Australian Labradoodle Puppy Training Tips

Check out the page here to watch dog training clips from Cesar Milan, the “Dog Whisperer”

Suggestions for new puppies:

Please remember that your puppy is a BABY and needs naps often when it is young!

The Basics First, although it will seem obvious, reward good behaviour, especially when training. It is VERY important for your puppy to know how to please you (most dogs will want to please and get rewarded) and your puppy also needs to know what you don’t like. Reward can be praise given in a loving tone, reward can be a food treat, but your puppy will learn quicker if it is promptly made obvious what puppy is doing that is getting it all these good things!

Puppies and Children Never allow children to pick the puppy up from behind and unsupported as the puppy may instinctively react as though a predator such as a hawk or eagle has struck and the puppy may scream, struggle, bite, scratch and learn that its’ home is not a safe place…

Your Home Please remember to puppy-proof the area that the puppy will be in! Although your puppy needs to learn to behave and not to chew backpacks, kids toys and shoes, it would be best if it learns these lessons on a pair of old runners, not your child’s brand new wheelie shoes or your new handbag…

Discipline Never slap or hit a puppy to discipline it. Dogs understand glowers, growls, nips, shaking the scruff of the neck. Striking is what bears, cats and humans do and is not appropriate discipline for a dog! It will make them hand-shy as they will not be certain if you are lifting a hand to their head to pet them or to hit them.
Calling Your Puppy Try and make a practice to always use their name in a nice tone that they WANT to respond to! Save the growly mad voice for some other words such as “bad dog” or “no”. You want them to perk their ears when they hear their name and associate it with good things like belly rubs and treats!

A note about treats… most store-bought treats/biscuits are full of preservatives and cheap ingredients that can cause allergies. Most of us buy the best dog food we can, hypo-allergenic, no GMO, no grains known to cause allergies… and then we give them treats loaded with all this junk. Please choose treats that your dog is not allergic to!

Establishing Pack Order

The most effective training methods use the instincts that your dog is born with to train with. How to discipline, when to discipline and how much to discipline are all important. Establishing pack order is very important in a dog’s life… it is how the pack functions in the wild, and YOU are now its’ pack! Establishing yourself and your family/kids as higher in the pack is not being mean, and your puppy will be happy just to know where it fits in the pack regardless of if it is at the ‘bottom of the pecking order’ or not. But I guarantee you that your family will be happier if the dog is not at the top of the order! No dog will obey you or be a pleasure to be around if it “outranks you” and is at the top of the pecking order; it will only obey those that are higher in the pecking order than itself.

Puppy should always be fed last and you and your family eat first. In the wild, the pack leader eats first, followed by the others in order of dominance in the pack. Your puppy needs to know that ALL members of your family outrank it or the puppy will feel that it is right for it to establish dominance over family members (kids) by nipping, growling and other doggy dominance behaviors.

If you have young children, teach your puppy that it must be invited to eat when you put the food down. That way, it doesn’t just barge in and be rude about it. After it has learned that with you, your children can take turns feeding it so it learns to mind your children also.

Your children (with your supervision) should not only practice giving the puppy treats where it takes them gently, but they should also take treats or toys away and the puppy must not be allowed to growl or nip. Then the treat/toy is given back. The idea is that ANYBODY in your family should be able to take anything out of that dog’s mouth and it will permit it. This is also for safety as there will be times when the pup has something in its’ mouth that is dangerous (like a small ball it could choke on) and you need to be able to go into its’ mouth safely. Make sure that kids don’t do this as a teasing game!

Your puppy should not be allowed to nip or bite. It is not teething, it is establishing dominance. Neither is the run-and-I’ll-bite-the-hem-of-your-jeans game a good idea… what is cute as a puppy is a menace when the half grown “puppy” does it to the kids or your visiting elderly grandmother!

We start teaching all our puppies not to nip by either closing their mouth if they do nip or by “biting” back and waiting for the puppy to open its’ mouth and back away. Pinch the upper or lower jaw of the puppy with your fingers and thumb. The object is to make it uncomfortable but not painful.

