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Dealing with Daily Hassles

In This Chapter

No one likes having chewed carpets, scratched doors, or company that hides from a jumping puppy when you open the door. The first step in resolving these kinds of actions is to understand that you and your puppy aren’t sharing the same worldview. For example, when your puppy jumps on company, he enjoys every minute of the chaos that follows when you try to keep him down. And while you don’t appreciate it, a chewed carpet is usually a sign of boredom, anxiety, or teething. To resolve the behaviors that you don’t like, you have to look at them from your puppy’s perspective, and then you have to modify your behavior to change his reactions.

In this chapter, I cover chewing, jumping, barking, nipping, and the infamous grab-’n’-go. (The serious puppy infractions are covered in Chapter Food and Fitnes.) The process for remedying these behaviors isn’t too difficult, but you need a few guidelines to get on the right track. By following the advice in this chapter, you can soon reap the rewards of seeing a change in your puppy’s reaction and behavior.

Three Ingredients of a Good Correction

A good correction should never be seen as coming from you. Can you imagine a 400-pound gorilla running, shouting, or pushing you around? Well, that’s just how you’re perceived by your puppy. When you correct your pup, you don’t sense understanding in his expression — instead, you see unadulterated fear. If your goal is to teach your puppy to avoid certain behaviors, pay close attention to how he perceives your reactions, and then modify your response and memorize the following three ingredients of a truly helpful correction:

– It should be seen as coming from the environment, not from you.

– It should cause an immediate withdrawal of group interaction.

– It should consist of a verbal or physical redirection to a more appropriate displacement activity that’s rewarded with your reconnection.


If attention (negative or positive) reinforces behavior, you can see why a behavior that causes group withdrawal can be easily extinguished. An environmental reaction may include an unsettling tug of a leash, a spritz from a spray bottle, or a sharp noise, such as a shake of a can of pennies or a loud horn. Specific interruptions are outlined in each section, but always remember to direct your puppy to an alternative behavior that reestablishes your connection.

Stopping the Chewing Frenzy

Chewing is a puppy thing. It’s nothing personal. Puppies don’t know a stick from a table leg or a doll’s head from a chestnut. Just like kids, pups are curious about the world around them, and they love to explore. Kids use their hands to explore, and puppies use their mouths. Additionally, pups between 31⁄2 and 11 months are teething. During this time, your puppy may chew on the furniture or your favorite shoes to alleviate discomfort. To ward off possible destruction, supply and encourage the use of appropriate chew toys. As well, be patient and use some of the tried-and-true techniques described in this section.

Get Bitter Apple — and lots of it

Bitter Apple is nasty-tasting stuff that you can buy at most pet stores. You spray it on things you want to prevent your puppy from chewing. If you notice your puppy chewing on the furniture surrounding his station, spray everything but his bed and bone. Also, if your puppy is chewing household items, such as wires or phone cords, discreetly approach your puppy and spray the object as he’s chewing it. You should always provide your puppy with an appropriate chew after discouraging him, so after you spray an object with Bitter Apple, direct him to his bone.


Believe it or not, some puppies like the taste of Bitter Apple. If your pup is a founding member of this club, try some red-pepper juice with a little garlic or Tabasco sauce. Or you can try the new product called Bitter Bitters, which can be purchased only through your veterinarian.

Offer one main toy plus a surplus of surprises

Having too many objects to choose from can confuse your puppy. Pick a bone or toy that satisfies your puppy’s penchant for chewing, buy multiples of that item, and spread them around the house for quick access. Here are some other suggestions:

– Keep your supply of play toys in a special place (designating a box or drawer), bringing them out for special interaction times.

– Designate one toy that’s only offered during greetings. I use a hollow bone stuffed with peanut butter.

Be aware of prize envy


If you yell at your puppy after he’s begun to grab an object he shouldn’t or after he’s finished chewing, you only damage your relationship with him. Yelling afterwards communicates prize envy — what’s being grabbed is valuable because of the challenge to get it back. If you give the correction too late, your puppy thinks “Wow, what a great prize — everybody wants to take it from me!”

