Adam talks about how to socialize your new puppy to the outside world. In this video, he’s taking “Gidget” — his Belgian Malinois puppy for a ride in a shopping cart at his local big box pet store. Note: There is always a risk of parvo, before your pup has had all four rounds of shots. You’ll have to way the risks vs. the rewards. Some vets recommend not letting the puppy leave the house before four months of age, and I’m not in a position to say this is bad advice. You’ll have to make your own call.
It may seem obvious to some, but this video demonstrates an amazingly simply thing you can do to reduce housebreaking accidents by up to 90% during the first week after you’ve brought your puppy home.
This is the first episode of The Puppy Training Diary… where we’ve adopted Gidget– an 8 week old Belgian Malinois puppy, and we’re going to document every step of development, from puppy to adulthood using the same techniques I write about in my book– Secrets of a Professional Dog Trainer– which you can download and start reading almost immediately, at DogProblems.com.
The Belgian Malinois is one of the most high drive, high energy dogs you’ll find. And although there are breeds that would fit better with my … mostly sedentary lifestyle… I adopted this breed for three primary reasons:
1. I wanted to demonstrate that my techniques work well with even the most difficult dog breeds. This breed was not intended to be a pet, they are bred to be working dogs. But by joining me on this journey– you’ll learn how a difficult breed can still make a fanastic companion animal, if you’re dedicated to learning the right techniques and giving your dog the mental and physical outlets he needs.
2. I wanted a breed of dog I could use for practically any dog-related activity or dog sport. The Belgian Malinois excels at pretty much everything it does.
3. I believe that this dog breed is put together the way a dog should be, as far as size, coat, structure and atheleticism are concerned.
Adam answers some discussion forum questions about crate training a puppy.
Stop Puppy Biting
Different people’s idea of “aggression” in regard to how to stop puppy biting can vary quite a bit and that, of course, can change my suggestion on how to proceed. If your puppy is 7 or 8 weeks old, you’ll want to just redirect the puppy biting behavior towards a toy or a chew bone. If your puppy is simply in an ultra rambunctious state, the first thing to do is to take him outside. This type of behavior frequently indicates that your puppy needs to eliminate. (And yes… even if you just took him out and he didn’t have to go!) If you’re sure that it’s not because he needs to eliminate and you instead feel that he’s just in a rambunctious state, then by all means: put him in the crate. Like I’ve said in my book: this is not punishment. The crate Is your dog’s “special place”… his private retreat.
Best Way To Stop Puppy From Biting
If your puppy is biting, sometimes what will work is if you quickly bend the lips around the teeth of the puppy and say “No.”… so that the puppy learns that if he bites you, the response is something that doesn’t feel good. Just beware that you do not let this turn into a game.
Stop Puppy Biting Fast
If your puppy is a bit older… approximately 12 to 16 weeks-old and you’re still having problems with puppy biting, you can use a small, light pinch collar and tab (a 3/4′ leash) (consult my book for the proper sizing, fitting and technique) and give a light (caution:light) tug on the leash. Your puppy is smart. He will not continue to do a behavior that does not feel good. This technique always works: Just use common sense, read your dog, and be careful not to over-correct. At the same time, make sure that your correction IS motivational. I.E., If the puppy keeps doing the behavior, that’s usually a good indication that your correction wasn’t motivational.
Most likely, depending on your puppy’s age, he’ll outgrow it even if you don’t do anything. But this also depends on the temperament and breed and how serious the puppy biting is.
If your puppy is possessive over a toy: Give it to him, then take it away again. Show him that any aggressive behavior will not get him what he wants. Reward him when he is calm. Do not reach for it quickly or act fearful. Pretend like it doesn’t bother you at all and that it’s not threatening. Pin him on his side and hold him there firmly, until he stops growling. When you let him up, move your hand away slowly. If he tries to nip you when you start to release him, then immediately pin him down and keep him there until he submits.
