Before you get started:
- Purchase a quality prong training collar – I recommend buying the “Herm Sprenger” brand prong training collar. These are quality made with rounded off links and a good action to the collar. The ones you buy in the pet store are of a lesser quality and will cost you about the same.
- Get the right fit – The two sizes I use are a 2.25 mm (small and medium dogs) and a 3.0 mm (large and xlarge dogs). The collar should be snug on the neck high up behind the ears. The chain loop at the top of the neck should form a triangle. If it is too tight, it will not form the triangle and if it is too loose, the triangle will pull all the way to the O-ring. You can adjust the size of the collar by adding or removing links. Try to keep an even amount of links on each side as best you can. The only way to put the collar on with a snug fit is to take it apart at one of the links and put it back together. Make sure that the link is secure and that the chain V is at the top of the neck.
Once you have a proper fitting collar, you can begin introducing it to the dog. Attach a 6 ft. leash to the swivel ring (there are two rings, one that is a flat O ring and the other swivels). Now, take your dog somewhere quiet with little distraction. Let the dog walk to the end of the leash and you just stand there and let the strain (pressure) be on the leash. Wait for the dog to turn towards you, the pressure will release from the leash and you say “good” and then you walk around and let the dog get to the end of the leash again and repeat. Your dog is learning that when he goes away from you, he feels pressure from the collar, and when he comes back toward you, that pressure goes away. This is the concept of how a prong collar works. Pressure on, and pressure off.
Now you are ready to start walking. Put your dog on your left side (right if it is more comfortable), hold the end of the leash in your right hand and use your left hand as a guide on the leash close enough to the end to have your dog next to your side. Leave just enough slack to look like a loose J.
When you walk, your dog should have about a foot in each direction on your side. If he goes further away than that, the leash will strain, putting pressure on the dogs neck. Start walking, if your dog pulls on the leash in any direction, give a flick of your wrist in the opposite direction to correct his course. No sniffing, peeing or pulling. Every 50 ft or so, come to a stop and ask him to sit. You can help with this by putting steady pressure on the collar, straight up. Steady, easy pressure until his butt hits the ground. Then immediately release the strain on the leash. Your dog will start associating sitting with the release of pressure.
Practice this every day for a week and you will have a much improved and enjoyable walk!
One of the most magical commands! Here’s the instructions to teach it:
Teach the Place command in 3 days
Place a cot or other physical object (preferably elevated) in a spot where you will have room to walk 15 or so feet to the object and can walk around the object with a few feet on every side.
Day 1 (do two sessions if you can)
Begin with the dog on a prong collar and leash.
- With a “let’s go” command, walk with the dog towards the cot.
- When you are about a foot from the object say “place” and lead the dog onto the cot (use your body to help him know when to stop by you stopping at the side of the cot.)
- When all four paws are on the cot, say “good” (this is your marker letting the dog know he has done what you were looking for. If he goes past it, guide him back and mark with “good”)
- Wait a few seconds, and lead him off the cot with a “let’s go”
- Circle with the dog on your left and repeat 5 – 10 times
Day 2 (do two sessions if you can)
Repeat steps 1-3 above
- Once the dog is on the cot and you have marked it with “good”, try taking a step back, forward, or to the side and waiting a 5-10 seconds. (if the dog moves off the cot, move toward him, say “no” and guide him back into place. When he is there, mark with “good”. Repeat this as many times as necessary. He’ll get it!)
- After a few seconds, lead him off the cot with a “let’s go” and repeat 5 -10 times
Day 3 (do two sessions if you can)
By now, the dog should understand the boundaries of the cot. Up until this point he was probably just standing on the cot. Now you are going to begin duration work. This is huge for learning to relax and just having something to do!
- Put the dog in “place” on the cot and mark with “good”
- At the same time you mark with good, drop the leash.
- Walk around the cot, staying close enough to correct with “no” and guide him back if needed.
- When you can do this successfully, you can start dropping the leash and asking him to sit, marking with “good”
- When he is sitting or lying (we don’t care even if he is standing, just can’t leave the cot), you sit in a chair or whatever and try for 5 minutes. If he gets up before the 5 min., say “no”, guide him back and mark with “good” If he makes the 5 min., go over, pick up the leash, and say “let’s go” to release him.
Repeat and increase the duration little by little. Before you know it, he will be in “place” for an hour! Relaxation on command!
p.s. for safety, if you have him in an open area doing duration, you can take the loop handle of the leash and place it under something heavy or close in a door
- Crate (buy one big enough for your dog at full size with an adjustable divider to grow with)
- Food and Water Bowls (non-breakable)
- Padded nylon collar
- Small slip lead (invaluable for quick trips for potty)
- Food (ask your breeder or vet)
- Small flavored Nylabone (usually come in 3 packs)
- Small Kong toy
Taking your puppy home
Ask for a piece of towel or blanket that has been in the kennel at the breeder’s house or the shelter or rescue. Your puppy is going to miss the smell of his littermates and this will help. When you get home, give your pup the chance to potty before going in the house. Take him to the spot you choose and put him down there. If he pees, give lots of praise, take him inside, and introduce him to his new area. Block off a small area or use a playpen type thing to create a safe play area. Place the piece of towel or blanket in his crate along with some towels or blankets to make it cozy. (Use the divider to make the area just big enough for your pup to stand up and turn around, any bigger and they may pee in the crate)
When the crate is ready, you can pick them up and place them in there. Close the door and then open it right away. Do this multiple times. When it is feeding time, you can feed them in the crate as well. You are trying to make a good association to the crate for your pup. Eventually, the crate is a safe place where he relaxes and sleeps. Your puppy may spend 16-20 hours a day in the crate at first. (Not at one time! Typically, a puppy can hold their bladder for 1 hour per every month old they are)
The thing to remember here is that puppies need to use the bathroom when they wake up, after eating, and after playing. I mean RIGHT after these things. Don’t forget, or they will remind you with an accident. If you find it after the fact, clean it up and don’t be upset. If you catch him in the act, pick him up and quickly take him to the potty spot. If he goes outside, make a big “ta do” out of it. Lots of praise!
The first night in the crate
The first night in the crate might be a little rough. Your pup will likely whine and cry. Make sure you are giving him opportunity to potty, but otherwise he might just cry a little. Put the crate next to your bed. This helps the puppy smell you both for reassurance and also for him to get to know your scent. You can also drape a blanket over it so it feels like a den. This helps many pups relax in their crates.
Routine, Routine, Routine! Dogs thrive on routine. For the first couple weeks, yours will be:
Hope this helps! Puppies are so much fun 🙂 and so much work :(, but totally worth it. Remember, you’re raising the dog you want them to become, so hang in there!