Little Dog Syndrome – Is Your Dog Spoiled?

Little Dog Syndrome – Is Your Dog Spoiled?

Would you like some spoiled milk ? Perhaps in your tea or coffee? Hot chocolate? No? I’m guessing not. Because we aren’t exactly celebrating when milk gets spoiled. So why do we grin and laugh when we say “Oh my baby is a spoiled dog?”.

Another trainer friend used this example when we were chatting on the phone one day and what can I say, I’m a thief. If I get a great analogy, I’ll use it.

So often people giggle as they say their dog is spoiled as it growls at guests or refuses to move off the furniture, barks and lunges at other dogs or even at people!

Or more often, people have no idea that the way that they show love to their dogs is causing big behaviour issues and of course they only mean well.

And I get it, it feels good to spoil our dogs. We want to give them the best. I know I do. But there’s a difference between giving our dogs the best toys, food and care and giving our dogs everything they demand on a silver platter. That’s when we see issues arise. When your dog has no boundaries and do whatever he likes…

Watch: Treat Your Small Dog Like A Dog

I see this all the time and I really do understand why little dogs get spoiled (sometimes big dogs do too!) In fact, I have made major errors by spoiling our own little dog. They just make it so easy!

But we need to try to stop because it’s actually not good for the dog. Coddling and lack of boundaries or rules can actually create anxiety and insecurity in the dog. Without a clear leader present, the dog can feel like the burden of being in charge falls to them. This can even result in aggression. And the majority of dogs don’t want this burden. Dogs feel a lot happier with a clear leader giving them guidance. And that leader is you.

So how can we start being a better leader if we perhaps have a dog that is already too spoiled?

If you haven’t seen my video series on five foundations to a well behaved dog yet, that is where I suggest you start. You can sign up for it here (it’s free).

Now could you do me a favour? If you know someone that would like some help with a naughty dog, perhaps that has been “spoiled,” could you forward this to them? Let’s spread the training messages to all who will listen and start improving the lives of more dogs and their owners 🙂

How to Stop Your Puppy From Mouthing and Biting

How to Stop Your Puppy From Mouthing and Biting

Ouch!

It’s one of the major puppy-hood issues that people face when they get a new puppy. And while it’s normal puppy behavior this doesn’t mean that we need to accept it.

So let’s talk about how to stop puppy mouthing and biting.

But like any behavior, before we start working on it, it’s important to know why it’s happening.

So first…

WHY Do Puppies Mouth and Bite?

Rest assured, it’s rare for a puppy to be truly aggressive. Puppy biting is common and normal and does not mean that your puppy is trying to aggressively hurt you.

I do hear from concerned puppy owners, often parents, worried that the puppy is an aggressive monster because the puppy bites and growls. But it always turns out to be play.

Puppies’ mouth and bite to practice life skills like hunting, to have fun and to work their teeth and jaws. By instinct, these skills need to be practiced to set them up for later in life when they need to hunt for real. This all comes from their natural instincts dating back to when they were wild dogs and wolves.

The instinct to chase and grab prey. ie fast moving or small furry objects is also a strong one. This is why young puppies often bite children – they move quickly, pull their hands away quickly and squeal. Just like prey! The puppy thinks it’s a great game!

Which leads us to…

HOW Do I Stop My Puppy From Mouthing and Biting?

The first clue to stopping an unwanted behavior is in the WHY.

Looking back at the reason why puppies mouth and bite, can you guess what the first thing is that we need to change?

The first thing that we need to do is remove the fun game.

Every time the puppy has fun mouthing and biting, it is learning that mouthing and biting pays off.

So the first thing we need to do is take that fun option away. Every time the puppy starts to put teeth on skin, say “no,” get up, and walk away. If the puppy is chasing and grabbing at your heels, stand up and stand completely still. Once you have said, “no” once, say nothing else.

A big mistake people make is using too many words when trying to teach their puppies. So say one clear word and then show the pup what it means by standing still or leaving immediately afterwards.

For additional effect, you could quickly and quietly pop the puppy into a time-out.

TIME OUT – For a time out to work, it needs to be a small, boring area with nothing to do. If you send a child to their room and they start playing video games in there and having fun, are they going to feel like they are being punished? It is the same for puppies. If you put puppy in a big room with things to grab and play with or interesting things to look at, they will quickly be occupied with something else. A time out should also be no long than one minute as past that point, there is no additional effect or learning.

