Puppy Training Guide
By Nora Drouillard, Chris Carmichael, Ph.D., and Sharon Carmichael
"Nothing in life is free":
The above statement is a good generalization of how to raise and train your puppy. No puppy or dog should control what they get without giving something first. This is to include such things as petting, walks, going outside, eating, playing or anything that your pet wants or gets on a day-to-day basis.
Teaching your pet commands such as sit, down and stay are important in order for you to use this method.
Once your dog knows a few commands, you can begin to practice "nothing in life is free”. Before you give your dog anything (food, treats, toys, walks, petting) they must first perform one of the commands they have learned.
The Benefits of this technique include the following:
Most dogs assume a neutral or submissive role toward people, but some dogs will challenge their owners for dominance. Requiring a dog to work for everything it wants is a safe and non-confrontational way to establish control.
Dogs,who may never display aggressive behavior such as growling, snarling, or snapping, may still manage to manipulate you. These dogs may display affectionate, though "pushy", behavior, such as nudging your hand to be petted or "worming'' their way on to the furniture in order to be close to you. This technique gently reminds the "pushy" dog that it must abide by your rules.
Obeying commands help build a fearful dog's confidence; having a strong leader and knowing its place in the hierarchy helps to make the submissive dog feel more secure. We can't stress the importance of establishing boundaries for your new bernedoodle puppy. Yes love them incessantly but establish firm and consistent boundaries.
Humans live their lives learning that "nothing in life is free". We are taught throughout our lives that if we want something, we work for it. We work to have a roof over our heads, own a car, purchase necessities and luxuries etc. Our behavior and attitudes predict how we are treated and received by others. If we are respectful and kind or pushy and rude, we are usually treated in kind.
When our K-9 companions are given everything for free the end result is usually a very spoiled, rude or aggressive dog.
One of the most difficult concepts to convey has to do with using verbal cues. Most people are convinced that the cue (command) causes the behavior to occur. They don't really understand that it is the reinforcement that determines whether a behavior will be repeated. Even when presented with clear evidence that the cue doesn’t work (sit, sit, sit, SIT! SIT!), or that it only works a small portion of the time, they continue to use it. Right from the first week, we begin using some simple obedience commands on our bernedoodle puppies to help them to be a vibrant and important member of our home as we work to transition them to your home.
The rule we use for a command is that you may only use the verbal cue ONCE and only when you are luring the dog into position. The verbal command comes just before the lure.
You must perfect a behavior first, then name it. Naming a behavior tends to "freeze"it. Once it has a name, your dog is likely to do it the same way in the future. If the behavior is not what you want yet, then you shouldn’t name it until it is. If you ask people what their dogs actually do when they say "heel", most will tell you that the dog pulls, lags, sniffs, etc. This is what their dogs think "heel" means because this behavior is what they taught the dog to associate with the word.
Rather than using a word to attempt to compel behavior, we can find other ways to get the behavior to occur (such as luring) then reinforce the behavior. The cue (word) will only be added when the behavior occurs regularly.
Beginning stages of training:
For stationary positions - lure using food, repeat until the dog does this with ease, then give the "verbal" command one time just before the"lure".You do not want to name it until the dog understands it.
EXERCISE & HOUSEBREAKING GO HAND IN HAND
A GOOD DOG IS A TIRED DOG/A TIRED DOG IS ALWAYS A GOOD DOG!
The above statement is simple yet very profound. If your dog is well exercised and stimulated, they are rarely up for engaging in nuisance or destructive behavior.
Knowing your breeds (or what combination of breed your mixed-breed pet is) can help you immensely in knowing what type of work your dog was originally bred for. This is a huge indicator as to what type of exercise your pet requires to be well adjusted and happy! Bernedoodles do need several times a day of off-leash free play (and the reason why we only approve homes with a fenced in backyard). They don't do well with forced long walks. Bernedoodles are notorious for just putting on the breaks and sprawling on the ground as if to say "I'm not budging and taking a little break!"
Dogs need a lot of exercise (in the case of bernedoodles these will be shorter in duration but by having a fenced in backyard they will let you know when they are tuckered out), including both physical and mental stimulation. When they do not receive proper exercise, they will usually find something to do that helps relieve them of their frustration and that is not often well received by their owners. Starting at about 3 weeks of age, our bernedoodle puppies begin the process of housebreaking thru the time they transfer to your home. We teach our puppies routines that requires them to learn and master these. They learn how to mand (group sitting) before being let out of their kennel located in our main floor master bedroom. We do not have a separate kennel and all of our adult dogs and puppies are raised in our home. Once performed (we don't wait long as they need to get out fast) we lead them from our master bedroom, thru our dinette, out the back door, and over to our dedicated puppy fenced in area. We use the phrase "Let's go outside!". We don't play with them until they have all gone potty, something we watch carefully for. We are constantly saying "Go Potty" one they are outside (and never inside....don't say "lets go outside to go potty"...that will be confusing) and as soon as they have completed this task we praise them up real good by saying "Good Potty" with excited glee! After that it's play time and Puppy Culture training. Once the puppies look like they are starting to get tired, we say "Let's Go Inside" and they all follow us back inside. This is repeated numerous times throughout the day and by week 6 they have no accidents in our home and are fast learners. While they are awake and playing we will be getting them outside every 15-30 minutes.
Keep in mind that having multiple pets or large amounts of property is no substitute for supervised and controlled exercise. Left to their own devices is asking for trouble and they can then pick and choose what behavior is most rewarding to them. We do let them have some free time in the backyard but will either be with the dogs outside or will keep a watchful eye from inside with frequent checks.
