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New puppy training #1- Overview

black Labrador Retriever puppy | Club Mead Labradors

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Lady holding yellow labrador puppy in chair
Diana and Weber

Congratulations on your new puppy from Club Mead!

Now it’s time to re-read everything we told you about what to expect from your furry bundle of joy. In this article, I mainly want to ramble on about the different phases of puppyhood and what to expect from him. When I say him, I mean him, her, whatever. Bear with me as I think while I write and check back here once in a while because I may change or organize my thoughts later on and rewrite some of it. I may do this in sections or add videos later or however it goes. At the end of what I want to say, your pup will be ready for entry into formal basic foundation training. School, followed by dog university. If you like the way our dogs run, then yours will too if you follow along and believe me.

The Beginning.

Here are some bullet points to remember throughout the first 6-9 months.

  • Your puppy is a BABY! They don’t have the aptitude or wherewithal to learn much more than getting something to eat and sleep. The whole world is brand new. Their legs carry them much farther than their brain does in the first 3-4 months.
  • Keep everything in their life positive. You can emotionally scar an animal with negativity at the precise wrong timing in their life.
  • Keep your expectations realistic. I know there are training videos out there by self proclaimed experts who start doing wonderfully advanced things with little babies. Believe me, not only isn’t much of that necessary, but it can actually hinder your pup’s development by trying to do things too advanced for them. That could lead to problems that must be overcome later. Once they start real basic training, we layer in all the steps in order for them to become a solid retriever that you can be proud to work with and own.
  • DO NOT BE IN A HURRY!!!!! LET THEM DEVELOP!!! I cannot stress this enough.

During The First Few Months

House training.

Develop good habits. Take them outside every 20 minutes to pee if you have to at first. Yeah you can put down paper at the back door, I’m not against that so if they have an accident, it might be on there. They come home after having paper in their puppy box so they probably already know that. Gradually increase their time between pees and before you know it, they will ask to go outside. NEVER scold a puppy after the fact if they mess in the house. That’s one of those negative things I talk about that might scar their development. They don’t understand what the scolding is for. However, if you catch them peeing, give them a bit of a swat on the behind and sternly tell them to go outside. It’s important to use your hand and never an object like a newspaper when you swat them. Never hit a baby in the face. It causes hand shyness. Quickly pick them up even if they are still going and take them outside. It’s probably YOUR fault anyway because it’s been too long since they were out last.

  • Remember this. Everything your dog does is your fault, not theirs. You are the trainer and supposed to be the smart one. If they develop a bad habit, it’s usually because you didn’t teach them a good one correctly. NEVER get MAD! We use fake anger as a tool but I’ll get to that later. If you feel yourself getting frustrated, simply stop what you are doing. There is always tomorrow.
Chewing Shoes

Or hearing aids, or your favorite TV remote, etc. Don’t scold them. Simply take it away while giving them what they ARE allowed to have such as their toy or a treat or whatever. They’ll get over it, maybe, someday…….. Keep it positive.

Retrieving.

Ok, I know you want to have a voracious retriever. Be careful what you wish for as most if not all our breedings produce this. To start the procedure, sit yourself down in a hallway or somewhere that your pup is confined. Throw a balled up sock or something soft like that down the hallway and let them run after it. It doesn’t matter if they bring it right back. We are just playing with them at this point. If they don’t see you throw it, hold them facing away from you with one hand and take the other hand in front of their face and toss the toy a little ways away while they are pointed there to see it. It will not take long until they get the hang of playing that game. I like to use a hallway because we quickly develop GOOD HABITS of going there and coming back. Don’t overdo it. They have the concentration span of a gnat. Always try to quit while they still want more. Fun, fun, fun. That’s the strategy that will pay huge dividends later on.

  • Remember this. It’s much easier to develop great habits from the start than try to fix a bad habit later. Go there, come back. That’s the best initial habit your young dog can learn at this point and is the basis of all further training.

Ok, so after a while your pup actually progresses through this phase and you move to outside and throw tennis balls and small puppy bumpers . That’s the way it goes, don’t be in a real hurry.

Oh No! My puppy won’t come back!!!!!!!

Here’s a few tricks we use regularly. I will get to obedience also during this phase but he should be wearing a flat collar now. Attach a 6 foot leash to it and let him drag it. That gives you a tool in the box to use. If he comes running back in your general direction and veers off, simply step on the leash. That does two things.

1. It stops him without him realizing you did it.

2. It gives you a chance to squat down and positively call him while clapping your hands and acting like a complete idiot while talking baby talk to him and saying ‘puppy puppy puppy!!’ or some equally stupid thing like that. It works.

Ok, he’s running out there and flipping you the bird about halfway back and running around. This is the time you start to backpedal and distracting him with equally ridiculous sounding encouragement. That usually distracts them somewhat and before you know it, they start to follow you, in which case you deftly take the object from them as they approach while praising them like they just won the National Retriever Championship of the world.

Next, they pick up the toy and just stand there while you flail around uselessly. Nothing works and you figure the dog is a waste of time. Not so. Go get him or whatever. Next time you throw it, do it while you are near a building or your truck and while they run out there, hide. They will turn around and guess what, they can’t play their little mind game on you because you aren’t there. almost 10 times out of 10 they will come looking for you. It doesn’t matter if they bring the bumper or not. You start to establish who is boss by that small mental game.

At some point they may just catch on to all your little mind games. Here’s another trick to get them back on your side. Have another bumper handy and wave it around while they think they are in charge firmly ignoring you. It breaks their thought pattern as dad has a new toy and the game is on again. Here they come. Even throw it up in the air beside you if you need to. Remember, good habits.

Ok, next time I will start to explain the different phases of their mental development and how to approach the obedience tactics and why we do it that way. Enjoy your puppy, he’s on your side and only wants to please you.

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