new dog

Dog trainers and parents know the value of a playpen

Dog trainers as well as parents know the value of keeping your new puppy safe - from electrical wires, other dogs in the house - and keeping them safe from your puppy! Along with children, cats, and grannies | FREE GUIDE | #newpuppy, #dogtraining, #newrescuedog, #puppytraining, #dogbehavior, #dogsandcats | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

Many parents will know the joys of being able to park their crawler in a playpen from time to time and know that they’ll stay safe.

Puppies need to be protected from many of the same dangers as babies. 

But there’s someone that needs to be protected from the puppy!  And that’s your older dog.

Your older dog didn’t choose to get a puppy - you did. 

His opinion hasn’t been asked. There he is, enjoying his peaceful home, when suddenly a ball of fluff and teeth arrives and he is expected to be an unpaid childminder.

Quite soon the pup is ruling the roost. Your faithful older dog is jumped on and chewed mercilessly whenever the pup is awake. If he tells the pup off he gets told off himself. He can’t win.

Don’t abandon your old friend!

Your first dog needs to know that he is still special and has his own life. And a great way to ensure this is by using the playpen.

When it’s time for the pup to wake up and emerge from her crate, you’ll be taking her to the garden, on her own. So once peeing is done, the dogs may like to have a quick game together. Interrupt it as soon as it starts getting rough (even after two minutes if necessary) and divert them to something else - a game with you, perhaps. 

A doggy playpen has endless uses, on holidays and visiting friends as well as at home: read the post to get some ideas of what kind of puppy playpen you want, and how to use it for your new puppy and older dogs | FREE GUIDE | #newpuppy, #dogtraining, #newrescuedog, #puppytraining, #puppyplaypen, #dogsandcats | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

Now is a good time for the pup to go into her playpen, with loads of things to chew and interact with (cardboard boxes, food toy, soft toys, plastic bottles, chews, bones …) while you get on with your work and Dog no.1 gets a break. 

And perhaps some personal time with you.

Not just dogs

The cat is safe from molestation as well, and I don’t have to shriek or grab the puppy to prevent disaster. 

You can zigzag it and divide a whole room, as I have in the puppy pictures on this page. 

I found this most useful - my puppy could be loose in the kitchen with me, the adult dogs could enjoy the freedom of going out to the garden or into the house and into the living room, and could see and interact with me. 

Oh, and if you pop the puppy into her pen when she’s still very young, she’ll never realise that jumping out is an option!

A doggy playpen has endless uses, on holidays and visiting friends as well as at home: read the post to get some ideas of what kind of puppy playpen you want, and how to use it for your new puppy and older dogs | FREE GUIDE | #newpuppy, #dogtraining, #newrescuedog, #puppytraining, #puppyplaypen, #dogsandcats | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

You can get great pet playpens cheaply. The one I use is tall enough to be stable if a taller pup stands up with her paws against it. It has a door. It can be any shape from a hexagon to a rectangle or more creative shapes to fit between or around your furniture. It can be used indoors and out. It doubles as a barrier at an open door.

My puppy playpen also does service as a “balcony” when we’re camping in the van, so I can have the doors wide open and know the dogs aren't going to fall off a cliff. 

 

Resistance

So it seems strange to me that some people should resist using a playpen for their pup. Some don’t want to spend the (small) money for something they think they’ll only use for a few months. But that is a false economy! It will save you so much bother and moaning at your puppy. Your relationship could be damaged, and for what? 

I’ve used my playpen extensively even though my youngest “pup” is now 4. It really has paid for itself over and over again.

Everyone happy! (Especially Squeak the Cat …)

 

Check out this article for more ideas on containment, with a free guide to download. 

 

 

 

 

So you want to rescue a dog? Read this first!

