New Dog Owner’s Guide to Well-Behaved Dogs

Bringing a dog home for the first time is an exciting experience. Every new dog owner wants to ensure that their new pup is given the love, care and attention that they need to truly thrive in their new home.

But being a first-time dog owner, much like the experience of being a new parent, can also be overwhelming. Ensuring that your dog is properly cared for and well-behaved can be a challenging task, and it can be difficult to know where to begin.

In this dog owner guide, we’ll walk you through several steps to ensuring that your new best friend is as well-behaved as possible. Here are four training tips for new dog owners!

1. Teach Your Dog Patience

Patience is a core foundation to having a well-behaved dog. Not only is a patient dog more enjoyable to be around, but a dog that practices patience is safer, not only to others, but to themselves as well.

The best way to teach a dog patience is to begin at home. When your dog tries to get your attention, whether it be to play, eat or be petted, it can be beneficial to not always give in to their request right away. Instead, you can recognize your dog by speaking to them, but carrying on with what you’re doing. You’ll want to ensure that your dog isn’t waiting too long so that they can realize that they will be rewarded for their patience. However, also ensure that you aren’t going out of your way to bend to the dog’s every whim immediately. Value your time as well as your dog’s.

The earlier you start practicing patience with your pup (and the younger the dog is), the more effective the results will be. If you’re struggling to get the behavior out of your dog that you wish for, consider having your dog work with a professional, like our trainers at Off Leash K9 Training.

2. Teach Your Dog Commands That Will Keep Him Safe

While dogs are an essential part of the family unit, it’s important to remember that they are first and foremost animals. It’s crucial to ensure that they are kept safe and that people and other animals they encounter daily are also safe.

One of the best ways to train a dog with safety in mind is to teach them to respond to verbal commands. Because dogs are often impulsive, it is important to implement safety rules early on to establish boundaries and keep your pup as safe as possible.

There are several verbal commands that you can train your dog to respond to. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association, dogs can learn up to 250 words in addition to hand gestures. Talk about a smart best friend!

Two easy commands that can make a world of difference in a dog’s safety are to come when called and to go outside only with permission. Additionally, ensuring that your dog understands how to stop and to stay can also be beneficial.

As an integral part of your family, your dog must stay safe. Teaching your dog commands can help them stay as safe as possible, while also making your life as a pet owner easier.

3. Establish Your Dog’s Hierarchy of Rewards and Use Positive Reinforcement

Did you know that dogs are more likely to repeat behaviors that they have been rewarded for? For example, if your dog gets a treat when they sit, they’ll be more likely to sit in the future. Just like with children, using positive reinforcement training with dogs can be an incredibly effective way to teach your dog valuable skills in a meaningful way.

There are several factors to establish when rewarding your dog through positive reinforcement. Consider the following:

Type of Reward

Dogs, just like their human counterparts, are much more likely to do something if they are rewarded with something that they like. Ensure that whatever you’re giving to your pup as a reward, whether it be a type of treat or a walk, is something that they enjoy.

Choosing the wrong type of reward can hurt your training, as your dog will be less likely to respond and repeat good behavior if they dislike the reward that they are receiving.

Rate of Reinforcement

Another important area to consider when rewarding your dog is how often you are reinforcing their behavior. If you are rewarding your dog too often, you may overwhelm them and confuse them. Reward them too little, and you risk your reinforcement training not sticking with them.

A simple way to ensure that you’re reinforcing your dog the right amount is to aim for your rewards to be frequent enough to keep the training session exciting. If you notice your dog losing interest, you may not be rewarding frequently enough.

Timing and Placement

How you deliver your treat to your dog can make all the difference during a training session. Just like the rate of your reinforcement, the timing of your reward should be as closely synced to the action that your pup is being rewarded for as possible. If you reward your dog too long after they have completed the positive action, they may not remember or draw the comparison for what they are being rewarded for.

Additionally, the placement of your reward can make a big difference in how your dog understands the positives of its actions. For example, if your dog is being rewarded for sitting, ensure that they are given their treat while they are still sitting. Quickly and accurately delivering a treat to your pup can ensure that your dog learns faster and bonds quickly with you during training.

4. Feed and Exercise Your Dog Regularly

Life is busy, and sometimes it can be difficult to remember that your dog needs to be exercised regularly to stay in top physical and mental condition. A dog that does not receive regular exercise is more likely to misbehave and act out, as well as develop health issues at a younger age.

