Paws For A Minute® Puppy series: Teething Tips

The teething stage of puppyhood can be so annoying, keep you on your toes and constantly chanting a chorus of “No’s!” Most new puppy people have arms that resemble a heroin addict covered with needle marks. Puppy teeth hurt like crazy! 

There are several stages to this function of puppyhood and good for new puppy parents to know how to deal and what chew toys are good for each stage. Usually this topic is not discussed in detail as to what and how to deal with this sometimes painful playtime. Having a zillion toys on the ground often don’t get noticed, especially if you don’t have the right toys for the right stage!

8 week to 10 week old pups: Squeaker toys are awesome at this age. It helps pups focus and follow you. Oversized “dog” stuffed animal toys fantastic. At this age pup’s are just beginning to chew so biting into a stuffed toy instead of your arm helps the play process. Ice cubes are also a big hit during playtime. Toys that roll are essential to your sanity and keep your pup moving.

11 to 14 week old pups: During this stage they are beginning to really teethe! Tempting to repeat the word no constantly as they gnaw on everything. By the way, this stage will pass. Don’t think this will become a bad behavior or that you have a devil dog. In the meantime, think exercise and reverse psychology with trading in your arm for the right toy. Being smarter than your puppy when he’s being evil works. What satisfied your pups urge to chew a few weeks ago  may not be working anymore. Bring in different toys! 

Planet dog brand has great softer rubber toys pups this age love them. Pigs ears and bully sticks are your ticket to peace during these weeks. Hold the bully stick while your puppy chews. Holding it identifies the stick as the right chew bone. I know it seems obvious however, you’d be surprised at how fast they’ll learn what to chew. If it’s just laying on the ground they may not seem interested in it until you give it them to chew. 

 

A helpful tip is to define a chewing area that’s  a gated space, in a central part of your house. This helps to keep your puppy on a bit of a schedule, preventing your insanity and puppy’s constant freedom. It also helps them to focus on the art of chewing.  

 

Chewing is function of a puppy not a behavior, what they learn to chew on becomes the behavior over time. You get to teach your puppy what to chew on, so setting a puppy schedule helps.

Good news! Adult teeth appear when your puppy turns 6 months-old, like clock work — all breeds. Promise!

Ask Inger: How Do You Re-Train A Dog Who’s Developed Selective Hearing?

Hi Inger,

I rescued my dog, Milo, 4 1/2 years ago when he was about 8 months old.  We immediately signed up for puppy obedience school.  He passed with flying colors.  He is a mix of border collie/lab and I think pit, but our first vet said no.  Anyway, as he entered his “teen” years (1 year 6 mos to 2 1/2) he became a terror on leash.  VERY protective.  I hired a private trainer and we did a lot of one on one to help him stay relaxed. 

Fast forward and he’s now 5 1/2.  He knows all his commands–knows them even better when I have treats.  He knows the click and treat perfectly.  He’ll come on command in our yard. Click, treat.  He’ll sit, stay and come, click treat.  When I throw the ball with our Chuck It, he gets the ball and runs to the top of the deck and completely ignores any command I give him.  I can’t get him to just come back to me with the ball let alone drop it.

