Wade Times Two

Wade has now more than doubled in pounds since I first met him.

Day one, Wade weighed 12 measly pounds!

IMG_2164Wade weighs 30 pounds now… And he’s going to double AGAIN by the time he’s done growing!

His 4 month birthday just passed without much of a fuss. He’s starting to lose his baby teeth, and so far I’ve only found one. (I’m keeping a close eye out for those canines! Maybe use them as sewing needles in the future… Kidding.)

Wade has a few tricks under his belt now. He can sit, stay, lay down, shake, wave, and roll over. I’ve been slacking on his formal training recently, but I have been maintaining his basic obedience.

Working with more and more people and their dogs, I’ve been noticing some trends…

Plus, puppy class is adorable!

Plus, puppy class is adorable!

One: Not enough people bring their puppies to any sort of training!

I’m not just saying this because I’m a dog trainer.

Even if your puppy has excellent basic obedience skills and hasn’t had an accident in the house, you should still go to some form of puppy training. It’s a fantastic opportunity to meet other puppies, and the socialization is in the best possible environment. It’s invaluable to hear what your local trainer has to offer, and get that puppy to meet as many other dogs as possible! Dog parks are great, and dogs of friends and family are fantastic, but your puppy should meet tons of new and unfamiliar dogs! Puppy classes are perfect because it’s a very safe environment to meet other dogs.

Two: Puppy classes aren’t enough.

The entire world is your dog’s classroom. It should be learning everywhere it goes! Your dog should be learning throughout it’s life! Never stop training your dog. Every minute you spend together, you can be teaching your dog something.

Wade reminds me every day to enjoy life... He sure does!

Wade reminds me every day to enjoy life… He sure does!

Your dog will teach you everything it possibly can. Return the favor.

I’m not suggesting you constantly train your dog new tricks, (although I’m definitely not discouraging it,) I’m suggesting that you constantly be working toward something new. Work toward a quicker sit, a longer stay, a more distraction-filled environment, keep challenging your dog!

Leash Manners and Stay.

Leash manners… Oh leash manners…

Let me start off by saying there’s about five thousand bazillion different ways to get your dog to walk nicely on leash.

Right now, I just expect Wade to be well mannered. Because he’s so young and attached to me, it works. However, I have learned a little trick that I wanted to share.

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Ta-Da!

Wade is half labrador retriever. Retrievers like to carry things around for their owner. It’s part of their genetic makeup. I first noticed that Wade liked to hold the leash in his mouth if it got in front of his face and started bonking him in the nose.

I also noticed that holding the leash in his mouth would make him walk much better on leash. He was ignoring all the interesting smells, sounds, and sights.

Plus, it's adorable.

Plus, it’s adorable.

Rather than fight nature like an idiot, I decided to embrace my pup’s genetic predisposition!

He had a job.

Nobody can multi-task.

Plenty of humans will tell you they can multi-task, but they can’t. Nobody can from an objective and scientific standpoint. It’s why we turn down the radio in our car when we’re looking for an address.

So giving Wade a job to do during a walk is going to force him to concentrate on that job and only that job!

So now, if we’re going on a structured walk or I need him to not lolly-gag, I give him something to carry.

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“Yeah, you telling me is the reason I’m staying put… Uh-huh.” -Wade

 

Stay

I don’t know how Wade picked this trick up so readily, but I blame it on his laziness. Wade is really really good at staying put.

The best way to start your dog learning this trick is to just ‘mark’ the behavior whenever your dog does it naturally.

That means, whenever your dog is naturally staying put for some reason, just start giving the stay command, I always pair it with a hand signal. (I hold up my index finger as if to say, “One minute, hold on.”)

Then release your dog from this natural stay, and praise it!

Your dog is going to start to learn that, “Whenever I just don’t do anything, my human loves it! Easiest trick EVER!”

The morning routine

The morning routine. Make careful note that although I know he won’t go anywhere, he’s still got his leash just in case.

Once your dog seems to be understanding a basic idea of what stay means, (meaning that you’re the one that releases them from their stay 90% of the time,) you can start upping the difficulty.

Establishing a routine with your dog is going to make your life with your dog infinitely easier. Your dog appreciates it too.

My routine with Wade is:

Wake up, put on a jacket, and get outside.

We walk to his favorite potty spot close to the front door, and he goes number one.

Then we walk down to the dumpster, and he gets to explore the grassy area across the street from the dumpster. This is where he goes number two.

I pick it up, and he sits and stays. Waiting for me to go throw it away and come back to him to take him home.

Just having a morning ritual for your dog is going to make your dog happier, and it’s going to make your life as a dog owner more fulfilling and happier as well.

The “distance stay” is a great way to up the difficulty of a ‘stay,’ and really solidifies that your dog actually knows what ‘stay’ means.

Wade’s First Day at Work, (and a Surprising Realization)

I work at a “Pet Resort.” They do daycare, lodging, training, and grooming. One of the biggest selling points for me getting a puppy was that I could take him to work with me every day.

So that happened.

Now, not everyone at a doggie daycare is polite 100% of the time… I wanted Wade to learn that, and instead I learned that my pup might have some social issues right out of the gate.

Impossible. He’s a puppy. He was raised with his litter. There’s no way he’s got social issues already.

But unfortunately, it’s true.

I only say this because I can fix this.

I don’t mean I’m some crazy expert in behavioral issues. This is just something we have to work with, and FAST.

And by social issues, I mean exactly that. Wade can be very rude when greeting other dogs. He can also play too rough and over-step his boundaries. He got into a small squabble today, (no big deal in dog-world, but in an environment like a doggie daycare, it’s a big deal.)