Some examples may be territorial guarding, barking, digging, chewing and all types of other things that are usually not well received by either the owner or others. You would never let your 2-year-old child outside to "fend" for themselves, you should never do this with your pets either. Especially, when they are young and have not learned what is expected ofthem.
No matter what your personal physical capabilities are, no matter what kind of extra time you may or may not have, there is always something you can do on a daily basis that will help to release your pets pent-up energy and frustration.
Taking your pet for a daily walk or run, playing interactive games with them, taking them for car rides or hiring a trusted responsible person to spend time with them are a few of the daily activities you can do with or provide for your pet. Enroll your pet in obedience training, look into activities such as Agility, Flyball, search and rescue, Pet therapy or any other number of organizations that you can become involved in, you just need to make the time. For large fast-growing breeds like Bernedoodles, swimming with life vest on is a great way to get exercise while taking pressure off their fast-growing joints.
No matter what the reason for bringing a pet into your lives, you are responsible for ensuring that their needs are met and in doing so, you will be well rewarded for years to come!
Exercise and Enjoy!
Dog crates are by far the best tool you can have to help ensure a successful outcome in puppy rearing. If used properly, they can be a wonderful safe haven for your pet. At Premier Doodles, we start this process early on and all of our puppies from 3-8 weeks will have multiple crates available in their kennel kept in our master bedroom. They learn what we call a Positive Conditioned Emotional Response (PCER) which means they come to learn that the crate is a great place to be and have to train this.
You should purchase a crate that will fit your pet at his/her adult size. The crate should be big enough for your pet to stand up, lay down and turn around. For our bernedoodles we recommend the XL Midwest crate (48"L x 30"W x 33"H). Don't worry about dividers as most all of our bernedoodles are great in the crate. Should accidents begin to appear on one side of the crate you'll have to creatively reduce the amount of space they have inside the crate. IMPORTANT NOTE: you will need to purchase two crates, one at the back door with a connected x-pen or other type of portable fencing that is clipped onto the crate to make a small play area, and the other next to your bed if you want maximum success. We have a YouTube channel called Premier Doodles where we have a short video showing what this setup looks like.
The crate should be used to safely confine your pet when you are away from home, at night and for short periods of time when you are unable to watch them.
We do not recommend keeping any type of collar on your pet while in the crate or in your home....we only use them for walking as the risk of getting them caught on something and causing strangulation is too high and not worth the risk.
It is important that from the very beginning, you never use your crate to punish your pet. You must make it a positive experience from the start. We want to create a PCER. You most definitely can confine your pet for short periods of time when they are misbehaving, but you never want to place your pet in there in a harsh or negative manner. If your pet develops a fear or dislike to their crate, it can be a very difficult situation to turn around. The crate should be a safe haven for your pet. It is an area that they should be able to go to and feel secure and comfortable.
We typically keep a couple of nylabone type chews in our pet’s crate at all times. Use softer chew toys as they are more quiet at night time especially while you're sleeping. You should never keep soft toys or any type of items in your pet’s crate that they can destroy and swallow. This includes bedding. We will attempt to put old towels or perhaps even an old sheet in my dogs crate but if they start to chew them, out they come. It is not worth the risk to have a pet ingest something that literally can kill them or cost a hefty price to have surgically removed.
We usually keep our pets in their crate at night until they are able to hold their potty all night and they understand that we sleep at night, we don't "party". We want our dogs in the bedroom at night so we will then use a baby gate to keep them in there with us at night. They are typically crated during the day while we are gone until they are approximately 2 years of age. That is the average for dogs to mature especially bernedoodles. This may seem like a long time, but it is well worth the patience. If you have ever had a dog that has destroyed carpeting/furniture/woodwork etc., you will gladly wait until it is safer to attempt to leave them out.
Socialization is probably the single most important thing you can do to help ensure a safe, happy pet. Socialization is the foundation of your pet’s temperament and is crucial to a well-rounded pet and member of society.
Regardless of what breed you choose, you need to literally "pound" the streets so to speak with your pet at the earliest, safest point in his/her life possible. Dogs that are well socialized are a pure pleasure to be around. They are far more "stable" than an un-socialized pet. They are much less likely to get themselves into trouble, which could ultimately get you into "big" trouble.
It is often taken for granted that because he/she is a "dog" that they know how to interact with all dogs. This couldn't be further from the truth. Not all dogs get along with nor do they like other “dogs". Socialization with other dogs is also a crucial part of a dog’s life. They should always be socialized with safe, healthy dogs that are tolerant of obnoxiouspuppies.
It is a common misconception that a lot of people believe that in order to have a "protective" dog, you must keep it away from people. You must praise or encourage inappropriate behavior, i.e., growling, barking, biting. In reality, a dog that is well socialized is every bit as likely to alert you, or perhaps even defend you in the face of danger. The critical difference is: An un-socialized dog is going to assume that every single person, child etc. is a threat and a socialized dog is going to go by instinct and/or circumstances. They have a much higher ability to "perceive" what is a true threat than the unfortunate un-social dog. The un-socialized pet is actually one that is running on fear of the "unknown".
The reality is this: You should be getting a pet for a "pet". They should be a well-loved, properly cared for member of your family. To get a "pet" solely for "protection" is usually a recipe for disaster. We all can take comfort in the fact that all dogs usually alert us to something "different" in or around the house. That in itself is a huge deterrent to someone who is up to no good. To rely on a pet to keep us totally safe from harm, is not fair to the dog, nor should it be "their'' responsibility alone.
A final note: To allow a dog to pick and choose what they perceive as a threat, to not socialize your dog, to not properly train and provide care for your dog, to not allow your dog to be a member of the family, is almost ALWAYS a disaster in the making.
