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Teaching your dog not to chew

Chewing is something that comes naturally to every dog.  Every dog feels the instinctual need to sharpen its teeth and hone his biting skills.  Chewing on the right things, like specially designed chew toys for instance, can even help the dog clean his teeth and remove plaque.

Even though chewing is natural and healthy, that does not mean that the dog should be given carte blanche and allowed to chew everything in sight.  It is vital for every dog to learn the difference between the things it is OK to chew on, like toys and ropes, and the things that are off limits, such as carpets, shoes and other items.

When working with a new puppy, it is advisable to keep the puppy in a small, puppy proofed room for at least a few weeks.  This is important not only to prevent chewing but to properly house train the puppy as well.

Older dogs should also be confined to a small area at first.  Doing this allows the dog to slowly acquaint him or herself to the smells and sights of the new household.

When you set up this small, confined area, be sure to provide the puppy or dog with a few good quality chew toys to keep him entertained while you are not able to supervise him.  Of course the dog should also be provided with a warm place to sleep and plenty of fresh clean water.

As the dog is slowly moved to larger and larger portions of the home, there may be more opportunities to chew inappropriate items. As the dog is given freer access to the home, it is important to keep any items that the dog or puppy should not chew, things like throw rugs, shoes, etc. up off of the floor.  If you forget to move something and come home to find that the dog has chewed it, resist the urge to punish or yell at the dog.  Instead, distract the dog with one of its favorite toys and remove the inappropriate item from its mouth.

The dog should then be provided with one of its favorite toys.  Praise the dog extensively when it picks up and begins to chew its toy.  This will help to teach the dog that it gets rewarded when it chews certain items, but not when it chews other items. 

Teaching the dog what is appropriate to chew is very important, not only for the safety of your expensive furniture and rugs, but for the safety of the dog as well.  Many dogs have chewed through dangerous items like extension cords and the like.  This of course can injure the dog severely or even spark a fire.

Most dogs learn what to chew and what not to chew fairly quickly, but others are obviously going to be faster learners than others.  Some dogs chew because they are bored, so providing the dog with lots of toys and solo activities is very important.  It is also a good idea to schedule several play times every day, with one taking place right before you leave every day.  If the dog is thoroughly tired after his or her play session, chances are he or she will sleep the day away.

Other dogs chew to exhibit separation anxiety.  Many dogs become very nervous when their owners leave and some dogs become concerned each time that the owner may never come back.  This stress can cause the dog to exhibit all manners of destructive behaviour, including chewing soiling the house.  If separation anxiety is the root of the problem, the reasons for it must be addressed and the dog assured that you will return.

This is best done by scheduling several trips in and out of the home every day and staggering the times of those trips in and out.  At first the trips can be only a few minutes, with the length slowly being extended as the dog’s separation anxiety issues improve.

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Eliminating problem behaviours when training your puppy

  Problem Number 1 – Jumping up on people


Unfortunately, eliminating problem behaviours is one thing that most dog owners eventually face.  This article will focus on a few of the most commonly encountered behavior problems.

One of the most frequently cited problems with dogs is that of jumping up on people.  Unfortunately, this is one of those behaviours that is often inadvertently encouraged by well meaning owners.  After all, it is cute and adorable when that little 10 pound puppy jumps up on you, your family members and your friends.  Many people reward this behavior on the part of a small puppy with kisses and treats.

This is a huge mistake, however, since that cute little puppy may soon become a full grown dog who could weigh well in excess of 100 pounds.  Suddenly that cute jumping behaviour is no longer quite so cute.

In addition to being annoying, jumping up on people can be dangerous as well.  A large, heavy dog, jumping enthusiastically, can easily knock over a child or an older or handicapped adult.  In today’s litigious society, such an incident could easily make you, as the dog’s owner, the subject of an unwanted lawsuit.

The time to teach a dog that jumping up on people is unacceptable is when he is still young and easy to handle.  Retraining a dog that has been allowed to jump up on people can be difficult for the owner and confusing for the dog.

When the puppy tries to jump on you or another member of your family, gently but firmly place the puppy’s feet back on the floor.  After the puppy is standing firmly on the floor, be sure to reward and praise him.

