Sunday, September 15, 2013

Puppy Packet - Basic Help for the Puppy Owner

Attached is My "Puppy Packet"  -

I developed this several years ago when I discovered most of my young dog clients had the same questions.

Please take a look at the document and apply what seems useful.  If you have questions I am happy to supply answers.

Claudia Black-Kalinsky, CPDT-Ka
Puppy Packet © Train This Dog, 2013

Puppy Packet

Congratulations on your new Puppy.

I have prepared a few thoughts and guidelines to help you survive the first year with your puppy.

Remember, your puppy is a puppy.  You can train a puppy to do many cool things, but they are still a puppy.  Just like you can train an 8 year old human to play the violin, but they are still eight years old and prone to being silly and childish.  It is not fair to you or your puppy to expect more than your puppy can do.  Your job is to show your puppy that the world is a friendly place and to demonstrate your expectations of good behavior to your puppy in a way that is understandable and age appropriate.

Part I  -  General Socialization

First and Foremost -   Socialize.  

This means your puppy should experience everything good in the world at a very early age.  

Great care should be taken to make all of these experiences pleasant.  If your puppy is fearful do not drag him to the thing he finds frightening, or force him to be still while the scary thing approaches him.  Allow your puppy to approach when they are ready.  If you find something your puppy really does not like use TIME, TREATS and TOYS to help them get over the hurdle.

Let’s say your pup is afraid of buses.  They are large, noisy and smelly, who can blame the puppy?

Day 1 - Start at a distance from the bus your pup can tolerate comfortably.  That means they are interested in taking treats and interacting with you.  If they freeze, crouch, won’t take a treat or play you are too close, back up!  Now when a bus approaches play with your puppy, give them treats, make them happy.

Day 2 – Move a very little bit closer to the bus and repeat.  Do not rush this; your puppy will learn buses are okay more quickly if you don’t frighten them by going too far too fast.

Day 3 - onward.  Repeat, repeat, repeat until your puppy can stand next to the bus stop comfortably when buses come and go.

Remember, just because your puppy is now used to buses, it does not mean the garbage truck won’t be scary.  If you live near a firehouse the siren and trucks will provide another socialization opportunity.  Gas station attendants, fire fighters, police officers, mail carriers, UPS and Fedex employees, and trash collectors, introduce your puppy to these people and encourage your pup to take treats from them  

Bring your puppy to the vet and groomer multiple times just to have the staff give your puppy treats and pet the puppy.  Then leave.  Not every trip should involve shots or nail clipping.  Some visits should just be for fun.

Be sure your puppy accepts hugs, gentle restraint and collar grabs.  Pair these things with praise and treats.  Be sure your dog is used to children.  They run, hug, trip over dogs, startle dogs and squeal.  Children are also not necessarily good about asking your permission to pet your dog.  Be sure the first time your dog meets a child is not when some little girl runs off her porch, grabs your dog’s collar and squeals, “PUPPY!”

Allow your puppy to approach the child, not the other way around.  Have the child toss treats on the floor or throw a ball for the puppy.  Puppies and children should be respectful of each other.  Always supervise your puppy’s or dog’s interaction with young children.

THINK about what your puppy will be expected to do when they are an adult dog.  Do you sail every summer?  Get your puppy around boats ASAP.  (Don’t forget a life vest).  Do you summer in the country?  Will your puppy meet horses, ducks, cows, chickens?  Socialize your puppy to these things.  Do you intend your dog to come to work?  Are there elevators?  Strange looking doors?  Open back stairs?  Will your puppy spend part of their time in a city and have to learn to eliminate on pavement?  How do you live, where will you go?  Don’t wait; use the puppy’s early socialization window to get them used to these things.


Your Puppy and Strange Dogs.  

On leash greetings often go badly.  Sometimes it only takes one bad meeting for a dog to become one of those animals who barks and lunges at every dog they see.  

At best, if every on-leash greeting your dog experiences is a happy one, your dog will learn to expect to greet every dog it sees.  This sets you up for a lifetime of being pulled down the sidewalk to each oncoming dog.  Keep your dog safe, and don’t teach your dog to pull you to every oncoming animal. 