Instead of disciplining after the fact, set up situations so that you can correct your puppy’s thought process (see the upcoming section “Correct the thought process,” to find out how). Also, you can use treat cups after the puppy has already grabbed something you don’t want him to have (see “Use treat cups when your pup’s caught in the act,” later in this section).

Correct the thought process


Correcting a puppy younger than 12 weeks is tantamount to child abuse. Sure, he may look like he knows better than to chew your grandmother’s heirloom hanky, but I’ve got news for you: He’s only terrified. Put the situation in perspective: Imagine a giant monster chasing you down shouting unintelligible epithets. That wouldn’t be too pleasant, would it?

Correcting a puppy any age after the fact is ineffective and damaging to your relationship. On the flip side, correcting the thought process — and then shaming the object of interest — puts the negative focus outside your relationship.


Set up a situation with something your puppy’s obsessed with — tissues, shoes, a Barbie doll, or whatever else strikes his fancy — and follow these steps:

1. While your puppy’s resting in another room, set the object in the middle of the floor.

2. Bring your puppy to the object on his leash.

3. The second your puppy notices the object, say “Nope” and tug back on the leash.

4. Pick up the object and shout at it — without looking at your puppy (see Figure 16-1).

Figure 16-1: “Bad Sock!” Shout at the object, not at your puppy.

You read right: Get angry at the object, not at your puppy. You’re doing the puppy version of telling a child the stove is hot — the focus isn’t on the child’s being bad but on the fact that the object is unsafe for her.


Don’t even look at your puppy as you mouth off to the naughty thing. Your neighbors may commit you, but your puppy will love you for it.

5. Walk by the object again.

Your puppy should avoid it like the plague (see Figure 16-2). If he doesn’t, consider his age — he may be too impulsive to absorb this lesson (wait a month and repeat this sequence) or you may be looking at him, or perhaps your timing is off. Say “No” as your puppy approaches the item, and then scold it (not your puppy) sternly!

Figure 16-2: “What sock?” If you scold an object, your puppy then avoids it.


Don’t practice this exercise off-lead. If you can’t stabilize him, he’s likely to dance about and dart away from you, turning this lesson into a game of cat and mouse.

Use this technique to catch your puppy in the thought process. If your puppy already has an object in his mouth, you’re too late. Stay very calm at this point and focus on teaching your puppy to share his finds instead of coveting them. You may do so by using a drag lead (see Chapter Home Sweet Home): You can step on the drag lead and calmly open his jaw by squeezing his pressure points (located just behind his upper fangs) to remove the object. Or you can do what I do, which is teach my puppies to share their treasures by shaking a treat cup — for more information, read on.

Use treat cups when your pup’s caught in the act

Making a treat cup is easy; refer to Chapter Using Cool Tools and Groovy Gadgets for specific instructions. If your puppy hasn’t made the connection on what a treat cup is, shake the cup and offer him treats until he associates the sound with getting a treat. Now spread treat cups all over your home. Keep the sound consistent and familiar by using the same kind of cup in every room. Party cups or deli containers work best.


First you need to communicate to your puppy that your approach with the treat cup is a good thing. Therefore, anytime your puppy is chewing on an acceptable object, go over to your pup while shaking the treat cup, say “Give,” offer him a treat, and leave. When your puppy’s eating a meal, shake the cup, say “Give,” offer him a treat, and leave.

After he understands that your approach isn’t threatening, the next time your puppy grabs something you don’t want him to have, find a treat cup, shake it, and say “Give” as you offer a treat. Praise him when he releases the object and help him find a chew toy. You can say “Where’s your bone?” to encourage him.
I can hear some of you already: “Doesn’t treating encourage the behavior?” Even though this technique doesn’t discourage your puppy’s mischief, it does encourage him to share his treasures, which can save you a lot in replacement fees. A delivery system is better than a destructive puppy.


Consider all objects your puppy grabs, good or bad, as treasures, and he’ll be much more cooperative. Be mindful to be most engaging when your puppy is playing with his toy. As he matures, he’ll be less focused on “things” and most engaged in what brings you mutual satisfaction.