It is important for every member of the family, as well as frequently visiting friends, to understand this rule and follow it religiously.  If one member of the family reprimands the dog for jumping and another praises him, the dog will be understandably confused.  As with other dog training issues, consistency is the key to teaching the dog that jumping is always inappropriate.

When praising and rewarding the dog for staying down, it is important for the trainer to get down on the dog’s level.  Giving affection and praise at eye level with the puppy is a great way to reinforce the lesson.

Problem Number 2 – Pulling and tugging at the lead

Pulling on the lead is another problem trait that many puppies pick up.  Unfortunately, this behaviour is also one that is sometimes encouraged by well meaning owners. Playing games like tug of war with the lead, or even with a rope (that can look like the lead to the dog) can unwittingly encourage a problem behaviour.

The use of a quality body harness can be a big help when training a puppy not to pull, or retraining a dog that has picked up the habit of pulling on the lead.  Try training the puppy to accept the body harness the same way it accepts the regular buckle collar.

When walking with your dog, try using a lure or toy to encourage the dog to remain at your side.  A training collar, when properly used, can also be a good training tool for a problem dog.  When using a training collar or choke chain, however, it is very important to fit it correctly and to use a size that is neither too big nor too small for your dog.

When walking with your puppy, it is important to keep the lead loose at all times.  If the puppy begins to pull ahead, the handler should quickly change directions so that the puppy fast finds itself falling behind.  It is important to reverse directions before the puppy has reached the end of the lead.  The lead should stay loose except for the split second it takes the handler to reverse direction.  It is important to use a quick tug, followed by an immediate slackening of the lead.

When training a puppy, it is important to never let the puppy pull you around.  Training the puppy to walk properly while he or she is still small enough to handle is absolutely vital, especially when dealing with  a large breed of dog.  If your 150 pound Great Dane hasn’t learned to walk properly while he or she is still a 20 pound puppy, chances are it never will.

It is important not to yank or pull on the puppy’s neck when correcting him.  A gentle, steady pressure will work much better than a hard yank.  The best strategy is to use the least amount of pressure possible to achieve the desired result.

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Training your new puppy – eliminating bad habits

Anyone who owns a dog or puppy will eventually run into the need to eliminate unwanted habits.  While most dogs are eager to please their owners and smart enough to do what is asked of them, it is important for the owner to properly communicate just what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable behaviors.

 Each type of unacceptable behavior requires its own specific cures, and in most cases the cures will need to be tailored to fit the specific personality of the dog.  Every breed of dog has its own unique personality characteristics and every individual within that breed has his or her own unique personality.

 Whining, howling and excessive barking

 Let’s start with one of the most frequently encountered problem behaviours in both dogs and puppies.  While some barking and other vocalizing is perfectly normal, in many cases barking, howling and whining can become problematic.  This is particularly important for those living in flats, apartment buildings, or in closely spaced homes.  Fielding complaints about barking is not the best way for you and your dog to meet the neighbours.

 Some tips of dealing with excessive whining, barking and howling include:

 Ø  If your puppy or dog is howling or whining while confined to its crate, immediately take it to its toilet area.  Most puppies and dogs will whine when they need to do their business.

Ø  It is important to teach a dog or a puppy to accept being alone.  Many dogs suffer from separation anxiety and these stressed dogs can exhibit all sorts of destructive and annoying behaviors.  It is important to accustom the puppy to being left on its own, even when the owner is at home.

Ø  It is important to teach a dog or a puppy to accept being alone.  Many dogs suffer from separation anxiety and these stressed dogs can exhibit all sorts of destructive and annoying behaviors.  It is important to accustom the puppy to being left on its own, even when the owner is at home.

Ø  Always strive to make the puppy or dog as comfortable as possible.  Always attend to the physical and psychological needs of the dog by providing food, water and toys.

Ø  If the dog is whining, check for obvious reasons first.  Is the water dish empty?  Is the dog showing signs of illness?  Has his or her favorite toy rolled under the furniture?  Is the temperature of the room too hot or too cold?

