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.
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 4-5 weeks of age, our bernedoodle puppies begin the process of housebreaking during this time 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 in our main floor master bedroom. 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" 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.
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 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. 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.
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.
TUG-OF-WAR, ROUGH HOUSING AND MOUTHING
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.
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 "NO" or "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. Never ever hit or smack your dog to correct. For extreme cases, I recommend a very firm scruff shake with a sharp "NO BITE". For small puppies, I sometimes will put my thumb in his/her mouth while using my index finger to grab the bottom jaw and give a slight shake with "NOBITE".
Correction must take place IMMEDIATELY each and every time.
Remember…It is natural for dogs to bite, it must be understood that biting human flesh is the problem and will never be tolerated.
Extinction is a training term used that means to eliminate an unwanted/undesirable behavior.
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, 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.
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.
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.