Dog parks are not appropriate for dogs under 2 years old.  A lot of adult dogs don’t like puppies.  Personally, I don’t think dog parks are appropriate for any dog.  Arranged play dates with a few friendly dogs are infinitely better. 

I know some veterinarians believe a puppy should not have contact with the outside world until all of their shots are complete.  This is akin to not allowing a child to meet other children until they have received their last tetanus diphtheria/pertussis vaccine at age 7.  The need for a child to meet and interact with other children as part of their social development far succeeds the risk of getting any of these diseases in a child who has already received early stage inoculations in infancy.  The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior supports this position.  I will be happy to discuss the issue with you or your veterinarian.

DO join or establish a well run puppy play group where puppies are put together according to size and temperament so everyone has a good experience.

Finally, protect your puppy.  Do not allow your puppy to be bombarded by people who yell, grab, pull, squeeze, or frighten your puppy.  Avoid fireworks, scary Halloween costumes, and other situations that cause your dog terror.  If it is a situation your dog has to become used to, allow them to get used to it slowly.  Be positive, reward, encourage, and don’t go too fast.

Margaret Hughes, from Positive Paws Dog Training published 'The Puppy's Rule of 12' on the internet in 2002.  It is a wonderful document and I recommend you give it a look.  

Part 2 - Consistency, Managing the Environment, and Setting up Guidelines

Think about how you want your adult dog to behave, and start with those rules from day one. 

Do you mind dogs on the sofa?  How about dogs with muddy paws on the sofa?  How about dogs on the sofa when you are having a party?  Your muddy dog does not understand party clothes.  If you allow dogs on the sofa, they will be there.  If you don’t want them on the sofa sometimes, best to not allow them on the sofa ever.

Do you want your dog to bark at the window at every jogger, dog and squirrel?  If you have dog who is doing this, limit their access to the window.

Do you have enticing tassels on your curtains?  Take them off or restrict your puppy’s access to the area until they understand the rules.

Keep counters and tables clear of food and any other item your dog might find valuable.  A dog who jumps up and finds a turkey sandwich on the counter will yearn to check that counter every day for many, many months. 

It is much easier to keep your dogs from getting into bad habits than it is to suppress those habits once they are established.

Everyone in the household must agree to the rules.  Enforce them calmly, fairly, and reward your puppy for good behavior.

Part 3 - House Training

Everybody wants to get this over with as soon as possible.  It is work, but constant attention to it will set you up for success.  Plan to spend a lot of time getting to know how your puppy's insides run and observe what they do, both inside and outside.  Housebreaking will take a different amount of time for every dog, there is no average.

Some Rules;

1.    Do not allow your puppy too much freedom until they are reliable.  Keep your puppy crated or confined in the kitchen unless you can supervise them.  Plan to supervise them a lot.  When your puppy is free, let her drag a leash.  Do not let her out of your sight.  This will help you explain all the household rules to your puppy.  Not just the rules about eliminating.

2.     Consistent feeding times and walking schedule.  Learn your puppy’s internal clock.  Write it down if necessary.   Ate at 7:00 AM, pooped in house at 8:15.  Note to self; walk one hour after eating.   Six week old puppies need to go out every hour or two, adult dogs need a minimum of 3 walks a day, 4 is better.  The smaller the dog the more often they need to go outside.  If you have a teacup yorkie remember even an adult has a bladder smaller than a brussel sprout.  Be fair in your expectations.

3.     Watch your puppy when they eliminate outside.  What do they do in preparation?  Do they go to a quiet corner?  Do they sniff?  Circle? Paw?  These are signs to watch for inside, when you see them ask your puppy, “Do you need to go out?”  Quickly leash up your puppy and get them outside to their potty spot.

