The First 3 Things You Need to Teach Your Puppy

Michael Baugh CDBC CPDT-KSA CSAT

These are not the only things you need to teach your puppy. They are, however, the fist things I think we should be teaching young dogs.

#3 Come When I Call. This one takes priority for me because it’s so easy. Our little puppies are already following us around, curious about our every movement. Let’s use that to our advantage. Call them often and give a small bit of food every time they come. To make it even more effective, choose a word or phrase (also called a cue) that you will use every time, and every time they come you be sure to give that little morsel of food. Your dog will grow up having learned that coming when called is always good news. They’ll run to you every time you call.

#2 Potty Here Not There. Young puppies learn this pretty quickly too. And, let’s be honest, no one wants a dog of any size pooping and peeing in the house. My clients follow these simple dog potty training instructions and enjoy great success. Follow the link for some relieve. (haha).

#1 You are Safe. This is my number one pick of the top three because it’s so vitally important. More than anything we should be teaching our young puppies how to safely navigate the human world. You’ve probably heard this called puppy socialization. That’s a well-known term that’s often misunderstood as just exposing the puppy to a bunch of experiences. I like to think of it, instead, as thoughtfully introducing the puppy to the sights, sounds, and experiences of the human world that they will encounter throughout their lives. Let’s set our puppies up to have new experiences, yes, but to also learn these encounters are safe. We don’t flood the puppy with an overdose of stimulation by taking him to a huge family cookout. That can backfire and cause long-lasting fear. Instead we let him meet new people and process new stimuli at his own pace one or two at a time. Giving the puppy choices, rather than forcing him to “handle” new and potentially overwhelming situations is key. This this is how we teach our young dog behavioral flexibility. Follow the link to learn more about that. I also recommend the book Life Skills for Puppies.

Learning is a lifelong process for dogs, just like it is for humans. These first 3 things are a great starting point. But, let’s keep going. The possibilities are nearly limitless.

Michael Baugh teaches dog training in Houston, TX. He specializes in fearful and aggressive dog behavior.

Puppy Potty Training (it works for adult dogs too)

Michael Baugh CDBC CPDT-KSA CSAT

Potty training is simple, but not alway easy. It takes vigilance and patience in equal measure.

  1. Management

While in training your dog should have two states of existence 1) supervised  2) safely confined.  You are eliminating (pun intended) any chance of a mistake.  

Never set yourself up to ask the question,  “Where’s the dog?”  There’s a good chance they are in the next room peeing. And that’s your error.

  1. Making outside your dog’s first and best choice 

Take your dog on-leash to the chosen outside area in which he or she is to eliminate.  

Optional: Give a verbal cue such as “go potty” or “do your business.”  Choose something you are comfortable saying in public.  

Praise and treat immediately upon completion (follow up with optional play or petting).  You’re teaching your dog to trade urine and feces for a high-value reward and that’s better than simply getting relief in the dining room.

Clean up the mess.  

DO NOT IMMEDIATELY REQUIRE YOUR DOG TO COME INSIDE after eliminating.

  1. Catching mistakes

Ignore mistakes you didn’t see happen.  They are ancient history to your dog.

Interrupt mistakes you see.  Joyfully take your dog outside and finish step one.

Never scold or yell at your dog.  This could make them shy about eliminating in front of you and slow the process.

  1. Knowing when to go

Try often.  We are always looking for opportunities to reinforce this good behavior.  

Always take the dog out immediately after: waking up, eating or playing.

 

Dog Training: Teaching, Learning, and the Gift of Humility

Michael Baugh CDBC CPDT-KSA

I’ve been a professional dog trainer for a long time, since 1999. Sit me down over a bottle of wine for a chat about behavior science and I can hold my own with any of my peers and many of my mentors (better than I can hold the wine probably). I’ve got the credentials. I’ve got the education. I’ve got the google reviews. And yes, I’ve even got the t-shirt (more than a few). And, let’s be honest; I’m proud of all of that.

But, let me also be honest with myself. None of that – none of the dogs and clients that have come before – matter as much as the next dog and the next client. This work is humbling. There is no room for bravado or hubris. No flippant mention of the hundred dogs I’ve seen or the hardest cases I’ve solved will get me through my next consultation if I’m not humble enough to take it on like it’s my first. Bring your A-game, yes. But, as the saying goes, leave your pride at the door. That dog won’t be fooled. He may not bite me on the hand but he will cut me at the knees and bring me fumbling back to basics faster than I can say where I earned my last degree.

Note to self, all of this. Preaching comes easier than the practice.

I am deep into a continuing education course as I write this. It’s meaty content – still dog training, but outside my area of expertise. Learning is hard work, grit and grind. It’s the gift of taking pause and taking in what you don’t know. Opening the mind, rearranging all the old truth to make room for the new. It’s the gift, too, of humility – standing less rigidly – bowing more with arms outstretched – the weight of ego falling away to make room for the heft of knowledge.

This is why I think of you, my clients, so often these days because I am also bending and learning the way you have. It’s hard wrapping myself around the newness and the knowledge. I’ve been inspired by you – so open to learning, so kind, and smart. I’m inspired by your dogs, so willing to risk, so eager to take on the world, hungry to loosen and adapt. Learning is hard and I’m reminded now each day of how well you do it. Sure a tough case will cut me down if I’m too stiff and haughty. But, more often you lift me up, kind learners and your dogs. You are the heroes of my day’s work, day in and day out. Your artful skill of taking in and applying new information so quickly and with such aplomb takes my breath. I don’t admit it often much less preach it enough. But, here I am – less on my high horse than on my little soap box – calling it out so everyone knows. You, dear people and you, beloved dogs. You make me look smart. And, I am as grateful for that as I am humbled by your awesomeness.

Michael Baugh teaches dog training in Houston TX. He specializes in aggressive dog training.