So you have a new puppy and you don’t know where to start? Training your puppy young and from day one is so important. This page will give you some great tips on how to train your new doodle puppy.
Keep your training sessions short, consistent and always have fun. The key to shaping your puppy’s behavior is to start out with very easy commands, continue to build on these successes and apply heaps of repetition. Base your puppy training sessions around trust and mutual respect rather than old school methods based on punishment, avoidance and harsh corrections. In this environment you will find that your puppy loves his training sessions and his confidence will grow with each and every session.
Always remember that you are dealing with a very immature young animal. Be realistic, flexible, patient and always fair during puppy training sessions. Your puppy doesn’t just automatically know this stuff! It’s all new to him and he is bound to have the odd slip up and mistake along the way. Don’t worry about these mistakes, just move on and do your best to prevent them in the future.
Enjoy this fantastic time in your dog’s life. His puppyhood is the time where you willlay the foundation for your puppy’s life. It’s also where you will develop, build and strengthen the special bond you will share with your dog for life.
LEASH TRAINING TIPS:
We prefer the Martingale Collars for our dogs. These are available now through several distributors and are the best collar for Doodles as they are wider at the front and narrow at the back and also acts as a mild choke collar. They also have extra padding to protect the throat on your Doodle, which helps to prevent coughing.
The Doodle has a soft silky skin which is thinner than many breeds of dogs, and leaves more chance of damage to the esophageal passage if a regular choke chain or narrow collar is used. Also the Hound Collar from Fidogear is recommended and comes in several sizes, however they will also custom make them for your Doodle without extra charge. They also make leashes to match. For a leash I prefer a 6 foot leash for training and whenever doing obedience work, or walking in a heavily trafficked area. I personally do not like the retractable leashes for many reasons but I know a lot of people like them. They give your dog way too much freedom and can be dangerous.. I heard a story of a man who had part of his finger ripped off when it got caught up in the thin cord.. plus my Doodle Teddy could chew through one of these in about 2 mins flat.
You can use longer leashes when teaching the stay and come commands.
When walking your new puppy try to discourage sniffing the ground, this can lead to picking up bacteria from other dogs urine. This is how Parvo and Corona, both deadly diseases, can be picked up. Never walk your new puppy on a school playground or a rest area doggy area – they are the most contaminated by dogs who have not been vaccinated. Some puppies, indiscriminate as they are will also eat the feces (poo) of other dogs, cats or other animals. This is how they pick up parasites – stomach worms, tapeworms, etc. They will also drink contaminated water and pick up parasites such as coccidiosis and giarrdia. We use a “head up” command when walking the puppies, and a “walk” command.
When you get into technical obedience training you use the “heel” command. Do not just snap a leash on a new puppy and start pulling on it. Attach the leash and walk backwards giving a soft clap and “Come, baby” command. As soon as the puppy starts toward you, turn and give the “let’s walk” command. If the puppy gets startled and balks momentarily stop and pet the puppy, and start the procedure over again, encouraging the puppy with each step forward that it takes. If you just pull on the leash the puppy is not sure enough of itself or you to recognize what you want of it. Be very careful in heavily trafficked areas of busses and trucks with hydraulic brakes – they hiss – which can scare a new puppy badly.
Make sure the collar is tight enough that it will not slip over the head if the puppy tries to back up quickly. If your puppy feels apprehensive or gets badly startled immediately get down on its level and give it reassurance. In this way you will build it’s confidence.
PIDDLING PUPPIES: Puppies do not piddle on purpose. They can lose confidence which can cause submission piddling, or they can be over excited which can cause excitement piddling.
Female pups are a bit worse for this than male pups. Both are caused by a weak or untrained sphincter, and more and more control comes as the puppy gets older – just like potty training a child. The more you actually discipline a puppy for this the worse you can make it. Doodles that are “thinkers” are very sensitive to discipline – a firm word is all they need. This was “Daisy” – a firm word and she would go sit in a corner all on her own – she felt remorse.
Doodles that are “clowns” can be disciplined with a firm word, and just become more of a “clown” – this was “Teddy” – he’s sorry in his own way, but not with remorse. The more confidence building encouragement puppies get the quicker they will outgrow the piddling stage. It is also very important to realize that puppies that are piddling constantly, or go out and urinate and then come in and piddle can have a urinary tract infection (UTI).
