As many of you know, all right, most of the free world knows, I have a puppy. He’s almost a real dog now, getting ready in a month to celebrate his first birthday. As most of you also know he’s quite a special little dude. So it seemed only fair, as I welcomed him into my life that I offer him the best that I can. Being a professional dog trainer, the best is awesome and endless and it grows more endless every day. I read, hear and witness every hour, more and more amazing behaviors that could keep us busy for years. My new favorite is the dog walking up the tree backwards. Oh, yes, I LOVE this stuff.
So, back to the puppy. He’s keeping me busy and this last seven months, he’s been training every waking minute. It’s so important to catch them early and establish a house plan with the pup from the beginning.
Here’s my house plan:
This is a human and canine house and the human’s have a good plan. It works best if you follow our plan.
All who live here will be treated with love, compassion and respect.
We have a language and we know how to teach it to you. All communication will be taught peacefully and you will get a chance to learn it before you are requested to act on it.
We will continue to study your language in an attempt to make all communication fluid, agile and stress free.
We will do our very best to keep you calm and safe.
Oh yes, and in this house, we won’t dress you up except for warmth or weather safety. So far, anyway.
So that’s our plan. It’s a pretty good deal for canines living in this house and when the puppy came I had to step up to the plate to keep it that way. I’d been waiting for a puppy for a long long time so I didn’t take it lightly. I accelerated my training modes. I stepped out of the training box, and back into the box again to get every idea I could to teach this new puppy in our home the best that I have.
The pup came at an important time in my life. I was just starting to get back some of the use of my body that I hadn’t had for a few years and I was in good spirits. I was very glad to be back full-time in the training world which is my job. I was also juggling caring for a home, being in a full time human relationship, caring for two other dogs and having a life. Some of you add human children to that list and time just disappears. As many of you know this routine, it’s not easy to train a puppy when you’re so busy.
Here’s some things you can do:
Teeth brushing: My electric toothbrush has a two minute sequence that lets me know every 30 seconds to change the quadrant of my mouth. (Yep, even tooth brushing uses quadrants). When I first started, I reinforced twice each thirty second span. Then once in thirty seconds and now he has a lovely two minute “stay” on the bathroom rug while I brush my teeth. Now I can start to
add distance and a little distracting dance while I brush. And now I’m exercising, it’s multi-tasking at it’s finest.
Washing dishes, putting away, or emptying dishwasher .
Throw the ball in between putting away dishes, if your dog is a messy “fetcher”, do this when you are loading the dirty dishes so as not
to compromise the clean ones.
“Down-Stay” or “Sit-‘Stay”
Put away one dish, reinforce “stay”, work until he stays for emptying the entire dishwasher or dish drain. Some puppies fall asleep on the kitchen floor.
“Stay” or “Fetch”
Getting dressed: Once you start to establish a beginning “stay” you can bring your clothes, and your items you use in your dressing ritual. Start with just going to get your clothes in the closet, reinforce the “stay”. Then get the clothes in the drawers, reinforce the “stay”. Soon you will be able to get dressed, brush your teeth and stop to view a news story, with your puppy in a nice “stay” the whole time.
For folding clothes from the dryer. Especially sock and underwear stealing puppies. Ask your dog to “leave it”, and reinforce when he doesn’t try to steal clothes. Click and treat his attention to you, not the laundry and fold while you’re reinforcing.
“Heal”, “Follow”, and “Wait”
Put clothes away after folding. “Heel” or “follow” on flat areas, not stairs. Here you can also do stair work if you have them. Either “wait” at top of stairs until you’ve gone, or at doorways or a “go ahead” cue to send them down the stairs in front of you.
“In Your Crate”
This is easy to do during any of your daily chores and it helps the puppy to learn to be in his crate for all different times spans and helps him get used to it whether you are home or not. Ask the pup to go in his crate and then stop by when he’s quiet and calm and reinforce the calm behavior. Be spontaneous, click or use a quiet verbal marker and reinforce quiet, walk away. Let him out, do a few “sit’s or “downs”. Ask him to go back in. Mix it up, soon he’ll be happy to just be in there, waiting for the new exciting things to happen in his life.
These are just a few. It’s all in a day. I saw a man doing yard work last month and every time he bent over to pick something up his dog was there with the ball. No wasted bending here, he would throw for his pooch, clean up his yard and everyone was happy. It was much better than his dog being inside, bored and restless or outside, bored and mischievous. If you don’t have a yard, use a long line. If you don’t use an electric toothbrush, use a timer. If you dry your clothes outside, just better distraction work. Training opportunities are there all day and every day that you are with your puppy.
Make one commitment today to get your thoughts out of the box and make one training plan in your day, with your dog. You’ll be glad you did and your puppy will be ever grateful.