I recently got a call from a soon to be puppy owner wanting her 8-week-old puppy to go right into our board and train program. She wanted the puppy to be potty trained, taught rules and obedience trained like what she saw in our Play and Learn videos. This certainly will take longer than just 2 weeks; it will be more like a 10 week board and train. Potty training cannot be done at our training facility so I would need to take the puppy home with me each night. Puppies need to go out every two hours at the onset of training. This puppy was going to take up my time 24/7 for 10 weeks. I told her I had not had that request before but I could do that for her. The cost would be $8250.00. Since our two week board and train is $2335.00, I thought I was giving her a fair quote for the services. She obviously was not prepared or sure of how much work she was asking of me. So, if any of you are interested my 10-week board and train program for an 8-week-old puppy, the cost is $8250.00.
Puppies are a lot of work. They are babies and you need to teach them everything. They do not speak English, so you need to figure out a good way to communicate with them. I am a professional and I happen to speak dog. A lot of people don’t and that is why they hire me. Puppies need to learn when and where to go to relieve themselves, basic home rules like what to chew on, jump on, and how much barking is allowed. They need to learn to stay out of the garbage, not to steal food, and to stay off furniture. In addition, we teach all our dogs to sit, down, follow, come, place and wait.
I train all young dogs using food. They learn all their obedience skills by luring, marking and being rewarded. They grow up dragging a leash attached to them. The leash is the most important training tool, not because it teaches dogs not to run away but it teaches them to come. It also helps with the off command so they know the correct direction to go. If they get on the furniture, you say off and pull them off using the leash that is attached to their collar.
I also interrupt puppies when they are doing something that is inappropriate, such has biting, chewing furniture, pestering an older dog or jumping on the kids. There are several tools I use to interrupt unwanted behavior such as:
- Squirt Water Bottle
- Shaker Bottle
- Grabbing the pup by the scruff of the neck
My go-to is the squirt bottle, and I grab the scruff for bad behavior. I encourage everybody to use whichever method works for their puppy.
Between 8-16 weeks I am all about building the puppy’s confidence. One note for you owners that treat your little bundle of fur like a human baby- it’s not a baby; it’s an animal that you will mess up if you baby the dog. Giving affection at the wrong time can reinforce unwanted behavior. Do not pet or comfort your puppy when it shows:
Giving affection when the dog is in an unbalanced state of mind makes the behavior worse. Your dog thinks it makes you happy when they are fearful, aggressive, or nervous and it will get worse.
Praise your dog when they are calm, happy, and confident. I build confidence with my pups by socializing them with various people and environments. Puppies should socialize with adults and children. Let these strangers give treats and play with your pup. Environmentally introduce your puppy on different surfaces, including stairs, to improve agility. During our puppy pre-school we teach place on a variety of surfaces, take them over an A-frame, dog walk, and bottle bin. Our bottle bin is like a whelping box filled with plastic bottles, and teaches the pups to be confident with noise, plastic and uneven footing. By the second week, some pups are diving into the bottle bin like it’s a swimming pool. It’s fun to watch. The more your dog can experience in the second 8 weeks of life, the more confident they will be. 90 percent of aggression issues I see with adult dogs are due to nervousness. Build confidence to begin with and hopefully you can avoid issues overall throughout the dog’s life.
The first 8 weeks with your new puppy is the most difficult. Once the puppy is 16 weeks, we start more structured training. This is when we teach the pup to sit, down, follow, place, come, wait and heel without the luring of food. This is also when I teach the pup to walk on a loose leash. From 8-16 weeks, I let the puppy leash pull. Like I stated earlier, “it’s all about building confidence”. At 16 weeks and beyond, we are teaching walk (heel) on a loose leash as the puppy learns to obey without being bribed with food. As we progress with training we start adding distractions. If you can train your pup to ignore distractions, you are well on your way to a dog you will be proud to show off at family functions.
Love your dog. Love your dog’s behavior.