How To Stop Puppy Biting And Growling
Before It Starts
I advise against letting puppies interact too much with adult dogs: There may be a point where the adult dog has had enough, and then corrects the puppy. Some dogs can do this, just fine. But other dogs (especially dogs that allow puppies to bully them) will get to a point where they’ve “had enough” and then they snap… and it’s an over-correction, which is too much for the puppy (way too much) and that ends up coming back to haunt you later in the puppy’s life, in the form of dog aggression.
So, it’s best to keep the dogs separate at this point, when not supervising.
Stop Puppy Biting Furniture
I also advise against using a choke chain on the puppy. The pinch collar is far safer and far more effective. And you don’t need to use any force or muscle to get it to work. If everything else you’ve done to correct the puppy from biting you hasn’t worked, then get a small pinch collar and use it. But save the obedience training stuff for later, after the adult teeth come in (usually between 4-5 months of age). There’s more in the book, which I think you’ll find useful.
Lynn adds: Sometimes puppies do a lot of play-biting, and there is a big difference between true aggression and play in their body language. I don’t doubt that your puppy may be giving you trouble, and now really is the time to teach him that teeth-on-skin is unthinkable. The caveat comes when the puppy decides to really push its boundaries and the play-biting “correction” is ineffective. If this is the case, it’s possible that you might have to use a properly-sized pinch collar, to correct for ONLY the biting, just to communicate clearly to the dog that it is unacceptable. We usually do NOT recommend pinch collars for young puppies, though.
Jenna wrote to us about how to discipline her aggressive puppy:
From An Aggressive Puppy
To An Aggressive Dog?
“I’m very worried – my 9 1/2 week old shepherd/pitbull/lab mix puppy has been showing signs of aggression towards me, and I’m worried he’s going to turn from an aggressive puppy into an aggressive dog. He attacked my hand when I went to remove his leash after a walk around the park. I tried to grab him and say “no”. When he bites hard I grab his mouth and clamp down and say no until he yelps. Then he comes at me again with a growl soon as I release. Is this a bad tactic to discipline? Will this bring out his aggression more? I’m not sure how to discipline him when he acts out. Is this just puppy behavior or should I be worried? For the most part, he loves people and is very affectionate. However his aggressive behaviors come out periodically.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!!”
Would it be possible to video this and put it on Youtube, so that I can see it?
The problem is: When it comes to a puppy this age, different people’s idea of “aggression” can vary quite a bit, and that can change my suggestion on how to proceed.
Definitely start reading the sections on puppy aggression in my dog training book, so that you understand basic concepts, but if you have a way to video this behavior (maybe with a smart phone, like a droid or an iPhone?) … that would help, a lot.
Lynn Stockwell added:
I too am curious. Sometimes puppies do a lot of play-biting, and there is a big difference between true aggression and play in their body language. I don’t doubt that he’s giving you trouble, and now really is the time to teach him that teeth-on-skin is Unthinkable. As Adam mentioned, a video would be helpful to really pinpoint the problem and tailor a response as to how to correct it–that’s the one drawback on the internet, is that we are not there to witness the issue!
Holding The Puppy’s Mouth Does Not
Stop Aggressive Puppy Behavior
While holding a puppy around the mouth can be done as a correction, there are also other factors that make it effective. You’ve already noticed that simply holding the mouth by itself isn’t really useful, since he just bounces back. I’ll try to get a video together showing a good way to correct a puppy for play-biting that utilizes a few other concepts too. It may look weird, but when used properly and consistently, it does teach the puppy that certain actions get it NOWHERE.
The caveat comes when the puppy decides to really push its boundaries and the play-biting “correction” is ineffective. If this is the case, it’s possible that you might have to use a properly-sized pinch collar, to correct for ONLY the biting, just to communicate clearly to the dog that it is unacceptable. We usually do NOT recommend pinch collars for young puppies, but as Adam mentioned above, knowing a few more details of the situation (plus video, if possible) might help us determine whether that’s the right course of action to take.