He’ll only drop a toy in his mouth if you have a treat.  He loves to play, but he likes to play keep away and then tug of war.
What do we do?!  I tried going back to simple commands again and he knows them, but the second that ball comes into play or another toy inside…all commands go out the window!
HELP!!
Thanks,
Rachel from Massachusetts
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Hi Rachel,
Great question, I have to say that Milo is a beautiful boy! Wonderful that you rescued him and good job on training him plus working through his kinks for the first 5 years! After reading your question I think for now, chuck the “chuck it.” A new pattern needs to be established.  I’ll give you a few tips to regain Milo’s selective hearing.Okay, first, I’ll explain the some issue’s that stuck out for me and then give you a few exercises to try.
Clicker training is great for certain breeds and for sure creates “the special effect” of a learned trick. What I mean by effect is that it’s reward based, reward meaning treat for the trick. Lifestyle type issues like stay at the front door with guests requires a different on leash approach in creating the trust and bond between a dog and owner. Once learned “off leash commands hold with distractions a bit better then with clicker training. But that’s another topic.
Eye contact and a personal bond gets formed by leash training and verbal rewards, than with treat exclusive methods. Remember, you can show love and “positive” reinforcement  in many different ways.. voice, touch, eye contact, and oh, yes food. I’m babbling on about this because one thing is missing in clicker training and that’s eye contact and voice inflection. The focus goes on the reward of the treat not the eye contact, gestures or the owners praise. The dog is looking at the treat not the person or any hand signal. I’m not saying clicker training is bad, only that sometimes it’s limited and in your case not working.
Change the focus
The leash and the game follow the leader around the house helps to create eye contact and enables your voice to become task and the praise, not just a treat.
The leash helps create eye contact between the two of you. Isolating this process in your house helps you both succeed. Try the simple exercise of walking around the house while on a leash and occasionally stop and gently lift up on the leash and say sit. You’ll see he will glance up at you. Dogs are pack animals and LOVE follow the leader. I know it may sound stupid and boring but try it for 5 minutes a few times a week.  Use a flat nylon 6 ft nylon or leather leash not the retractable kind.
No more tricks
Tug of war and chase are never good games. Even if you’re just trying to get the ball, toy or shoe from your dog, luring or begging just creates more of a keep-a-way game going.
Prey drive is what makes a dog fetch. That translates to chase and catch and you want that instinct to be ball exclusive. So create a drive to bring the ball back! Use only one ball. That ball is a special fetch ball. It ONLY comes out during fetch! When the game is over it goes into a special drawer.
Use a treat more effectively
Start over, re-teach the game of fetch. Use that “fetch only” ball and begin the re-teach with following a few new steps. Get a treat but put it into your back pocket. Create a structure with a beginning, middle and end theme. Begin slowly, the first day of re-doing this game do so indoors. Begin with bouncing the ball to get him interested and say sit. No treat or clicker, use the ball as the focus. Say the word o.k and toss the ball, as soon as you do, crouch down and clap your hands and praise! As Milo begins to come towards you reach into your back pocket get the treat in your right hand, suddenly stand up and gesture the letter “J” with your hand (holding the treat under your thunb) and say sit. Gesturing the letter “J” is the hand signal to sit. Then say “watch me” holding the treat near your eye for a second,  he’ll spit out the ball as you give him the treat. Remember hand him the treat with your right hand and pick up the ball with your left. This pattern will get a new flow going with the game of fetch.
Dogs are smart and stimulated by motion. So be a little smarter. Use the movement of suddenly standing up combined with  the motion of the hand signal for the command sit. This will capture his attention. Eventually the hand signal (alone) will take the place of the treat and you wont have to crouch down.
Now the key to success is to toss the ball once, the first day. Only once then put the ball away. The next day, toss it twice, third day and so on. This process will build drive and interest, once he’s in the groove of fetching you can take the game outdoors. Before long you’ll have a ball-o-holic that LOVES to bring back the ball.

Dog Nipping, Biting And Gnawing On Your Last Nerve

My boyfriend and I just got a Siberian Husky puppy named Frye. He’s almost 9 months old and we’ve had him for 2 months prior. Up until now, he has been well-behaved, but recently he has started biting when he gets excited. At first, the bites were far a part and soft, but lately they’ve become more frequent and have started to hurt. We have tried various ways to discourage this behavior, such as giving him more toys to focus his attention on or giving him chew toys whenever he starts to bite, to channel the behavior. So far, nothing seems to work. It’s getting to the point where we’re afraid that he might hurt others. Frye is very well socialized when it comes to other dogs, but we live in a residential area where there are a lot of children. Our main concern is that when others try to play with him, he might get over excited and bite them. We love our dog and we want to improve for his sake. What can we do to nip this behavior completely?

Danni and George.

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Hi Danni and George,

Thanks for the great question! Okay, I totally understand. Many people with teenage pup’s often feel the urge to pass out body gear with helmets to all guests wanting to say hello to their now BIG puppy. The behavior you’re describing is obnoxious for sure and yet solvable! Redirecting such behavior means creating a little structure within your daily routine, reassessing chew toys, re-organizing how your dog gets exercise, and where,when and how you play with him.

The solution to this issue lies more with you understanding how to redirect this behavior, where to apply structure and when to initiate play and how to still make things fun.

Here are some my Paws For A Minute® Dog Training Tips

1. Apply structured exercise times and separate them from walks.

Lots of people walk their dogs and play with them without intent. They can often mix up concepts of play while walking for exercise that in turn accelerate hyper behaviors. Where, how and when you play with your dog create reactions and sets triggers.

Example: Try isolating extreme exercise prior to socialization with people and guests. In other words,  play turbo fetch first, then go on a walk.  Teaching your dog to play fetch is an awesome way to keep hyper activity targeted on the movement of a ball. The key to keeping a dogs interest is only use on special ball that comes out ONLY for fetch. Build slowly to the amount of throws daily.

2. Do a re-check of his chew toys.

Example: 90% of the time puppy parents have zillions of toys for their dogs but have a distinction between play toys and actually chew bones. If a toy is lying on the ground or in the yard, overtime it becomes boring. Dogs of a certain age need to chew, not just play. Mouthy behaviors can come from frustration and ill-timed activities. Play is often induced by movement and voice inflection and a chew toy may be tossed, but the activity of your dog actually chewing on it gets lost. Many people end up playing with their dogs with chew toys and boredom of the toy sets in quickly. The act of chewing on something needs to be isolated for your puppy by creating a “chew your chew bone” time! Perhaps in a baby gated area, while you are home. This creates an activity for a young teenage dog. Chewing a bully stick, for example, will also help tire him out and give him something to focus on that’s not a toy.