This all could very well just be normal puppy behavior. Solved by more interactions with dogs.

We will see.

So, expect to be seeing quite a bit of posts regarding how to overcome social problems in dogs.

The solution is NOT to avoid other dogs.

 

Chewing, Bite Inhibition, and Play-Biting.

Well Wade is out cold! He naps so much, it’s almost easy to forget he’s in my life now!

But, when he isn’t napping, he’s biting.

He chews on absolutely everything.

So how do you manage it?

Obviously, it’s an extremely normal puppy behavior. Their teeth are growing, their gums hurt, and chewing is a fantastic way to pass the time!

Great. Just don’t chew on my shoes… Or the carpet… Spit out that rock! DON’T EAT THAT!!

Photo 2013-05-30 12.22.35 PMSo far, I’ve coated all power chords he can get to with some bitter “yuck” spray. It tastes incredibly bitter, and Wade hates it. You can even just use white vinegar diluted with water.

This stuff works great. Every time I catch him chewing on something that I can’t move out of his reach, I just spray some of this on there.

Corners of rugs, edges of furniture, power cords, baseboards, everything and anything my pup can chew on that I don’t want him to has a small amount of this on there.

So far, it’s working really well. He learned immediately that power cords taste disgusting, and why would he want to chew on something disgusting?

But it’s mean and non-sensical to just walk around and tell him what he can’t chew on.

That’s where this little group of indispensable items comes in handy.

Photo 2013-05-30 12.22.27 PMI’ve been using these constantly with Wade.

Every time I catch him chewing on something, I take it away from him, say “no,” (Calmly and neutrally,) and hand him one of these things to occupy his time.

He immediately forgets all about what he was doing, and happily gnaws away at something good for him!

The rope is great for his teeth, massaging his gums and providing something soft, but firm to chew on.

The bully sticks are STINKY! They smell awful! But he loves them. C’est la vie. My only warning with these is not to leave him unattended for too long with one. Wade did chew on one for basically a whole day, and it turned into a soggy mess that he ended up half-swallowing. Thankfully, I was there to take it from him.

That’s another thing. Take things from your puppy. A lot. Take it, praise him, maybe give him a treat, and then give it back. That way, your puppy knows, “Whenever someone takes something from me, it’s okay! I get a treat and I get it back eventually anyway!”  Possessive issues solved.

I almost forgot about my favorite toy of all… The Kong. Wade absolutely loves his Kong. I have two, and I have one stuffed at all times. I stuff it almost entirely with food, but layer it with Kong stuffing so it stays interesting and challenging all the way through. Wade LOVES IT! He gets all of his meals through a Kong or hand-fed to him.

I almost forgot… Play-biting.

Photo 2013-05-30 01.55.59 PM

This picture was probably counter-productive, because it took 2 straight minutes of him biting my hands before I could get an acceptable picture… But he looks VICIOUS!

Wade is being such a little butt-head about biting! He likes to nip at fingers, clothes, and even faces when he’s playing! AHHH!!

This is normal puppy behavior as well, and as much as I’d like to teach him never to bite anyone ever, it’s too early for that.

Why?

Let’s say you taught your puppy to never bite anyone ever. Extremely reasonable, and your puppy should be doing that soon.

But not yet.

First, we need to teach him bite inhibition. Teach him that his mouth is a tool he can use sometimes, especially when playing with other dogs, but that he needs to be GENTLE! We’re teaching a “soft-mouth.” That way, one day when a small child scares the heck outta your dog by running up and jumping on him, the dog won’t turn around and bite with all of the immense power possible.

Basically, bite inhibition keeps a dog from doing actual damage if there was ever a need to use his/her mouth.

Teaching bite inhibition:

  1. Play with your pup. Be rough.
  2. When the pup uses any bite force whatsoever, yelp and pull your hand away.
  3. If your pup bites you three times in a row, stop the play session immediately, but calmly. Call him/her a bully, and walk away.
  4. Your puppy is going to be like, “What!? I was playing with thaaaaat!”
  5. When you come back into the room, make your pup sit calmly before initiating another play session.

It’s that easy.

Once your pup has a nice soft mouth, (about the time he gets his grown-up teeth,) We can teach him that with these new grown-up teeth, he is not allowed to bite. Ever.

Teaching Not to Bite:

  1. Any time your pup puts teeth on you, yelp, and walk away.

That’s it. End of story. Biting is restricted exclusively to toys… And maybe other dogs…

A fantastic way to reinforce bite lessons is to just let your puppy play with other puppies! There’s options everywhere, just search around. What you’re looking for is for your puppy to get some experience playing with other puppies. Other puppies instinctively know what’s appropriate, and what isn’t.

Your puppy should be playing with other puppies as SOON AS POSSIBLE!

So there you have it. Your quick guide to chewing, bite inhibition, and play biting.

Any questions?

Crate Training

Crate Training

Wade loves his crate… Most of the time. It’s got his blanket from his foster home in it, and I keep it stuffed full of all his favorite toys. At least 3 to keep him busy.
The key to crate training is that you give the dog something to do while it is getting used to being confined. That way, it learns to settle down quickly, quietly, and calmly.
The sad fact of the matter is that most dogs are forced to be confined indoors most of the day while their owners are at work. The earlier the dog learns to self-soothe, the better off it will be later in life.

So far, Wade is content to go hang out in his crate for short periods, but it seems to take him a little while, (about 15 minutes) before he’ll settle down for longer periods.