From Potty-Training to Leash Pulling – Everything You Need to Know about Puppy Training from our Expert Trainer, Vee

From potty-training to leash pulling, our expert trainer, Vee, answers all of your questions for successful puppy training!

Hi there! I’m Vee, and I’m from Long Island, New York, but I’m a longtime Raleigh resident. I’ve been in the dog professional world since 2007. I started my career at a rescue center and I’m currently a trainer and pet sitter. I believe in positive reinforcement in order to build the bond between handler and dog, creating loving, lifetime relationships. To me, they’re furry family members and I treat my charges just like I would treat my own furkids.

I’m an AKC CGC Evaluator and I specialize in service dog training. I am currently partnered with my own service dog, Elwood, and we’re both owned by a trio of feisty striped felines. We spend much of our free time bouncing around downtown Raleigh and Cary, working on Elwood’s canine parkour skills.

Q & A on Puppy Training with Expert Trainer, Vee

Question:  I’m ready to get a puppy and bring them home to the family! What’s my first step

Answer: Research, research, research. Not every type of dog fits with every type of household. Puppies are a lot of work, time, energy, and money. Make sure everyone is ready! Research the breeds that would be best for you and your family. There are many different levels of energy, intelligence, need to work/have a job, and grooming requirements to think about as well.

As a trainer, I often see folks who get a dog without researching into the breed requirements and end up with dogs that don’t fit their family. It’s the first and one of the most important steps to set you and your puppy up for success.

Question: Should I consider crate training, and if so, what sort of crate?

Answer:  Absolutely yes! Some of the biggest reasons are because if your dog does to a vet, groomer, hotel, daycare, etc, the likelihood of them being in a crate is very high. Having them be crate trained helps the experience be less stressful and more normal.

In addition, the crate is an excellent potty-training aid and gives the puppy a quiet space to decompress in. Crates also keep your puppy, and your furniture, safe when they aren’t supervised.

Question:  What is an appropriate potty-training schedule for a new puppy?

Answer:  While it does depend on the puppy, a good frame to start with is after waking up, after eating, and every two hours at first (except at night, be aware that most young puppies can’t hold it all the way through the night and may need a mid-night potty break). I also suggest taking them out first thing as soon as they come out of the crate.

When puppies are young, they don’t have long between “I think I need to go” and “I gotta go now!”. Any rapid sniffing, circling, or sudden stopping during play are signals that your pup needs to potty.  When you take them out on a leash, give them a “potty phrase” while they’re doing their business, like “Go potty!”, “Do your business!”, etc.

Question:  How do I help my puppy learn the difference between their toys and non-toys, like my kids’ toys?

Make sure your puppy has specific items that are theirs and don’t share old items of yours. For example, puppies like to chew our shoes because they smell like us, so folks often give them old sneakers. But your puppy doesn’t know the difference between new things and old things, so if old lawn-mowing sneakers are okay, your brand-new ones must be, too!

Another thing, especially with kids, is puppy-proofing. Anything left in puppy range or around them can be fair game to your new pup, so make sure kids’ toys are picked up and put out of reach. If your puppy does grab something that isn’t theirs, try the trade-game.

Question:  What do I do when my puppy has something in their mouth and won’t give it to me?

Answer:  Try trading them for something better. This can be a favorite toy or treat. Try not to panic (which can be hard when it’s something possibly harmful or fragile!) and offer them the Better Thing. Make sure you have the object they’ve got already so they don’t play the snatch-and-run game. This is also a great game to play to teach them “Give/Drop It” in general. You can grab a couple toys and swap them out, rewarding them with praise and excited voices when they let go of the item you asked for.

Question: My Puppy growled at my child when the child went to lay on them. What do I do?

Answer:  Dogs growl as a communication to tell us they don’t like something, and we want them to keep communicating. It’s important not to discipline the growl, because then the dog will feel like they have to escalate to be heard, and that sometimes means biting.

In this scenario, it’s time to step in. Kids shouldn’t use dogs as jungle gyms- it’s how accidents happen. Separate the two right away and talk how to give the dog nice touching to the kiddo. As for the dog, they may be overwhelmed, scared, or uncomfortable. I would tuck them gently (because it’s not a punishment) into the crate for some quiet time or let them sit elsewhere in a quiet room for a bit.

Question: When training my puppy for leash walking, does it matter what side they are on?

Answer:  Nope! It’s whichever side is comfortable for you. I like to train dogs to walk on both sides and switch when asked, to make walks easier and safe. Plus, if a different handler is walking them, they may have a different dominant hand/arm.

Question:  Does my dog have to walk behind me while on a leash/is it true that the dog is dominant if they walk in front of me?

Answer:  Each dog, and each handler, have different walk speeds and gaits. As long as they aren’t pulling you and are anywhere around you that works for you both is fine. I prefer Puppies especially to be next to me or slightly in front so I can supervise if they try to eat things off the ground.

Need More Puppy Training Help?

If you’re interested in learning more about training your puppy or have other questions, please contact us!  We’re here to help!

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