I got up at 9:30 this morning with the full intention of letting the dogs out and writing something for this blog. It’s my goal for the first 30 days to write something everyday. I let everyone out for their morning pee and poop and sat down to read a few articles look over some topic ideas and write something. Pretty much from the get go our little guy Opie (we foster him for Bullies In Need a great rescue who is always looking for volunteers and foster homes contact me for more info) had a bunch of spunk and so did his older sister Stella who is normally lazy in the morning. I immediately knew I was going to be getting very little done this morning until I drained some energy. So I put on my warm clothes strapped on my roller blades and off we went. Thankfully they are all asleep now which frees me up to write this.

I know in the title of my article I said training and you could certainly look at it that way. I prefer to think of them as behavior expectations. I find when people hear the word train they think of treats and dogs sitting as their owner wags a biscuit over their head. What people don’t understand is puppies from day one are formulating exactly what is expected of them and exactly what you allow them to do. I touch on this concept in a previous post . A lot of people think that for a dog learn he needs to be a certain age or you can’t teach him anything. I find just the opposite. The earlier you start the easier your making your life. An amazing example of this would be our foster dog Opie.

By the time we got Opie from Bullies in Need we were well aware of the fact that it is never too early to start showing your dog acceptable behavior. When he came to us he was just a bit more than 8 weeks old. One key thing with dogs is patience for both of you. You need to have patience in showing them what you want and they show patience by waiting for your command before doing anything. Your dog should be looking to for leadership at all times. For instance when you are letting your dog out of its cage it should not just burst out the second you unlatch the door like a charging bull. Instead you should be able to unlatch the door open it and walk away ( I can turn my back even round the corner). Repition is key. It took Opie about a week to pick up on what the proper way to exit you cage was. None the less at 8 weeks he was already learning what was expected from him at home. Another prime example involving doors would be letting them out. Your dog should not be crowding you at the door. Opie was taught just like the rest of our dogs that an open door is just that an open door. It’s that simple nothing more nothing less. Just because a door is open does not mean you may go out of it without my permission. Same with entering some where the human always goes in first and the dog once he is calm and submissive. Never should your dog be allowed to bound into the house ahead of you. This is your home you let him live here not the other way around and by letting him just run in ahead of he is affective saying this is HIS home.

The best part about this is each time you make them wait and return to a calm submissive state it drains energy. Not physically but mentally. Sometimes mental work is just as hard for them as running or physical exercise. Conditioning is the key. A prime example is Opie and our kitchen. When we cook in the kitchen we don’t allow our dogs in there. For Lilly and Stella this  wasnt always a rule so they will occasionally drift into the kitchen where as Opie has learned that by quickly exiting the kitchen and lying down gets him a food reward. Let me explain the reward. It is my expectation that you remain outside the kitchen but laying down calmly is above and beyond so in our house we choose to reward such behavior ( I would strongly recommend that you try this at home.)

My point is showing them first what you expect is a much better way than letting them do whatever they want and then begin at 4 months to place expectations on their behavior. I’m not saying at all that it wouldn’t be possible for the 4 month old to learn (you can teach all dogs new behavior and place new expectations on them) but it is much easier to never let your dog form behaviors that you don’t agree with. Even as a puppy correcting undesirable behavior is a must and creating new desirable behaviors is possible.

opie kitchen1

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