Reactive dog, rescue dog, aggressive dog, fearful dog, dog behavior | Has your rescue dog become very difficult when out? Read here how to get things running smoothly for both of you | FREE EMAIL COURSE | #aggressivedog, #reactivedog, #dogtraining, #growlydog, #rescuedog, #shelterdog | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

You want to rescue a dog - give a home to a poor neglected beastie who’s had a bad start in life? Good for you! 

There are so many stories of spectacularly successful adoptions, where the dog fitted easily into her new home from Day 1, had few issues and was easy to train. 

But this isn’t by any means always the way it goes. So you need to go into this with your eyes open.

Different dogs, different folks ...

Do not allow sentiment to cloud your judgment! Most dogs up for rehoming (unless they’re very young puppies) come with baggage - of some sort or another. We all have baggage - life experiences that have formed our worldview - some good, some not so good. 

And not every dog is the perfect match for your life. Some will have been neglected; some will have been abused; some have lost an adoring owner through death or other catastrophe; some were just not given the right care. 

But they all have a history, good or bad. 

Same as you would, if suddenly transported to a new home where people do things differently. There’s scope for a lot of misunderstanding and confusion here - even which way you hold your knife and fork, or how to make coffee! So imagine how hard it can be for a dog to adapt to such a major change in his life.

Sometimes the dog settles into his new home seamlessly and easily, but sometimes this baggage takes a lot of work, some expense, and much dedication, to unpack. 

Love alone is not enough.

Backstory

Any reputable rehoming shelter will tell you the truth about your chosen pet. But sometimes they don’t know the truth themselves! If the dog was found straying there is no history attached. And a dog in even the best and kindest rescue centre can be completely shut down and depressed - or continually hyper and mad. Neither of these states will reveal the true dog. Only once your new dog has been in your home for as long as two or three months will you know what he’s really like, and what issues he may have. 

If I moved into your house, for example, at first I’d be saying “Is it alright if I sit here?” and “Where does this cup go?”. After a couple of months I’d be feeling at home and sitting where I liked and leaving cups any-old-where! This is when you’d see the natural me. So it is with your new dog!

“My dog was so quiet and easy, and now, two months on, he’s starting to steal things, bark, dig up the garden … what am I doing wrong?”

That's a fairly common question. My answer?

“Nothing! You’re doing it all right and your dog is making himself at home and behaving in a relaxed and natural manner and being a dog. Now the training begins in earnest.”

By the way, not all shelters are created equal. If you arrive at a place and it’s noisy, the dogs are all racing about their pens barking, showing repetitive behaviours like circling or jumping off the wall, and some dogs are lying deathly still and have completely opted out, then you will struggle to see what your selected dog is actually like in reality. Stress has taken over and made the original dog unrecognisable. It can take many weeks for this dog to unwind.

Think of those poor children in camps in war-torn countries: we would absolutely expect them to have substantial damage which would take many, many years to repair. Why do we assume a dog will just be fixed in an instant?

There are shelters with enlightened policies of taking in fewer dogs (though successfully rehoming more!), giving all dogs more space and distance, keeping things calm and quiet, not allowing public access to all the dogs - only the ones they select to offer a particular family. 

Check out these resources to locate a shelter which follows the latest guidance for giving rehomes the greatest chance of success:

www.nawt.org.uk/open-paw
www.openpaw.org

 

You may be working against a difficult history

Reactive dog, rescue dog, aggressive dog, fearful dog, dog behavior | Has your rescue dog become very difficult when out? Read here how to get things running smoothly for both of you | FREE EMAIL COURSE | #aggressivedog, #reactivedog, #dogtraining, #growlydog, #rescuedog, #shelterdog | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

Keep in mind that if this dog were no trouble he may not have been abandoned by his owners. That’s not exonerating those owners - they should have thought before even getting a dog in the first place. Giving up on an animal through their own neglect and idleness is utterly wrong, and unfair. 

He may have developed habits through lack of adequate care or training, that caused his first owners to get rid of him.

•  Maybe he’d developed a habit of running off, because he was never taught a recall.  

