• The Right Time to Train

    Hi all, George here. I am quite often asked what the right age is to start training your puppy. A puppy is fully neurologically developed by 10 weeks of age. As soon as you bring your dog home, you start training him, and orienting him to the rules and order of your home. I tell all my clients that their puppy is ready for training at 10 weeks of age.

    Our training begins by addressing two basic behaviors. Your puppy comes ingrained with some litter pack behaviors. There are two behaviors that they use to assert their dominance. These behaviors need to be addressed immediately.

    The first is jumping up or mounting. Most people misinterpret this behavior, thinking that the dog is happy to see them. They react incorrectly by rewarding the action by petting the dog and acting submissive. The correct response should be to step toward the dog, and push them down at the shoulders. You can learn more about this behavior in my blog post about jumping. You can find that here . By jumping or mounting, all your dog wants to know is if you are dominant or submissive. Believe me, they don’t care you are back, they just want to confirm the relationship. This behavior can persist for some time, but it is important to remember what the behavior implies, and how to properly respond to it, until the behavior is extinguished.

    The second litter behavior is mouthing and/or biting. This behavior is another attempt by your dog to assert dominance on you. This act is the most egregious behavior, and should be dealt with swiftly and firmly. The only proper correction for this behavior is to use your hand clamp down on the dog’s neck and hold him to the floor. This correction was used by his mother, and all dogs understand what it means. Hold the dog down until he relents by calming down and lying still. Once this has happened, slowly move your hand away.

    Bad behavior in adult dogs occurs at this age because we think it is “puppy behavior,” and as a result, we allow it. The rule of thumb is, never let your puppy do anything you wouldn’t tolerate from a full-grown 80-pound dog. At this age it is important for you, the owner, to have a vision of the dog you want a year from now. For information on teaching your dog specific commands, be sure to check out our series of training videos on YouTube. You can find those here. And as always, remember that we can control our dog’s behavior by controlling our own.

    Be sure to check back often for more tips and tricks on giving your pet the happiest and healthiest life possible. George Domsic is the owner at Benchmark Pet Services, and has more than 40 years experience in the field of dog training and psychology.

  • Taking Your Dog For A Walk

    Hi all, George here. Today I would like to discuss walking your dog. Now I have already touched on this subject briefly in my blog entry about proper leash usage. (You can read that here. ) One of the common complaints I hear as a trainer is, “my dog won’t walk!” It is important to remember that dogs will follow if you lead them. They will not follow someone they perceive to be submissive or passive.

    Before you can have a good walk with your dog, it is important to know how to use the leash properly. Check out my previous blog post on how to properly use the leash as a training tool. Once you have mastered that, it’s time to start teaching your dog how they should act on a walk.

    Just as with any other negative behavior I have covered, the most common mistake I see when people walk their dogs is to be passive. They will timidly ask the dog to come with them, and wait for the dog to comply. As always, the proper technique is to lead, and the dog will follow. Maintain your proper, dominant posture, and do not let the dog lead you. Just grab the leash and start walking, and your dog will have no choice but to follow. If your dog starts to get out in front, snap the leash, and bring them back behind you, and to your side. Remember, the alpha leads, and you are the alpha.

    When starting with a new dog that is having trouble behaving on walks, I like to do a training exercise I call “follow the leader.” This exercise is best done in a backyard, or some other area where you have plenty of room to briskly move around in all directions. Start walking in one direction, and every 10-15 steps, change direction. Each time you change direction, snap that leash, and make sure your dog follows. The point of the exercise is to randomize your movements to make sure the dog has no choice but to pay very close attention to where you are and where you’re going. and trains them not to anticipate your intentions.

    Just like us humans, dogs are happiest when they get plenty of exercise. When your dog learns to follow properly rather than stop every 5 feet to smell the ground, the workout from the walk will be much more effective, and lead to a happier and healthier dog. Remember, you can control your dog’s behavior by controlling your own.

    Be sure to check back often for more tips and tricks on giving your pet the happiest and healthiest life possible. George Domsic is the owner at Benchmark Pet Services, and has more than 40 years experience in the field of dog training and psychology.