How To Train Your Kids – Be A Tree

Part of stopping the puppy from biting the kids involves also training the children. While child training is not my specialty, here is a technique I have success with:

Teach the kids to “be a tree.” This means they stop what they are doing instantly, fold their arms and stand still, not even looking at the puppy.

How to stop puppy biting

IGNORING a puppy means not even making eye contact or looking at them

 

You can even make this training into a game with the kids.

It’s interesting to see how quickly the puppy gives up, gets bored and leaves when the children stops all reactions and stands still.

After the puppy has given up and calmed down, calm games may resume. But everyone needs to be really consistent that all play and attention stops the moment that the puppy starts to mouth or bite.

If everyone is consistent you should see the behavior getting less and less before your eyes! Puppies are such fast learners!

I would estimate a few days to a week of this for the behavior to stop completely.

Of course, there are other methods we can try if this doesn’t work but I find that this is the best approach to start with.

You can see a video lesson of how I treat mouthing and biting in the Puppy Priorities course, along with lessons on other common puppy issues like toilet training.

You can also join our Puppy Priorities Program for only $47.

In this course, we will cover everything about:

  • What is socialisation and HOW to socialise the RIGHT way
  • How to get through toilet training with less accidents
  • How to house train your puppy to not destroy your prized possessions and furniture
  • How to crate train your puppy
  • How to start leash training your puppy
  • How to stop mouthing, biting and jumping early on

* All Prices Are Displayed In US Dollars

5 Lessons Every Puppy Should Learn

5 Lessons Every Puppy Should Learn

It’s hard to pick a top 5 most important lessons for a new puppy. This article will cover some of the lessons I consider most important (other than socialisation which is THE most crucial!)

Being left alone is OK

Take it from me – separation related issues is one thing you really want to avoid. Most new puppies cry when left alone and this is not the same as a dog with separation anxiety. Train the puppy early to be comfortable while alone whether in a crate, laundry, back yard or dog run etc. Never go to the puppy and let her out when she is crying for attention

Come when called

A reliable recall would have to be THE most important obedience exercise. This is a safety issue. You do not want your dog to think twice about coming when called if there is an emergency – such as your dog running towards a busy road to chase a bird. Make sure that every time your dog comes when you call her, she feels rewarded. Never punish your dog after she has come when called. Even if she has done something wrong beforehand, the last thing she will remember and associate the punishment with is that she came to you when called.

Remember, punishment is what the dog finds undesirable. This may include putting the leash back on to go home.

Sit & Stay

A good reliable sit is useful for many training situations. For example, train a solid sit and teach your dog to sit to greet people rather than jumping up. Rather than teaching dogs the word “stay” after we have said “sit,” we teach dogs to hold the commanded position until they hear their release word. Such as, “ok” or “free.”

Stationing training where we teach the puppy to get on a mat and stay there until release is also an extremely useful skill.

Crate training

I find a lot of people have never heard of crate training. I too was sceptical at first but now I can’t imagine raising a puppy without crate training! Puppies need strict supervision just like a toddler. You wouldn’t let a toddler roam free in the house without supervision so why would you let a puppy do it? Free roaming allows puppies to practice bad habits such as chewing things and toileting in the house. Crate training is so useful for those times you can’t supervise, great for toilet training, a place for puppy or dog to sleep and also for travel or medical reasons. Teach your puppy to love her crate as her safe haven where pleasant things happen such as games, treats and meals.

Leave it

Protect your puppy from grabbing and eating harmful things such as cane toads or unknown edible items on the foot path by teaching your puppy to “leave it” on command. Reward your puppy with a better alternative for leaving the original item.

The Soundproof Puppy Training App for Socialisation!

The Soundproof Puppy Training App for Socialisation!

The soundproof puppy training app is an app available on Apple and Android that has useful sounds to condition your puppy to. This is very useful for socialisation in the puppy’s critical period of development.

We highly recommend it!

Click on the image links below to download

Here is an example of how the app can be used to condition your dog or puppy to sounds.

The soundproof puppy training app is an app available on Apple and Android that has useful sounds to condition your puppy to. This is very useful for socialisation in the puppy’s critical period of development.

We highly recommend it!

Click on the image links below to download

Here is an example of how the app can be used to condition your dog or puppy to sounds.

What is the ideal age to bring home a puppy?

What is the ideal age to bring home a puppy?

