• Morgan McVey

Puppy Tips + Training (inspired by Rookie)

Friends! I am here to offer a little help. So many of you are getting little quarantine pups and I wanted to share what we learned with Rookie both on our own and with a trainer. PS - if you are in Ohio I highly recommend Debbe from Happy Tails - she is doing virtual training during all of this, too and teaches you SO much about your breed and how they think! With all this said, Rookie (our Golden Retriever) was/is a great puppy. These are tips that helped us through his pup phases. Don't get me wrong we still have some work to do but he is a pretty good boy thanks to these tips!

I will keep it brief and explain in depth on stories but here are my top 5 things to do and remember with your new pup:

1. First off, just like humans animals are motivated by food, too. It is SUPER important to be giving your pup treats that are healthy for them and their new little bodies. Our trainer always recommended treats with literally one ingredient. Rookie LOVES his dried cheese or dried liver. When working on tricks with him if he is bored or we need more focus - we use cooked chicken or slices of deli cheese. TIP: Break every treat you use into tiny pieces to avoid upset bellies.

2. Okay, now that you have the treat situation under control. Work some basic commands. Sit, Stay and Lay are what I call basic. Remember, when giving commands to NOT repeat yourself. You would be amazed when teaching your pup what they can figure out from you with just one word. 'Sit' came naturally to Rookie. Once he sat (on one command) we rewarded him with a treat and instantly said “Yes!”. That is his word to know a treat is coming. Check my stories out for how we learned down and stay! Tip here is to have a key word so your dog knows when they’ll be rewarded.

3. Crate, Place and Pin. 3 very crucial locations for Rookie to know! First, his crate is his bed and his safe place. Stick it out the first 2-weeks of crate training at night and they will stop crying if you do it properly! Don’t give in! Rookie sleeps with us on our terms but loves his crate since it was never a punishment thing. His “Place” is basically his dog bed. This is where we tell him to go when people come over, when he is a little rowdy and needs to chill or when we cannot keep an eye on him. LIFE SAVOR! His place is also a friendly space, when we eat food on the couch, he gets his bone and goes to his “place”. Lastly, we have a play-pin. This is more so when we are not watching him - do NOT leave your pup un-supervised (EVER). It is safer for everyone to let them have a space with toys that they cannot get out of. This is also useful for teaching them to play bite and not forcefully bite (see my stories for more!).

4. Potty training. I don’t have much to say except - if your pup is having accidents in the house it is your fault. We don’t do puppy pads, we didn’t wait until it was too late for him to go outside. In the middle of winter, Connor and I took Rookie out nearly every half hour during the day and then every 2 hours on the dot at night. Yup, 10pm, 12am, 2am, 4am, 6am….you get it. When your puppy runs around that activates their bladder. Pups also do not have the ability so young to completely empty their bladder. It isn’t their fault! When in doubt, just take your pup outside for a break and reward instantly on the spot with treats! You may not like to hear it but being responsible with potty training was a life-savor for us. Rookie only had 2 accidents in the house in his entire 6 months! If your pup has an accident, write down when, where and WHAT you were doing at the time. Chances are, you were not paying attention (: (see rule 3).

5. Meeting other dogs was something that ruffled my feathers. Part of Happy Tails training is that they do puppy classes so your pup can socialize and you can learn proper play behavior. It is very important to introduce your dog to all the noises, adults, children and animals you can before 16 weeks. Biggest tips here:

  • Let your dogs meet OFF leash in a neutral location OR the puppy’s home (not the other dogs space). The leash is a big trigger here for leash aggression. Whatever you do, don’t hold your dog back while on a leash as they try to meet another dog - that is just asking for aggression!

  • When strangers / other dogs come up to you and your dog while on a walk, tell them they need to take a few steps back (if a dog has already approached drop your hold on your dogs leash). Say you are training and no one will question this. It sounds rude, but in a dog’s mind while on a leash they feel out of control. Hands reaching at them or another dog approaching can teach them leash aggression. Debbe teaches proper ways to go on walks in her class!

  • Give breaks! Some people assume animals don’t need breaks. Much like people, they do! 10 minutes or so is long enough for a new introduction, separate all animals after 10 minutes let them get water and relax before reintroducing!

I know there will be more to come but I will go more in-depth on my stories! I will save them in my highlights for y'all! Please DM me all your adorable puppy pics. Remember, I am not an expert it just is what worked for us and what we were taught based off training. Please give Debbe a call at Happy Tails if you want to learn more about training your pup (we started at 8 weeks!).


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