All family members need to establish themselves as pack leaders.
Puppies are naturally pushy. Like young children, they need to be taught boundaries. Establishing rules and boundaries, for your puppy, will make
him/her an enjoyable family member.
Dogs are pack animals by nature, and they will seek out the pack leader and want to be with him/her. Pack leaders are always stable and just. If the dog senses weakness they will attempt to take over the leadership position.
Some indications that your puppy does not view you as the leader,
Any of these behaviors need to be corrected immediately, and you need to evaluate your leadership skills.
Are you giving a mixed message by being inconsistent?
Dogs communicate through body language, and they will read yours also.
Establishing yourself as the leader
You must be physical with your puppy to establisdh your leadership role. He does not understand human language. Once you have established yourself as the leader, you will be able to teach him spoken commands. But the leadership role must be established physically, through handling and body language. If you do not do this, he will not listen to your spoken commands. Remember, they communicate through body language. You may not be able to read theirs, but they can read yours.
Some puppies are more subordinate by nature and they will follow easily, others tend to be more dominant and might challenge you for the position of pack leader.
Start by doing a few simple exercises that will establish you as the pack leader.
Decide ahead of time what sound or word you are going to use for correction.
It’s not necessary to shout, they have excellent hearing. If you don’t believe me, try sneaking a treat out of the bag and see how quickly they appear.
Some people will tell you to say “No bite” “No pee” “No bark” etc. Why not have just one sound that simply means “stop doing what you are doing”.
A low growl works well, since that is what their mother used. But Ah Ah! Shht! Hey!, or any other short word or sound will do.
1 Sit on the floor, hold the puppy out in front of you (with both hands). He/she might struggle and dropping him/her would cause him/her to lose trust in you.
2 Hold him/her away from you and look directly into his/her eyes.
3 If he/she struggles give him/her a quick shake (not harsh, just enough to get his/her attention). Use your chosen sound or word in stern calm voice.
4 When he/she stops struggling, praise him/her in a higher pitched pleasant voice.
5 Repeat the exercise until he/she no longer struggles, varying the length of time from 15 to 45 seconds
Repeat the exercise in different rooms and with different family members, until every able family member is able to hold him/her without a struggle.
For larger dogs the exercise can be done by standing over the dog, placing your hands under his/her chest and lifting his/her front leg off the floor
Remember each family member has to establish their own leadership role; you cannot do it for them. We’ll discuss babies and small children later.
You can also do this exercise in front of guests, and have them talk to the puppy and pet him/her when he/she is calm. Early socialization is very important.
1 Sitting on the floor, cradle the puppy in your arms on his/her back
2 Move him/her away from your body so he/she is in mid air, holding him/her securely with one arm beneath him/her and your hand supporting his/her head. If he/she struggles follow steps #3 through #5 above
3 Repeat this exercise until he/she no longer struggles For larger puppies, do this across your lap
1 Kneeling on the floor, gently lay your puppy on his/her side with his/her legs pointing away from you. If he/she struggles, you can hold him/her firmly by the scruff of the neck with one hand while holding his/her midsection down with the other hand. He/she should raise his/her back legs, exposing himself/herself to you as a sign of submission.
2 If he/she tries to get up or to nip at you, use your chosen sound or word to correct him/her. When he/she is calm, praise him/her calmly. Don’t use excitement or he/she will want to get up.
Repeat the corrections until he/she is calm and quiet.
While in the above position, when he/she is calm,
1 Place your fingers around his/her muzzle with firm but gentle pressure while praising him/her.
2 Handle all four paws, and toes squeezing gently on each one.
3 Open his/her mouth and put your fingers inside for a few seconds.
If he/she struggles at any point repeat with corrections until he/she is calm, then lavish with praise.
The purpose of these exercises is to teach trust and respect. Do not use these exercises for discipline.
Repeat the exercises briefly, several times a day for the first week, and then daily for a month, and as needed thereafter
For puppies with a dominant nature, you might have to go back to the beginning occasionally, and repeat the basics. It is much easier to teach them when they are still young, than to try to correct behavior later on.
Your goal is to be able to repeat these exercises anywhere, at anytime, without a struggle.
For babies and small children
Small children need to be monitored around puppies. You cannot blame a puppy for biting a child if the child is pulling his hair or hitting him.
If your puppy demonstrates any type of dominant behavior toward the child, use the corrections from above. The child cannot establish itself as a pack leader, but the puppy needs to know that the child “belongs to” the pack leader and therefore is off limits.
Do not allow a puppy to use you as a chew toy
If your puppy had littermates, and was allowed to stay with his mother until at least 10 weeks of age, he will have been taught how to play nice. If not, he might think your hands or your toddler are fair game to use for teething.