Insurance companies, Boarding Kennels, Hotels, Apartments, etc. are all becoming more "Breed" specific. There are certain Breeds of dogs that are not "welcome". This is not because these "breeds" are bad, this is because the dogs are being used for horrific functions, are not socialized, are neglected, mistreated, UN-SOCIALIZED, and have become a danger to the public. There are no "bad" breeds in my opinion, but unfortunately, there are literally thousands of "bad" owners.
Expose your pet to all different types of people, noises, environments etc. Do not force your pet to accept strangers, nor do you want to coddle fearful behavior. Do be mindful that your new puppy is not fully vaccinated until 16 weeks of age. Until then, you can still get them out and in car rides and with a rubbermaid tote can put into a cart at Lowe's and let them hear and see new people.
Take treats and let your pet adjust to new people/situations on their own while you remain calm and "un-concerned". You would never throw your 3 year old child into the arms of a stranger that he/she was terrified of, you should never do this to a dog either.
Do yourself a favor and socialize your pet. You (and they) will be glad you did!
Dogs don't think, they react. They need to be corrected the instant the unwanted behavior occurs. They live in a world of cause and effect. Dogs live in the NOW. Corrections have to happen in the NOW. The quickest way to teach your dog that you are not trustworthy is to punish your dog with physical violence or to reprimand him for some action that he is not presently engaged in.
Abuse is never acceptable, hitting a dog is never acceptable. You cannot use fear as a means of making an animal behave; it doesn't work. Showing an animal strong leadership and giving rules is not the same thing as instilling fear and administering inappropriate punishment.
Never correct an animal out of anger of frustration. When you try and correct your dog out of anger, you are usually more out of control than your dog is. You are fulfilling your own needs, not the animals.
Negative attention is better than no attention at all This is something that most parents can relate to as well. You must, absolutely must, pay attention to your pet when he/she is doing things right. Whether this is laying down napping, playing with appropriate toys, sitting before being allowed outside, greeting people, etc.
My number 1 rule for solving behavioral problems is to NOT reinforce them. Extinguish them or better yet work to not let them creep up into their pattern of life. For example, that cute bernedoodle puppy you let jump up on you will eventually be 70-90+ lbs and although you may like it (like I do!) others may not.
Simply put, if your dog is acting out inappropriately and you react to it, you are very likely reinforcing that behavior. You may be reacting negatively, but you are reacting. However; if you re-direct your pet to something appropriate and then reward them for that, you will usually end up extinguishing the behavior that you do not want. For example: If your dog is jumping on you and you scream, yell, push or otherwise acknowledge the pet, you are reinforcing that behavior. ON the other hand, if you turn away, walk away, or even stand there and 100% ignore the behavior, the dog will find absolutely zero reward in this and look for something else to do. Have you ever seen a "sane" dog repeatedly attack a telephone pole for no reason????
Having said that, you must also use common sense. If "Fido" is chewing on an electrical cord, you can not simply ignore it. What you should do is very quickly but calmly get up and with a sharp "NO" correct the pup and then immediately re-direct the pup to something appropriate. Reward for correct behavior.
If you are playing with your dog and he/she starts to get aggressive and starts biting, you very quickly correct- "NO BITE" and the game abruptly ends.
The type of "punishment" you use on your pet needs to be appropriate for the age/size and temperament of your pet, "fit the crime", and be very consistent.
Housebreaking your pet can be one of the most frustrating aspects of "puppy rearing". But it doesn't have to be! And with our Premier bernedoodles you'll find them to be one of the easiest puppies to housebreak because we have already started this process well before you bring your new puppy home. The following tips are helpful, if followed, in making a great and fun time less stressful for you (and your pup)!
First you need to crate your puppy when you are not home or cannot watch him/her. The crate should be used for short periods of time, when you are at work, doing things around the house and can not watch him/her and also overnight ideally your pet should never be crated for more than 4 hours at a time throughout the day/evening.Once your puppy is a little bit older, they almost always can hold their potty overnight.
The crate should be big enough for your puppy to standup, turnaround, and lay down. Our bernedoodle puppies do great in a Midwest XL wire crate. If you find that the puppy is starting to go to one end to urinate/defecate (and therefore can still be comfortable at the other end) then you will have to creatively partition off (immediately after the first time this happens). I recommend purchasing a crate large enough to fit your pet at his/her adultsize and blocking a portion of it off to get through the housebreaking stage.
Puppies should be fed 3 times per day, at the very least they need to be fed 2 times per day. Please talk to your Veterinarian about your abilities to feed your pet and follow their advice. You need to adjust your feeding schedule to accommodate your work/activityschedule. Remember..........what goes in, must come out!
We personally do not recommend "paper'' training a puppy. No matter how you look at it, it is giving the puppy permission to use the bathroom in the house. It, of course, is a personal choice and some people's work schedule does not allow for anything different. Just keep in mind, it will be more difficult to change the "way of thinking" for the older puppy and you need to be patient
Young puppies need to potty much more frequently than older puppies. Take that into consideration when housebreaking. We typically take our puppies out every 20-30 minutes the first week after coming home, whether we think they need to go or not. This will be increased to 1-2 hours after a few weeks. The first order of business should always be to potty when first going outside. Take your puppy to the area you want them to go and give them just a short amount of time to take care of business. When they are outside we start using potty commands (Go Potty for #1 and Go Poo Poo for #2) at about 4 weeks of age and we even start using these phrases the first 3-4 weeks. We repeat these phrases until they posture to do their business, at which time we shut up. As soon as they are done (like the millisecond!) we praise BIG TIME and say "Good Potty" or "Good Poo Poo". We also do this in the wee hours of the morning but without this excitement and never with the lights on.