•  Maybe he was left alone all day and chewed up the furniture. Not his fault, but this could be the reason he was thrown out. Or rehomed. So now you have to train recall and staying alone from scratch. Check out the articles here at brilliantfamilydog.com, the free e-course, and you can get started with this mini-course:

• Maybe he was never properly socialised as a puppy, and has a distorted view of strange dogs and people and things as a result. Here you’ll have an ongoing task - to help him cope with our world. And this is the one which may cost a lot of money and a lot of time, but which will repay you many times over in watching your dog change and develop and gain in confidence. Check out the resources for Growly Dogs, the free course and premium course

 

Love alone just isn’t enough

Love and nurturing will do a lot of healing, of course. But to deal with any difficult issues - such as inability to cope with the presence of other dogs on the planet without lunging, barking, or screaming, threatening to bite if approached, stealing and guarding stolen items ferociously - you need professional help. There’s no need to struggle on for months while the situation gets worse and worse and you regret your decision to get your dog! Get the help you need straight away. Once you understand why your dog is acting as he is, changing it becomes straightforward.

Finding a true force-free trainer is essential. Any aversive or coercive methods (shouting, throwing things, yanking the lead etc) will only compound the situation and make it far worse in the long run. You’ll find a list of useful organisations at the foot of this previous article

There are plenty of rehomed dogs who have turned into Brilliant Family Dogs! This may be by luck or by judgment, but is a great outcome. In my line of work I naturally tend to meet a lot of the rehomes that cause problems.

And I’m happy to be able to say that the situation can always be vastly improved. It’s a joy to see the dedication of the new owners as they work to rebuild their new dog’s shattered confidence.

Cast off the rose-tinted spectacles!

Matching a dog to your family is a delicate and difficult task. Be sure to remove your rose-tinted glasses before you make any decision. You and your family will be living with this dog for anything up to the next 15 years or so. The placement must be right for you and your dog, but also your children and your spouse too, not to mention your cat.

While you’re still looking for your perfect companion, do a bit of research into what you’ll need. Here’s your Action Step: While you can’t purchase a crate until you know your new dog’s size, you can certainly do your homework and narrow down the choice so you’re ready to get one as soon as you expect your dog to arrive with you. Don’t cut corners - go for the best and most robust that fits your budget. This crate is not for confining your dog to keep him under control - it’s to give him a safe haven where he gets all his meals and toys, which he’ll love, and which will help enormously with separation - both night-time and daytime absences. 

And don’t forget the essential training! You can’t expect your new dog - who may be very confused about what people want of him - to just know what you want. You have to teach him, step by step. And while some of those steps may feel uphill, most will be successful - if you follow a force-free training program. There are some excellent dog training classes around the world where the instructor is firmly grounded in force-free training, treating each animal as an individual (refer to that list above for umbrella organisations).

But if you’re in a force-free “black hole” and there’s no class around that you would countenance taking a dog flea to, never mind your precious new dog, take a look at the articles here at www.brilliantfamilydog.com

They follow the same style of teaching as my books, which have received over 150 5-star reviews from pet-owners, who enjoy their directness, simplicity, and effectiveness (and humour!). You may have a challenging new dog - but with a little help and support you can turn him into your perfect pet.

Happy hunting for your new companion, and may you be one of the great rehoming success stories! 

 

 

 

If your new dog is struggling to adapt to life in our world, join our free 5 Day Video Mini-course.

You'll learn new skills that will help with any dog!

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“I know he's only a puppy, but …” What you expect is what you get!

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The lady on the phone sounded harassed. 

She was ringing to look for help with her 16-week-old puppy. 

I asked her how her puppy was doing, and she replied:

“He’s very bitey, and he jumps up on everyone. I can’t tell you how many things he’s destroyed. I’m looking forward to him being clean and dry in the house - we’re not there yet. I know he’s only a puppy, so perhaps I’m expecting too much.”

