What's the current thinking on raising a puppy?

(33 Posts)
birdmomma Wed 26-Jun-13 22:44:06

Hello. On Saturday morning I'm off to pick up our new addition to the family, an 8 week old border terrier cross++. It has been 6 years since we last owned a dog, when our beloved mongrel died at 16 years old.

I got my last dog when I was an 18 year old student, and I was very haphazard in my training style. I gave her loads of time as my student lifestyle was none too demanding, and she did everything with me, including demonstrations against poll tax, the right to party in a field all night etc. Haha. Despite my haphazard training attempts, she was a very intelligent and loyal little mongrel and was mainly obedient and trouble free throughout her life, apart from the 4 years at the end when she was pleasantly demented and deaf as a post.

I really don't like to see unruly dogs and want to get it right with this new puppy. I have 2 DDs aged 12 and 16 who will have a lot of time for the new arrival. I have 4 cats who rule the roost and will be severely put out. We have a large amount of land and live very rurally.

I would welcome all advice, especially current thinking on the best way to raise a puppy well.

MrsApplepants Wed 26-Jun-13 22:53:45

I think the current thinking is in the methods used by Gwen Bailey, she is widely acclaimed. Has written a few good books, have a look. Congrats on your new puppy!

Lilcamper Wed 26-Jun-13 22:55:28

I thoroughly recommend a book called 'The a perfect Puppy' by Gwen Bailey.

Training is very much about force free, ethical and science based methods now.

Booboostoo Wed 26-Jun-13 23:05:55

Dog training methods are as varied and fervently espoused by their supporters as parenting methods that range from Gina Ford to attachment parenting!

I think almost everyone agrees on the importance of early socialisation. There is a window of opportunity from about 6 weeks to about 14 weeks when it is best to get the puppy to see as many things as possible. Puppies will not be fully vacinated for a lot of that period though so you need to take this into account and avoid contact with other dogs, dog faeces and fox faces (you should be able to carry a small breed pup which should keep him safe).

Personally I enjoy clicker training which is a fun way to train a dog and it's easy to get the whole family involved. With new puppies I try to take them to puppy socialisation class, which are more fun and play focused classes, and beginners' training classes which teach the basic ideas for good behaviour. I begin training on day 1 because it's all based on positive rewards and it's something the puppy looks forward to.

birdmomma Wed 26-Jun-13 23:06:44

Great, thanks. I have ordered the book on Amazon. What's the general thinking on crate training? Is this something most people do now?

birdmomma Wed 26-Jun-13 23:21:06

Thanks Booboostoo. No foxes in this country (possums though!) and no dogs near us. I will look into puppy socialisation classes - they sound fun.

Booboostoo Wed 26-Jun-13 23:24:47

I think crate training is great but you need to train your dog first, don't expect him to just go in there and stay there. Make the crate as inviting as possible and for as long as the dog needs leave the door open and allow him free access. Feed all meals, chews and give treats in the crate. As the dog gets used to the crate you can start closing the door, but it may take a few weeks.

If you are in the US or Canada there should be fantastic options for puppy socialisation classes! There should be puppies of similar ages allowed to play with each other, get used to being stroked and handled by different people (in a controlled and organise manner) and everyone enjoys the puppies.

Lilcamper Thu 27-Jun-13 07:31:56

Crate training can be great done properly. I have a great guide on it from a friend. Will dig it out later.

lainiekazan Thu 27-Jun-13 09:31:17

Am I the only person who doesn't rate Gwen Bailey? Her methods really depend on having the perfect puppy already . The book totally glosses over any challenging behaviour. There is the tiniest paragraph on puppy biting and then it implies that the owner is always wrong, the puppy always right, which is just not true. All dogs are different and you have to find what works for them with regard to training.

Gwen Bailey is fine if you happen upon the mildest, most obedient and willing dog. If you have one with more, er, personality, then you'll do as I did, and feed the Gwen Bailey book to the dog. (He spat it out.)

Lilcamper Thu 27-Jun-13 10:47:34

All puppies bite. They don't have hands to explore the world, just their mouths. It's how they are managed with biting that makes the difference so if a pup ends up only biting it's humans the issue hasn't been addressed properly.

poachedeggs Thu 27-Jun-13 11:10:51

The original Gwen Bailey book is a bit pro-pack theory so take it with a pinch of salt. I think she has since seen the light. I agree that puppies can't do wrong though - they do what works for them, if we don't like it then it's up to us to teach them an alternative behaviour.

I was recently recommended a newly published book called "Life Skills For Puppies" by Daniel Mills and Helen Zulch. It is really excellent and I have been recommending it to all my new puppy clients. I usually Pamela Dennison's "Idiot's Guide to Positive Dog Training" which is also very very good.

Essentially, stay away from anything which mentions dominance, alpha, wolves, packs or pretty much anything which comes from Cesar Milan. You won't go too far wrong then!

moosemama Thu 27-Jun-13 11:52:37

I second the Life Skills for Puppies book. I have the Gwen Bailey one and have re-read it in preparation for my potential new arrival, but I found the Life Skills book better in terms of understanding things from the puppies point of view and considering their rights as well as ours.