CRATE TRAINING: Crate training can prove to be a few useful undertaking for more reasons than one. Many owners find the benefits extend to both the dog and the people within a home. The benefits of crate training a goldendoodle include:
Our puppies are put in their crates at night and are given 1 biscuit and told to “hush, it’s bedtime”. In a minute or two I give them a 2nd biscuit, and a couple of minutes later – their last biscuit. This teaches them patience, and I also use the “wait” command combined with the “hush” command. “Hush, now – you Wait”. We always give the puppies a special touch or hug before they go into their crate and when we get them out in the morning. This helps to prevent the submission piddling or excitement piddling because we are taking a moment to encourage the puppy and tell them what a “Good, baby” they were. Once the puppies are crating well at night, we do the same for naptimes in the daytime. It’s important to get your puppies outside almost immediately to prevent accidents.
Once puppies are well trained to the crate they will begin to consider their crates as their special place and begin to enjoy napping in there even with the doors open. Many will stash their toys, their bones and special treats and will seek peace and quiet in their open crates. I use black wire crates and I cover them with blankets to give them that warm enclosed den type of feel and my dogs and puppies love their crates. Crating is not cruel.
To learn more about Crate Training and How to do it please read my post on Crate Training.
Crating during the teething stages is also important, as it prevents damage to household goods, and it keeps the family from having to discipline a puppy too much. It can also help to prevent puppies eating something they shouldn’t (small toys, underwear, socks, cell phones, remote controls, etc) that can block their intestinal passages and result in very expensive surgery or even in death. The main teething stages are usually about 16-20 weeks when the baby teeth fall out and the permanent teeth come in, and then at approximately 10-14 months when the 1st year molars come in.
Teething for 2nd years molars is usually at about 22-26 months and doesn’t seem to be as bad. Dry kibble and chew bones help the puppies teeth to come in, as well as massage the gums, and help to prevent tartar on the teeth, and also help to prevent anal gland infections. All of our pups have also liked to raid the kindling box for a favorite piece of wood to chew on – and it’s never hurt them a bit. Better than your dining room table leg.
DISTRACTION METHOD TRAINING:
Doodle puppies are highly intelligent and raising them is much like raising a child. Then the general rule of thumb of 1 year of a dogs life is equivalent to 7 years of a humans life seems to apply. Distraction method correction is often used in young children, and we apply it to raising our young standard and miniature Doodles. Save the cardboard rolls from toilet paper, packing tape, aluminum foil, etc. Also small boxes and medium size boxes are good. Just like toddlers tend to need to go through a destructive stage (remember the towers of blocks knocked down over and over again) so do Doodle puppies in their own way.
We give them cardboard rolls – they are very light and easy for very young puppies to carry around, squash flat, chew up, tear apart – and they won’t hurt the puppies and the pieces are easy to clean up, and they are free, and the puppies absolutely love them. And since I have done this my puppies have never touched the roll of toilet paper. Another thing to get at Goodwill is an old leather pair of boots or shoes. They will not smell like yours. Never, ever give your puppy your old shoes to chew on.
Have a container for the puppies toys. Corner feed bins for horses are great (check your local feed store) – large enough, come in many colors, aren’t too deep for a puppy to reach into and fit nicely in a corner to hold toys and bones. Whenever your puppy picks up something it should not have, gently take it away and give it something similar that it can have. Never hit your Doodle puppy.
Remember the Doodle is part retriever, and like all retriever breeds, may tend to mouth the hand – this is not the same as biting, although a puppy who is used to playing with it’s siblings may actually nip a bit as they are trying to resolve what part a human plays in its life. A gentle muzzle squeeze combined with the term “Be Easy” or “Be Gentle” is usually all that is needed. In a pup with a bit more stubborness or independence sometimes a little firmer squeeze is needed.
We use a gentle squeeze for the first stage, a firmer squeeze for the 2nd stage (gently pinching the lips against the teeth and causing a whimper), and an inner mouth hold (be careful of the canines) for the third stage. In the third stage the hand is inserted into the mouth and either the upper muzzle held trapping the tongue up, or the bottom muzzle is held, trapping the tongue down. They really don’t like this – and if you do it right putting your hand to the rear of the canines, it will prevent them from biting you. We have hardly ever had to go to third stage.
Most puppies learn very quickly that you are not another puppy, and that you are not going to tolerate a rough “hold”. The same method is used for puppies that start to grab clothing. If you let a puppy get away with this as a new puppy, you are leaving yourself open to bigger problems later on.
CATCH ME IF YOU CAN: THE TEASING PUPPY:
At about 12-16 weeks puppies decide “game playing” is fun. The first command to teach your puppy is the “Sit” command – and we do use treats for this. It is the most common command used with dogs, and one of the most essential for safety. The “sit” command should become so automatic to your puppy that it is like driving a car, riding a bike, typing – for a person. Once learned – not forgotten. A puppy will mind a sit command faster than a “stop” or “stay” command, because it hears it the most often. When a puppy gets to the teasing stage if they know their “sit” command and obey it instinctively it gives you a chance to control a situation.
