Your Puppy Survival Guide
Welcome to the Alaric family and thank you for giving one of our puppies a loving home!! It means so much to us that our puppies are going to live their lives with a family who will give them the love, attention, instruction and exercise they will need to grow into healthy, happy adults! May you have many long years together. Please never hesitate to call me about any concerns or issues that may arise! We will always work together to address the needs of your puppy. In the excitement of your visit I may not have conveyed some really helpful things to help you through the initial settling in and growth period of your puppy. It’s good to have a quick reference available, perhaps post this on your refrigerator for the entire family to see and refer to. Keep those photos coming!! I love to see the puppies in their new homes!!
- Attention is the mother of all behaviors!! Teach your puppy his name. Call him by his name frequently and when he looks at you, click and treat and tell him “yes.” Yes is a terminal marker for all cues when training so he knows what he has done is positive. Do this in the house as frequently as possible. He will begin too offer the behavior. That is what you want. So even if you have not said his name but see him looking at you, click and treat! You want him to begin to offer the desired behaviors. That is how you shape a behavior for a cue you wish to teach him. (Refer to “When Pigs Fly” & “Puppy Culture DVDs”)
- Always have a clicker and treats on hand. Perhaps in a bowl in the kitchen and in your pocket. You may need to purchase more clickers for everyone in the family!! You will need them a great deal in the upcoming year or so.
- No free lunch for him. He needs to work for anything he wants. Teach him to sit. Bring the treat just over his head and he will automatically sit. Click and treat, “yes.” He offered the behavior. Repeat this a number of times. Then add the cue word “sit.” Every day for three to five minutes and he will learn sit very quickly. Have him sit before he goes out the door. Have him sit for his meals. Have him sit before getting a treat or a toy to play with. Teaching him to work for rewards is very important to the relationship. Dogs are very motivated by what is going to improve their lives. If he knows all he has to do is sit to get a treat, he will be very happy to do that and he will respect his humans more for making him earn them.
- Keep his schedule as consistent as possible for eating, pottying and sleeping. Puppies need 16-18 hours of sleep per day. It may be tempting to keep him out and play with him for hours, but he needs his sleep to grow and stay healthy. An hour or so of play then sleep. Try not to over do it, especially the first few weeks. Don’t worry about waking him up. The litter’s weaning pen was right at our front door. When they sleep, nothing wakes them. All the noise is good for them to become familiar with.
- He should respond to “outside” “potty potty” when going out to relieve himself. He was taught these words and knows what they mean. Be consistent. Everyone in the family should use the same cues!
- With feeding, as we discussed, be sure your hand is in his bowl and you offer him the first bite of each meal. Then move the bowl from left to right slightly, touch his ears, his head, his back and tell him “good boy.” That’s it. Fast 2-4 seconds just to let him know that food comes from you. If you give him a marrow bone, let him have it for a minute then take it from him gently, but exchange it with another bone or a food item of equal value. If he growls, take both items and start over.
- Teach him the “place” cue as soon as he learns to sit. This requires putting a mat or a bed in a place you wish him to go to when people come to the door. This requires a good deal of self control and you will incrementally build on this cue as he grows older. But for now, the most important is to put the mat or bed in place and lure him to it with a treat. Any movement he makes towards it, click and treat, “yes.” He will eventually understand you wish him to go to that spot. Take your time with this. Lots of treats, lots of praise when he goes there. Then add the cue “place.” The ultimate goal you will have is when you say “Place” he will go there when he is told to.
- Whenever you introduce him to a new environment or new activity, do it slowly and in increments. If you can hold him in your arms initially, that is a good way to begin. Keep giving him food the entire time so he focuses on you and is reassured by your attention. This creates a positive emotional response to the new experience. If you see he is unhappy or his startle recovery is very slow, end the activity immediately. The startle recovery should be a few seconds. Look for tail down, shaking, shrinking behavior. If you see this, end the activity and comfort him. Be advised, he may experience a fear period at 12 weeks, 18 weeks. You want to be mindful of his reactions to new experiences as the imprinting can be very strong and a negative emotional response can be created. You want to create positive emotional responses as often as possible. When you take him to the vet give him lots of praise, lots of treats, perhaps bring a favorite toy and make it as pleasant and fun as possible.
- Loose leash walking will take time to teach him. Use the clicker and treat in front of him and do not pull him or he will shut right down. 3-5 minutes at the most each day. Lots of clicking and treating and praise when he moves forward, even if it is only an inch. Slowly, he will get it. Say “With me” and take a step forward. If he does not move, lure him with the treat right at his nose. If he moves forward, click and treat say “yes,” if he does not move the treat a little away so he has reason to step forward. There are many YouTube videos that show loose leash walking. No matter what cues you are teaching it is MOST important every session ends on a positive note.
- He should recall to “pup, pup, pup,” and a whistle. That was the puppy call and they all came running. Now he is alone and does not have his siblings to follow, it may take a little more than that. Again, always have the clicker and food and when he does come, click and treat and “yes,” Once he is coming regularly, then add the cue word “come.” For any new behavior you are teaching, you only add the cue word until he has offered the behavior numerous times.
- Teaching him to voluntarily go to his crate when asked basically involves throwing in a marrow bone a favorite toy while he is watching you. When he goes in say “yes.” The cue “go crate” can be taught by doing this over and over. Teaching him his crate is a place of security, treats, pleasure is the key to his learning to go in voluntarily.
- Take tags off of any bed or toy you give him. He will eat them if you do not. Do not put beds with small zippers in his pen. He will chew on the zipper pull and possibly eat it. I do not recommend soft toys unless he will be supervised completely while playing. Any soft toys with limbs or parts hanging off are not a good idea. Stick with KONG toys that are the really hard rubber.
- With regards to jumping up. Never pet him when/if he jumps up. Gently put him down on the floor and then pet him. He will get the idea. Impulse control takes time with puppies. But if you are petting him when he jumps up, you are teaching him he is in charge and can lead to dominance issues.
- Unwanted behaviors should always be redirected with a toy or a treat. If he is biting too much, simply turn his head away and shove a toy or treat in his mouth. Redirect by showing him a toy and tossing it away from you. It should be a high interest toy that squeaks, like the KONG Wubba, Wubba. They love them! They will bite and chew…it’s the nature of the puppy. Eventually, he will learn not to. I do turn their mouths away and say “no biting,” and redirect when possible. Bitter Apple can be your friend with this too. A spritz of that near their mouths is an aversive technique that often helps.
I hope this helps and that you will enjoy creating a healthy, happy bond and relationship with your new puppy! In all things, patience, affection, consistency and a sense of humor!!
Alaric Bull Terriers