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Definitely the best book I've ever read and could recommend on dog origins and behaviour by Ray Coppinger

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Training puppies

The most common training needs people have for puppies are in the areas of:

  • House training
  • Crate training
  • Barking training
  • Lead training
  • Obedience training

House training

The key to house training your puppy is to attempt to PREVENT mistakes. Dogs are clean animals and do not like to soil places where they sleep and eat, however a house is a large area to a puppy and they need to learn that it is not the appropriate place to go. Remember your puppy does not give any forethought to this, when they need to go, they go!

Don't concern yourself over the odd mistake, be ready that if you are bringing a puppy into your house, there is going to be a training period and that means mistakes during this period, especially if you are not paying attention to your pups routines and cues.

If you are not at home with your puppy, don't leave him in the house!

Developing a schedule is the best method - feed in a routine and provide opportunities for relieving in a routine.

  • don't allow a young, untrained puppy free run of an entire house
  • use a crate or penned area for your puppy when you are not actively doing things with the puppy (your puppy is less likely to want to soil this smaller area that he spends a lot of his time in)
  • take your puppy outside to a particular designated area every hour and relax, giving him the chance to eliminate, don't worry too much if he doesn't every time
  • you can try walking in circles around that area and choose a particular word or two words that you always repeat at this time which the puppy can begin to associate with this task (something like, "time now")
  • when your puppy begins to eliminate, repeat the words in a friendly tone, like you are encouraging him
  • when complete, give him plenty of praise and act very happy
  • you can now allow some inside playtime with or for your puppy allowing him to investigate the main house areas, but remember to bring him back to his pen or crate after 20 minutes or so to prevent accidents
  • always take your puppy outside to the designated area after his meal or large drinks of water
  • don't feed your puppy too close to his bedtime
  • be prepared to set your alarm and get up through the night to take your puppy outside (this won't last too long but you want to ensure your pup does not start off by eliminating in his bedding at night) Some puppies may need you to get up twice a night in the first week or so)

As your puppy matures over the first 4 weeks or so, you get to know each other quite well and you will start to pick up on little cues from your puppy as to when he may need to go, and your puppy begins to pick up on cues from you that you are going to offer him the opportunity to go. You can take the training to the next level of teaching your puppy to ask you to let him out.

  • If you notice the pup showing cues, repeat your command you decided on (like "time now") in a questioning tone
  • If the pup ignores you, let him be for 5 minutes, but watch for cues
  • If he responds, let him out and head to the door repeating your command
  • Remember to praise him whenever he responds and eliminates outside

This video helps to demonstrate these principals. I love the crate setup for this pup if you can't be with your pup for longer periods of time.

Coping with mistakes

You need to always stay calm and ensure you do not reinforce mistakes with punishment!

  • if you find a mistake in the house do not rub his nose in it or engage in any other punishments. No matter what you think, your puppy has no way to connect eliminating in a spot in the house 10 minutes ago with having his face rubbed in it. People often say, oh no, he knows he did wrong you should have seen his face and him slink away. IN FACT your puppy knows by your body language and tone that you are unhappy and something bad is about to befall him ...
  • if you find your puppy making the mistake STAY CALM... do not shout, grab him or hit him
    • what will happen, is that he will
      • associate something bad happening when he eliminates with you nearby
      • become less calm about eliminating out in the designated area with you with him
      • learn to sneak so he eliminates when you are not around (which means he will eliminate inside the house!
  • mistakes are best ignored so that they do not become a cause of stress or anxiety for your pup, whilst successes are reinforced by lots of praise and connection with your command words (in fact they are less stressful for you too if you stay calm)
  • remember you may have caused some of his mistakes by forgetting the time and leaving him too long, or feeding him and not taking him straight outside

Crate training

Crate training is not at all cruel, in fact it can provide your puppy with is own private area which they grow to love and feel secure in. Keep this in mind when crate training your puppy, it's the key to success! A crate is NEVER a punishment tool.

  • Place the crate in a penned off area or small room with the door open so the puppy can go in and out investigating however he wants
  • Place a blanket or bedding in the crate to make it more inviting
  • Feed all meals in the crate with the door open
  • Put a chew toy in the crate with the door closed so the puppy will want to get in, and leave closed for a while, then open the door and let him in.
  • Occasionally place small treats in the crate for him to 'find'
  • Only when your puppy is comfortable in the crate should you start closing the door while he eats, but only leave it closed for a short time - less than 30 seconds at the start
  • Gradually increase the amount of time the door is shut, but it won't be for long as once your puppy finishes his meal you are going to take him outside to eliminate
  • Begin putting him in the crate with a chew toy or treat once you feel he is very comfortable with the crate and ensure you are always around and in sight.
  • Take your pups cues to work out how long is comfortable, but don't rush to open the door if he cries, simply calmly come and open it then ignore him as he comes out of the crate so as not to reinforce his distress
if you have an adult dog then the pup getting in the crate with door open and with the adult will quickly make the crate feel like a safe and pleasant place to be this group of puppies are already being crate trained at an early age by their breeder so that they are used to and like crates before they even go to their new home - this is the ideal time to crate train, and means that a new puppy owner doesn't have to try to work this out for themselves

 

Barking

Barking is normal dog behaviour, and most people understand and tolerate some level of barking in some situations. Livestock guarding dogs are known to use barking as part of their guarding duties.

Excessive barking however becomes a problem for people and is a sign that the dog may be stressed and/or bored.

Determining WHY your dog is barking is the key factor to dealing with it correctly.

Livestock guarding dogs in areas of high predation by other dogs may well bark a lot more than others, and the barking may well be justified from the position of protecting your livestock.

Why do dogs bark?

There are a variety of reasons for dogs to bark:

  • express a need
  • marking territory
  • alert of danger
  • excitement
  • separation anxiety
  • fun and amusement
  • contact with other dogs or animals
  • stress or discomfort
  • attention seeking

Controlling excessive barking

  • clear and consistent communication with your dog
  • do NOT yell at your dog (you are just barking back which reinforces the behaviour)
  • do NOT let the dog inside (you have just given him the attention or shown him he can get you to let him in by barking)
  • teach a command such as "Quiet" that can be rewarded when the dog stops barking
  • reassuring the dog that some object of his attention is not in fact a threat
  • ensure your dog gets adequate exercise and socialising so he is not bored and unable to release pent up energy in constructive ways
  • socialise your dog so that he is calm with people and animals

Lead training

This is a critical skill that will make your entire life with your dog so much easier, less stressful and safe.

Start this training as early as possible and use a very light weight lead and collar that fits comfortably.

  • Place the collar on your pup at a time he is a little distracted.
  • If he tries to dislodge and remove it, ignore him until he settles and forgets it before taking it off.
  • Repeat this several times over a couple of days until he is comfortable with the collar.
  • Attach the leash - let him inspect it first or whilst attached, and don't attempt to walk him yet, just let him forget it and become comfortable with it on.
  • When you feel he is ready, pick up the lead and just walk about a bit, encouraging the puppy to follow you anyway, not pulling the puppy along with the lead.
  • Give him plenty of praise and pats to encourage him.
  • If he strains on the leash, just stop walking, and crouch calling him back to you, and praise him for responding.
  • Do not yank on the lead or pull him to you, teach him that he needs to come to you and be by your side.
  • Set off walking again and repeat as needed.
  • It won't take too long doing this inside the house or backyard until you can attempt to take your pup out in public on a lead.

This video is a great demonstration of what you want your dog to be like when walking with you.

 

male maremma playing with his pups displaying the loving nature of these livestock guardian dogs

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