A good rule of thumb to follow: If your puppy has not pottied in a while and you take them outside with no “results”, take them back into the house and put them in their crate for 10-15 minutes. Then take them back out to the potty area and try again. If they do not go, it’s back to the crate and this will continue until you get results. Once they have pottied, they have earned some time to play, explore, etc. (always under your watchful eye).
Puppies are like small children, they need to be watched at all times, they need to learn right from wrong and they need a chance to be puppies!
If your puppy has an “accident” in the house, make note of the circumstances. Most often, you will find yourself at fault for not watching the puppy or not recognizing the “sign” that the puppy needs to go outside. Get the puppy outside immediately while somebody else is cleaning up the mess. We use OdoBan to take all odors out so that it does not become a place that smells like an area to relieve themselves.
Night-time pottying can be very frustrating to most people, but it doesn’t have to last for long. I recommend the following “rule” of thumb: Take all food/water away from your pet several hours before planning on going to bed. You must use common sense when taking water away. If it is hot, the puppy has been playing hard, etc. you will need to give the puppy water; just do not let them gorge on it. You can also give ice cubes. Make sure you take your puppy outside right before you go to bed. If they immediately start crying you need to ignore them - they are seeking attention, and giving it to them (even negative) is teaching them that "this is the way to get attention". If several hours go by and the puppy starts to stir/cry, very quietly get up, turn as few lights on as possible and take him/her to the area you want them to use. Place the puppy down and let them take care of business. Again we are saying quietly "Go Potty". Once they've gone potty, quietly praise them ("Good potty") and take them right back to their crate. Do not play with your puppy, or otherwise encourage them to "wake" up, or that very well may be their incentive to "party" at 3 a.m. every morning. Once your puppy has developed a little more control, you will find that they start sleeping throughout the night in no time. In the beginning, they physically cannot hold their potty all night, once they can however; it is not in their best interest to get up in the middle of the night unless it has been made "rewarding"to them.
Some typical "potty" times are: after eating/drinking, after napping, after playtime. We always get our puppies out immediately after eating and drinking. If after 15 minutes they don't go potty we will bring back inside and place in a crate. About 5 minutes later we will take back outside and repeat this process until they have relieved themselves.
Here's a link to how we set up a small indoor area by the back door: https://youtu.be/N6lkHRL23OI
EXCITABLE AND SUBMISSIVE URINATION IN PUPPIES
Exciteable urination (and submissive urination) are very common in dogs starting at around 10-12 weeks of age and will normally stop at around 8-12 months of age. This is so common that most puppies will go through this at some point in their early part of their life. The best thing you can do is to try to avoid doing those things that seem to bring this behavior about. This is normal. If this behavior continues best to have a veterinarian check for a UTI. If the dog is housebroken (or doesn’t go potty in their crate) and just does this behavior it’s likely not a UTI.
Here are some tips to help:
Use a crate when you cannot supervise. Put his crate near a door allowing him to get outside quickly, potentially avoiding an accident.
Don’t attempt to reassure your dog or reinforce his actions. Keep quiet but relaxed. Ignore his behavior.
Don’t rush him into situations and experiences. Build up gradually to new things.
Do basic obedience training. Make it fun and confidence building. Using lots of obedience commands and praises helps distract.
Take him out regularly to do his business so his bladder will not build up pressure (every 15 minutes).
Do not go straight to his crate when entering a room. Allow him to calm down first, before letting him out. Don’t make eye contact. Don’t say anything. Just ignore the dog and walk past.
When you go to the crate to let him out do so quietly. Don’t talk to him.
If he urinates don’t say anything, get him outside and then clean up without him seeing you do this.
When out in the yard, do not call him up to you but walk slowly around with him. Give him a command to urinate and praise him calmly using voice only when he does.
Do everything slowly and work at making your body language calm and unconcerned. Keep verbal volume low.
Much of this behavior is a way to communicate that “I’m not a threat…just submissive or excited!” Avoid behaviors that could prompt this. For example, don’t tower over your puppy. Get down at ground level. Or sit on a low chair.
Be non-threatening. Don’t stare at him or show displeasure no matter how you feel.
Spend time sitting with him by your side on a leash.
Take him for walks where he can gradually be exposed to the situations that trigger his urination.
Ask friends to practice no touch, no talk, no eye contact around him.
Avoid situations and people that you cannot control until your dog is learning to control himself and gain confidence.
Submissive urination can be annoying, but exhibiting your frustration to your dog only makes it worse (way worse as this is the very reason why they will sometimes do it). With a little planning and adjusting your attitude, you can minimize and overcome the problem which will disappear anyways but mine as well help along the line.
TUG-OF-WAR, ROUGH HOUSING AND MOUTHING (aka Puppy Biting)
Tug-of-war is a wonderful game for you and your dog, some trainers do not recommend that you play this type of game at all, but we believe it can be played and we personally play this game with our pets. However,there are rules that must be followed.
Tug-of-war/rough housing can lead to problems if you do not abide by certain rules when playing. If you ignore the rules, you should not play at all. If played properly, these games are some of the best anti-aggression exercises you can practice with your dog. It teaches the dog to control his/her teeth!
While playing tug-of-war, most dogs will make a mistake and grab fingers or a hand instead of the toy. Because we are playing a game and feel that the mouth or bite was accidental, people tend to ignore it. This is a BIG mistake! This teaches the dog it is okay to mouth/bite us. Dogs that are allowed to mouth or bite in play will also mouth/bite while being groomed or handled.