Calmly kiss your puppy-destroyed things goodbye

If your puppy has destroyed something, let it go. Yelling or hitting your puppy only makes him nervous and frightened, which leads to more chewing. Any puppy owner can commiserate, and I know firsthand how angry you feel, but don’t take your anger out on your pup. He doesn’t know any better.


Your puppy’s mouth is equivalent to your hands; if your puppy is nervous or fidgety, he chews. I’m sure if your puppy could surf the Net, scan the soaps, or twiddle his thumbs, he would, but because he can’t, chewing has to do.

Controlling Mouthing and Nipping

Mouthing and nipping are two different issues. Mouthing is a lesser infraction; it’s more of a communication skill to convey need or confusion or to inspire playful interaction. Even though mouthing involves less pressure than a nip and is usually less annoying, it’s still not particularly charming. Nipping, on the other hand, is a puppy thing; it’s interactive and playful. (If you have an older puppy who still nips, though, read Chapter Food and Fitnes’s section on aggression.) Nipping puppies are bossy and manipulative and need a firmer regimen.
Mouthing most often communicates a need. However, many times it’s used as an attention-getting behavior. If your puppy uses it to communicate a need to go out, respond. If, on the other hand, your puppy mouths you for a pat, ignore it. Pretend he isn’t there. If he becomes too annoying, buy Binaca mouth spray and discreetly spritz the body part your puppy is mouthing. Avoid eye contact, comments, or pushing. When you use the mouth spray this way, you’re performing a cause-and-effect correction rather than using interactive discipline. Interaction involves eye contact and physical manipulation — which are not good, because your pup’s getting the attention he wants. Cause-and-effect corrections, on the other hand, result in unpleasant reactions that your puppy will try to avoid.
Follow this cause-and-effect correction with a verbal redirection to a bone or toy, and if you can, take a few minutes to play or take your puppy to potty.


Puppies interpret discipline as confrontational play. Excessive physical corrections result in aggression, so be wise and stay cool.

Nipping is different from mouthing (nipping with sharp little needle teeth can hurt!), and it’s another one of those puppy things that you need to refocus. Consider this: When your puppy still hung out with his littermates, he nipped during play and to determine his rank. When you bring your puppy home, this behavior continues.


What your puppy wants to know is who’s a puppy and who’s not. The answer determines the type of mouthing or nipping he uses: soft or playful. Usually, everyone gets categorized as a puppy. Why? Well, for starters, most people pull their hands away when nipped. To a human, drawing back is self-defense; to a pup, however, it’s an invitation to play. Even if you were to correct your young puppy, he wouldn’t understand (it’s like correcting a 1-year-old baby for pulling your hair). So what should you do? Good question. Your approach depends on your puppy’s age. Check out the following sections to find how to correct your pup.

Correcting pups younger than 16 weeks

Young puppies mouth a lot. They mouth when playing, and they also mouth to communicate their needs. If your puppy starts mouthing, ask yourself these questions: Is he hungry or thirsty? Does he need to eliminate? Is he sleepy? Does he need to play? Remember, puppies mouth when they feel needy (just like a baby cries). So, if your puppy won’t let up with the mouthing, ask yourself whether he might want something, such as an outing or a drink.


Physical corrections get interpreted as confrontational play, so it’s at this point that a puppy’s mouthing can escalate to nipping as a defensive reaction to your corrections.

The following advice can help you control mouthing and nipping:

– If your puppy doesn’t need anything and he still won’t quit, crate or isolate him with a favorite bone. Don’t scold your puppy as you isolate him. Calmly place the puppy in his area.

– Whenever your puppy licks you, say “Kisses” and praise him warmly. Encourage licking by slathering your hands with a frozen stick of butter. Yum! With the butter treat, he’ll gladly lick your hand instead of mouthing it.

– Withhold your attention when your puppy nips softly. Keep your hand still, because withdrawing your hand is an invitation to play and nip harder.

– If your puppy starts biting down hard, turn quickly, say “Ep, ep!” and glare into his eyes for two seconds. By the mere fact that you don’t look at him often, this intense glare will surprise him. Just as quickly, go back to your normal routine. If he knows the direction “Kisses,” encourage this to enable a reconnection.

