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Teaching Your Puppy The Meaning of the Word "NO"!!
Teaching Your Puppy The Meaning of the Word "NO"!!
By Ed Frawley
Every week I get e-mails (like the one below) from people asking what
to do with their mouthy puppy that wants to chew on everything in sight,
including the kids. Many of these people just want a sociable family pet
while others have aspirations of using the dog in the sport of Schutzhund
or one of the other dog sports. These people all want to know how to handle
this problem. They are concerned that correcting the pup is going to have
a negative effect on the dogs working ability or temperament.
I am enjoying your web sight very much. I just finished the article on
puppy bite training. My question to you is, how do I do this and at
time discourage him from mouthing on my two year old daughter. My
pup Luther is loaded with prey instinct. I am hoping that he can be trained
for Schutzhund. From what I have read it would make for a more predictable
family guard Ian. I look forward to your response and have book marked
The answer to this question is simple. The pup needs
to learn the meaning of the word "NO" or "PHOOIE."
There are many misconceptions with new handlers concerning
obedience training (which is really what I am talking about here) and
protection training. People feel that if they have a very mouthy pup and
they correct it for inappropriate biting and chewing, they will loose
the pups drive to work. This is not the case if it is done properly.
I compare this to a child. In fact I compare a lot of
dog training to raising a child. An 8 week old pup that runs around and
chews on everyone or everything in sight doesn't have any idea of what
it is doing or why. Its like a 2 year old child. It is a product
of its genes. It treats everything as a play or prey item (if you
do not know what I mean here, refer to my article
on the subject). We need to teach very young pups what is an acceptable
prey item and what is not acceptable. You can learn about how to train
with acceptable prey items in my article titled Bite
Training for 8 Week Old Puppies. This article will focus on
teaching what is not acceptable prey items.
If you have children the beginning of this process is
important. It's totally inappropriate for a pup to jump up on or chew
on a small child. At a very early age when a pup goes near a child it
should automatically receive a firm "NO" command followed by
a firm shaking by the nape of the neck. I am a believer in the saying
"One good Correction is Worth 1,000 Nagging Corrections." So
in this matter, the level of correction is determined by the pup. The
shaking should be strong enough to make the pup scream. You need to get
his attention and he needs to understand that you are not playing with
him. This requires a shaking that is strong enough to put him into avoidance.
His scream should have some fear in it.
When the pup backs off after a correction it is immediately
praised and loved up. This is your way of telling the dog that you still
love him and that you are no longer mad or upset with him. Dogs need to
receive praise after corrections. This is our way as handlers of showing
our dog that we do not hold a grudge.
The fact is that a correction is something the dog gets
for doing something wrong and if the correction is effective the undesirable
action stops. The handler should immediately praise the dog because at
that point the dog is no longer doing anything wrong. That's how the dog
gets a clear picture of right and wrong.
It may take 4 or 5 encounters of shaking the pup for
it to learn that when you say "NO" he had better stop what he
is doing. The biggest mistake that new handlers make once a pup starts
to respect the word "NO" is they do not praise when they see
the pup back off from the behavior he is being warned about. This praise
(after "NO") is a critical part of developing a good bond and
working relationship with your dog. Telling the dog "GOOD BOY"
when you see it stop doing something that you warn him about is your way
of communicating to him that you acknowledge and appreciate his response.
Something else that needs to be said about this command
is that it should not be abused. People who have never raised a dog tend
to overuse the "NO" command. They start to nag their dog with
it. The purpose for this command is to control extreme behavior not make
it act like a fully trained adult dog. We need to remember that "puppies
will be puppies." If your pup is really getting on your nerves, it
is ALWAYS better to put it in the dog crate and let it take a break. This
is another effective way of teaching a pup that it can not always be wild.
Some trainers ( I label them DO GOODERS) would rather
try and solve this chewing problem with the crate. They feel that correcting
a puppy is wrong, so they tell their clients to put the dog in the crate
every time he does something wrong. They feel this will teach the dog
something. That's hog wash! How do you tell a puppy "You had better
stop chewing or I will put you in your crate." The fact is you can
not do this. This comes under the NAGGING YOUR DOG syndrome. I feel it
much wiser to be able to tell my pup "NO!" or "PHOOIE!,"
have him stop doing what he is doing and then let him go on playing with
Just because you warn a pup to not chew on your child,
your arms, or your furniture does not mean that his prey drive is going
to dry up and go away. You continue to have your 5 minute play sessions
with your ball on a string and your rolled up
hand towels. In fact, for a few weeks when the pup is very young these
should be laying all over the house. After the correction and praise there
is nothing wrong with trying to play with a ball and string. This is another
way of teaching the pup what is an appropriate prey item and what is not
appropriate. You will know that you are going in the right direction when
the pup is about 4 months old and he starts carrying his tennis ball around
or his rolled up tug towel. This is his way of showing that he knows what
his prey item is. When you see this, take a minute to toss the ball 2
or 3 times for him.
New handlers seem to think that training needs to be
regimented. In other words, at 5:30 we are going to go out and train
for 20 minutes. I feel it's much wiser to work the training into the
dogs normal life. A few minutes here and a few minutes there when the
moment presents itself is much more effective way in working with puppies.