Puppy Playbook

Training

Goals of Puppy Playbook

Training is crucial to strengthening the human-puppy bond. It is vital to the development of behaviors that will last a lifetime. It is the goal of Puppy Playbook to provide basic training methods and recommendations to get you started on the right paw. 


Here are the following topics

Training Starts Day 1

Training begins on the first day. It is best to have the game plan on training before bringing the pup home, but its never too late to start!

The Basics

  • Reward (treat) good behavior quickly and with lots of excitement!
  • Best not to get tough with the pup
  • Keep it simple
    • Break things into steps when teaching complicated tricks
  • Short training sessions
    • Attention span of a pup is really short
  • Use commands (verbal and hand signals)
    • Give the command only once, do not repeat it over and over otherwise it will become meaningless to the pup
  • Patience is key

Training is About Consistency

Consistency applies to the rules that are enforced and the commands being used. Everyone in the house has to be committed to same commands and rules, otherwise the puppy will be confused and unsure what he is supposed to do

Training Programs

Very valuable for both the basics of training and socialization

- Be sure to speak with your vet about risk of disease exposure

- Training program should ask for proof of visit to a veterinarian and vaccination records

Basic Commands and Leash Training

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Reward

The first step in training is finding a reward that works for your puppy.

  • Treats
    • Easiest and most popular with puppies
  • Attention/Praise
    • Always paired with treats makes a great combination
  • Toy
    • Some dogs are motivated by giving them their favorite toy

Sit

Take a treat and hold it in front of the pups nose. Give the command ("sit"), move the treat back and parallel to the ground until the puppy sits. When he sits, praise and give treat

Come

Keep treats on hand when your puppy is in the house or in the yard.

  • Call his name, then say "come" very excitably 
    • When he comes running, be very excited and give him a treat
  • Allow him to return normal activity, and repeat
  • Play in the yard with multiple people (each with treats) and take turns calling him back and forth
  • Best to start with very short distances

Down

Start with the "Sit" then move the treat down between the front paws and pull slowly along the ground until your puppy is laying down. Give the treat and praise as soon as he is laying down

Stay

The stay command can be extremely useful. Best to start with a "sit" followed by a "stay" command. Wait a second, then reward the pups patience. This can be practice with very short distance and time, then slowly challenge your pup by extending the time or the distance. If your pup fails, do not get frustrated, just go back to something they know, then revisit the stay command at a shorter distance or time. 

Leash

Attach the leash to the pup and just follow him around for the first few times. Then in your most exciting voice, call them towards you and have them follow your around. It is also helpful to carry treats with you to reward the pups attention during leash training.


It can take a lot of time to develop good leash behavior. The leash is a tool not a way to force a pup to stay with you or go where your going, the pup should want to follow you. Sometimes a gentle short tug and a excited "come" can redirect your pup in the desired direction.


There are several products designed to help in pups that have a pulling instinct (Gentle Leader). Early on in training, focus on getting your pup to follow you. Further training on heeling can be pursued after the basics are mastered

House Training

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General tips

House training is one of the more challenging topics. Here are few keys to success:

  • Set up a schedule
    • Feeding at the same time can really help with the process
  • First thing and last thing
    • Every time you start to interact with your pup, start by taking him outside, and when your done take him outside to go potty
  • General times to take the pup out
    • First thing in the morning, after eating, 15 minutes into a play session, before and after interactions, and before bed
  • Kennel training can really help with house training, puppies do not like to make a mess in their bed if they can help it
  • Clean up accidents immediately

Steps to house training

Most people want their puppy to potty outside, however some will use potty pads in the house. In order to encourage these behaviors, we must be dedicated to the process. 

  • Take your pup outside on a leash or to potty pad, best to ignore him a little bit so he is not distracted by you
    • Use a command like "go potty" or "hurry up", so he learns a command associated with potty time
  • If he urinates or defecates, reward with exited praise and even a treat
  • Then take him back inside, or back to his area in the house, for a few moments. 
    • If you want to play outside best to come back outside after returning inside
      • This is enforcing potty first, play later mentality
  • If your puppy does not potty after a couple of minutes, take him inside for 5 minutes and bring him back outside, repeat until he has urinated or defecated
  • If he urinates or defecates inside and you see him do it, quickly pick him up and put him outside