If he persists, try spritzing yourself with Bitter Apple or putting a leash on your puppy so you can tug the lead sharply to the side when he nips hard. If necessary, place him in a quiet area to cool off.

Correcting pups over 16 weeks

If you have a Peter Pan pup, one who still nips when he’s older than 16 weeks, you need to start curbing it now. Although nipping will continue (for a few weeks yet), you need to make clear that it’s unacceptable. Following are a few tips to help you:


Stop all challenge games. These games include wrestling, tug of war, chasing your puppy around, and teasing. When you engage in these types of activities, you’re sending the wrong message. These games teach puppies to challenge you and to clamp down hard on any object — a leash, the laundry, your shirt, or even your skin. For game alternatives, see Chapter Ten Fun Games.

Discourage all nipping, whether it’s a bite on your arm or a nibble on your finger. Teeth don’t belong on human skin, period.

Put the leading applications in Chapters Teaching Everyday Etiquette and Training through Your Pup’s Growth Stages into action. It’s time for you to start structuring your interaction.

Purchase a few weapons to use in defense, such as Binaca mouth spray, Bitter Apple spray, and a blaster or long-distance squirt gun.


Never stare at your pup while you spritz or spray him. Doing so turns an unpleasant result into a confrontational interaction.

Leave a leash on your puppy so you have something to direct him with and so you can avoid physical confrontation. If your puppy’s not wearing a leash, place a short drag lead onto his buckle collar.

If your puppy begins to mouth, turn to him and use a lead or collar to tug his head from your body, or spritz the region he’s nipping with a mouth spray. Don’t glare at your puppy as you correct him — he’ll perceive your actions as confrontational play.

If he continues to nip, ask yourself these questions: Do I look convincing? Am I tugging or pulling? (Pulling encourages play.) Is my puppy taking me seriously? You may need more training before you earn his respect. Please reference Chapters Teaching Everyday Etiquette and Training through Your Pup’s Growth Stages for good exercises to start you off.

Handling grabbing and chasing

Puppies, being puppies, are bound to chase and grab at things. If the thing being grabbed is a ball or squeak toy, you don’t have a problem. But if it’s the children or your clothing, well, that’s a problem. Your next goal is to teach the puppy what’s acceptable to grab and pull at and what’s off-limits.

The bathrobe assault

If your puppy’s a clothing grabber, dilute some Bitter Apple spray in a plant mister and carry it with you when you suspect an assault. Don’t turn and face your puppy when he jumps after your clothes (he’ll interpret your actions as confrontational). Without looking or responding, spray your clothing discreetly while your puppy is instigating this interaction, and continue walking.


If this problem persists, get help now. It can develop into postpuberty aggression. No joke.

The child chaser

Kids running around the yard, apartment, or house are a big temptation. If you were a puppy, you’d be jumping and nipping, too. Because you can’t teach kids to stop being kids, you need to help your puppy control his impulses. Follow these steps:

1. Put your pup on his leash and ask the kids to race around in front of you.

2. Anytime your puppy looks tempted to lunge, tug back and say “Shhh.”

3. Repeat as often as necessary to gain control.

After you’ve tamed your puppy inside, repeat the routine outside: first on the leash and then on a long line.

Grounding the Joyous Jumper

Everybody knows a jumper — a knock-you-over-when-you-come-in jumper, a muddy-paws-on-the-couch jumper, and a counter cruiser (the puppy who likes to sniff along countertops). Jumping is a surefire attention-getter for pups. The first step in solving your problem is to understand how it became a problem in the first place. Once again, your puppy’s not to blame.
Puppies see us as other puppies, and eye contact is a big method of canine communication. Our eyes are above theirs, so to be gracious and greet us properly, puppies think they must jump. The first time this happens, you give your pup a hug because you think he’s so cute. But after about the tenth jump, you realize that his jumping is not so cute. So the puppy usually gets a shove. But what’s a shove to a puppy? You guessed it: confrontational play. The puppy jumps higher and harder the next time. So you try a little toe stepping, paw grabbing, and yelling — and, well, all of those reactions receive the same effect. After that hubbub, your puppy thinks jumping is very interactive and very fun.