If you allow rough housing or tug-of-war, you MUST never allow the dog to mouth or bite for any reason. The very instant the dog's tooth or teeth touch you or your clothing, you must immediately reprimand the dog and STOP playing. Scream "OUCH", "NO BITE" right in your dog’s face, snatch the toy away and absolutely do NOT play again for at least one hour. Let your dog know that you absolutely will not put up with him/her being reckless and careless with his/her teeth. If you reprimand correctly each and every time, your dog will become acutely aware of what he/she does with his/her teeth, especially when excited. Dogs are very capable of controlling their teeth.
The dog should never be allowed to initiate the play session or grab for the toy without invitation. Only when you give a command such as "take it". Especially with puppies, if you allow the dog to grab things without invitation, then you can find yourself playing while trying to get dressed, put on socks etc.
You start the game, you end the game.
It is always a good idea to stop the game every 30 seconds or so. When you stop the game, give your dog the command to "give or drop it". Make your dog sit or down. Praise and release. If you want to continue to play, give the dog the command to "take it" and continue.
You start the game, you end the game.
You must teach your dog to give/drop and also to take it. If the dog does not respond to the commands to give, you must immediately take the toy away and stop playing. This would clearly tell you that your dog either does not understand the command, or you are absolutely NOT in control. If you are not in control, you should never play this game with your dog.
Here's our YouTube link to a segment on puppy mouthing/biting behavior: https://youtu.be/00Q5VS3gA68
The #1 rule is absolutely NO DOG SHOULD EVER BE ALLOWED TO PUT HIS/HER TEETH ON HUMAN FLESH - PERIOD!
What may be a "soft" bite to you very well may not be to a child or an elderly person.
When bites occur in play, in greeting or as an accident, we tend to ignore or excuse it (dogs are very capable of controlling their teeth). What happens is the dog learns that they can act recklessly around us. We have taught them that there is no need to exercise caution around us or be respectful. They learn that biting is acceptable.
Dogs do not do this to each other. They don't rationalize or make excuses. Biting and disrespect are swiftly and effectively reprimanded and it very rarely, if ever, happens again.
If your puppy puts his/her teeth on you, it must be corrected 100% of the time. A sharp "OUCH" with an immediate cease of play will usually result in the puppy fairly quickly figuring out that BITING is the reason and will learn that this is not acceptable. Mouthing (puppy biting) is NORMAL and we want to encourage this behavior so that we can develop a stable dog and one that has mastered Acquired Bite Inhibition (ABI). Puppies are going to mouth you....its part of the puppy deal. We want them to learn an appropriate ABI or in other words how much force can they bite down that is deemed acceptable (ie doesn't hurt). We need to first work with this component and then work on reducing the frequency. But bite force first. As you're playing with your puppy just keep screeching "OUCH" when it's too hard and at the moment they cease or bite softly praise them big time. This will go back and forth and forth and back like a ping pong match (well at least played by two competent players!). This will not be a one session deal. This will take weeks and weeks of being very consistent in your "OUCH" every time they either bite you or your clothes too hard. We do want to promote gentle bite behavior as this reinforces the bonding and teaches them an appropriate ABI which is imperative for producing a stable adult dog. DO NOT take the mouthing behavior away but lets just shape it so that the puppy knows when it's too hard. If your puppy is clearly highly energized and not responding then the play session is over and you walk away. That's it. Never ever hit or smack your dog to correct or thump them on the head as this will only produce head shy dogs.
Correction (loud deep "ouch" and cease playing) must take place IMMEDIATELY each and every time (this is called positive punishment as we are adding something undesirable to the dog, in this case, a verbal reprimand).
Remember…It is natural for dogs to bite, it must be understood that biting human flesh is the problem and will never be tolerated when it's too hard. The good news is that puppy mouthing behavior (aka puppy biting) almost always goes away between 4-6 months even if you let it go. We just prefer the process of teaching boundaries early on while still allowing for some gentle mouthing behaviors. Just remember this will take a LONG time and will make up a big part of your early puppy training.
Extinction is a training term used that means to eliminate an unwanted/undesirable behavior and also called negative punishment (we are taking away something pleasurable).
In extinction, the behavior is NEVER reinforced. Remember, dogs repeat behaviors that are in some way, shape or form rewarding to them. If you can remove the reward (negative punishment), the behavior usually will decrease and then disappear. You need to figure out what the "reward" is and then remove it.
Obviously, some behavior will not be able to be extinguished. For example, if the dog enjoys rolling in feces or mud, chewing, barking or anything that in and of itself is rewarding and you cannot "remove" it, it will continue. Yes there are some more invasive ways to extinguish these behaviors thru negative punishment (e-collars, putting dog feces in holes being dug in the backyard and filling it, etc.).
Extinction can work great for nuisance behaviors such as barking, whining for attention, jumping, begging, controlling play, etc.
If you attempt to use extinction, be prepared for the behavior to escalate before it starts to decrease. For example: If your dog is used to jumping on you and receiving attention and you decide to ignore it, the dog will become confused - "Hey... this has always gotten attention". Very often, they will try harder to get the desired attention. If you stick to your guns and refuse to acknowledge the dog, the behavior will usually decrease and eventually stop.
You 100% must ignore the behavior. If you pay attention or reward it even one time or even slightly, it will be all the more difficult to extinguish in the future. The only thing you will accomplish is to have the dog work harder to get what they want.
The Fear Phase in Puppies....what you need to be aware of after your new puppy come home!
"Your puppies “fear phase” may be showcased in several different types of behavior; hesitation with novel things, security seeking behavior, barking, or outright leaving the area. The type of reaction depends on the individual personality of the puppy, his overall resilience, and your reaction.