Additionally, aim to feed your dog high-quality, healthy ingredients as part of a well-balanced diet to ensure that your pup is receiving the nutrients needed to be healthy, comfortable and active in their everyday life. An uncomfortable pet is more likely to act out and be less friendly.

Connect With Our Experts at Off Leash K9 Training

Training your dog properly won’t happen overnight. While it takes patience, skill, love and care to effectively train your dog, the results can be incredibly rewarding. Want to learn more about dog ownership for beginners, as well as our top-notch training process? Talk with one of our trainers today — and consider having your dog work with the dog-loving experts at Off Leash K9 Training!

Are You Ready for a Puppy

New Puppy Checklist: Are You Ready for a Puppy?

Bringing home a new puppy is a big decision. Puppies are major commitments, and you don’t want to rush into owning one. Thousands of families adopt puppies every day because they bring so much joy and love into people’s lives. You may be wondering how to know if a puppy is right for you. Use this new puppy checklist to help you make that judgment.

Have You Done Your Research?

First things first, sit down and do plenty of research before getting a new puppy. You’ll need to know what all is involved. Dogs are high-maintenance pets with lots of everyday physical and emotional needs. Make sure you’ll be able to provide everything your new dog will need. Even if you’ve had a pup before, read up on dog care — veterinarians and animal experts are always making discoveries.

If you’re thinking of buying from a breeder, conduct some research to find one that’s reputable and ethical. See if their prices are reasonable by comparing across several breeders. Remember, shelters are full of dogs who need a home. If you’d prefer to rescue, talk to others who have gone through the process.

Have You Researched Dog Breeds?

You’ll also need to know what type of dog is best for you. Different dog breeds are better suited to different lifestyles. For instance, bulldogs are couch potatoes, perfect for lounging around. If you live in an apartment with no yard, a bulldog might be the right choice. Meanwhile, border collies are high-energy dogs who need a yard to run in or a regular exercise schedule. If you’re big into fitness, a border collie could be the best option for you.

Choose a breed that will be happy with your accommodations and lifestyle. If you’re rescuing a mixed breed dog, find out what you can about the dog’s temperament and individual needs. All dogs are individuals, after all. While breeds tend to have traits in common, every puppy will be different. It’s always a good idea to ask the breeder or rescue volunteer about each puppy’s personality and habits.

Do You Have the Time?

When deciding whether to get a puppy, consider the time commitment. How much room do you have in your schedule? If the answer is, “Not a lot,” you might want to hold off. When you have a puppy, you’ll need time to train, walk and exercise it. You need to be prepared to get up every three to four hours to let it out until your pup is housebroken.

But that’s not all — you’ll also have to introduce your pet to lots of other people and dogs if you hope to raise a friendly, confident companion. Every trip you take with your puppy will require extra planning and preparation. Trips you take without your puppy will require planning, too — you’ll have to coordinate a dog-sitter or a stay in a kennel. A puppy will take up a lot of your time and energy. Be sure you can manage the time commitment before getting a puppy.

Can You Afford a Puppy?

Keep in mind, the arrival of a new puppy comes with a lot of expenses. Many new puppy owners underestimate the amount of money they’ll spend on their companion. Caring for a medium-sized dog with a life expectancy of 13 years can cost around $15,000. With proper budgeting and planning, though, you can still welcome this new member of your family home. When you bring home a puppy, be prepared to invest in all of the following:

  • Dog food: Nutrition is one of the most crucial aspects of pet care and can affect everything about your dog’s health. Depending on the dog food you choose, keeping your puppy well-fed can cost hundreds of dollars per year, if not more.
  • Health: From routine checkups to vaccines, prescriptions and emergencies, maintaining your dog’s health can cost anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Choosing a healthy breed or breed mix can help reduce these expenses to some extent. Even still, every dog will have basic health needs.
  • Grooming: How much you’ll spend on grooming depends on the breed you choose. Some breeds require professional grooming services, while others need little more than occasional brushing and bathing.
  • Toys and treats: It’s fun to shower a puppy with toys and treats — and treats are helpful when it comes to training. But you’ll need to factor this category into your puppy budget. Remember, lots of puppies are happy with simple, inexpensive toys, like tennis balls.
  • Pet insurance: A less fun but necessary expense is pet insurance. Depending on the plan you choose, pet insurance can help cover costs involving pet illness, injury and preventive healthcare. It’s a life raft in an emergency, but it’s also another cost to consider.
  • Training: Professional puppy training can make your life easier in the long run, as a well-trained dog will be happier and easier to manage. Puppy training could pay for itself in some ways, protecting your possessions from a misbehaved pup, so be sure to consider this in your budget.
  • Dog-proofing: You’ll also have to dog-proof your house and yard. That could mean adding a fence, buying baby gates for your doorways or stairways or investing in some throw rugs for potential accidents.
  • Miscellaneous items: Random but necessary items should also go into your budget. Remember the collar, leash, crate, dog-walking services and other miscellaneous items.