Ø  Do not reward the puppy or dog for whining.  If the dog whines when left alone, for instance, it would be a mistake to go to the dog every time it whines.

Ø  After you have ensured that the dog’s physical needs are being met and that discomfort is not responsible for the whining, do not hesitate to reprimand the dog for inappropriate behaviour.

Problem Chewing


Puppies naturally chew and they tend to explore their world using their mouths and teeth.  While chewing may be normal, however, it is not acceptable, and it is important to nip any chewing problems in the bud to prevent the chewing puppy from growing into a chewing dog.

 Providing a variety of chew toys is important when teaching a puppy what is appropriate to chew and what is not.  Providing a variety of attractive chew toys is a good way to keep the puppy entertained and to keep his teeth and gums exercised.  Scented or flavored toys are great choices for most puppies. 

The puppy should be encouraged to play with these chosen toys, and the puppy should be effusively praised every time he or she plays with or chews these toys.

Another great strategy is to encourage the puppy to get a toy every time he or she greets you.  Every time the puppy greets you or a member of your family, teach him to get one of his toys.

It is also important to exercise good housekeeping techniques when training a puppy not to chew on inappropriate items.  Keeping the area to which the puppy has access free and clean is important.  Keeping items out of reach of the puppy will go a long way toward discouraging inappropriate chewing.  Try to keep the puppy’s area free of shoes, rubbish and other items and always make sure that the area has been properly puppy proofed.

If the puppy does pick up an inappropriate item like a shoe, distract the puppy and quickly replace the item with one of its toys.  After the puppy has taken the toy, praise it for playing with and chewing that toy.

If the puppy does pick up an inappropriate item like a shoe, distract the puppy and quickly replace the item with one of its toys.  After the puppy has taken the toy, praise it for playing with and chewing that toy.

Try booby trapping items the dog should avoid by spraying them with bitter apple, Tabasco sauce or other nasty tasting but non-toxic items.



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Puppy house training tips

House training a puppy is very important for the well being of both the puppy and the owner.  The number one reason that dogs are surrender to animal shelters is problems with inappropriate elimination, so it is easy to see why proper house training is such an important consideration.

It is important to establish proper toilet habits when the puppy is young, since these habits can last a lifetime and be very hard to break once they are established.  It is very important for the owner to house break the puppy properly.  In most cases, true house training cannot begin until the puppy is six months old. Puppies younger than this generally lack the bowel and bladder control that is needed for true house training.

Puppies younger than six months should be confined to a small, puppy proofed room when the owner cannot supervise them.  The entire floor of the room should be covered with newspapers or similar absorbent materials and the paper changed every time it is soiled.  As the puppy gets older, the amount of paper used can be reduced as the puppy begins to establish a preferred toilet area.  It is this preferred toilet area that will form the basis of later house training.

The Do’s of House Training Your Puppy:


Ø  Always provide the puppy with constant, unrestricted access to the established toilet area. 

Ø  When you are at home, take the puppy to the toilet area every 45 minutes.

Ø  When you are not at home or cannot supervise the puppy, you must be sure the puppy cannot make a mistake.  This means confining the puppy to a small area that has been thoroughly puppy proofed.  Puppy proofing a room is very similar to baby proofing a room, since puppies chew on everything.

Ø  Always provide a toilet area that does not resemble anything in your home.  Training the puppy to eliminate on concrete, blacktop, grass or dirt is a good idea.  The puppy should never be encouraged to eliminate on anything that resembles the hardwood flooring, tile or carpet he may encounter in a home.

Ø  Praise and reward your puppy every time he eliminates in the established toilet area.  The puppy must learn to associate toileting in the established areas with good things, like treats, toys and praise from his owner.

Ø  Always keep a set schedule when feeding your puppy, and provide constant access to fresh, clean drinking water.  A consistent feeding schedule equals a consistent toilet schedule.

Ø  Using a crate can be a big help in helping a puppy develop self control.  The concept behind crate training is that the puppy will not want to toilet in his bed area.

Ø  And finally, it is important to be patient when house training a puppy.  House training can take as long as several months, but it is much easier to house train right the first time than to retrain a problem dog.


