Hopeful Paws Dog Training

Training Tips

Explore articles and tools for creating a rewarding relationship.

Essential Puppy Guide

Instead of focusing attention on what’s ‘wrong’ or ‘naughty’, it’s much more important to capture the good moments by letting your puppy know how you expect him to behave in our human world. When he spontaneously runs up and sits at your feet, prepare to mark the behavior ("YES!") and reward him. Keep treats in every room and every coat pocket to capture desired behavior. Exclaim “YES!” in a positive, distinct voice as soon as the behavior occurs (doesn't charge the front door, shows polite affection, etc.) When delivered at the perfect moment, this 'bridge' word tells your dog that’s what you want and that his reward is on it's way. Follow up with a treat. 

Redirection of activity is your best friend. Keeps toys everywhere for when pup gets mouthy. Their instinct is to chew, especially when playful petting stimulates them. If pup gets too rough with your hands or body, yelp like a littermate would “OUCH!” then follow up by offering an appropriate item to chew while you continue to pet pup calmly. If he continues to act in an undesirable way, simply walk away from the game (this is how older dogs say "enough"). Try engaging later when pup is relaxed. Also, don’t skimp on buying bones to satiate their teething gum line.

The key elements to house training are (1) scheduled feeding/watering = predictable  (2) potty breaks in a familiar spot, and (3) managing pups environment in a way that you can supervise as much as possible. Accidents WILL happen, and halting the act can be a powerful teaching moment. They will not remember an earlier accident and it’s futile to scold or punish after-the-fact. Take it as a reminder for you to be more diligent. When caught in the act, hurry him straight to the preferred potty zone and pick a phrase to use, such as “get busy”. Act like a glorified fencepost until pup complies, then offer lots of verbal praise.

Crate Training: This must be the best place ever! Never used for punishment. Make the crate a safe zone in a low traffic area where pup can rest when he needs space. Practice leading him in and out with treats, toys and lots of praise. In the beginning, only leave him crated for a short period of time (except for overnight), then gradually increase from there. Teach him that solitude can be relaxing. MOST IMPORTANTLY: Do NOT reinforce whining, scratching, or barking by acknowledging him with your voice or giving him eye contact. Wait patiently for a quiet moment to swoop in and reward with praise and/or freedom.

“Come/here!” must be delivered and experienced in a purely positive way. Never call pup and immediately punish him for something prior. They read the tone of your voice better than your actual words, and with vocal frustration you’ll accidentally teach him avoid you. Instead, sweeten your voice, run in the OPPOSITE direction to ensue chase instinct, and praise like mad when he arrives.

Physical and mental enrichment: Includes brief training sessions, room to explore off leash and positive exposure to a variety of new interactions. Although we need to teach leash manners because the law requires it, the leash should be your last means of communication. Instead of jerking or tugging to get Buster's attention, FIRST build your relationship by focused training games away from distractions, and learning to respect the 6' diameter by not dragging you around, but rather waiting for your cue to sniff that tree/heel by your side/go onto something else.

Socialization: Introducing a variety of circumstances will yield a versatile and adaptable dog. Imagine if you never met anyone outside of your immediate family. How could you be expected to communicate and exist in greater society? Same goes for pup. Since dogs communicate primarily with body language, he needs lots of opportunities to develop his communication skills. It's easy to toss a dog into a new situation and shower them with treats, but socialization is only successful if the pup is enjoying it (tail relaxed, curiously sniffing, soft eyes/ears/mouth). Watch for these body language cues that signal a relaxed mindset. When meeting other dogs, I cannot emphasize this enough: ONLY OFF LEASH. Can't let him off leash? Don't approach. The leash creates all kinds of unnatural movements and restricts the important ways dogs move their bodies to communicate. I've seen many defensive and dangerous reactions simply because the dog was on leash an unable to express himself. An indirect or coy approach, rear sniffing and play bows are healthy signals to look for.

Hope Blueberry