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Archive for the ‘New Puppy’ Category

Puppy Barking at Other Dogs

Our puppy who is almost 5 months old is now barking at other dogs.  He acts like a total maniac!  I have a few tricks up my sleeve to help fix this puppy barking problem.  The biggest thing is that I want him to look at the other dog but not bark.  Many trainers will retrain the dog to look at them, but honestly, dogs will be in our lives and I want Blaze to look just not act like a fool.

Rule #1:  Always have yummy treats

If you dont have treats, you can’t fix the problem, trust me.  You wont need them forever, but initially you do.

Rule #2: Dont correct

The puppy is young, he doesn’t know, he just wants to play :)

Rule #3: Reward that first look without a bark.

Its rare that dogs will look at freak out immediately. They usually do some posturing first.  Your goal is to reward before that posturing even.  Use your clicker or marker word “yes” and get that treat in as fast as you can.  The trick to this is being very aware of your surroundings.  Make sure you are on the look out for other dogs and dogs behind fences so that you can practice the behavior.

As your dog gets more advanced and begins checking in with you rather than barking when they see that other dog, then you can ask if your dog can say hello or just feed a treat and be on your way.  Over time you can fade out the treats just don’t do it too soon or your puppy barking problem might return!

Fading off the lure

When you typically teach a dog to lay down you use a lure to get them down to the ground. The problem then is you have taught your dog that in the visual cue for laying down is you putting your hand on the floor. In order to teach your dog to lay down while standing up you have two options, the first is to ask for the down using the lure about 10 times, then stand there and wait. If your dog lays down, reward him with the food.

The second options is to fade out the lure by slowly raising your hand each time. See my video for how I demonstrated this with my 4 month old puppy.

Our first basic obedience class

We joined into a regular basic obedience class. Blaze did a puppy kindergarten which included mostly socialization with some basic commands. I’m a big believer in keeping pet dogs in training for the first year of life, not necessarily consecutively but 3 or 4 classes is good. It keeps them socialized as well as forces you to practice their obedience commands.

So this class is mostly older dogs (over 8 months) and large dogs. Blaze is the youngest and smallest. The dogs were all pretty hyper, nervous, stressed. We heard lots of barking, whining, jumping, panting, etc. In my classes I always encouraged just feeding dogs for relaxation and looking at the owners. I think it helps calm the dogs to do that for the first five minutes.

Blaze immediately saw friends he wanted to play with and began barking at them to get their attention. So I just ignored him and when he stopped and looked at me (like why aren’t you letting me go over there) I said “yes” and gave a treat. This lasted for about the first few minutes of class and he finally decided it wasn’t worth it, he would just look at me and get food.

We learned sit, down, come and a bit of stay. All of these were easy for Blaze. His struggle was just paying attention to me. I have a game I like to teach dogs early on called gotcha. I pinch their hind area (not hard but in fun) and when they look I say “yes” and give a treat between my knees. This helps them learn to zip around and come to me when they are distracted. Its helped me numerous times with his older brother Nitro.

Another thing we practiced was the come game. The instructor held Blaze by his chest up off the ground slightly and I teased him with some food and ran away from him. I then called him and as he came running, I ran backwards until he caught me at which point I grabbed his collar and gave some food.

I’m hoping next week will bring more relaxation with all the dogs and more focus. No matter how calm or attentive your puppy is, getting them around 8 other crazy dogs will always pose a challenge.

Puppy Heeling

There should be a few rules to teaching a puppy to heel.

1. Keep it short
2. Keep it fun
3. Dont worry too much about details or drilling

Here is a video of Blaze heeling – I do a few short spurts of forward motion, try to turn my hand out to reward him, and do some backwards walking. This will encourage him to learn to use his rear end which is especially helpful for turns.

Wild Puppy Days

It always happens. A puppy who has been calm, comes when called, never chews on the wrong things, suddenly goes wild. A wild puppy can be the symptom of several things. First, it could be that your puppy is normal. Second, your puppy may need some new mental stimulation. Or three, your puppy might be ready for some structured exercise. Perhaps all three as well.

Today was that day for us, baby Blaze was a wild boy. He has been bothering Nitro all day, barking randomly, trying to chew on the rug, continually going to the back door when he doesn’t need to potty. My first inclination would be to walk him a little further than we have gone before, but Blaze has a cold so probably spreading that around the neighborhood wouldn’t be wise.

So, what to do when the wild puppy can’t exercise? Break out the old Kong. The kong if you have never seen one is like a rubber shaped snowman with a hole in the top and the bottom. You can fill it with any number of things. My personal favorites are peanut butter (all natural is best), banana, or just a few big treats that are hard to get out. The best part about this is it keeps the puppy busy for 20 to 30 minutes. As they get better at it, you have to do more difficult kong recipies but this should help your wild puppy get tired. And after all, they do say that a tired puppy is a well behaved puppy.

Another idea is to rotate your dog toys. I try to keep only a few down at a time so that as my puppy becomes bored with them, I can get new ones out. With teething just around the corner, I need to stock up on some soft toys in addition to my chew proof toys and antlers. For tonight though, I will be freezing some banana in a kong to hopefully give my puppy some more fun tomorrow that will keep him from having another wild puppy day.