Puppies who jump need to learn the four paw rule, which means that they receive no attention until all four paws are on the floor. That said, everybody in your household needs to respect this rule, too — friends and visitors alike. For your puppy to understand that the four paw rule applies everywhere and with everyone, consistency is a must! Soon you’ll realize that your puppy isn’t the most difficult one to train!

You’re home! You’re home!

The best way to remedy jumping when you arrive home is to ignore your pup. Try it for a week, using these suggestions:

– Come home and ignore your puppy until he’s given up the jumping vigil.

– Keep a basket of balls or squeaky toys by the door. When you come in, toss one on the ground to refocus your puppy’s energy.

– If your puppy’s crated, don’t let him out immediately; wait until he’s calm.

If you have a big puppy or a super-persistent jumper, you have two options: Buy some Binaca mouth spray or a squirt gun and spray a boundary in between your bodies, or put on an overcoat to protect yourself (while you ignore his jumps). Whether it takes 2 minutes or 20, go about your business until your puppy calms down. The best lessons learned are the conclusions your puppy makes on his own: If sitting gets your attention, then sitting he will do!


If you have kids, when the puppy jumps up, tell them to “close up shop,” and you do the same. Cross your arms in front of your chest and look to the sky (see Figure 16-3). Don’t look down until the coast is clear. Remember that consistency is key. If one family member follows the program but the others encourage jumping, your puppy will jump-test all visitors.

Figure 16-3: Close up shop until your puppy calms down.


Puppies mimic their leaders’ energy levels. If you come home to an excited puppy and you, too, get excited, you’re sending the message that his excitement is acceptable. Instead, come in calm and wait until he’s settled down to greet your puppy.

We have company!

The doorbell rings, and here’s what happens: Your puppy runs to the door, paws flying everywhere, jumps all over the arriving guests, and because all eyes are on him, gets even more wound up — until, that is, you drag him to the basement. Then you apologize to your guests, who are no doubt wondering why you don’t train your crazy puppy. Bummer.
It’s a common scenario. Nobody’s in control. Nobody’s comfortable, except maybe the puppy. But even that passes if you have to isolate him. Fortunately, there’s a better way. Remember the idiom “Good manners start at home”? Well, the same rule applies for puppies.
First, establish a routine regimen and train your company how to act around your puppy — and you thought training your puppy was tough!

– Practice doorbell setups.

– Do the reverse yo-yo.

– Create a greeting station.

– Designate a greeting toy.

Flip to Chapter Teaching Everyday Etiquette for details on each of these strategies.
If you’re sitting down, anchor your puppy until he’s calm enough to greet your guests. (Chapter Teaching Everyday Etiquette gives details on anchoring.)

Attention, please!

If you can ignore your puppy, the silent treatment is your most effective response to a pup who’s begging for attention. If I kept bugging you for a game of Parcheesi and you didn’t look up once, I’d go elsewhere for fun. After your puppy stops jumping, encourage him by saying “Get your toy!” and let him pay attention to that.


If your puppy’s a real nudger, keep a lead (short or long) attached to his collar. When he jumps, grasp the lead and tug your puppy sideways quickly (this move is called a fly flick) as you continue to ignore him (give no eye contact, body language, or verbal corrections).

The fly flick says “How dare you” in the most passive manner; it’s not tough or abusive. You just grasp the collar or leash with your thumb and forefinger and flick your puppy off to one side. You may need to perform the fly flick several times before your pup gets the message. When he finally sits down perplexed, give him a great big hug.
Also effective against a nudger is Binaca mouth spray as a boundary between your bodies. Spray your clothing as your puppy is approaching and then refocus his energy to a toy or game.

I wanna see what’s on the counter, too!

Counter cruising is a bad habit that’s difficult to break. Blatant corrections actually encourage sneaky behavior such as counter cruising behind your back. Even though you think your puppy’s grabbing out of spite, he’s not.


