I am a huge animal lover; dogs in particular. Before you make a commitment to train a puppy/raise a dog, you might find the following tips helpful to bring up the best pup ever! I sure wish I had this knowledge when we had our first dog, a puppy Shih Tzu that after a year we ended up giving to a loving older couple because the dog was NO GOOD with my kids; but it turns out that was due to training error on my part.
Since then, I’ve successfully trained two Dachshunds with the help from my brother and his wife. They were raising puppies as “seeing eye dogs” or Guide Dogs ~ and I got to see up close and and personal some of their training methods. It’s all about training your pup to have good manners and obedience. It all made perfect sense to me and I knew instantly why it didn’t work out with our Shih Tzu. I never truly knew before what training a puppy entailed, the hundreds of hours needed, and the psychology behind it all. Now I do and find it rather easy to train a pup- it’s amazing what you can do with the right tools and basic understanding.
Below are just a few tips, I don’t have the answers to everything, nor am I perfect but the following helped me gain a lot of insight into what goes into training a puppy and I thought if I shared these tips it may be helpful to someone out there. My two Dachshunds are not perfect but they are GREAT pups (all pictured here) and I’m really proud of the way they turned out. Sweet and obedient. A big part of my family and the loves of my life.
Potty training requires a lot of work and a lot of patience but is easy if you fully understand the amount of work you will need to do. Puppies and dogs want to please their owners by nature. Pick a word or phrase for your dog to describe what they are doing, we use the phrase, “Go make a potty”. When you see your puppy circling and sniffing inside, you quickly take them out and place them in the grass and tell them to “Make a Potty” as they are going. This re-enforces the meaning of your words and their action. Be sure to give a lot of praise or even a treat for a job well done. You will have to do this step over and over again because tiny dogs = tiny bladders. It’s similar work to having a newborn in the house. Everything is new to them, they are teething, they are curious, they are initially A LOT of work but IF you invest in them, the reward will be a really great trained dog that you can be proud of.
I have two Dachshunds and found that potty training them was simple. Yes, I said simple. That’s because I watched them like a hawk and taught them the key phrase early on – with lots of rewards whether it be in the form of praise or a treat. When I would leave to go shopping or whatever, I would use the crate training method. Where you place them in the crate for a short period of time with the partition more toward the front leaving them less room to make a potty in the crate. You may find your pup doesn’t mind having an accident on themselves (mine didn’t) and that’s ok too- just wash, rinse, and repeat 🙂
If you see your pup have an accident in the house, you just give a firm “NO” and bring them out to the grass and repeat your phrase, “Make a potty”. Accidents happen. That’s part of life. I just used a great product to clean up urine/accident in the carpet to be sure not to leave any odor encouraging a similar accident in the future.
Tolerance: You may not have small children at home but you want to train your dog to be tolerant of kids and others – even to know that they are lower than yourself on the totem pole of life. To achieve this, you need to place your puppy on their back and hover above them – talking sweetly to them and touching their paws and kinda “annoying” them so they get use to being touched all over and being on their back makes them submissive to you. This teaches them that you are in charge- always, no exceptions. You’ll notice your puppy wont like being placed on their back or having their paws and tail touched at first but after a short while they wont mind at all. The idea is that they learn they are the “under dog” in this family. Your dog wants a leader, and YOU are going to be the leader. And even though you don’t have little kids in the house, who is to say that you wont have a little visitor at one point or another. You want to acclimate your pup to all sorts of socializing experiences.
Socializing: I found a great way to socialize my pups was to take them to the “off leash” area of our local forest preserves. There was a fee but it was a blast watching them run around and meet and greet other pups. It was also neat to watch them experiment with the lakes and trails, everything was new and exciting to them. This was one of my most favorite things to do, take my pups out on an excursion.
Dog is nippy? Distract him/her with a chew toy or a chew stick. NEVER strike/hit your puppy. A firm “NO” when they are nipping and then divert their attention to a squeaky toy. They are nipping because they are teething. You will have to do this several hundred times before they understand, they are just babies and need to be taught the ropes. Told ya it was hard work.
Exercise: Do you feel like your puppy is getting into everything and acting a bit out of control? Do you feel at your wits end? It’s time for their DAILY exercise. It’s not optional. It’s a necessity. Dogs that don’t get out everyday and run/walk are just “not right in the head” says my brother and he is right. Think about it… We are out and about all day long. Time to wear that puppy out and you’ll see a more even keeled pup that is much better behaved. Exercise is important to their health (and yours) and shouldn’t be skipped even when they are full grown dogs. They need that daily release of energy.
Eating: Again, while you may not have children in your house, you should be able to stick your hand in your dogs bowl at any time without your dog snarling or biting you. This can be accomplished when training them as a pup. You give them their food and you play with it as they are making their way to the bowl. Again, you are establishing that you are in charge of this food and you come first. You are showing them that it’s okay for you to touch their food so that they get use to it young. As he/she is eating, reach into their bowl and play with their food – pretend you are eating it too if ya like. Shake up your pup a bit while they are eating by touching their paws and tail – reassuring them they are ok and not to feel threatened, again- you are in charge. And, although some of this might sound a bit crazy, they want to follow their leader. These a just a few ways to make a great puppy into an even greater dog/pet that you will have for their lifetime.
P.S. My dogs are such social creatures that they sleep with our son Zachary every single night. I was not able to train them to sleep in the crate – but like I said, they are not perfect,…. just awfully close 🙂