No! You’re expecting far too little!

I had to explain to this caring owner that she was asking too little of her puppy, and instead of giving him the chance to grow, she was keeping him a baby.

With the exception of the jumping up, which can take longer (more anon), all of these things should be resolved by 10-12 weeks.

The sooner you start, the better!

And the longer you leave it, the more you have to undo!

That’s why I welcome puppies at Puppy Class from 9 weeks of age. And my own puppies are learning from the moment they come through the door - at 7 or 8 weeks.

The new arrival

When your puppy first arrives, it’s very simple to lay down the ground rules. He’s tiny, a bit anxious, eager to please, ready to learn, bursting with enthusiasm, and he needs to sleep most of the time. What better time to start building a solid relationship of trust?

Using a crate from Day 1 answers most of the problems this lady was having. If a crate is not possible, then at least have a puppy playpen or baby-gates. But a crate is best and will establish firm boundaries for the future.

1. If he gets too bitey in play, this is a sure sign that he’s overtired and needs a nap: into the crate for a while for a restorative ziz

2. Always wait till he’s stopped bouncing before you open the crate door - you may need to walk away from the crate and come back a good few times before he realises that staying still opens the door, but bouncing keeps it shut. Then greet him at his level as he emerges while you clip the lead on and whiz him out to the garden for a pee.

3. He can’t destroy anything if he’s in his crate with his chewtoys at those times when you can’t be actively supervising him. Bliss! Remember he needs oceans of sleep. If he’s been awake for an hour you’re back to No.1 above.

4. Housetraining is a breeze when you use the crate and some simple rules. Free download here

 

Check out my new online Wild Puppy Mini-Course  teaching new dog and puppy owners to achieve lasting results through four carefully-selected lessons of dog-friendly coaching

 

I don’t want my dog to think the crate is a punishment

I don’t know why I sometimes meet resistance to the use of a crate. 

Most parents will use a cot for their baby or toddler to ensure that she’s safe and secure when left alone. The crate is the exact same thing for a puppy. 

There is no hint of punishment. So, just as with your baby, put the puppy in the crate, shut the crate door, and leave the room. 

He’s safe. He can sleep. A well-reared puppy is unlikely to soil his bed. You can relax and do something else for a while.

And know that you’re putting your puppy on the path to becoming a Brilliant Family Dog right from the start.

It’s all about connection

If you can make a connection with your dog, you can build trust, understanding, confidence. 

The quickest and best way to make this connection is through Choice Training.  Have a look at how fast people were getting results on my recent 5 day online Workshop:

Chewie waits patiently instead of jumping up to steal the food!

Chewie waits patiently instead of jumping up to steal the food!

“Just want to say a massive thank you for the 5 day Workshop. Chewie would jump up and try and grab and bite me if I was prepping food. Now he’s lying down with treats dropping. Loving his focus.”
Jan & Chewie

“Thank you Beverley from Molly and me! We have enjoyed the workshop immensely and made a lot of progress in a short time.”  Robin & Molly

“Bonnie and I are having great fun with the Sit Game - all round the house and outside too. Feels like she’s listening better and I’m more relevant to her when there’s distractions (and she’s a working cocker spaniel with a history of pulling like a train!).”
Sheila & Bonnie

“Really enjoying the Workshop. Willow now getting so much better and more eye contact. Thank you for all your time and hard work putting this together.”
Pat & Willow and Poppy

“I was amazed at the results encountered during your 5-day workshop and could not wait to get started on this course*.”
Scott & Gabriel and Gizmo

 

*What course is Scott talking about? Our new online Puppy and Dog Courses! 


Want to join us and get results like this?  Yes - as you can see above, you CAN learn all this online, and transform your life with your dog.

The course is now open for enrolment and you’ll be able to check out the course for yourself before jumping in.

Got an older dog that you need a bit of help with? There’s also a course specially designed for the dog just out of puppyhood