Training Hints <<
Dogs are a pack animal and from birth their mother is their pack leader, abd litter mates their pack. In those early weeks, the mother provides the training and a calm-assertive energy to influence how the puppies react to their surroundings. When they come home to you they are relying on their new pack and pack leader (your family and you) to show leadership and calm assertive energy (not aggressiveness) . A pack leader:
Decides where the pack will go.
Decides when the pack will eat.
Decides who gets what food.
Decides who is allowed to bark and when.
Decides when the pack is allowed to play.
Decides what the pack is allowed to play with.
Decides how other members of the pack must behave.
Decides who owns what.
Always walks in the front.
Can take anything away from any dog in his pack and claim it as his own.
There are many books and websites on pack leadership - take the time to do your research before you bring your puppy home.
Here are some that we like:
How to Raise the Perfect Dog - Cesar Milan with Melissa Jo Peltier
Be the Pack Leader - Cesar Milan
The Power of Positive Dog Training - Pat Miller
The Australian Labradoodle is highly intelligent, responsive and keen to learn. Training is always about consistency and repetition and gently correcting any bad habits before they become a problem. Start early, once your puppy has completed all of it's vaccinations make sure you register them for your local Puppy School.
Your Veterinarian can usually recommend a Puppy School close to you. Puppy time is a crucial stage of a dog’s development. Allowing puppies to socialise with other dogs will ensure they are happier, healthier, and more obedient pets. Most Puppy Schools expose your puppy to basic obedience excercises and social interaction; they cover common behaviour issues, toilet training, chewing and much more.
House training -
The most common questions we are asked is about house training your puppy - my advice is be consistent and patient. Routine, routine, routine - yes it sounds boring but I have found it has worked well with puppies we have trained. Find a designated toileting area (maybe an area of grass in your back yard) and this is where you will take your puppy consistently, every 2 hours at least while it is inside. You have to be vigilant and learn to recognise the signs that your puppy is about to toilet. Take the puppy outside and offer alot of praise or even a treat for their toileting. We associate words with this such as 'do wees' or 'go potty' during toileting so that down the track it can be a command before bed time or whenever you require it.
When inside, we close off areas of the house where possible and keep the puppy with us so it is easier to watch their behaviour. Roll up you special rugs for a couple of months and close off bedroom doors. Expect accidents, and you should never discipline your puppy after the act - just clean it up and be prepared to catch them next time. A firm NO if you catch your puppy in the act and remove them to their toileting area immediately.
Being vigilant will have many benefits, your puppy will need to be taken for toileting when they wake from a sleep, after eating, chewing or active play. Most pups can make it through the night by the time they are 4 months old, but if that has not happened yet try picking up the water bowl well before bed time and feed him earlier. While your puppy is inside, try having a special basket or blanket that is in a central part of your house. Encourage your puppy to stay in their basket for rest periods, you could use a collar and lead to contain the puppy. Have a chew toy or two available and time their stay. Within an hour or two take them straight outside for toileting before they come out and play. Research crate training as another alternative.
Bladder control develops and increases with your pups age. As a general guide pups can hold during the day for 1 hour from 6-12 weeks, 2 hours from 12-16 weeks, 3 hours from 4-5 months, 4 + hours from 6-7 months. Night time hours assume your pup was not fed or had access to water less than 3 hours prior to bed time - 3-4 hours from 6-12 weeks, 4-8 hours from 12-16 weeks and 8 + hours from 5+ months.
Play biting, mouthing and nipping -
Another frequently asked question ...... Puppies like to explore the world with their mouths and mouthing is a common and normal behavior in most young puppies. They spend hours of time playing, chewing and investigating objects (including people) and this involves puppies using their mouths and their needle-sharp teeth. All of this behaviour is cute when your pup is 8 weeks but not so when he's a few months old and getting bigger. Mouthing behavior is rarely aggressive and not intended to cause harm.
If your puppy likes to chew on your hands or clothes while you are playing or patting, you could try re-directing it onto a more appropirate chew toy. Always have chew toys nearby and immediately distract the puppy with the toy and let it play with toy instead. Reinforce good behaviour by praising your puppy when you see it chewing something appropriate and acceptable.
Mothing can become a problem if the puppy hasn’t learnt that humans have very soft, sensitive skin and chewing on them can cause pain. This is called bite inhibition. Puppies usually learn bite inhibition during play with their litter mates. There is loads of pouncing, wrestling, chasing and biting. Every now and then a pup will bite his playmate too hard and the recipient yelps and usually stops playing. Through this kind of social play, puppies learn to control the intensity of their bites so that play can continue without interruption. If our clever pups can learn to be gently from each other, they can learn the same lesson from us - that nipping or biting stops all play and social interaction.
As soon as you feel your pups teeth on your skin, give a high pitched yelp as if you are hut and if necessary walk away. This should startle your puppy and cause him to stop mouthing you (probably just momentarily). If your yelp has no effect a firm NO! in a stern voice can also be used. Play with your pup again and if/when he bites hard again repeat the actions. Reinforce the good behaviour with praise and try re-directing and bite inhibition strategies together.
(thanks to the RSPCA for these great strategies, we have used these with great success at Kalina Labradoodles).
Do you have the time?
Ask yourself if you have enough time to raise a puppy.
Puppies require an abundant amount of care and attention. They need to eat at least twice a day for the first 5-6 months. They must be taken out for toileting breaks every two hours during the day. They need to learn puppy manners like how to sit, stay, come when called and how to walk on a leash. Puppies also need lots and lots of exercise and playtime.
Make sure that you have the patience and persistence to handle the energy of a puppy and all the training to make your dog a pleasure to live with. Some not so great behaviors can be directly related to the failure of the owners, not having invested adequate time with the puppy in its formative period. In many ways the first few months of the puppies life are as important as the first few years of a child's life where their future behaviours and personality are formed. Please consider how much time you can devote to your puppy and adult dog each day. Time to interact and play with your dog, excercising it daily and caring for its grooming and health needs.
Please remember your Labradoodle puppy is a lifetime commitment of 12-14 years. Raising a puppy and creating a life-long bond is one of the best experiences you'll have... just ensure you have the time.
"Dogs teach us a lot of things but none more important than to love unconditionally..."