Puppy Practice Notes
Updated: Apr 15
This post is geared toward Puppy 101 clients. You will find notes and video to support your practice assignments here. They are laid out Weeks 1 to 5 but sometimes I jump around to customize lessons for your puppy. Check out the names of the exercises we worked on in your most recent session and, when in doubt, message me.
Read Socializing if your pup is 13 weeks or younger and print the checklist to follow as explained in the post. This is the MOST important thing you can do for a young puppy, way more important than any manners work.
Posts about keeping your puppy entertained can be found here and here. Every puppy needs to learn to spend some time alone without getting anxious or upset. Think of ways to start teaching your pup to do that when you can still be close enough to hear your pup - when you are in the shower, around the corner cooking a meal, down the hall doing some laundry, and so on. Gradually increase the time of your absences, but no absences longer than your puppy can safely hold his or her bladder.
This post explains how often to train, how to proceed, and helps you remember in what order to do things.
I chose lots of video examples to review the things we have practiced. Message me with any questions because your dog might not do what the dog i the video did. In many videos the trainer is using a clicker. We are using a marker word instead, like "Good!"
It's Yer Choice /Doggie Zen /Leave it
Start teaching pup not to "mug" your hand for food. Refresher Video 1, Video 2, Video 3. Step one is just marking the pup for backing off of the handful of food, then an open hand of food, then staying back and making eye contact, then adding your cue.
Sit / Release
We use luring to get this behavior most of the time and then we add duration and a release cue for a default sit/stay. Check out this video.
This is my FAVORITE game. When in doubt, this game is almost always a solution to keeping your dog's attention or interrupting your dog. Video here.
Trade / Drop /Give
This is the exercise we did with a kong. (This game is not for dogs who guard objects.) Video refresher for how we did it with a toy. Starts at 2:18. Done correctly, that exercise helps prevent guarding behavior in the future. Here's a detailed article, too.
The concept of say please is waiting politely in a seated position to make things happen. For instance, sitting makes the tug toy go, makes the ball get thrown, makes the flirt pole toy swing loose, makes my person throw the food. More details here if you need them!
Belly Button Game
This game sets us up for success with polite greetings and leash walking. Watch this training in action here.
We use luring to get this behavior most of the time and then we add duration and a release cue for a default sit/stay. Check out a video refresher here.
These games are an extension of say please. We are really playing the same game but adding distractions and changing the context. Use this concept to teach waiting for doors to open, food bowls to hit the floor, and leashes to get clipped on. Video refresher here.
Loose Leash Walking
This 3 part series is an excellent overview of the games we played. We have a head start after playing the belly button game, too. For a more detailed review of the information we discussed, read this post.
Go to Bed
By the time we start adding the chase me game to our name game and check in work, you should have had at a least a week practicing the name game. If not, practice some more before adding on. Check out this article for step by step help.
Once your pup can play the belly button game, we add this game. An option for really jumpy puppies is the hyper greeter game. When playing the hyper greeter game alone, toss the food when your dog sits/looks away/walks away
Then, we add some approaches by various people, like this. When playing polite greetings games without a helper, you can tether pup to something solid and practice approaching. It's like a red light/green light game where calm behavior is a green light for the human to approach and pay with food. Jumping behavior is a red light for the human who should stop, not pay with food, and even retreat if the jumping continues.
An advanced version would be pairing waiting at the door with greeting a person politely. (That isn't usually part of the puppy package but sometimes we get that far.) Manage jumping as much as possible to remove the reward of attention. Use a leash, crate, or gate to prevent the jumping. If pup does jump, it's important to avoid, ignore, not make eye contact, not touch, not talk, and preferably immediately exit over a gate or through a door for a time out.