Do not's of house training

  • Do not raise your voice at your puppy during house training, if they urinate or defecate inside, it is most often due to the fact you have not taken them outside frequently enough
    • There will be accidents, be patient
  • Do not rub their face in the accident, they do not understand this training method and it just causes stress for them
  • Do not spank the puppy when they have an accident
  • Do not expect a young pup to be able to hold there urine for long
    • Typically, taking the pup outside every 2-3 hours is a good general rule early on, can be extended when puppy gets a bit older

Kennel Training

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Importance of kenneling

The kennel is a valuable tool to have when raising a puppy

  • It provides a safe place that the puppy can call his own
    • Dogs naturally are den animals and appreciate a safe place of their own
    • Safe area to be kept if not able to monitor puppy for an hour or overnight
  • It helps with house training
  • It is helpful when people or other dogs come to visit that may have a fear of dogs
  • Great for car travel

General tips

  • Do not use the kennel as punishment
  • Do not force a pup in the kennel to be left for several hours
  • Make it a happy place to be

How to kennel train

  • Start by having the kennel in a safe place with a playpen surrounding it if possible
  • Keep the crate open for the puppy to explore his den area
  • Feed him in the crate, with the door open
  • Play games with treats and toys being placed in the kennel
  • Start by closing the kennel door and talking to the pup in a calm voice only for a couple minutes at a time
    • Slowly extend the time, but do not etend the time in kennel to quickly
    • Eventually can use for a couple hours at a time
      • Be sure to take pup outside immediately after being kenneled
  •  Slowly working the kennel into normal life for a pup is important
  • Here is a great video on how to kennel train your pup

Problem Areas

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Mixed signals and expectations

The biggest mistake during training are inconsistency, mixed signals, and poor expectations. The house meeting is crucial to the success of the training program. Discuss rules, commands, and expectations of the pup so that everyone is on the same page

Socialization

Socialization is the process by which your pup is exposed to other dogs, people, and environments. It is extremely important to their development

  • Be sure to expose your puppy to as many people as possible
    • Try to expose your people that look and smell different
      • Beards, hats, sunglasses, different races, smokers, etc
    • Lay out the ground rules for the people about meeting
      • Example: Only pet when pup is sitting or no jumping rules
    • Have people give commands like sit and give the pup treats
    • Encourage people to ignore them too, its important for them to understand that they are not always the center of attention
  • Expose your pup to well behaved older dogs that are well vaccinated
  • Take your pup to several environments and maintain the same rules as at home
    • Remember:  Avoid high traffic areas (parks, dog parks, pet stores) until your pup is finished with vaccines
  • Enroll your pup in training classes

Barking

Barking is a normal behavior. However, excessive barking can be difficult to deal with, especially in apartment settings.

  • A "quiet command" is very important
    • Use the command and if he barks again, use a "shake can" (a jar with a few coin)
    • When he startles from the can and stops barking, praise him
    • Will likely need to repeat these steps multiple times
  • Using another command like sit, can be beneficial to distract the puppy from the cause of barking

Biting

Another behavior that is normal for puppies, however can pose a risk to those in the house if not discouraged

  • If your pup bites your hand during play, yip loudly and say "no-bite"
    • Then ignore him for a couple of minutes 
  • Another method is to place a toy in the puppies mouth immediately if he starts to play bite

Chewing

Chewing is another normal behavior for pups. Pups will chew on anything at anytime for multiple reasons. The could be chewing out of boredom, too much energy, or are teething. The following are tips to deal with chewing:

  • Encouraging healthy chewing on chew toys
  • Use Bitter Apple on items you do not want to be chewed on
  • Teething occurs during 4-6 month time frame, so expect chewing during this time
  • Place all valuables in area that the puppy cannot reach

Separation anxiety

Some dogs become very stressed when left alone which can lead to destructive and sometimes harmful behaviors.

  • Begin by teaching pup that its ok to be "alone". While you are in the house, put the puppy where he will be when you leave, such as a small room or kennel, then return to him with a short time passing (5 minutes)
    • Try to return when he is being calm (not barking)
  • The way you leave is important
    • Do not be nervous or guilty about leaving, the pup will sense it
    • Use a command like "be right back" when you leave
  • How to come home to your pup
    • Briefly greet him and go about your day
    • Do not make a big deal of your return
  • Leaving a radio on for noise can help with separation anxiety 


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