The reason your puppy grabs when your back is turned or you leave the room is so he can avoid a challenge: Your puppy sees your eyes and mouth (hands equal mouths in the puppy world) interacting with objects on the countertops all day. When he copies you, you bark (shouting is the same as barking to a puppy) and challenge him for whatever the prize is. Do you see the canine message? “Whatever is on the counter must be great, so I better grab it when all backs are turned or I’ll have to give it up.” Follow these steps to solve this problem with dignity:

1. Place something tempting on the counter and bring your puppy into the room on leash.

2. The instant your puppy looks up to sniff the counter, tug the lead back, say “Nope,” and shout at the counter “Bad counter!”

3. Continue to work in the kitchen, catching your puppy the moment he so much as looks longingly at the countertop. When you do catch him, repeat Step 2.

If your puppy’s already on the counter, you’re too late to correct him. Instead, give him a good fly flick by curling your finger under his collar to tug him back or by tugging his leash sideways. Yelling or shoving your puppy after he’s already on the counter or in possession of something will only reinforce his behavior. After all, a touch is attention.


If mealtimes are too distracting for your puppy, station him while you cook (see Chapter Teaching Everyday Etiquette for advice on stationing).

That couch sure does look comfy


Most people invite puppies on the furniture only to regret it later. If you have a puppy and you don’t want him on your furniture permanently, do yourself a favor and discourage the behavior from the start.

Level training for young pups

If you have a delinquent furniture lover, the habit’s not too difficult to break as long as you’re consistent. Follow these steps to level train your young pup:

1. Place your puppy on a leash and walk up to your couch or bed.

2. The second he prepares for the jump, tug back and say “Nope!”

3. Encourage him to sit and, when he does, pet him.

4. Walk back and forth until he sits automatically.

After your puppy has these steps down, try the same setup with a family member on the couch or bed:

1. Lead your puppy to the couch or bed and sit down yourself.

2. If he goes to jump, tug sideways and ignore him until he sits quietly.

3. Reward his cooperation with a chew toy.


Young puppies should be level trained because their seeing you above them, whether on a couch or bed, communicates your authority passively. As your puppy matures, you can permission train him as detailed later in this section.


Be fair — set up a play station nearby to help your puppy feel welcome and directed when you’re relaxing on the furniture. (See Chapter Teaching Everyday Etiquette for tips on setting up play stations.)

Permission training for older puppies

To tell you the truth, I enjoy cuddling with my dogs on the couch and sometimes even on the bed — especially when I’m sick. However, each of my dogs was taught to come up only when given permission. Sound confusing? It really isn’t. Your puppy can learn anything if your rules are consistent.


Wait until your puppy is at least 6 months old to introduce the concept of “permission.” Until this point, you should level train to ensure that he respects your authority and doesn’t see you as a puppy.

Follow these steps to teach your puppy to join you on the furniture when he’s invited:

1. No furniture for one week.

This is an important step if you want to earn your puppy’s respect and focus. For this step, follow the steps outlined in the level training section.

2. Bring your puppy to the furniture and ask him to “Sit” and “Wait.”

Sitting and looking to you is how your puppy should learn to ask permission to join you (see Figure 16-4).

3. Next, tap the cushion and instruct “Up.”

He’ll freeze and look confused.

4. Guide him up gently, and pet him lovingly.

5. After 5 to 10 minutes, lead him off the couch and say “Off.”

Figure 16-4: Your puppy should ask permission to join you by sitting and looking to you.
Invite him up only once or twice each day. The rest of the time, direct him to his station by saying “Go to your mat.”


If your puppy gets hyper on the furniture, he’s too young to contain the excitement of being on your level. Wait a couple months before reintroducing permission training.

1 Remedying Leash Resistance

Whether your dog is pulling or just stopping dead in his tracks, the result is a no-win situation for everyone involved: Walking your dog becomes a downer and his social skills will be sharply limited.