“Great – all that information is very helpful. I will try and get a video to post tonight of his aggression, or attitude. I’ve never had a puppy before so maybe it is just puppy play. However, when I say no loudly and hold his mouth, he comes right back at me with growling and nipping. He never nips so hard, but he is definitely defying my orders and I don’t like the growling. I’ll post a video as soon as possible.
Today, he also growled when I tried to take his kong away. I was going to put another treat in it but he didn’t like that. How do I correct that behavior? Should I be worried about the growling or is that normal? Thanks so much for your help!!”
It’s not typical.
Give it to him, then take it away again. Show him that any aggressive behavior will not get him what he wants. Reward him when he is calm. Do not reach for it quickly or act fearful. Pretend like it doesn’t bother you at all and that it’s not threatening. Pin him on his side and hold him there firmly, until he stops growling. When you let him up, move your hand away slowly. If he tries to nip you when you start to release him, then immediately pin him down and keep him there until he submits.
A video would be helpful, because then we can advise (like Lynn mentioned) if a small pinch collar would be appropriate for this type of aggressive puppy behavior.
Cathy wrote to us about her puppy training to constantly dominate and harass her older dog:
“Hi Adam and all: I’m reading the book, and have gone through a lot of your dog training site material. I have some concerns about my puppy that I’d like some advice on: She’s a retriever mix, about 3 months-old. We also have an 8 year-old female pug. This puppy is just relentless with the pug; biting constantly around her legs and neck and jumping on her back. Any corrections have been ineffective, everything from ‘no’ to scruffing the neck to a choker collar. Is she too young for intense correction (like a pinch collar)? And is it even a good idea for this problem? The poor pug is exhausted within minutes of letting them together, but should I just let them work it out?
She is also quite mouthy with us, and eats literally anything and everything when we take walks. It’s all driving me just a little nuts! Thanks for any help!! Cathy ”
Adam replies: Hi, Cathy:
This is one of the reasons I advise against letting puppies interact too much with adult dogs: There may get to a point where the older dog has had enough, and then corrects the puppy. Some dogs can do this, just fine. But other dogs (especially dogs that allow puppies to bully them) will get to a point where they’ve “had enough” and then they snap… and it’s an “over-correction” which is too much for the puppy (way too much) and that ends up coming back to haunt you later in the puppy’s life, in the form of dog aggression.
So, it’s best to keep the dogs separate at this point.
I also advise against using a choke chain on the puppy. The pinch collar is far safer and far more effective. And you don’t need to use any force or muscle to get it to work. If everything else you’ve done to correct the puppy from biting you hasn’t worked, then get a small pinch collar and use it. But save the obedience training stuff for later, after the adult teeth come in (usually between 4-5 months of age). Just use common sense: The mother would use her mouth to correct the puppy, and she would do it with only as much intensity to get her point across, and no more. Instead of getting hair in your teeth– we use the pinch collar. But for those other puppy owners reading this, I should caution: This is a last resort. There’s more in the book, which I think you’ll find useful.
Cruzmisl writes to me about some strange housebreaking issues: “I took my 4 month old Great Dane out for a long walk in the woods today and everything was great. We were gone an hour and everything was as usual. She came in the house, took a drink from her bowl upstairs and then went downstairs to take a drink from her other water bowl. Why she does that I have no idea but I follow her down anyway. I don’t trust her when she’s out off my sight and I like to wipe her mouth (she hates that though). Once she’s done drinking she plopped on her bed in front of the fireplace.
It seemed like a good time to check my email so I grabbed my laptop. All of a sudden she’s barking/moaning and she’s sitting up, urinating on her bed! I just had her outside for over an hour and she pulls this stunt? I grabbed her by her collar and told her “outside” and put (dragged) her in the backyard.
I’m a little confused though because she hasn’t pee’d in the house in months. She’s old enough now that she can hold it for 8-10hrs at night (in her crate) so I’m curious what spawned this. Later on that night she pee’d on the carpet while my wife wasn’t looking. It was only a little bit though.