4.    Establish a ‘potty spot’ close to your home.  Bring your leashed dog here first, when you leave the house.  If the puppy goes, reward as soon as the puppy is finished with treats and outdoor play or a walk.  If your puppy does not go, bring your puppy back inside, crate your puppy, set the timer for 15 to 20 minutes and try again.  (Try not to make the substrate of your potty spot too unusual.  You don’t want to teach your dog to only eliminate in a field of tall grass unless you are confident you can find tall, grassy fields everywhere you bring your dog).  Do not get in the habit of bringing your puppy inside as soon as they are done eliminating.  They can learn to delay going in order to have more outdoor time

5.     Never punish your puppy for eliminating in the wrong area.  If your puppy eliminates inside and you did not see your puppy do it, clean it up, using enzymatic cleaner, and move on.  It is too late to correct the puppy.  Your pup won’t understand why you are upset. 

6.     If you do catch your puppy In The Act of soiling the house, interrupt..   (Clap your hands and say in a pleasant but business like way something to the effect of, “No, no, don’t do that.)  Then immediately and swiftly move your puppy to their ‘potty spot’ outside and praise your puppy whether they go there or not.

Part 4 - PLAY
First, the don’ts. 

1.        Don’t play games than encourage your puppy to bite or jump on you.  Mouth wrestling, chasing and jumping will teach your puppy to do things you don’t want your adult dog to practice.

2.       Don’t give your puppy your personal items to play with.  You pup can’t tell the difference between an old sock and a new one, an old towel, and a new one, etc.

3.       Don't allow young children to play unsupervised with a puppy for everyone’s safety.

4.       Don't leave a puppy (or any dog) unattended outside, even fenced.  They can get escape, be injured by an animal, ingest dangerous items, or can learn to bark and dig.

Now the Do’s

1.       Do play fetch and tug games.

2.       Do provide the puppy with puzzle and chew toys (no rawhide, please)

3.       Do schedule at least 3 fifteen to twenty minute play sessions a day.

Part 5 - Attention Seeking Behavior  - Barking, Nipping & Jumping

First ask yourself, does my dog need to potty, are they hungry, are they tired?  If the answer to all of the above is ‘no’ they your dog may be bored and is hoping to stir up some excitement. 

Be careful about rewarding behavior you don’t want.  If your dog jumps, nips or jumps for attention and you look at them and say “Hey, stop that!”  They have just captured your attention.  Barking, jumping, nipping have been successful. 

Instead train yourself.  If you bark, nip or jump on me, I look away, I turn around, or I walk out of the room and close the door behind me.  As soon as the puppy is quiet with four feet on the floor return your attention to the puppy with quiet praise.  Then, if your dog needs exercise, provide some play.  If your puppy has been exercised and repeats barking, jumping, nipping institute a ‘three strikes and you are out rule’.

When your dog demands attention three times in quick succession, despite your turning away from their demands, then crate your dog.

It is a good idea to allow your dog to drag their leash around the house when they are going through this phase, otherwise you will be involved in a good game of ‘chase the puppy’ which is a HUGE reward for barking, nipping and jumping.  When they are quiet for 15 - 30 seconds in the crate let them out and try again.

The above quiet rule applies to your dog in a crate at almost all times.  Do not approach your crated dog if they are barking for attention.  The only exception to this is a puppy who may be desperate to eliminate.  If you do take a barking puppy out of the crate, go directly to their potty spot.  If the puppy fails to eliminate in 5 minutes go back inside and return the puppy to the crate until they are quiet.

Part 6 – Chewing and distructive behavior

Again, have your puppy drag a leash around the house when you are supervising and keep an eye on them until they understand the rules.  If your puppy goes into the living room and destroys sofa cushions while you are not there, they won’t understand why you are upset, but they will remember what a great time they had de-stuffing your sofa.  It is much better to catch your puppy when their little teeth first make contact with upholstery.  Interrupt your puppy verbally, use your leash to move them away from the sofa, and then give them an appropriate chew object, praising them for taking it.  (If the sofa, woodwork or other item becomes a frequent chew target spray it with Yuck, Bitter Apple, or a similar product.)