2 The lunge and drag

A dog who drags you about at the end of the leash is a bear to control. This situation is no fun, it’s rather unsightly, and you get all those comments from passersby like “Who’s walking who here?” Permitting such a display communicates a message that transcends the walk itself. The dog perceives himself as in charge of the walk, and it’s a worldview that may extend to the rest of his day.
Fortunately, if you’re caught in this cycle, it’s fairly easy to break. The first order of business is choosing a proper teaching collar. My top picks are in Chapter Home Sweet Home. Next, set aside times to reteach your puppy his leash manners. Start in a low distraction environment and gradually progress into more social situations. Follow these steps:

1. Hold a 6-foot leash in your hand or tie it around your waist.

2. Walk in a straight line (see Figure 16-5a). If your puppy races out, call his name and quickly turn about and walk in the opposite direction (see Figure 16-5b).

In the likelihood that he doesn’t follow, he’ll get a quick unpleasant tug, reminding him to pay more attention the next time!

3. Repeat these turnabouts until your dog is predictably focusing on you.

4. Now break out into a circle, holding the leash behind your bottom to push the leash back with the trunk of your body if your puppy starts his pulling.

Figure 16-5: Walk forward, turning as your puppy pulls, and then praise him as he catches up.

Mule wannabes

If your puppy plops down on the sidewalk and refuses to walk with you (don’t you love walking a mule?), don’t do the following two things:

– Drag him along (for obvious reasons)

– Turn to face him, run back, or lift him up


Acknowledging your puppy’s resistance with coddling will create a dog who is plagued by learned helplessness. Coddling won’t teach him how to follow along. You have a few options to stop your pup’s resistance. Follow these guidelines:

– Let your puppy drag his leash about inside. Review the leash training techniques in Chapter Teaching Everyday Etiquette, practicing them again if necessary.

– Lure him along with a favorite treat or toy. Gradually extend the distance between each reinforcement.

– Condition your puppy to the sound of a treat cup and/or a clicker. Use these combinations to encourage and reinforce your puppy forward.

– If he resists you, instead of turning to urge him forward, simply kneel in front of him (still facing forward) and tap the ground with your finger while you shake the treat cup or clap your hands to urge him along.

Refocusing a Runner

If your puppy is constantly running away from you, please ask yourself what he’s running from. He may be running away from you personally, or he may be running after another creature, which is probably due to his instinctive nature.
If he’s a breed that instinctively likes to chase other creatures, it’s your responsibility to keep him safe from any harm that may come from getting caught up in his genetically driven impulse. This warrants your surveillance either on a leash or long line or in an enclosed area.


If your dog is clearly running away from you, your reaction to his behavior may be making matters worse. Yelling at him either when he’s running or after you’re reunited won’t warm him to your calling. In fact, your stringency may be rather off-putting. Being with your puppy is like playing on a team: You’re his captain. Wouldn’t you want to have a captain who was positive and upbeat even when you made a mistake? Give your puppy this same respect.

Please review the skills in Chapter Training through Your Pup’s Growth Stages, which outlines the “Come” instruction as the human phrase equivalent to the huddle.

Methinks I Need Some Help!

Finding the right help for training, if you need it, is essential. Training is a joint effort for you and your puppy. My clients would be the first to tell you that training is a blend of the right actions — from how you hold the leash and the tone of your voice to the way you stand — that helps your puppy learn what you’re trying to teach.


Free advice never pays. If you try a little of this and a little of that, guess who’s going to suffer? That’s right — your puppy. You’ll make the poor guy crazy.


Professional trainers for your pup

A couple associations certify and list trainers in different parts of the country. The APDT (Association of Pet Dog Trainers) certifies and welcomes professional dog trainers and educators who are committed to their profession and who seek like-minded people to meet and exchange ideas with; it holds yearly conferences to promote ideas, educate, and reinforce the ideals of the dog-training profession. The APDT promotes dog-friendly training techniques and serves to educate the public, as well the veterinary professionals, about the benefits of a positive training approach. Here’s how to contact the group:

The Association of Pet Dog Trainers

150 Executive Center Drive, Box 35 Greenville, SC 29615 Phone 800-738-3647 E-mail Web site

The IACP (International Association of Canine Professionals) welcomes all professionals associated with dogs, including trainers, groomers, kennel owners, pet sitters, merchants, and veterinarians. They list members, and although they mindfully attest to high standards, a membership fee can buy association. It’s still up to you to determine whether an individual is up to your standards. Of course, membership in a respectable association is a good sign. You can reach the IACP here:

