Hey, hey, hey, today’s post is brought to you by…
So, as you know, we have a new puppy…
Yankee Doodle Shull born Novemeber 18, 2019.
…because we are pretty darn smitten with our dogs around here. They don’t get a lot of blog time because, well, they sleep a lot and there are only so many pics I can post of lazy dogs, BUT, we love them so much!!
Since last week, I’ve had so many comments, emails and DMs about puppy training because apparently, a lot of you got dogs for Christmas too. You know what I said to each and every one? It’s all Andrew. Andrew is our very own dog whisperer. I don’t know if it’s his size or his consistency or his demeanor or if he just communicates with dogs better than I do, but he is the number one alpha dog around here and when it comes to any sort of puppy training, he’s the boss. I’m realllllllly good at cuddling a dog…I am not super great at potty training one. (And for the record, the same statement could be applied to potty training humans too. It took me 2 years to potty train Kensington and Smith. Andrew potty trained Madeley in one weekend when I was out of town) I asked Andrew on Monday after more emails if he could address the group with his best tips and his first answer was “they need to all read Cesar Milan’s books” and then when I said “yeah, but that’s not a complete blog post” then his second answer was “okay, I’ll write a few things down”.
This was our first puppy, Tulip. She is 15 years old now! She developed epilepsy when the kids were toddlers and for her own health, we had to find her a new home. She has been living these last 8 years with friends of my parents who do not have small kids at home (and that has really reduced her seizures), and they give me updates all the time. She’s still only 3 pounds and as feisty as ever 🙂 .
A little back story before we begin…Yankee is our fourth puppy in the almost 16 years we’ve been married. I do think we’re (er, really him because I just cuddle) getting better training each one, but so much of that is just practice.
Sweet little puppy Poppy! She will be eight years old this April. She is like 99% my dog…but listens to Andrew 100% of the time. Does that make sense? She loves me the most, but I’m not her boss. Ha!
After Poppy, we got…
…little Frenchie Macaroon. Frenchie turned two in August and has just been the best addition to our family. The best part about Frenchie? She totally brought out an even better side of Poppy. Now that we’ve had two dogs, I never see us going back to just one dog again. For us, two is easier than one because they have each other. Now, Frenchie is technically Kensington’s dog, but we all enjoy her sweetness.
And now, we have Miss Yankee.
So, that leads us to today…Andrew’s tips on puppy training. Here’s what he has to say…
First and foremost, let me say that I am no expert at all when it comes to dogs. I think I have actually made more mistakes through trial and error than probably most people. Here we go….
Read Cesar MIlan’s book, How to Raise the Perfect Dog. For me, this has been the gospel when it comes to raising our dogs. (And unlike the MMM I only read like 2 books a year.) I know, I know, shame on me. The problem I have is that unless I am on vacation where I get more than 5 ½ hours asleep I literally pass out when I pick up a book, BUT this is a really good book and I highly recommend it.
I am going to give you my simple dos and simple don’ts. (Again, these are all either from the church of Cesar and trial and error on my part.)
#1: Select a dog that fits your family. We like dogs that are social, low energy, and friendly. Some of this is by breed, but a lot of this is by nature. Take Poppy and Frenchie for instance. They are the same breed (Coton de Tulears), but Poppy is very energetic, chirpy, always moving, alpha dog, protective, super friendly, early riser while Frenchie is shy, low energy, super friendly, scared of everything, cuddler, lap dog, and late sleeper. We had two little kids at home, so we were looking for more high energy when we selected Poppy, but with Frenchie, we were looking for a non-alpha since we already had that at home (and we didn’t want them to clash, we wanted them to complement). I was very specific with the breeder, she sent me numerous videos and we were able to find the dog that best matched that personality. Cesar describes this a lot in his book. When it was time to get Yankee, we knew we still had our number one alpha personality, so we needed another dog more like Frenchie to make things harmonious. I once again spoke many times to the breeder and watched videos (and sent her videos of our dogs!) so that she understood what we were looking for. Making sure you observe the dog and really get a good understanding of their personality can only help you when bringing a dog into your house.
#2: Always lead the dog. The puppy needs to know that you are the pack leader. A few simple things you can do are going through a door before your dog, and when walking the dog, the puppy should never pull you on the leash and is always beside you and not in front of you. Cesar explains that a dog who thinks it is the pack leader is a stressed out dog.
#3: Crate train, crate train. A dogs crate is their den, their safe harbor. Cesar describes in detail all the tips and tricks, but the crate is not a punishment cage or used for confinement for discipline. Poppy and Frenchie love their crates so much that it is not unusual for us to see them sleeping in there with the door open. They love to voluntarily go inside when we have company, there are storms, they want to nap…it’s their safe haven. A few other things to keep in mind…you can bring home something from their litter that has their siblings and mom’s scent on it for their crate, I also placed in Yankee’s crate the shirt Smith wore the day before I got her because smell is huge for dogs, and these things are comforting. Always make sure your puppy is calm before closing the door to the crate. It’s not a punishment, so they should be calm when going inside. Make sure the crate stays clean and that sometimes, we cover ours with a towel so that it stays super dark and cozy. Also I believe the fastest way to potty train is with the crate, if used correctly because dogs do not like to lie in their own stuff, so they will hold it and wait until it’s time to go out. We wake up right now twice in the middle of the night to let her out. The crate stays clean and she doesn’t have accidents over night.
#1: Don’t stress out! Potty training and walking on a leash takes practice and time. Right now, I put Yankee to bed at 9, and then, I get up at 1:15 AM to take her out. After that, she goes back to bed and then Shay takes her out at 4:30 AM. Does waking up in the middle of the night suck? Yes! She is a puppy though, and her bladder only holds so much. Does she whine still at night sometimes? Yes, but she is getting used to her crate and this routine. (You have to enjoy the puppy stage though because it goes by really quickly and you’ll miss it one day.)
#2: Don’t get mad about chewing up stuff. Give them something to chew on instead. Puppies explore with their mouths, and they also have teeth coming in. Chewing a bully stick is good for their mental health (it’s soothing), and it keeps them from chewing on things they shouldn’t.
#3: NEVER, NEVER hit or strike your dog. Instead of force, you need to redirect their attention. They chew something, move them back and give them a bully stick. They pee on the floor. Take them outside and give them positive attention when they go outside. We use a “kissing sound” for our positive reinforcement.
#4: If possible, don’t isolate your dog. When they are puppies and until they have all their shots, you need to protect them from certain locations (like dog parks), however, they need to be around other people, different environments, smells, and sounds. We have always liked to invite vaccinated dogs over to play with our puppies. It’s a great way to socialize them.
Again, I write this as no expert! I imagine out of all of the people reading this, I am the last person qualified to speak on this topic. If you remember nothing else about this post, remember this, read Cesar’s book on how to raise a puppy.
So…in a nutshell, those are Andrew’s tips for having a puppy! Now, we want to hear yours too!!!! We could still use your puppy tips over at the Shulls house!! Please comment and share them with us too! xo