The Don’ts of House Training Your Puppy


Ø  Never reprimand or punish the puppy for mistakes.  Punishing the puppy will only cause fear and confusion.

Ø  Do not leave food out for the puppy all night long.  Keep to a set feeding schedule in order to make the dog’s toilet schedule as consistent as possible.

Ø  Do not give the puppy the run of the house until he has been thoroughly house trained.


House training is not always the easiest thing to do and some dogs tend to be much easier to house train than others.  It is important, however to be patient, consistent and loving as you train your dog.  A rushed, frightened or intimidated dog will not be able to learn the important lessons of house training.  Once you have gained your puppy’s love and respect, however, you will find that house training your puppy is easier than you ever expected.




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Training your new puppy to accept the collar and lead

Walking on a collar and lead is an important skill that every dog must learn.  Even the best trained dog should never be taken outside the home or yard without a sturdy collar and leash.  Even if your dog is trained perfectly to go off lead, accidents and distractions do happen and a collar, with proper identification attached, is the best way to be sure you will get your beloved companion back.

Of course before you can teach your new puppy to accept a leash, he or she must first learn to accept wearing a collar.  The first step is to choose a collar that fits the dog properly.  It is important to measure the puppy’s neck and to choose a collar size accordingly.  After the collar has been put on the puppy, simply let him or her get used to it.  It is not unusual for a puppy to try to pull on the collar, whine, roll or squirm when first introduced to a collar. 

The best strategy is to simply ignore the puppy and let him or her get used to the collar.  It is a mistake to either punish the dog for playing with the collar or to encourage the behavior.  Distracting the puppy often helps, and playing with a favorite toy, or eating some favorite treats, can help the puppy quickly forget that he or she is wearing this strange piece of equipment.

After the dog has learned to accept the collar, try adding the leash.  Hook the leash to the collar and simply sit and watch the puppy.  Obviously, this should only be done either in the house or in a confined outdoor area.  The puppy should be allowed to drag the leash around on its own, but of course the owner should keep a close eye on the puppy to ensure that the leash does not become snagged or hung up on anything.

At first, the leash should only be left on for a few minutes at a time.  It is a good idea to attach the leash at mealtimes, playtime and other positive times in the life of the puppy.  That way the puppy will begin to associate the leash with good things and look forward to it.  If the puppy shows a high degree of fear of the leash, it is a good idea to place it next to the food bowl for awhile to let him get used to it slowly.  Eventually, he will come to understand that the leash is nothing to be afraid of.

After the puppy is comfortable with walking around the house wearing the leash, it is time for you to pick up the end of the leash for a few minutes.  You should not try to walk the puppy on the leash; simply hold the end of the leash and follow the puppy around as he or she walks around.  You should try to avoid situations where the leash becomes taut and any pulling or straining on the leash should be avoided.  It is fine for the puppy to sit down.  Try a few games with the collar and lead.  For instance, back up and encourage the puppy to walk toward you.  Don’t drag the puppy forward, simply encourage him to come to you.  If he does, praise him profusely and reward him with a food treat or toy.  You should always strive to make all the time spent on the leash as pleasant as possible.

It is important to give the puppy plenty of practice in getting used to walking on the leash in the home.  It is best to do plenty of work in the home, since it is a safe environment with few distractions.  After the puppy is comfortable walking indoors on a leash, it is time to start going outside, beginning of course in a small, enclosed area like a fenced yard.  After the puppy has mastered walking calmly outdoors on a leash, it is time to visit some places where there are more distractions.  You may want to start with a place like a neighbor’s yard.  Walking your new puppy around the neighborhood is a good way to introduce your neighbors to the new puppy, while giving the puppy valuable experience in avoiding distractions and focusing on his leash training.

Puppies sometimes develop bad habits with their leashes, such as biting or chewing on the leash.  To discourage this type of behavior, try applying a little bit of bitter apple, Tabasco sauce or similar substance (just make sure the substance you use is not toxic to dogs).  This strategy usually convinces puppies that chewing the leash is a bad idea.