International Association of Canine Professionals

P.O. Box 560156

Montverde, FL 34756-0156

Phone 877-843-4227 or 407-469-2008


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Finding the right puppy trainer

Finding a good trainer — one who is well-rounded in his or her knowledge of puppy behavior — can be a real lifesaver. Many of my clients call at their wits’ end, only to discover a wonderful puppy who emerges after they (the people) modify their own behavior.
In my experience, it’s usually the owner who’s confused. So I train the owner, and the puppy behaves. Training is often just as simple as that. If you need help training your pup, scout out professionals in your area to get some good leads and call today. You and your puppy will be glad you did. The following sections look at a few of the training options that are available to you.

A personal trainer

I’m a personal puppy trainer. However, I train more than puppies — I train people, too. When looking for a personal trainer, you’re looking for someone to train you (as well as your puppy).
Following are some of my training ethics, which I recommend you look for in any personal trainer:

– Put yourself in your client’s shoes.

– Know that the client is trying to do the right thing.

– Understand the puppy’s personality and listen to what the puppy is trying to communicate with his behavior.

– Know when you can’t help. Be honest with your client.

– Help your client understand why the puppy is behaving inappropriately. Help the client think for her puppy.

– Teach the client to think like a puppy, enabling mutual communication. (Turn to Chapter Socialization and Civility for info on speaking Doglish.)

– Help the client structure her home.

– Teach the client patience, tolerance, understanding, and sympathy. After all, she obviously loves her puppy.


Not all trainers are in this profession because they love puppies first and foremost. Some of them are in it for the money — I suggest you beware of those types. Other trainers are wonderful with puppies but don’t excel in human communication skills. Look for someone who can train you as well as your puppy.

A group trainer

Group training classes can be a real blast. They can also be a puppy owner’s worst nightmare. So what makes the difference? No, it isn’t your puppy. No matter how badly behaved your pup is around other puppies, the instructor is the one who makes or breaks the class. When exploring different classes, talk to the instructor and get a feel for his or her style of training.


Here are some questions you can ask:

How many puppies are in the class? Are the classes divided by age or class levels? The class size should be limited (I limit mine to six) and must be divided by age and experience. I offer Puppy Kindergarten classes for puppies who are less than 6 months old, Grade School for inexperienced pupils, and High School and College for advanced students.

Do you have a favorite breed of puppy, or do you have experience with a wide variety of breeds? The answer can indicate a strong bias on the part of the instructor. Make sure your instructor isn’t breed-biased. Your puppy should be seen as a unique and special personality, not a stereotype. Your instructor should be versed in breed-specific tendencies, however, and help you understand your puppy’s individual character.

What do you teach in class? Basic commands are necessary: Heel, Sit-Stay, Come, and Down. Find out whether the instructor spends time explaining how to integrate these directions in your life.

Which is better — private or group training?

People often ask me what the best way to train is: group or private lessons. Honestly, it depends on your individual situation, but often the best approach is to combine the two. Private lessons give you one-on-one attention and a complete focus on your frustrations and goals. A well-run class, however, exposes your puppy to a social atmosphere while at the same time organizing lessons that can be repeated at home.

Are the classes inside or outside? Having access to both environments is best.

Are behavior problems discussed? Bad behavior is often what encourages many people to train their puppies. The instructor should be as comfortable talking about problem behavior as he or she is with command training.

Do you have a make-up policy? If not, can you speak to the instructor to find out what you’ve missed?

Is family participation encouraged? Can the kids come? The instructor should help you understand how your puppy relates to your entire family and should encourage everyone to participate in the training.

Using books and videos

Are you a do-it-yourself type of person? I’m all for it as long as you follow the right advice. Obviously, because you’re reading this book, you have some faith in my methods. However, not everyone suggests a positive approach to training, so be selective when choosing your reading material, and call for some help if matters don’t improve. You train your puppy only once, so do it right.

Sarah Hodgson
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