We do fear recovery response training during the first 8 weeks to make sure they have a fast recovery to new novel noises and objects and situations.
The how and when of fear periods also depends on the individual puppy, so you may or may not see it in your puppy as described. Generally speaking, puppies go through two potential fear periods during puppyhood. The first fear phase comes when the puppy is just 2-3 months of age. This also coincides with a very critical socialization period. Your puppy is coming into a new home, leaving behind his mother, and litter mates, and is being introduced to a new family. All these factors are important to remember, and just because a puppy may hesitate over new things during this period don’t try to cease or slow the process of socialization and introducing new things.
What you have to do is just keep everything FUN! Puppies look to you as a security buffer and want to see how you react in a situation. Carry super yummy treats with you everywhere you go. Ask people to give your puppy a treat. Give treats with lots of praise in situations where you see your puppy is a little unsure. Carry a favorite toy with you and play squeaky toys or tug of war. This helps a puppy feel more comfortable. It is important to be upbeat and excited about new things and encourage your puppy to feel the same way.
The second fear phase comes later in puppyhood.
The second phase normally takes place somewhere around 5 or 6 months of age, but some puppies don’t experience it until a few months later. These puppies normally become worried about novel things, or you may see your puppy express fear over something that never bothered them before. For example, it’s not unusual for a puppy to have seen a trash can for months but one day bark when it’s in a different spot! This is a short-term phase for most puppies, and it’s just a representation of development.
The key to this phase is to not force your puppy into situations, and just like before, remember to keep it fun. It’s important not to baby your dog, but you are a source of security for him. Encourage him but don’t force him. For example, if he begins to bark at a statue he just saw, don’t drag him up to the statue. Instead, give a few treats, talk to him, and then YOU walk up to statue and touch it. Encourage him to come up with your voice, your body language, favorite treats and/or toys. If he doesn’t, that’s okay, but he most likely will with patience.What you don’t want to do is push beyond comfort zone.
That just teaches your pup that he can’t trust you, and he won’t derive security from you. YouTube is littered with videos of dogs being forced to interact (or even being chased!) by things they find scary. This type of interaction can be seriously distressing for your puppy. Remember to keep it fun and positive, and he will move through the phase without any problems."
PUPPY FEAR-BASED RESPONSES...A More Thorough Response...:
Throughout the life of your puppy, you will experience many changes and by now I’m likely preaching to the choir! There are windows of time when certain types of behaviors (e.g. fear responses which is the focus of this post) will flare up and this is totally normal and certainly some will do it more than others depending on the continued training they get at home. We have a very detailed program to get them thru the first 8 weeks and to prepare them for the additional training you’re doing at home. If you are not doing anything, you need to give serious consideration to getting a trainer or enrolling in an online video training platform like Baxter & Bella (see attached for coupon code that gives a big lifetime discount). We have done our part, but this training must continue long after they go to their new homes. We try to communicate the need to either get a trainer or to enroll in Baxter & Bella but we wanted to try to hit this straight on and explain why this is so important and how to do this safely during the first 16 weeks when the puppies are not fully vaccinated.
Across most all breeds, including mixed breeds like bernedoodles, you’re going to come across two primary fear-based periods. The first fear-based period will flare up anytime between 8-12 weeks and then you’ll hit a second fear-based period between around 6-14 months. Fear-based periods can include fearful responses to noises, dogs barking, music, really anything that could be interpreted as a threat. Although dogs have been domesticated for a long time, they still carry DNA from their wolf lineage and that includes protective puppy behaviors such as quickly scampering to cover when a threat is perceived. Between 8-12 weeks you’ll see more of this type of behavior. Between 6-14 months these types of responses can be manifested by cowering behavior but can also include barking, growling, ears back and tail down, and in some cases just a bit of unsureness about the stimulus causing this reaction. Keep in mind that these behaviors manifest from a genetic basis that likely came with wild populations of dog ancestors (e.g. wolf).
One might ask what’s the point of doing the puppy training in the first 8 weeks then? Well, there are several key socialization periods as well and the first one occurs during the first 8 weeks, and this is when puppies begin to bond and trust their human family. Without a thorough socialization program, you will be battling that on top of puppy-fear based responses at a whole new level. Trust me fear-based training does make a difference when started in the first 8 weeks and research corroborates this and that early puppy training the first 8 weeks helps to temper these responses, but every puppy is different, and every home and environmental conditions are different as well. Just keep all of this in mind during the training period that these genetically programmed responses helped the puppies survive before becoming household pets that we have today. Unfortunately, they carry the genetic baggage from their past ancestors, and we just need to work around this. Understanding this is the first step toward puppy training…
Ok so what to do!? Is there hope? Absolutely and the above information just sets the stage for how to train the puppies and help them thru these two fear-based periods.