3. Redirect a positive obedience command to greet new people. 

Example: Redirection can mean introducing your dog to new people while on a leash, only as an exercise for a few weeks. The leash helps you guide your dog into a sit and then a stay while being introduced to new people. If he breaks the stay command to jump up the leash can act as a boundary and allow you to say No then quickly reinforce a sit and the positive in what you want out of his behavior. Or practice with people approaching him to do so with a treat. Have them direct your dog to sit and then give him the cookie!

Change will happen overtime. Try all three tips for a few weeks and keep us posted!

Why Does Your Dog Chew? How To Teach Him Not To Touch The Manolo’s


Demolition. Some homes don’t need a contractor, the construction or rather destruction has already begun. Whether it’s furniture, rugs, shoes or cabinets some people are convinced there dog has it out for their most expensive things. Why?!!!

Chewing is a function, not a behavior. Dogs must chew on something. Now, it’s true some dogs “need” to chew more than others. However, the ‘FYI” for most owners is that what their dog chews in can become a behavior. Let me explain, all dogs loose their baby teeth between the ages of 4 to 6 months of age. Yup, all breeds.

Many people don’t realize that if they don’t provide their dog the proper teething chews then shoes, carpets and cabinets are fair game. Ah, so it’s your fault? Well, kind of…

Many owners have a hundred toys and not the right chew bones. The chewing needs of a dog largely depends on the age, but it’s up to you to provide the time and place and teach your dog to chew, relax and leave your things alone. Once you have that down, then you can show your dog properly his wayward ways. Yelling the word NO! doesn’t always penetrate. The best thing to do is to get a leash, guide your dog to the chewed item and show it to him. He smells his saliva on the shoe. Now, you can say the word NO.

The leash helps guide, isolate the experience, gives the reprimand a structure to prevent misunderstandings. After showing your dog the “chewed” item you can then give him the delicious something to chew. That’s when you can really end the reprimand on a happy POSITIVE note. Lots of love, praise and take off the leash.

Oh, by the way, always ask your vet what chew is best for your dog, every dog is different.

 

 

Owning Dogs And Holiday Entertaining. 3 Easy Tips To Teaching Dogs Not to Jump on Guests.

Holiday entertaining and dog ownership can mean many things to different people. Dog hair on sofa’s, the wet nose of goosing a guest. For some toy breed owners it may mean passing out ear plugs to mute the sound of the barking, as guests attempt to enter your house. Other young dog masters feel body gear (to block the massive jumping up on guests) to be in order. Party favors of such a nature are not what most people envision when they finally get the dog of their dreams. Matching reality to expectation can sometimes be a long road. So how do you achieve calmly being able to open the front door, greet guests, and not chant NO at your dog? Wait until he’s 15 years old?

All can be elegantly achieved within a few weeks. It just requires a little organization. Front door dog training and a few dog owner tips. A little effort and isolating the area of your lifestyle that’s the trigger to the behavior.  All of these tips can help slowly ease the tension between your dog and you in that particular area in your house.

Paws for a Minute®: Lifestyle

1. Tip: Keep a leash by the front door.

Doing so helps maintain the mayhem. Too easy? Remember, I’m on your side. The leash help you guide your dog into a sit. Gently lifting up on the leash as you say sit, gains eye contact from your dog to you. It changes the whole scope. Yes, eventually you will not need to use the leash, but for now it adds the structure needed. You can practice with no one at the door, a few minutes a day, 2 minutes here and 2 minutes there. Dogs are very routine animals and they LOVE to please you so you can make it a fun game. Why not treats, instead? Well, for this exercise, I like to use your voice and praise for sitting as the treat.

2. Tip: Place a jar of treats outside the front door.

Here is where the treats can be be added. A jar can be just out side the front door and have a family member or friend  ring the door as a guest would. Practicing the bell can help simulate the sound and train your dog to focus on you at the same time. Dogs don’t bark when the phone rings, right? So by simulating the sound desensitizes your dog. As the guest ( friend ) walks in have them gesture the letter “J” with the hand holding the treat. THis is the hand signal for sit, as they walk in. This conditions your dog to greet your guest, get a command, sit as a greeting and get a treat. If he jumps up, you get to redirect him to sit because he is on a leash.

