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Liz Langham, MS, CPDT-KA
239 Mountfort Rd.
North Yarmouth, ME 04097
207 837 1613
treefrogfarm@gmail.com
Puppy Management Skills

Training a puppy should start the day she comes home. It all starts with prevention and management. The initial skill I am going to share with you is a skill I learned from a great trainer who I assisted in Falmouth, ME.

She had a relatively small house and a few very well trained dogs. The day I walked in and met her new puppy, I was greeted by the pack minus the puppy. I walked into the kitchen and there was the pup in an exercise pen. She had her crate in the pen, a pee-pee pad and some toys. The pup was completely content even while the house energy was exciting.

When I got my pup I instilled a very similar regimen. She had her x-pen in the dining room (of my very small house) with a crate inside and a pee-pee pad. In addition, she had her water bowl (always with about 1/2inch of water), food bowl, and some chew toys. The crate had a towel for comfort. At night the pup was enclosed in the crate. During the day she had the run of the pen.

Whenever the puppy came out of the pen she would need to sit to be released. Peeper did not come to me knowing how to sit, go to the bathroom outside, and that it was not okay to chew on my children. These behaviors were learned by doing or preventing her from doing it as is the case of chewing on the kids.

How did she learn “sit?” I would put my hand on the door of the pen which I had unlocked. The pup always wanted to come out of the pen so she would be at the opening waiting for me to open it. Initially she would jump up and try to push it open. I was silent and patient. The door would not open until she was sitting. When she sat I would talk calmly, and slowly open the gate. If she got up, I stopped talking and slowly closed the door. This was repeated until she maintained her position. When she did, I released her with her release word “break.” (Examples of release words are OK, break, free, go, you’re done, that’ll do, free dog).

I would attach the leash and lead Peeper outside to go to the bathroom. She did not have many options when we went out except to go to the bathroom. I ensured this by having her on leash. I was the center of a circle and the leash acted as the radius. I would spin around as she sniffed but she only had about 6’ circumference. When the pup got into the position to eliminate I would cue her (tell her what to do) (Remember, puppies do not come to us knowing our language therefore they frequently learn by doing and simultaneously hearing the command when in action). I would say the cue and then stop talking until the pup was done eliminating. When she was done I would have a party right there and then.

When the puppy is out of the x-pen you should work with her intentionally. Puppies do not know what is wrong, just what feels satisfying and safe. Therefore, if you have your pup out of the pen he should be engaging with you in training or controlled playing rather than running free in a large area without intentional engagement. Too much room can result in unsafe options.

Puppies need two two-hour naps a day otherwise they will get punchy. These naps should be uninterrupted and in their “zone.” Having a zone (crate, x-pen, or small, enclosed room) that your pup can call his own will help him learn to self-sooth and not need to be with you 24-7. The family can be around the pup but he will not be following you around while cooking, doing laundry, going to the bathroom, etc, therefore he can continue to nap.

Having a puppy in the family can be a wonderful experience especially if she knows what the boundaries are. You need to teach rules and impulse control so that your puppy can be successful. Exercise, training, and nutrition are critical components for making a puppy a whole dog.

Written by Liz Langhan
Liz Langham MS, CPDT-KA is the owner of Tree Frog Farm Dog Training and Agility in North Yarmouth, ME. She has been training dogs and their people since 1994. Liz is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, mother of three, Master Gardener, and the guardian of 2 dogs, 1 cat, 1 guinea pig, and 11 chickens. Tree Frog Farm Personalized Dog Training and Agility Farm
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