Discipline the mother dog uses with her puppies

A mother dog uses a variety of techniques to train her puppies to respect her and to teach them the ‘social graces’ of doggy society. You will note that a mother dog NEVER smacks or strikes her puppies! In order of increasing seriousness, the mother will discipline as follows:

1. Glower and walk away
2. Growl
3. Growl and nip (pinching can imitate this)
4. Grab (bite) the scruff of the neck and shake the scruff.
5. Grab (bite) the scruff of the neck and hold the offending puppy to the ground until it stops struggling, often growling while doing so.

If you do use #5, it is important that it not be done for minor naughtiness, as it is a serious action. If you use an overly severe discipline, you are being a bully. Also, once you choose to use #5, do not release the scruff and let the puppy up UNTIL it stops struggling, even if it scratches, cries, struggles,etc. If you do, the puppy has won that particular dominance struggle and learned that it does not have to listen to you as the puppy is the boss/pack leader, not you! Using #5 (or any of these disciplines) does not hurt the puppy, but it does teach it that it is not the pack leader. This is important, as in the doggy world, dogs lower in the pack order do not discipline dogs/beings that are higher in the pack order. You want your dog to know that it is lower in your ”pack/family” than your kids, neighbors, neighbor kids, etc, etc. After all, you do not want your puppy (soon to be an adult) disciplining (growling at, biting) your children! Australian labradoodles are a much less dominant breed than some others (they are not dobermans or pit bulls after all!), but they are still dogs and have the same instincts that can be used successfully for training!

There is also a place for using “time-outs” for your puppy too. 5 or 10 minutes is reasonable, 2 hours is not!

Potty Training your puppy

Nothing new here, it’s been said by many others, but consistency when doing this stage of training is absolutely important! All babies do best on a routine or shedule… Here’s a sample schedule for an 8 week old puppy:

Potty first thing when you get up in the morning, get rewarded, then I have breakfast and feed the puppy.

Then puppy goes outside for a potty again after breakfast, gets rewarded, plays for a while (1/2 hour to an hour) and goes in its’ crate for a nap.

When puppy wakes up after an hour or two, it goes immediately outside for a potty.

Puppy is awake for a while, goes out every half hour for a potty.

I eat lunch and feed the puppy.

Puppy goes outside for a potty after a meal, gets rewarded and then goes for a nap in the crate.

After it wakes up, it goes outside for a potty, gets rewarded, and comes back inside to play for a while… you get the idea!

You need to be with your puppy and watch it like a hawk the WHOLE time it is out with you. To start with, try taking it outside every half hour to go pee, and reward the puppy IMMEDIATELY when it goes potty. I bring the treat out with me so I can give it to the puppy as it’s peeing! Puppies will circle and squat just before peeing, so if you are watching, you can catch it just before it starts to pee or just as it begins, and quickly take it outside (with your treat too!).

When you can’t watch the puppy like a hawk, it can go in its’ crate for a short while, and then you can still take it out every half hour to pee.

Your puppy will need to pee in the middle of the night at least once for the first number of weeks that it is in its’ new home.

If it cannot hold its’ bladder for even half an hour in its’ crate, take it to your vet as it likely has a bladder infection that requires immediate antibiotics! Girl puppies are more succeptible to bladder infections than boys, but boys can get them too! In later stages of a bladder infection, you will see blood in the pee, sometimes LOTS of it. If you can catch it in the early stages, it is much better for the puppy… (If you are familiar with homeopathics, they can often be used successfully to treat bladder infections. )

If you are having training issues with your puppy, regardless of what breed it is or who you got it from, we recommend that you have a dog trainer come to your home and offer suggestions or coaching. Often, seemingly small changes in what you are doing can make big differences in your dog’s behaviour. We are also available for support over the phone or by email for our puppy families, but having a trained person observe you and your dog’s interaction is something that we cannot do over the phone or by email!