Your puppy Must Chew.  This is something every young dog does.  Since you can’t stop it, you need to channel it.  Frozen Kongs full of the dog’s kibble mixed with just enough other food (mashed banana, no fat plain yoghurt, a small amount of canned dog food) so that the kong can be frozen will keep your puppy busy, tire them out, and alleviate teething pain.  Frozen carrots or a wet frozen rag can also be good chew toys for the teething puppy.  Remember, if you stuff a kong with half a cup of kibble, reduce the puppy’s regular meal by that amount.

This desire to chew will diminish as your dog ages, but will never vanish.  Always have some good chewies for your best friend.

Part 7 - Restraint is crucial to a dog's development

Young puppies must learn to accept that sometimes they will be held in your arms, without the option to squirm away.  Puppies who learn that you have the right to hold them and examine their ears, look at their teeth, touch their paws, and rub their bellies turn into dogs who are able to be groomed and examined by the vet without muzzles.  They also tend, as adults, to be less apt to guard food, toys or locations.  This simple exercise is very important.

Pull your puppy into your arms.  Hold them gently but firmly.  If they try to wiggle away tighten your grip enough to restrain them, but not enough to hurt.  When they relax reward them with petting and praise while you touch them from nose to tail.  This is very important.  The first time you touch your dog’s ears should not be when they have a painful ear infection.  The first time you touch your dog’s paw should not be when they have cut their foot.  Teach your dog that people will sometimes restrain them, gently and pleasantly, but firmly.

Part 8 - Coming and Going

Do not attach drama to people (including yourself) coming and going from the house.  When you leave put your puppy in the area they will be confined to, give them a stuffed kong, treat, or chew toy, pick up your keys and go.  Be calm and matter-of-fact.

When you return do the same thing.  Come in, put down your keys, hang up your coat, do not even look at your puppy.  If your puppy is quiet and fairly contained, greet her. If your puppy is barking and flinging herself against you, the crate, or her gate, ignore her.  Read your mail, check your messages.  When the puppy is calm acknowledge her.  Note; if your puppy is desperate to get to the potty spot take her there.  But your routine should be such that your puppy is not ALWAYS 
desperate when you return.  Once the pup has pottied and had some exercise return to the house.  If your pup nips, barks or jumps, see Part 5 on how to handle those behaviors.

When visitors arrive have your puppy leashed before the door is open.  Ask your guests NOT to greet the puppy at the door.  Instead show them to seats inside while you hold the leash.  When your guests are seated and the puppy is calm guests and puppy can come together.  Remember, exuberant greeting of guests may be adorable when your puppy is 2 months old.  A year later when a 75 pound dog gallops down the hall and bounces off your mother-in-law’s chest no one will be giggling.  Your puppy won’t understand why everyone is upset, because you trained them jumping is fun when they were young.

Part 9 - Resources and your dog

Your dog needs to earn access to attention, treats, play and the outside.  Once your puppy is old enough to truly understand a few commands (Sit, Down, Wait) begin to ask your puppy to sit before you give them a treat.  Wait, before they go out the door or into the car.  Down before they grab a toy and play tug with you.  

Reward good behavior lavishly.  Do not reward what you consider to be ‘rude’ with attention.  Remember, telling your jumping puppy to ‘stop it’ while pushing them off you, or returning to your barking puppy to say ‘Be quiet already’, rewards jumping and barking with your attention.  Be careful your ‘corrections’ are not actually reinforcing the behavior you do not want.

Part 10 - Puppy supplies for the home:
Crate, comfortably lined
Water Bowl
Kongs or food dispensing toys
Humane collar
Lots of tug, puzzle and chew toys
Enzymatic cleaner
Bitter Apple, Yuck or Phooey  (bad tasting, non-staining spray to discourage your puppy from turning leashes, furniture and woodwork into chew toys)
A phone list with important numbers including, Groomer, Vet, and the name, number and address of the 24 hour emergency clinic

I hope you found this helpful.
Emails are always welcome


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. this is a good article with lots of information. I have also seen another article on this topic which also discusses not to use force with dogs