Are You Ready for Messes and Chewing?

If you’re wondering how to know if a puppy is right for you, ask yourself how upset you’d be if some of your furniture got ruined. If it would ruin your day, you may need to make adjustments before adopting a dog. Puppies can be destructive! They bite, chew, scratch and have accidents. You can only do so much to puppy-proof your house. While patient training will curb these behaviors, the occasional mess is inevitable, especially while your puppy is young.

Before getting a puppy, make sure you can handle messes. You might also consider putting valuable furniture items or heirlooms in storage or shutting them in a room where your puppy isn’t allowed to go. Investing in dog toys and playing with your puppy often can help unleash destructive energy in productive ways.

To Get a Good Handle on Your Puppy, Contact Off Leash K9 Training

Is a puppy right for you? We hope this essential new puppy checklist helps you answer that question! Choosing to adopt a puppy is a major life decision — puppies require a lot of time, attention and budgeting. But, as any dog owner will tell you, they’re definitely worth it. Dogs are excellent companions, filled with love and excitement.

If you decide to bring home a puppy, consider professional puppy training services. Here at Off Leash K-9 Training, we accept dogs of any age, breed and size. We offer private one-on-one training sessions on obedience, manners and trust-building. After our training, you’ll have the tools you need to better communicate with your puppy, improving both your life and your puppy’s. For compassionate, knowledgeable puppy training, contact us at Off Leash K9 Training today

How to Get My Puppy to Stop Biting

 

Bringing a new puppy home is a joyful, memorable experience. It’s also a lot of work. Puppies are adorable little creatures who might seem determined to act up. They require a lot of attention and patience, much like toddlers. One of the most common puppy misbehaviors is nipping or biting, ranging from annoying to downright painful. While it might seem cute at first, it’s a behavior you’ll need to correct before your puppy grows into a full-sized dog with a dangerous mouth full of razor-sharp teeth. With a little patience and the right techniques, you end this habit for good. Use these tips to stop puppy biting and nipping.

Stop Playing Once the Biting Begins

While playing together, puppies chase, wrestle, pounce and nip each other. When one bites another too hard, the victim will yelp and stop playing for a few seconds. This behavior teaches puppies bite inhibition, knowing if they’re too rough, they’ll lose their playmate. You can offer a puppy the same lesson he’d learn from his littermates.

Once your puppy bites, end playtime right away. You might let out a high-pitched yelp or “Ow!” to show your puppy he’s caused you pain. Instead of jerking your hand or foot away, try to make it go limp, which will be unexciting for your puppy. Jerking motions can activate the puppy’s chase instincts, which may cause more biting. Then, turn around and tuck your hands into your armpits, giving your puppy a playtime time-out. Even a negative reaction is a response — refuse to give your puppy attention after biting. Ignore your puppy for 10 to 20 seconds, then resume playing. Yelp and stop playtime for softer and softer bites until your puppy learns to play gently. If biting continues, take a break from playing.

Even if a bite catches you off-guard and hurts you, always skip negative reinforcement. Never hit, hurt or yell at your dog — physical punishments can make a dog fearful and likelier to be aggressive. Steer clear of any discipline that might make your puppy afraid of you, as this can develop into long-lasting fear aggression. Instead, naughty behavior should receive no attention at all.

Distract Them With Something They Can Chew On

Puppies need to teethe, but not on your fingers or toes. When your puppy starts nipping, offer a toy instead. You’ll teach your puppy toys are OK to bite, but your skin is not. If your puppy continues trying to bite you, turn away and pause playtime. You can incorporate toys into your play — use a toy for tug-of-war with your puppy. Have it nearby during playtime and take it out when your puppy gets nippy. Try to keep tugging from becoming too aggressive.