FIRST FEAR-BASED PERIOD 8-12 WEEKS:
Remember when the puppy goes to their new home their owners are great people and they know it, but the puppy does not, and their world has literally been flipped upside down from being with their brothers and sisters 24/7 to not at all and surrounded by people they do not know and in many cases new dog and cat friends as well. This can be extremely overwhelming and can manifest itself in many ways (wanting to be with you all the time, depressed immune responses, etc.). The main thing is to use the first fear-based period between 8-12 weeks to absolutely bond to your new puppy and make sure they feel secure, protected, and not frightened. Many families have young kids and although they were raised with kids of all ages this first 8–12-week fear-based period can kick in and when chased by a young child, grabbed, pulled, or petted and handled can induce a fear-based response that may be hard to detect at first but can slowly creep in. There’s a German word called Umwelt, and this is a cool word that explains how organisms perceive the world around them. A dog’s umwelt is going to be different than a human’s so also keep this in your back pocket as well. Make sure that whoever is interacting with the puppy is doing so in a very friendly and non-threatening way. If your puppy is mouthing you (ie puppy biting) chances are it’s feeling pretty secure! Yes, they will outgrow this and yes you can still tell them “No bite” sternly when it’s too hard and then when they stop quickly and excitedly praise them when they start licking. But remember kids can induce a fear-based response as can other dogs during this initial fear-based period. During this time, it’s critically important to continue to get your puppy in an environment with other people and new places. Never force this and always give the puppy the option to move away from this situation if there’s any indication of a fear-based response. Allow the puppy to initiate contact with new people. Now this is tricky the first 16 weeks due to the puppy not being vaccinated and you’ll have to allow for safe interactions such as allowing people to talk to your puppy in a very positive way. You can take them to training facilities where they can see and hear other dogs but hold the puppy and don’t allow them to touch surfaces or you can use a wagon with a tall rail or other such device. Don’t overdo this but slowly and gradually introduce getting them into new novel situations and places. Early traumatic experiences to a hostile child or dog can have a lifelong impact on the puppy and in many cases, this can cause permanent behavioral changes (and why we do not advocate for dog parks or other situations where lots of dogs are together without proper supervision). You can also use a Bluetooth speaker and occasionally play novel noises during the day (search in YouTube for Puppy Culture noises). If there’s certain noises that seem to promote a fear-based response (alertness is ok, but high tailing it would be a bit more dramatic) then only play those noises for a second or two and build up slowly. NEVER EVER make a big deal of novel noises that bring forth a fear-based response. Don’t just grab the puppy and coddle them but talk in a positive excited way and get on the floor and have the puppy come to you and refocus on some basic obedience training. During these very positive training episodes you can again play novel noises but very brief and have lots of treats ready to redirect their behavior.
SECOND FEAR-BASED PERIOD BETWEEN 6-14 MONTHS:
For bernedoodles and large breeds usually this second fear-based period starts closer to 10-14 months and from the literature and experience these fear behaviors are directed at situations more so than other people and dogs, but the latter can still induce this. If your dog is fearful of something during this time DO NOT force them into it. Such as they are fearful of going into the back seat. Your job is to create a positive experience by getting into the back seat. Maybe get some raw meat and put into a Ziplock bag and let your dog smell it. Then if they put one foot up onto the back seat treat them. Then two feet only gets a treat etc. This can be the case for many situational fear-based responses, but you must go slowly and at your dog’s pace while reassuring them everything is ok with your positive excited voice. Keep it fun. But you must be abundantly patient during this time. Dogs that routinely go thru basic obedience training school during this time seem to fly thru it with flying colors, but patience and praise is the key.
The bottom line is that training and socialization is going to happen the rest of their lives. This is not a one and done kind of thing that’s going to be finished after the first or second fear-based periods. Certainly, it gets easier! But we can’t stress enough the need for a good dog trainer and if this is not practical then we highly recommend either Puppy Culture or Baxter & Bella (B&B has an exceptional online puppy video system and trainers available to talk to). Your investment now will have a lifelong impact on the well-being of your fur baby.
Demand Barking (And Other Demanding Behaviours)
Demanding behaviours such as barking, jumping at humans or onto furniture that dogs aren’t allowed on or asking to go to the toilet when they don’t actually need to go are behaviours are not uncommon puppy behaviors. I’ll be referring to barking throughout this note as it’s the most common manifestation of demanding behaviours, but the methods I’m talking through apply to all of the above. If you are struggling with any demanding behaviour I would recommend calling in a professional to assist you early – it’s very easy to get stuck in a cycle that escalates these behaviours and a professional trainer or behaviourist is your best bet to stop that cycle in its tracks.
Demand barking is fairly self-explanatory; it’s the process of a dog vocalising in order to get something they want. This can include growls, mumbles, squeaks, yips, and other noises that dogs are capable of so I’ve included all forms of vocalisation in my definition of demand barking. The dog can demand bark in order to; gain attention, access to food, an area of the house/garden, access to social interactions or to gain access to an opportunity to play. Below is a treatment plan for demand barking.
1. Prevent It Happening In The First Place
Prevention is key for a number of reasons:
- The more your dog barks, the more they will continue to do so. Barking is a self-reinforcing behaviour and is intrinsically fun for your dog to do. It’s also often combined with some form of external reinforcement (bark bark, postman go away, postman leaves, dog is reinforced because the postman went away).
- Prevention removes the risk of teaching a behaviour chain such as ‘bark then be quiet results in reinforcement’ in comparison to just ‘be quiet’. We want to identify scenarios where your dog is likely to bark and prevent that behaviour within the scenarios they are likely to bark. This may be a case of instructing your dog to do a different behaviour which is incompatible with barking. My personal favourite is asking them for a chin rest (it’s hard to bark when your chin is resting on something)!
- Prevention removes the risk of entering a cycle where barking occurs, it is ignored, the barking escalates as a result of an extinction burst which is then reinforced. The next time the dog barks, it will bark at the higher intensity that occurred as a result of being ignored the first time. Prevention means that the behaviour isn’t occurring and therefore this cycle cannot develop.
2. Instruct Your Dog To Do Something Else
Simply focusing on stopping the barking is not enough to prevent it from occurring. Demand barking occurs because dogs think that it will enable them to gain access to something they want. If we don’t teach them gain access to what they want in a way that we find more appropriate, then the dog’s need to bark hasn’t been addressed. By telling your dog what we want them to do in order to gain access to what they want, your dog is more likely to repeat the behaviour you’ve instructed in the future versus the barking.