3. Tip. Every time you come home, greet your dog silently.

Yes, no voice. Zip it.  No, of course it’s not mean. Pup’s respond like crazy to voice inflection and it encourages them to jump! You can show love in MANY different ways. When you come in the door, crouch down and silently give your dog a massage as a hello. This will teach him to see you and expect a slow massage instead of a hyper hello. 

All of these tips together will help condition your dog in a few weeks to be less hyper at the front door, just in time for the holidays.

 

 

Overly Babying Your Dog, Can Do What?

Overly babying your dog, can do what!? Well, from a dog training standpoint spoiling your dog can produce some crazy behavior issues. Now, I’m not suggesting giving your dog less love. LOVE is very different then spoiling. Some people get confused, misunderstand and mix these concepts up. I’m referring to over indulging certain daily activities such as over treating, ill-timed affection, and how you feed your dog, all can send your dog a message that (in time) can create the B.R.A.T. You know, the dog that growls when certain people go too close to a toy, bark like crazy for C.O.O.K.I.E.S.

Sound familiar? I’ll give you another example. Dogs who become finicky eaters can be trained to be that way by, you know who. How?

Providing too many options, leaving food out, and coaxing can produce a huge mixed signal for a dog. This owner indulgence can again over time, lead to potential food aggression and a ton of other unwanted behaviors.

The same problem, of overindulgence, can develop with needing to give equal affection to multiple dogs. Sometimes, even with owning multiple dogs it’s alright to treat them differently. Some require more attention in certain areas and others more exercise. Trying to always create them equal (especially with the timing) of affection and treats can create competition and occasionally aggression.

Dogs in general love routines. They actually want YOU to put them on a schedule, feeding and otherwise. Many owners look to their dog to indicate what they want, rather than the other way around. Remember, meeting your dogs needs of love, exercise, playtime, and fun outings with you, training is love. 

Hmmm, just a little food for thought!

 

 

Nightmare Puppy Nipping. 3 Steps To Make it Stop.

A recent reader wrote in and asked me to address the cute puppy but very obnoxious puppy syndrome called teething! This JAWS like behavior was driving them all NUTS. As cute as their new ball of fur was and as great as training had been progressing, there seem to be one MAJOR kink. Those needle teeth that latch on to your leg like a viper out of a horror movie. He explained how there perfect first dog would also endure these crazed attacks. They all have battle wounds. Wearing long sleeve shirts all the time as protection is a must. Trying to explain to coworkers that they were NOT closet heroine addicts became a common dialogue during coffee breaks.

The last straw was when the innocent new little angel or “devil dog” began to show his teeth at their first dog. This new three-months old terror was ruling the house. After reading a ton of information on how to deal with this puppy nipping, he wrote in to ask me to please explain what to do about this nipping, biting and horrible behavior!

Many people try to dominate this puppy urge. This is bad. Dominating a puppy that’s teething can actually make the behavior worse. Information on how to deal with this behavior is often incorrect and can vary from muzzle grabs to teaching the owner to  scream ouch. None of these techniques are really effective or very realistic to many lifestyles. For example, children are not going to implement the word “ouch” to effectively train a puppy. Oh they may say the word, but it’s not going to help train your puppy not to nip. Besides, teething is a biological development of a puppy, not a bad behavior. Although it should be redirected. Here’s how…

1. What often happens is that people try to cuddle with their wired for sound, squirmy, hyper, needing exercise puppy. Wrong. Play with him, tire him out, first, then cuddle. Puppies have short spurts of energy not dissimilar to human toddlers and meeting those exercise needs will help.Timing is everything. The key here is to realize that teething and biting for a 10 week-old puppy is only a phase during development. Puppy’s loose their teeth from the age of 3 months to 6 months of age.

2. Get the proper teething chew bones. Bully Sticks are the best. Period. They look like long sticks, easy to hold (so you don’t get bitten) while they chew and they will leave everyone else alone.  www.bestbullysticks.com

3. Don’t reprimand this developmental stage. Redirect it. If your puppy is pestering your older dog, you need to separate them for a short time and allow your puppy to chew a teething toy behind a baby gate. Give your older more mature dog some relief!

Your puppy needs are to run around, chew in order to loosen those baby teeth, and learn some boundaries while being trained. Often when I teach or go into a private clients home to train,  I notice many toys but rarely the right type of teething chew bones. Most people have millions of toys lying around, but rarely the right teething chew bones. That’s the key to soothing that savage beast. I’ll have much more on this exciting topic in the months to come. Remember, no matter what breed of dog, puppy teething is only a developmental phase.

Reprimanding a puppy for teething is wrong! Distracting your puppy with giant stuffed toys and lots of exercise, creating a space for him to chew and loving and  bonding with him when he is calm will ultimately create the behavior you want, until his adult teeth grow in.

P.S. Always check with your vet first about which chew toys are best for your dog.