” … to mark the behavior you are looking for.
- Never leave puppy unsupervised. Never leave food on your counters. It is much better to prevent the puppy from counter surfing, chewing furniture, etc., than to punish him for doing so.
- Do lots of object exchanges i.e., give your puppy something BETTER in exchange for whatever he has in his mouth. He will get into the habit of bringing you things that he finds rather than running away and trying to swallow them.
- Get your puppy used to the leash by taking him for very short walks. Let the puppy set the pace and keep the sessions very short. You want the puppy to behaving fun and not get tired. Long walks put too much pressure on their immature bones, cartilage and tendons. At first, just let them take you where they will, keeping a loose leash. This is not the time for leash corrections … you are just letting them get used to being on a loose leash. If the puppy starts sitting down, you have gone too far. Turn around and if he doesn’t eagerly start toward home, pick him up and carry him. You will SLOWLY increase the time, watching your puppy to make sure he isn’t getting tired.
- Help your puppy learn to cope with new situations by getting him out one day a week to a new situation he has never seen before. This takes time and effort, but will be well worth it when you reap the reward of a calm, stable adult.
- You will think you have an alligator, not a dog. Read 4 Puppy Biting Survival Strategies from the Whole Dog Journal for hints on how to teach your puppy bite inhibition. To get a taste of what you will be dealing with, read Terriers are Just Different!
- Permanent teeth begin coming in between 5 and 6 months, creating a need to chew to relieve gum discomfort.
- If you haven’t done so already, now is an important time to join an Internet Airedale List (Yahoo and Facebook have several) is very comforting to find out how many others have survived puppyhood.
- Don’t over-exercise your puppy (no long boring walks, no jumping on and off furniture or steps on concrete, etc). When your puppy flops and goes to sleep:let him. He needs to do that to grow strong and healthy. And please, don’t overfeed your puppy. Studies have shown that puppies should be kept very, very lean throughout their first year so that they do not grow too fast in some respects compared to other respects (e.g, ratio of cartilage, tendons and muscle to bone). The growth plates of an Airedale don’t close until about 18 months. You can do permanent damage if you allow him to jump repeatedly above elbow height or jog him for too far.
- Your puppy should experience many different environments. Socialization should continue and be developed as the puppy learns to cope with new situations.
- Notice and reward quiet behavior; if the pup is sitting or lying down, quietly chewing on a toy, or just being companionable, reward him — tell him he’s a good boy; give him a treat and then let him go back to what he was doing.
- Have a variety of toys and chews that you rotate so your dog doesn’t get bored with them.
- Continue practicing object exchanges.
- Do a lot of 1 minute training sessions.
- Use meals to practice some obedience skill — usually sit or down stays. No free treats.
- The puppy enters a second intensive chewing stage.
- Females come into heat unless spayed first and males experience dramatic fluctuations in male hormone levels.
- If you spay or neuter your puppy before 6 months, you will avoid many behavior problems. However, there is some evidence that neutering before a dog has reached maturity can cause future health problems. Discuss the pros and cons with your breeder and your vet.
- Channel your puppy’s energies into interactive, learning games and activities.
- Enroll in a formal obedience training class. Avoid classes that use harsh methods. If the trainers aren’t using reward-based methods, don’t join.
- Stay in touch with your breeder. If you chose the right breeder, he or she wants to hear how things are going and is your best source for help with problems.
|The Terrible Twos: A puppy often behaves like an unruly child.
- Re-read your puppy book to remind yourself this is just a phase he is going through.
- The outside world is becoming more interesting and he will seem to have forgotten everything you have taught him.
- Don’t get angry. Patiently insist that he do what you require. Punishment will only put more distance between you and make the outside world seem more attractive.
- A common problem is that your dog does not come back when called, no matter what rewards you offer. Until he gets through adolescence, it may be better to attach a long line to prevent him from learning to run off.
- Luckily, adolescence doesn’t last as long in dogs as in children. It lasts longer in Airedales than in many breeds, but if you continue to train with extra patience, you will be rewarded with a great adult.
The Perfect Puppy by Gwen Bailey
Track Your Pup’s Progress by Arden Moore in Your Dog from Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine (May 2001 issue)
And to the many members of the internet Airedale lists who offered their suggestions and encouragement … thanks! Sidney Hardie