She’s testing you. (And also: Your prior corrections probably weren’t motivational enough.)
She may test you once or twice, even if you do everything right… though Month 9. That doesn’t mean she’s not housebroken. It just means that: She’s still a young dog, and either by accident or by “test” — you can have this occur, albeit infrequently. The trick is to make sure that she gets a meaningful correction, when she does it. As you’ve found: Pulling on the flat collar isn’t going to do it.
Have you gone through the Secrets book and the housebreaking in a hurry video, yet?
I skimmed through that section because she was housebroken a week after we picked her up so I didn’t bother. I’ll go back and revisit those sections. Any other advice other than whats already contained there? It seems more of a defiance angle more than anything else.
No, it’s not defiance. The dog’s mind doesn’t work that way.
You’re expecting too much from a 4 month old puppy. Housebreaking a dog this young isn’t a “scratch it off the list” and move on, type of behavior. At this age, it’s going to be more of a: We’re 99% there, but there still may be some accidents in the coming months, so I need to be 100% vigilent.
And again: If you’re not using the pinch collar, your corrections probably aren’t motivational, so you may have that working against you, too. Eliminating in the house needs to be so uncomfortable that she actively wants to hold it and tell you to take her out.
TeamK writes to me with a puppy training issue:
Our female black lab came from a litter of 12. Brought her home at 7 1/2 weeks. She is now 11 1/2 weeks. At first of course we figured it was how they needed to eat just to get food, but it’s gotten worse. She eats SOOO fast – inhales her food. Tried feeding in smaller amounts, feeding from hand, but still inhales. We also have from day one been around her when she eats,putting our hands in dish or by dish – but now that just makes it worse -she eats faster. (did this with our first lab (now deceased) and she always ate slow and did not mind if kids or other dogs took her food. ( We do not have children at home nor other dogs) I’ve used the kong for small amounts of treats or food while time needed to keep her busy but not for a full meal. If I spread it on floor still inhales it -does not chew. Feed her twice (or 3) times a day splitting her food according to bag. K (Oh yes and she growled at me two days ago when I put my hand in but I continued to do it and fed her by hand and she has not done that since…yet)
Hi, Team K:
Take a look at this:
It’s usually something they grow out of. I really wouldn’t worry about it too much at this point. Keep doing what you’re doing. Good food drive is healthy (as long as she doesn’t have worms). But she’s growing a lot right now. Eventually (after a few months) you should see this intensity calm down a bit.
Jandon writes to me about potty training a puppy:
I’m about three weeks into potty training my (four month old) puppy and now he comes and sits in front of me as a signal to go out. I take him out and he usually does his buisness rather timely. The problem is that he does this about every twenty minutes now. I don’t want to ignor him because the one time I thought I would just wait because I know he can hold it for hours when he is in his crate,he wizzed in the house. I do give him a treat/praise every time I take him out.Any suggestions? Do you think he will get tired of this?
Make sure he does get a correction (every time!) if he eliminates in the house.
The trick is to set up a very strict feeding and watering schedule. Do not let him free feed. And if you’re home with him all day, do not let him have free access to water. Take him out at regular intervals (every 2-3 hours or so) to drink and then afterwards, let him urinate.
Because he’s learned that he can tell you “let’s go outside and play” I recommend keeping him on a “place” command. Or in the crate, when you can’t interact with him.
But the real key at this age is to set up a strict schedule, and that way, his routine will adapt to the schedule you create.
Thank you…I allow him to have free access to water except one hour before bedtime. I’ll change it up a bit and put him on a water schedule. I thought maybe he was just toying with me because he could get a treat more often by reliving himself more frequently. Thanks again.
Yes, he is toying with you. Exactly. But he may be toying with you 9 of 10 times, and 1 of 10 times it’s real. By putting him on a strict schedule, you’ll know. Also, by correcting him when he does eliminate in the house, you’ll see him get uneasy when he really needs to go outside, so it’ll be easier to tell when he really needs to “go”.