That said, I bought my Gwen Bailey book when I got my Soft Coated Wheaten pup way back in 2008, so she could well have updated a lot of things in newer editions.

Judyandherdreamofhorses Thu 27-Jun-13 12:04:30

Ian Dunbar - 'Before getting your puppy' and 'After getting your puppy'. Free online ebooks.

VerySmallSqueak Thu 27-Jun-13 12:07:59

Bear in mind that you don't have to crate train your puppy.

I didn't because it didn't sit well with me.

Persistence is a great trainer.

Lilcamper Thu 27-Jun-13 14:34:59

That old chestnut...done CORRECTLY the dog will see their crate as a sanctuary, a safe place to go to to relax, to have some 'me' time and chill out. At the same time protecting the dog from exploring the wrong thing when their humans are otherwise engaged.

VerySmallSqueak Thu 27-Jun-13 15:16:52

Done correctly or incorrectly it's something I chose not to do Lil.

I am just pointing out that there is now,as always,more than one path to follow.

SmokyHeart Thu 27-Jun-13 19:32:07

I'm another one who is recommending "Life Skills for Puppies" to everyone. It's an excellent book.

birdmomma Fri 28-Jun-13 01:03:54

Ok, thanks for all the thoughts so far. I have ordered the latest edition of Gwen Bailey, and am just hoping my puppy is quite perfect in the first place. I'm not sure whether to go with crate training or not. I've been and bough a lovely bed, lots of treats, food, collar, toys. One day to go. Possibly feeling more confused on the training methods than ever, but hopefully Gwen will explain when she arrives. Is it ever ok to raise your voice or shout if the puppy is doing something really bad or dangerous?

newfavouritething Fri 28-Jun-13 05:36:20

I haven't read puppy books - it's only one persons' opinion, but did go to puppy classes. Re the raising voice/shouting thing, I find a low growl noise works well, and make sure you use clear consistent language, eg what does 'down' mean? Lay down? Stop jumping up? Get off something?

poachedeggs Fri 28-Jun-13 08:39:18

The beauty of "Life Skills" is that it is written by academics who have studied behavioural science. So it isn't opinion, it's based in evidence. It's effectively preventative medicine to reduce the likelihood of behaviour problems arising in future.

bird, I sympathise. It's a minefield! I think it's helpful to think of it as bringing the puppy up to be calm and resilient - training comes with this but is actually less important. The window been ages 6 and 14 weeks is a vital period for socialising your puppy and this is something really vital. Lots of good and varied experiences in this time will set him up well.

Re raising your voice, it's probably less effective than making excited squeaky noises and it could scare your puppy. The pup may or may not associate the fear with the dangerous thing, but they will associate it with you, which obviously isn't what we want.

tabulahrasa Fri 28-Jun-13 09:07:57

'Is it ever ok to raise your voice or shout if the puppy is doing something really bad or dangerous?'

Think of it like a toddler...the ideal is that you show them what is or isn't acceptable behaviour calmly and in a way that's clearly understood, you deal with unwanted behaviours by redirecting and rewarding desirable behaviour. You teach them them the things you want them to do and try to prevent certain situations happening in the first place if you know it might create unwanted behaviours until you're on top of that. But, sometimes you find yourself going - oy, no, don't you dare! or For god's sake leave it alone! - it's not the most effective way to do things, but you've not mentally scarred them for life either.

The Gwen Bailey book is ok, but I found it worked on the premise that your puppy might have periods of time where it was awake and also not biting...mine didn't, I'm pretty sure he had those joke wind up teeth fitted, lol. I'm sure there was a chapter on mouthing, but there wasn't a section on what to do if you literally couldn't get near your puppy without it biting. But, I know most puppies aren't as bad as he was.

birdmomma Fri 28-Jun-13 10:04:14

Ok, all helpful thanks. I think the reason my last dog was so easy may be because she had so many experiences in her early days then. I wish I'd ordered the "Life Skills" book now. Maybe I will.

birdmomma Fri 28-Jun-13 10:06:42

Did that woman from 'It's me or the dog' on TV get anything right, because I watched that quite a bit when it was on.

Booboostoo Fri 28-Jun-13 10:40:32

It's well worth teaching the puppy a command that means "Stop whatever you are doing now". It's best not to use the word 'no' for this command, as 'no' is too commonly used and it is easy to de-sensitise the puppy to it. I use the word 'uh ah' but go with whatever you want. The main thing is that when you say this command (nice and calmly, there is no reason to shout, you are just communicating) you then enforce it. Once you say it you must stop whatever you are doing, give the puppy your attention and stop him from doing whatever it was he was doing. Consistency is the key here, this command is always enforced no matter what.

With more minor things do what you would do with a toddler, ignore, distract or time out.

Floralnomad Fri 28-Jun-13 13:04:54

I train my dog using Victoria Stillwells positive methods ( it's me or the dog) , its worked for us , he is by no means perfect but he is well behaved ,walks nicely ,can go off lead and is excellent in the house . If you follow her advice you won't go too far wrong . She also has a website which is very useful.

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