If a puppy goes to dash out into the street a “sit” command is often more effective than a “stop” or “stay” command, and can keep the puppy from harm. The same if you see a puppy start to pick up something that might be dangerous to it. The puppy is also expecting a reward for it’s response to the “sit” command. The 12-16 week old puppy is a highly curious, starting to be independent character. All of a sudden this puppy that was glued to your side and watched your every move decides it has confidence and can do it’s own thing. If you try to catch it, it keeps moving further away or around an obstacle.
All of a sudden they won’t automatically come to be loaded into the car (especially if they suspect they are going to the vets) and you end up playing “Catch me if you can” around and around the car. If you let this start this games gets worse and worse. Give the “Sit” command with a firm but loving voice, go up to the puppy and praise it for taking a “sit” position. Then take ahold of the puppies ruff (skin and hair at the shoulder – don’t pinch) and shake it, make eye contact and say “when I say COME, you COME”. This really needs to be nipped in the bud, or you will have a puppy who makes a constant habit of this behavior. But it should still be done with love and soft hands and a soft but firm voice. Scare or hurt your puppy, and you will cause loss of confidence, submission and piddling, encourage your puppy to good behavior and you will both be winners.
ROUGH HOUSING WITH A PUPPY:
This is the biggest complaint I get from wives. More men tend to get down on the floor and wrestle with the new puppy. This can start more aggressive and or dominant behavior in a puppy, just as it can with some children. A puppy can then take this dominant alpha attitude and turn it toward the children in the family – especially the younger, smaller children. A Doodle is a natural herd dog – in some respects this is good – as a Doodle will herd small children away from danger – or put themselves between the child and what they perceive as danger.
The bad thing is that most adults don’t understand this attitude and misinterpret it as threatening to the child. The puppy that is rough housed with may become too dominant in it’s herding and also in it’s mouthing, not comprehending that it can be rougher with an adult than it can be with a child. Also if the man of the family works he isn’t always available for this rough housing game, so the pup tries to play it with other family members – and then gets scolded – creating confusion in it’s mind as to what is right and what is wrong in it’s behavior.
CORRECT RETRIEVER TRAINING:
This is the next biggest complaint. When a toy is just thrown, or held and the pup is teased before throwing it this can teach the pup to jump for the hand holding the toy. Again this might be all right with a pup playing with the man of the house, but not with children or other members. Also in two cases of traumatic bloat 1) the object was thrown straight up in the air on very wet muddy ground (typical of Oregon and Washington) and the Doodle caught the item but came down hard on his side when his feet flew out from under him – he torsioned his stomach (he was in a “medical” family who recognized the symptoms and had a $2000.00 emergency surgery and lived; 2) the object was thrown over a deck wall – the Doodle slipped on wet decking and slammed into a post – after a heavy meal – and again torsioned his stomach (this family did not recognize the symptoms quickly enough and lost their beloved Doodle. In correct retrieving always make sure the surroundings are safe for your Doodle.
Do not feed a large meal before any play time, Doodles are nibblers and should have kibble free choice (after potty training is completed), and their soft feed in a small portion either am or pm when fully grown. Correct retriever training is done in steps. With a puppy we start by playing with toys on the floor and throwing the toy a short distance and having them return with it. Then we teach the sit command. At approximately 16 weeks we start the formal retriever training. This combines a sit, stay, wait, watch, retrieve, bring it, and give it sequence. The puppy should sit at your side, be given a stay command (hold the collar or muzzle gently), prepare to throw the toy be given a “wait” command, throw the toy give the “watch” command. When the toy stops bouncing give the retrieve command.
When the puppy picks up the toy give the “bring it” command, and when the puppy returns to you give the “give it” command. When your puppy learns this sequence well, he will have wonderful behavior no matter what age he is playing with, and people will be impressed with its obedience to signals.
I’ve only taken the time to write about a few of the basics that we are constantly asked about. Let me know if there is something you would like to see added here. We have a very common sense approach to training our puppies and believe in lots of loving touches and loving words, and training with very few treats.
In most situations I am not going to have a pocket full of treats, and I want my Doodles to be good examples of behavior with just a loving pat and a loving word. We do a lot of commendation and scratching of the breast bone (tranquilize point) as they can’t scratch it for themselves.
Location: Woodland, Washington State
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