Training Your Puppy

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Goldendoodles and Cockapoos thrive when learning new things and they love being with their families. Investing the time in training your puppy will pay great dividends in the long run. Training with consistency and positive reinforcement is the key to success!

If you are uncertain how best to train your puppy, there are numerous books on the subject. Puppy classes are available and it’s easy to find a trainer in your area to help you. If you put the time into your puppy, you will have a wonderful dog for your family for many years to come!

Even if you’ve had puppies before, we recommend taking your puppy to a beginner puppy class as soon as they are fully vaccinated. This is not only a great way to socialize your puppy in a very non-threatening environment, but it’s also a good way for you to spend some dedicated quality training time with your puppy. You will be surprised that your Goldendoodle or Cockapoo will be the star of any class!

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Your puppy will have been introduced to a crate so they will be familiar with it. They will not have spent a great deal of time in a crate so they will need to adjust. Do not assume that by your puppy being introduced to a crate that he or she will be comfortable and content the first night or two away from their siblings, in a strange place with strangers. Most pups will cry for the first night or two regardless.

A medium size crate with divider is recommended. Use the divider until puppy is potty trained. I suggest no food or water after 8 pm. Let pup have time to potty a couple of times before going in the crate for the night. Pups can typically “hold it” for 6-7 hrs through the night at this age and more as they get older.

Let puppy out right away in the morning and again after eating and drinking. If you are home during the day, let pup out every 2 hrs to help speed potty training along. After drinking water, pups normally have to potty within 20 minutes. Putting a puppy pad or paper by the door helps. If you see puppy head toward the paper, let him or her out. Eventually you will not need the paper. Easier if pup is limited to a room such as the kitchen initially until pup is trained.

Some families plan to keep their pup in another room for bedtime. I suggest keeping puppy in your room in the crate for at least the first couple of nights. We’ll provide you with a blanket that has their siblings’ and mom’s scent on it. The first couple of nights are the hardest for puppy. You learn to tell the difference between a cry that means “I’m lonely” and a cry that means “I have to potty”.

If your puppy is not housebroken by 6 months old, consider being more consistent with potty training and letting puppy out more often.

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Cockapoos and Goldendoodles are known for being intelligent, friendly, loving and easy to train. Keep in mind that puppies are like children and have to be taught what behavior is good and what is unacceptable.

The biggest mistake puppy owners can make is to expect their puppy to be perfect; never have a behavior or training issue and to ignore behaviors until they become a problem. And then wonder what happened and be upset with the puppy or us because of it.

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Puppies chew because they are either teething or bored. Give them things that they are allowed to chew on. Your puppy is not bad because they chew on something that you didn’t want them to chew on. They are puppies plain and simple. Keep things in a place puppy can not reach and you will not have something chewed on that you didn’t want used as a toy or for teething purposes.

If left alone in the yard and bored, puppies dig holes or get into things in effort to entertain themselves. Rather than be upset about dirt relocation, spend time with your puppy or dog playing fetch for example.

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When pups are little they play with their siblings by nipping and grabbing one another with their mouths because they don’t have hands like children do. That is how puppies play. We begin training here but it is your responsibility to continue training when you take puppy home. Some people think it’s cute for pup to nibble on hands and feet initially while playing and allow it. Children are especially prone to handling a puppy’s mouth until he or she tries to nip or grab that hand. That will encourage a behavior that is undesirable when pup is older.

A tried and true method for curtailing biting and nipping is to “yip” as a puppy’s sibling would do as soon as the puppy bites and pull your hand away. This is a signal to the puppy that he is hurting you and needs to stop, just as he has already learned with his siblings. If the biting or nipping continues, stop playing with the puppy and walk away for a few minutes and/or give him something that he’s allowed to chew on. Your puppy wants to play with you and will soon get the message that it is not ok to bite.

Here’s an article that explains the “why” and also provides tips to what to do for nipping behavior Puppy Nipping Guide

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Canines are pack animals. They must learn their place in your family or “pack”. If you do not teach them, some will naturally try to take on the alpha roll. This does NOT mean that they are aggressive or just a bad dog, this is natural canine behavior. It is your responsibility to teach them! If they are allowed to do that, you will have a “problem child”.

You get out of a puppy exactly what you put into your puppy. Positive reinforcement and consistency in training are essential to a well behaved dog of any breed. Having puppy wait to eat until you tell them, exit a door after you give them the “ok”, etc. are good ways for puppy to know that you are the leader. These are small things but they are very important training and behavior tools and should be done routinely and consistently.

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I won’t go into all that is involved with leash training as it can be as complex or simple as you want it or need it to be. Most families want to put a leash, collar or harness or their puppy right away and get going. Why would that work so easily? Think about it for a second. The puppy doesn’t know you at all. You are leading them around in a strange place. They are without their siblings. You are setting your puppy up for failure. Please do not do that.

The best thing to do is get your puppy home. Let them have time to get comfortable with you and their new surroundings. Let them want to naturally follow you. What is the purpose of a leash? To keep puppy with you and to follow you right? Once puppy follows you and comes to you when asked, put the collar or harness on. Get pup to follow you again and come when you ask. At that time, add the leash.

Plain cheerios are a great treat for pups. When he or she comes, reward them with a cheerio and lots of praise. This basic leash training of teaching them to come and yield to the leash takes only about 15-20 minutes unless you are impatient.

If pup takes a few steps toward you, pick up the slack but DO NOT pull. Never pull! Ask puppy to come again, praise reward and take up the slack. If you pull, you will create a tug of war type situation. You will cause your puppy to become nervous and to naturally resist and pull back. That is a “no” answer. With training, always ask for things in a way that you can get “yes” answers.

As your puppy becomes older, I highly recommend the gentle leader collar. This ensures that the puppy will never harm his neck or throat, and will save you from ever having your dog out of control from pulling.

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When you create a negative situation, you then have to undo what you’ve done and start over. They only know what you teach them and expose them to. Avoid negative situations whenever possible and get “yes” answers. Offer lots of praise and reward. If you have allowed a negative response to arise, create a positive one. Don’t become upset or disappointed with your puppy or young dog. If you are negative towards them, they will know it and sense it. This will cause them to become stressed and defensive which could lead to guarding or aggression out of fear. This is a natural response. RESPONSE being the key word. It’s cause and effect! It is a response to feeling the need to protect themselves. Get “yes” answers by doing something that you know creates a positive response. When you correct what you’ve done and puppy is trusting of you again, positive behavior will follow.

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If you run into a training issue that you are uncertain how to handle, reach out for help. No one expects you to be a master dog trainer. Don’t wait one month or six months for the behavior and tension to escalate. At that point, there is more to undo. It can be done but it’s so much easier for you and the puppy to seek the help of a trainer right away if you ever need it. There is always a reason or a trigger and always a solution. Professional trainers can very quickly spot the problem and offer solutions.

The main thing is – don’t get frustrated! Often, just visiting a good PetCo or getting just one training session can put you back on the right track. Ask the trainer for tips on things that you can work on. Be specific about your issue. You’ll be surprised at how simple the solution can be.

Also, please do not hesitate to email me if you have any questions. I will offer as much advice as I am able.