Dog Training – From Puppy to Adult

Training a dog … easy . right ?

Day 154 - find treat1

Smurf is a Samoyed ( See: Daily Smurf Blog ) and considered among the more difficult breeds to train.  As the old saying goes ( and i don’t agree with it )

” You can’t teach an old dog new tricks “

Sure you can, but it’s just a heck of a lot more difficult !  I learned some important lessons with Sandy, my first dog, that i intend to do differently this time around, right from the start !

Before my puppy came home, i dog-proofed the house as best i could. Started by clearing the floor of all tempting fragile things that are not meant for him to play with or chew on. Swore an oath to no longer leave clothes on the floor ( socks and underwear are dog favorites ! ). Tucked all electrical wires and speaker cables out of the way. And after all that,  i assure you, he found a whole lot of things i had not even considered putting away after following him around for a few days the house was mostly ” good ” but no way could i let him loose without supervision.

Before you get your puppy, dog proof your home and put away any and all things you cannot afford to have chewed. Try to keep small delicate things off the floor and  remove as much temptation as you can.  No laundry on the floor ( dogs love unwashed socks and underwear !! ) .. small toys that are not intended for your puppy should be put away in a safe place.. Wires dangling are tempting fun things to bite and pull on.. etc etc etc.. when he first enters your home follow your pup around for a few hours and see what he gets into ( you will be amazed at what they can find to play with !!! ) , set barriers and keep him in sight.

Not only do you need to train your new puppy, you also need to train your friends and family. It’s difficult, everyone just want to pick up the puppy and give it face licking hugs, you know.. they are just so damn cute.. and that puppy breath . .. who could resist ? !

Fido may be cute and fuzzy at 10 Lbs jumping on your leg, at knee height.. but when he ain’t so small anymore and his paws reach your shoulders when he jumps up…. yeah.. not so cute anymore…   Teaching your dog to be quiet and behaved when people come over and knock on the door.. Teaching him to be nice to the mailman. teach, teach, teach .. it’s a 24 hr job and he will not get it right away, no matter how hard you try, but you must keep working at it !!.. i assure you, it gets better! Never give up!..

It may seem so pointless  ” He just does this XYZ no matter what i do.. sorry… ” at times… For example, say you want him to sit.. keep telling him to sit and he just barks and jumps around.. you say sit again.. and he just stares off in the distance at a shadow.. you have a treat in your hand and you make him sniff it and say sit.. SIT… push on his butt a bit to MAKE him sit.. and he springs right back and barks… you think to yourself  ” Is this worth it ? ”  … YES>. it is.. keep trying !!!! .. if only they could talk… right ?  .. Take a deep breath and ask yourself how well an 8 week old human talks !

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At first, sleep, eat, drink and pee/poop .. not always in that order but generally speaking you can expect a pattern to develop..

The First Night:

Your pup is likely about 8 to 10 weeks old and functions roughly on a 2 hour cycle.  The very last thing you do after shutting off the lights in the house is take Fido outside for a pee, if he’s napping at the time, pick him up and bring him outside to set him down in the lawn and tell him  ” Pee ” .. he likely will. I found this method to work the best because if you wake him up, make him walk to the door, walk to the grass, he’s going to really wake up and want to play..  keep it as calm and quiet as possible if YOU want to get any sleep !

After he pees, tell him  ” Good Job ! ” pick him up and bring him to the bedroom, i am a light sleeper so i set the dog bed next to mine ( no puppy in the bed !! ) .. many breeders will recommend a kennel and that’s a good idea to keep him safe while you sleep, he may bark, cry and make a fuss but be strong and don’t give in. Try your best to ignore his barking and crying.

In my case, bachelor and living alone, my bedroom floor is fairly clear of chewable things, i close the bedroom door to keep him inside and set a few of his toys on his bed to keep him company ( the smell of his litter mates can be comforting, sometimes, Smurf cried when he sniffed his smelly blanket.. i felt sad.. poor little guy.. ) But after a few minutes he settled down and went to sleep.. so did i, after chasing puppy all day..

If or when he wakes up 2 to 4 hours later, you should take him out for a pee as soon as you notice him awake, otherwise you will likely be washing a pee soaked dog along with  everything else he rolled in .. Puppies will want to pee after waking from a nap, so pay attention and don’t wait !.. i know.. it’s 3am and you are comfortable and warm in your bed, dont’ want to get up… well.. too bad !…

Holding back his water dish a few hours before bedtime is one way to limit the bladder being too full, some dogs drink a lot, some don’t .. but if he loads up just before bedtime, expect a mess !

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Food, there are endless discussions on what brand to buy so i won’t cover much of it, whatever he was eating when you picked him up is what you should continue to give until at least a few months.. more on this later.

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Training motivators, AKA Treats ! An absolute must in the process of getting a dog to do what you need and want him to do, but be aware that soft smelly treats are usually very salty and will make puppy want to drink more water, resulting in more pee .. .. fyi (( I like the puppy sized Milk Bone treats, they are dry, don’t smell much so you can keep them in your pocket, kinda cleanly )

Get a measuring cup for his meals, don’t eyeball it, it’s tempting to give more but you are not doing him any favors in the long run !!.. Rufus is likely eating 3 meals a day and this is a schedule you want to adhere to as much as possible, if you want predictable poop timing, you really REALLY want to get the timing right ! ..

Smurf’s breeder was an early bird, up at 5 am but personally, i’m more of an 8 am kinda guy, so for the first month i slowly moved his meals ahead by 10 minutes every few days.  If your dog sleeps like a rock and does not move all night, BONUS, roll with it ! .. after a week of getting up once a night Smurf started sleeping up to 7 hrs without incident.. ymmv

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Exercise, you often hear ” A tired dog, is a good dog ” and that’s indeed true, but be reasonable ! Those tiny little legs only go so far and so fast. His body is growing and those hip joints are not yet fully formed, if you have lots of stairs, pick him up until he’s big enough. .. Jumping off the couch is not a good idea, not that you let him up there.. right ?  .. Rough play with larger dogs, also not a good idea, supervise your puppy and pay attention, if it’s too rough, put a stop to it.. Damage to those hips will show up later in life, not necessarily the next day !!!

Random thoughts

  • No rule is set in stone, and it’s not always black or white. Each dog and breed have their unique ways and sometimes you just have to accept that the method you want to use, may not work .. but never give up, try and try some more and if or when that fails, try something else !
  • Patience, it’s really difficult to keep your cool when your dog does everything other than what you are trying to teach him. Imagine his frustration, he wants to go nuts, jump around bark and bite stuff and his human insists he should sit and remain still.. ?
  • Training a dog is a 24/7 thing, get over it.. that TV series you love so much is playing and you are 45 minutes into a season premiere, and Fido is barking.. what do you do ?
  • It is cute now, it may not be so cute later
  • Consistency.. a must.. with everyone in the house