Having toys on hand creates an ideal opportunity to teach your puppy “let go” or “leave it” commands. When a puppy has a toy in his mouth, hold a treat nearby and say “drop it,” “let go” or “leave it.” Be gentle, but precise with your words. When he drops the toy, offer him the treat along with some praise. Eventually, this will teach your puppy to give you objects without getting defensive.

Allow Your Puppy to Calm Down

Puppies sometimes bite when tired or overwhelmed. When your puppy gets bitey, offer a chance to calm down. Lead them to a crate or quiet space. Stay calm when leading your puppy  — crates should be a safe space, not a source of punishment. After allowing your puppy a few moments to calm down, let it start playing again. A puppy can also be agitated if hungry, thirsty or in need of a potty break. Make sure you’ve fulfilled all your puppy’s basic needs.

Plenty of exercise is essential for a growing dog. If you keep your puppy cooped up too much, the biting problem is likely to worsen. Let your puppy burn off excess energy throughout the day. Go for walks, play fetch and take advantage of nearby dog parks. Keep activities mild — you can stunt a puppy’s growth with too much strenuous exercise. Socializing with other dogs is an excellent way for your puppy to learn appropriate behaviors.

Always Reward Good Behaviors Instead

Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool and an important element of puppy training. Offer rewards when your puppy:

  • Is calm, quiet and well-behaved.
  • Follows a command.
  • Accepts a toy in place of your hand or ankle. 

The reward can be a simple “good girl” and a pat or a small treat — but be careful not to overfeed your puppy. Use these signals to teach your puppy proper behavior. They’ll soon associate good conduct with desirable results. 

Discover which rewards your puppy seems to like best. It can help to make a list of possible rewards, in order of how happy they make your puppy. Save the best treats for the most challenging tasks. Offer rewards often enough to compete with natural ones in the environment. For instance, when teaching your puppy to heel, give enough positive reinforcement to make walking by your side more appealing than pulling you around, despite all the fun things outside. It’s also essential to deliver treats as soon as possible after observing the desired behavior, so your puppy makes the correlation. Over time, positive reinforcement teaches your puppy that learning is fun and following the rules is worth the effort. It’ll also support a strong bond between you and your puppy.

Enroll Your Puppy in Puppy Training Class

Puppies are lovable and adorable, but not always perfect angels. It takes a lot to raise a happy, healthy puppy. For the first few months with your puppy, it’s crucial to tailor your responses to their behavior. If you’re wondering how to keep a puppy from biting you, try the methods listed above. Use time-outs, distractions and toys to minimize biting. Always reward positive behavior with praise and treats.

Training a puppy can be challenging, as puppies can be unpredictable and hard to read. It’s always smart to enroll a puppy in a professional training class. At Off Leash K-9 Training, we help you resolve puppy behavioral issues while building stronger trust with your puppy. With our private lessons, you and your puppy will get all the individualized attention you need. We’ll help you master the necessary skills and commands while addressing unwanted behaviors like nipping. We offer various packages — you can choose from an all-inclusive puppy camp, several private lessons or a single refresher course. Enroll your puppy in a puppy training class with Off Leash K-9 training today!

COVID-19

We hope that all is well and you are staying healthy.

To keep you and all of our employees safe, we are following local health department recommendations and requiring that every employee and client be assessed for COVID-19 symptoms and risk factors each day before entering our facility.

In the past 24 hours have you experienced:
Fever
New or worsening cough
Shortness of Breath
Sore Throat
GI symptoms

If you answer “yes” to any of the symptoms listed above, or your temperature is 100.4°F or higher, please do not come to your lesson. Self-isolate at home and contact your primary care physician’s office for direction.

• You should isolate at home for a minimum of 7 days since symptoms first appear.
• You must also have 3 days without fevers and improvement in respiratory symptoms.

In the past 14 days, have you:

Had close contact with an individual diagnosed with COVID-19?
Traveled outside the state of Maryland?

If you have answered “yes” to either of these questions, please do not come to your lesson. We will reschedule your appointment.

Our trainers are taking every precaution to keep you safe.  We are cleaning surfaces and equipment between clients and socially distancing a min of 6ft.  Every one is required to wear a mask and wash hands when entering the building.  No more than 2 people allowed to attend lessons.

If you prefer to hold your lesson outside the facility please let your trainer know your preference.

 

If you have any questions or concerns please contact us at 443-743-3221