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Dog training basics – training the new puppy

Bringing home a new puppy is always an exciting time for the entire family.  Getting that new puppy off the right start with proper training is very important to making that puppy a valued member of his human family.  There are a number of talents that every new puppy must master, including going up and down the stairs and how to accept a new collar as if she’s worn it her entire life.

It is best to introduce a new puppy to the household when everyone in the family is present and when the household is as calm as possible.  That is why animal care experts discourage parents from giving puppies and kittens as holiday presents.  The holiday season is typically much too busy, with far too many distractions, for a young puppy or kitten to get the attention it needs.  It is best to wait until the holidays have passed before introducing the new family member.

Once the puppy is part of the household, there are some things he or she will need to learn. One of the first challenges of a multi-story home will be learning to climb up and down the stair.  Many puppies are afraid of stairs and that usually means that they do not know how to climb them properly.  It is important for the puppy’s owner to slowly build the confidence of the dog, starting off at the bottom of the stairs.  In general, a wide stairway will probably be less frightening to the puppy.

To build confidence, the owner should go up the first step, then encourage the puppy to join them, using their voice, treats or a toy.  After the puppy has joined you on the first stair, go back down and repeat the process until the puppy will go up that step on his own.  It is important to build confidence slowly and not rush the process.  Taking a one step at a time approach is the best way to teach the puppy to not be afraid of stairs.

Another thing every new puppy must learn is how to accept the collar.  Learning to wear a collar is important to every dog, but many puppies are baffled, frightened and bewildered by this new piece of equipment.  Many puppies constantly try to remove their new collar by pawing and pulling at it.

Fit is important when choosing a collar for your new puppy.  A properly fitted collar, chosen for your puppy’s size, is more likely to be comfortable and accepted.  While choke collars, slip collars and training collars can be good training aids, they should never be used as a substitute for a sturdy buckle type collar.  And of course that collar should have an identification tag attached.  This identification will be vital in having your puppy returned if she becomes separated from you.

The best way to introduce the puppy to the collar is to simply put the collar on and allow her to squirm, jump, roll and paw at the color to her heart’s content.  It is important to not encourage this behavior by trying to soothe the puppy, but it is just as important not to punish or reprimand the puppy.  The best strategy is to simply ignore the puppy and them her work through her issues with the collar on her own.  Introducing distractions, such as food, toys or playing, is a good way to get the puppy used to the color.  Getting the puppy to play, eat and drink while wearing the collar is a great way to get her used to it.  After a few days, most puppies will not even know they are wearing a collar.

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Training your puppy – eliminating biting behaviors

Bringing home a new puppy is always an exciting time.  Introducing the new puppy to the family should be fun for both yourself and your puppy.  One of the first challenges, however, to the excitement of the new puppy, is curbing inappropriate puppy behaviors.

Preventing biting and mouthing

Biting and mouthing is a common activity for many young puppies and dogs.  Puppies naturally bite and mouth each other when playing with siblings and they extend this behavior to their human companions.  While other puppies have thick skin, however, humans do not, so it is important to teach your puppy what is appropriate and what is not, when it comes to using those sharp teeth.

The first part of training the puppy is to inhibit the biting reflex.  Biting might be cute and harmless with a 5 pound puppy, but it is neither cute nor harmless when that dog has grown to adulthood.  Therefore, puppies should be taught to control their bit before they reach the age of four months.  Puppies normally learn to inhibit their bite from their mothers and their littermates, but since they are taken away from their mothers so young, many never learn this important lesson.  It is therefore up to the humans in the puppy’s life to teach this lesson.

One great way to inhibit the biting reflex is to allow the puppy to play and socialize with other puppies and socialized older dogs.  Puppies love to tumble, roll and play with each other and when puppies play they bite each other constantly.  This is the best way for puppies to learn to control themselves when they bite.  If one puppy becomes too rough when playing, the rest of the group will punish him for that inappropriate behavior. Through this type of socialization, the puppy will learn to control his biting reflex.

Proper socialization has other benefits as well, including teaching the dog to not be fearful of other dogs and to work off their excess energy.  Puppies that are allowed to play with other puppies learn important socialization skills generally learn to become better members of their human family.  Puppies that get less socialization can be more destructive, more hyperactive and exhibit other problem behaviors.