If your puppy plays too rough, you should use your chosen word for correction and use your fingers to nip at him/her. If they do not stop atter 3 warnngs, take them by the scruff of the neck and look into their eyes, showing your teeth and giving a low growl. You might feel silly, but this is a language they understand. Expect them to yipe. You are not hurting them, that sound is a sign that they are giving up. Release them and walk away from them. Do not show affection until they come to you.
If you have shown that you are a calm, assertive, stable pack leader, one who is fair and just, they will seek you out and want to be close to you. If they trust you they will not be afraid to approach you.
All Puppies will chew when they are teething and those sharp little teeth can do a lot of damage. It is important to channel this natural occupation in the right direction, because many things that they chew on can be harmful to them. Chewing on wood, they can get splinters of wood stuck in their throat or their intestines. Electrical cords pose a real danger to the, pet and to your home.
Puppies need to be supervised at all times. There will be times that you can[not watch them. At those times they should be put into a pen, away from anthing that could cause harm. While supervising them, if you catch them chewing on an unacceptable item, remove the item from them and replace it with a chew toy. When they have finished with that chew, spray the unacceptable object with bitter apple and put it in his/her mouth. When he/she spits it out, praise them. Repeat this several times. If they don't spit it out, spray it again and repeat. If the Bitter apple does not work, try rubbing alcohol.
Once you have discovered which one (Bitter Apple or Rubbing Alcohol) works best, then take them around to all electrical cords and spray the cord and put it in his/her mouth, praise them when they spit it out.
Repeat these exercises periodically.
Puppy proof your home just as you would for a toddler. Keep all sharp objects out of puppy's reach. Put away all household cleaning products and harmful chemicals. If you have children, remember to pick up all small toys that could be swallowed.
Do not allow puppy to chew on old shoes or articles of clothing. They are not able to distinquish between old shoes and new shoes.
Some acceptable, safe items to keep on hand
Barking can be annoying to you and anyone within earshot. I've you've ever tried to fall asleep with a dog barking, a few houses away, you know just how bad it can be. Barking can be hepful at times, but excessive barking needs to be controlled. Excessive barking can even get you evicted.
Dogs in a pack do not communicate, with each other, by barking, they coommunicate through body language. Barking is only used to signal an intruder or a danger.
The best way to deal with barking, is to "nip it in the bud". When a puppy barks or growls at you, it is pretty cute, and generally harmless, but that is the time to correct it. Don't start anything that you do not want to become a habit. If you are efating and the dog whines and you giveit a nibble, you can bet they will start whining everytime you sit down to eat. They are fast learners, especially when they get a reward.
Do not teach your dog to beg for food by whining or barking. It is not a good idea to reward them for something that you are trying to control. It can be very confusing to reward them for barking one time, and scold them for it the next.
If your puppy barks or growls at you, pick them up and use your "correction sound or word". For a larger puppy or adult dog, walk toward them, standing straight, looking them in the eye and use your "correction word". If they don't stop, give them a quick nip with your fingers. That should be enough to stop them, if it doesn't then give your dominant, low growl, showing your teeth. Never get into a shouting match with them, they will always win.
If they are barking because someone is at your door, make them stop barking and back away from the door before you open it. If they bark at people or other dogs when you are walking them, or in the yard and someone passes by, correct it immediately. Always praise them when they stop.
You will have greater success in controlling the barking, if you correct it the very first time it happens.
For an older dog, or one that is persistent, you can use a can with pennies in it and toss it at their feet to startle them. Always praise them when they stop.
If your puppy came from a small, reputable breeder, the socialization would have started the second they were born. They will have been handled and weighed daily. Frequent, gentle handling is very importnt to their early development. Studies have shown, that puppies that have little, to no, human contact between the ages of 3 to 16 weeks, will be fearful of humans. They will run from you and hide in a corner and shake when you approach them. This is not easlily overcome and some dogs never get over their fear.
Assuming that your breeder started the socialization process early, by handling them daily and introduced them to household smells and sounds, your puppy should adapt to his/her new home fairly quickly. But it does not stop there. Two weeks after he/she has had their 3rd set of shots, they can be taken out in public. Take them to the pet store or to a park. Let other people pet them and hold them. Include men, women and older children, with supervision. (I always make the child sit on the floor, you cannot drop them off of a floor). Introduce them to as many new people, sights, smells and sounds as possible, as soon as possible.
A well socialized dog will be curious about new things and not fearful. They might approach something new with caution, but they should not run from it. If you drop a pan on the floor, it will startle them, but after their initial reaction, they should recover qickly, come to investigate.
If you have children, make sure they handle the dog gently. Young children should not be left, unsupervised, with the puppy. The child can injure the dog and in defense, the dog could injure the child. Early mishandling or abuse from a child can create a lifetime of hate and mistrust of children.
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