Many behavioural problems occur as a result of removing a puppy from its littermates too early. Numerous studies have been done on this that show such resulting problems as increased aggression, separation distress, over- reactivity, increased anxiety and more.

So how soon is too soon? Is there a time considered too late?

From 3 to 5 weeks of age, the puppy learns critical lessons by interacting with its siblings. It’s the most crucial time for social interaction and learning. During this time, puppies learn lessons such as canine body language, appropriate play and pack behaviour. This may also be an important time for learning bite inhibition, or a soft mouth (learning how to bite without breaking skin). This is why puppies shouldn’t be removed from their litter before 6 weeks of age. Additionally, when a single puppy is born, or is the only surviving puppy in the litter, it should be placed with a foster litter the same age if possible so that it can learn these lessons and develop properly.

Scientifically, the ideal age to remove a pup from the litter and introduce it to a new family is 7 to 8 weeks of age. At 7 weeks many changes occur that suggest that it is the ideal time for a new home. And yes, the timing is that specific. At this time, the mother is growing increasingly irritated at her pups. She nurses them less and offers them less chance to suckle. The puppies are still interested in suckling but their teeth are now very sharp. Its no wonder that at this stage punishment from the mother increases to a new peak! The mother’s job both nutritionally and mentally speaking is done, making 7 to 8 weeks a very appropriate time for weaning and finding new homes for the puppies.

Between 6 to 12 weeks is also the time that puppies form strong human bonds. As the owner, you want to be there for that. At around 7 to 8 weeks the puppy is also at its most willing to approach strangers and novel things confidently. This is the ideal time to socialise. Puppies also have a fear period coming on gradually and this intersects with the confidence period at around 7 weeks. So this makes this time optimal for socialising. However, keep in mind that it is not the only time for socialising and socialisation can still be successful at other times later in life.

Hopefully the breeder is reputable and spends time socialising her puppies as the human socialisation period is already well underway by 8 weeks of age. The new owners need to carry one socialising responsibly as soon as they bring their puppy home.

If the breeder hasn’t been adequately socialising the puppy then there is no time to waste. This period ends some time after week 12 and you have a lot of things to socialise the puppy to. This means that bringing home the puppy as say,10 to 12 weeks, doesn’t leave you much time, and you would hope the breeder has done some very good work already. The longer you wait to bring the puppy home, the more valuable time you are missing out on to socialise. Its not called the CRITICAL period of socialisation for nothing!

In conclusion, 7 to 8 weeks is the ideal time to bring home your puppy. But definitely no earlier than 7 weeks.

This does not mean that you need to turn down an older puppy. If your pup is coming from a knowledgable breeder then they should have been socialising the puppy for you correctly and from a young age. As long as your chosen puppy is confident and outgoing and has been exposed to many different stimulus, it should be fine. If however, if you are looking at a puppy that is fearful and withdrawn, consider the impact this may have on the pup’s development and whether you are experienced enough to put in the extra work this pup will require to develop into a well adjusted adult dog.

For more information, see The Handbook of Applied Dog Behaviour and Training Volume One Chapter Two by Steven Lindsay, which this article is based on.

Hopefully the breeder is reputable and spends time socialising her puppies as the human socialisation period is already well underway by 8 weeks of age. The new owners need to carry one socialising responsibly as soon as they bring their puppy home.

If the breeder hasn’t been adequately socialising the puppy then there is no time to waste. This period ends some time after week 12 and you have a lot of things to socialise the puppy to. This means that bringing home the puppy as say,10 to 12 weeks, doesn’t leave you much time, and you would hope the breeder has done some very good work already. The longer you wait to bring the puppy home, the more valuable time you are missing out on to socialise. Its not called the CRITICAL period of socialisation for nothing!

In conclusion, 7 to 8 weeks is the ideal time to bring home your puppy. But definitely no earlier than 7 weeks.

This does not mean that you need to turn down an older puppy. If your pup is coming from a knowledgable breeder then they should have been socialising the puppy for you correctly and from a young age. As long as your chosen puppy is confident and outgoing and has been exposed to many different stimulus, it should be fine. If however, if you are looking at a puppy that is fearful and withdrawn, consider the impact this may have on the pup’s development and whether you are experienced enough to put in the extra work this pup will require to develop into a well adjusted adult dog.

For more information, see The Handbook of Applied Dog Behaviour and Training Volume One Chapter Two by Steven Lindsay, which this article is based on.