In addition, lack of socialization in puppies often causes fearful and aggressive behaviors to develop.  Dogs often react aggressively to new situations, especially if they are not properly socialized.  In order for a dog to become a member of the community as well as the household, it should be socialized to other people, especially children.  Dogs make a distinction between their owners and other people and between children and adults.  It is important, therefore, to introduce the puppy to both children and adults.

The best time to socialize a puppy to young children is when it is still very young, generally when it is four months old or younger.  One reason for this is that mothers of young children may be understandably reluctant to allow their children to approach large dogs or older puppies.  This is especially true with large breed dogs, or with breeds of dogs that have a reputation for aggressive behavior.

Using trust to prevent biting

Teaching your puppy to trust and respect you is a very effective way to prevent biting.  Gaining the trust and respect of your dog is the basis for all dog training and for correcting problem behaviors.

It is important to never hit or slap the puppy, either during training or any other time.  Physical punishment is the surest way to erode the trust and respect that must form the basis of an effective training program.  Reprimanding a dog will not stop him from biting – it will simply scare and confuse him.

Training a puppy not to bite is a vital part of any puppy training program.  Biting behaviors that are not corrected will only get worse and what seemed like harmless behavior in a puppy can quickly escalate to dangerous, destructive behavior in an adult dog.

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Puppy Training

Training your new puppy the right way

Puppy training is very important, whether you are training your first puppy or your tenth.  Properly training and socializing a puppy is vital to making it a valued member of your family and your community.

In some ways training a puppy is easier than training an adult or adolescent dog.  One reason is that the puppy is essentially a “blank canvas”, untroubled by past training techniques and other issues.  However, the puppy can be far more difficult to train than an older dog.

One challenge to training a new puppy is that puppies are more easily distractible than adolescent and adult dogs.  Everything is new to a puppy and every new experience provides a new chance for distraction.  For this reason, it is best to keep training sessions short when working with a puppy and to end each training sessions on a positive note.

It is also important to allow the puppy plenty of time to play and to interact with other puppies and dogs.  Socialization training is vital to making your new puppy a good dog citizen, as canine aggression is a growing problem in many areas.  A properly socialized dog learns how to play properly with other dogs and overly aggressive play is punished by the other dogs in the play group.

This type of play learning is something that happens among siblings in litters of puppies.  As the puppies play with each other, they learn what is appropriate and what is not.  Inappropriate behavior, such as hard biting or scratching, is punished by the other puppies, by the mother dog, or both.

Unfortunately, many puppies are removed from their mothers and sold or adopted before this socialization has fully occurred.  Therefore, puppy play sessions are a very important part of any puppy training session.  Most good puppy preschool training programs provide time in each session for this type of dog interaction.

Introducing your puppy to new experiences and new locations is also an important part of puppy training.  Teaching your dog to be obedient and responsive, even in the face of many distractions, is very important when training dogs and puppies. 

One great way to socialize your puppy both to new people and new dogs is to take it on a trip to your local pet shop.   Many major pet store chains and some independent ones as well, allow pet parents to bring their furry children and these stores can be great places for puppies to get used to new sights, sounds and smells.  Of course you will want to make sure the store allows pets before heading over.

It is important for puppy owners to structure their pet’s environment so that the puppy is rewarded for good behaviors and not rewarded for others.  One good example of this is jumping on people.  Many people inadvertently reward this behavior because it can be cute.  While it is true that jumping can be cute for a 10 pound puppy, it will not be so cute when that puppy has grown into a 100 pound dog.

Instead of rewarding the puppy for jumping, try rewarding it for sitting instead.  This type of positive reinforcement will result in a well behaved adult dog that is a valued member of both the family and the community at large.

This type of reinforcement can also be used in potty training the new puppy.  For instance, teaching a puppy to use a unique surface such as gravel or asphalt is a good technique.  The theory is that the puppy will associate this surface with going potty and therefore be reluctant to use other surfaces (like your kitchen floor of sitting room carpet for instance) as a potty.