3. Don't Reward The Barking
Each time your dog demand barks for anything and receives what they want, they’re learning that demand barking works. Here’s what you need to do if your dog demand barks and you’ve been unable to prevent it from occurring:
Remove the resource of interest. If you’ve got food in your hand, put it in a container, place the container out of the dog’s reach and walk to the other side of the room. If your dog is barking for your attention, simply leave the room. If your dog wants attention from another dog, simply walk them away from that dog and increase the distance between your dog and the object of interest. It’s really important to note that with dogs who want attention from people, any attention is a good thing. This means that even if you look at your dog, you’ve given them what they want. It also means that telling them off for demand barking won’t work as they want attention in any form, even if we’ve giving them ‘bad’ attention. Your dog won’t care because they’ve got what they wanted. As soon as your dog starts demand barking for attention, look at the ceiling, cross your arms and move out of the room if necessary.
As soon as you’ve prevented the need for your dog to bark, your dog should stop barking in response (although this may take some time if you’ve entered the extinction burst cycle – it will get worse before it gets better). As soon as they stop barking, set the scenario up so that you can prevent the barking from happening again, instruct your dog to do a behaviour you like and try again. This takes practice so be consistent and patient!
4. Delay The Interval Between Your Dog Barking And Giving Them Something Nice
With demand barking, we need to be wary of creating a behaviour chain where your dog barks, you cue a behaviour you want them to do instead, which is then reinforced. This can lead to your dog barking, then performing the cued behaviour in order to receive what they want. Dogs associate the last behaviour they did with any reinforcer. This means that if your dog barks, does a new behaviour and receives reinforcement, they may begin to associate the good behaviour with that initial bark. We can prevent this by asking for at least three behaviours after they have barked and before providing reinforcement. If your dog is a little older and/or trained enough to be comfortable performing multiple behaviours for one reinforcement, then we can extend this to five behaviours in between the original bark and the end reinforcement. The more behaviours between the bark and the food the better (just don’t make it so many that you give your dog another reason to bark)!
These three to five behaviours can be any combination of behaviours your dog knows. If you’ve just started training it can be as easy as three sits or sit, down, sit. If your dog knows a few tricks, then by all means work some of these into the mix. Your final behaviour should be the behaviour that you would like your dog to carry out instead of barking (so that you can reinforce it in a way that prevents the barking from occurring again).
These are our top tips for demand barking! Raising a puppy is a lot of work for sure.
ADDITIONAL TRAINING AFTER PUPPIES ARRIVE TO THEIR NEW HOME
This puppy guide is meant to quickly get you moving in the right direction. However you will need to continue on with a formal training program through about 2 years of age. Do not wait until the puppy is 6 months of age to start training....start as soon as the puppy comes home. You can certainly do everything in this guide and have an amazing dog. But if you need expanded ideas or want a more formal home based training program we recommend Puppy Culture, Baxter & Bella (see flyers at end of the article) and Badass Breeder. All three programs are great. We use a hybrid approach between Puppy Culture, Baxter & Bella and Badass Breeder and take the best of all three in the puppy training we do the first 8 weeks while the puppies are in our home. If you want a more user friendly program with lots of instructional videos and live trainers you can talk to we would recommend Baxter & Bella. If you are really into training and have more time we would recommend Puppy Culture. We have looked at many programs and feel like these are two of the best and both yield excellent results but you have actually do them.
We wish you all the success in the world with your new puppy. It's hard work for sure and will require patience but you are raising and training your new furry family member for a successful and rewarding relationship with you.
Nora Drouillard has been a professional dog trainer for well over 25 years and has been a part of numerous professional dog training symposia. Nora and her husband Russ usually have a pack of German Shepherds and have successfully trained hundreds of dogs over their careers.
Chris Carmichael, Ph.D., is an ethologist with primary interest looking at the role of cognition in learning and looking at the various methods and pedagogies used in training dogs. He is conducting research on the role of early neurological stimulation (non-intrusive program called Bio-Sensor) in cognitive development. Chris helps with the puppy training (Puppy Culture) and other training we do at Premier Doodles. Chris especially loves the playful rumble tumble weeks and puppy mobs!
Sharon Carmichael is the heartbeat to our breeding program at Premier Doodles. She is the canine midwife and helps to make sure all of our newborn puppies are nursing, growing and in good health. Sharon also helps in the day-to-day care of all of our puppies from birth until they go to their new homes and also takes care of our dams and sires to assure excellent health.
Dr. Chris is a zoologist/ethologist and was a former Zoo Keeper at the Brookfield Zoo and has had other research stints at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and Greenville Zoo where he leads his Animal Behavior class in semester long research projects looking at various facets of animal behavior in primates, lions, and other animals at the zoo. He is currently a Professor of Biology and teaches Vertebrate Zoology, Animal Behavior, Biodiversity, and Ecology. Here he is holding his twin brother's sloth named Hazel. He is also the Head Women's Soccer Coach of the highly successful NCAA DIII Bob Jones University program.
Sharon is the heartbeat to our program and is meticulous with data collection on all of our puppies and is the canine midwife during delivery and gets our puppies off to an amazing start. She has a longtime background with horses and dogs and loves her moms and puppies! She is an expert when it comes to canine nutrition and color genetics.
Nora (Sharon's sister) and her husband Russ Drouillard have been longtime dog owners and have a passion for German Shepherds. Nora has been a professional dog trainer for many decades and has advanced training in many of the techniques that are in this puppy guide and has been instrumental in helping us with our program here at Premier Doodles.