Learn realistic expectations of normal puppy behaviors to help set both you and your new puppy up for success as you learn to live together!Support the show
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speaker 0: 0:00
This is The Puppy Training Podcast Episode #43: Realistic Expectations. This podcast is designed to help you on your journey of becoming best friends through love and learning as you train your own dog from home. And I'm here to help you every step of the way. This is the puppy training podcast, and I'm your host, Amy Jensen.
speaker 0: 0:28
Hi, you guys. Today we're talking about realistic expectations. I have been thinking about this topic for a while now, and the more people that I get into my program and the more people that I coach, I feel like this is a really good topic to talk about and to discuss. I think it will help more of you as you bring puppies into your home to have a better experience, and that's what I'm all about. It's helping you have a really good positive experience with a new puppy. I want to help you train that puppy, and I think having realistic expectations as to what a puppy is and what that experience is going to be like, will help you enjoy the process more. I had a wonderful weekend this weekend. I took Boots down to St George in southern Utah. It's a good six hours from where I live, and he spent the weekend with me and my children going to soccer games. It was fun to get him out in about. We stayed in a hotel. We went to lots of restaurants. We saw lots of different new people, strangers. We worked on his leash, walking, all of his behaviors while out and about in public. I was super impressed with him. Sometimes, when I'm training a puppy, we kind of get stuck in our own little bubble in our own little world, and then when it's time to venture out into the real world and try his behavior's out where he's in a new place with new people and new surroundings, I have these expectations, either too high or too low and then because I have these expectations, I'm either disappointed or I'm super excited. On this topic of expectations today, I think that in general, when we're training dogs, if we can keep our expectations realistic, then our emotions are better and our dogs are able to read that as well and overall, we get along better. I know that I'm always in a happier place when my expectations were met. I want to talk about that a little bit today as we get into this because taking Boots down to St George and we're gonna hit lots of restaurants, we're gonna be staying in a hotel, I could have gone into that experience with a super high expectation. I could have been thinking, he's going to be the perfect dog, he's going to stay in his go in behavior underneath the table at every restaurant, he's not gonna break when we're in the hotel, he's gonna be a perfect angel, he's not gonna run around. I could have really set myself up for some failure, just by creating these unrealistic expectations of what a nine-month-old puppy should look like when we're out in public. Instead, I went into this trip thinking, 'You know what? He's nine months old. We've worked really hard on training', so I knew he could do certain things. But my expectations were at a level that I knew he would be successful and then I went into that trip hoping that I would come out pleasantly surprised. Instead of going into the trip with super high expectations and then failing to meet those expectations and coming away disappointed, instead, I went into the trip with a realistic expectation like, he's nine months old so he's gonna need some breaks during the day to run around and play and be a puppy. Absolutely. When we're least walking and we're walking through a crowd in public, then he's going to need some food rewards to help motivate him to do that. That's a realistic expectation for a nine-month-old puppy. Things like that, I'm gonna keep my expectations at a realistic level, and he blew me away. Honestly, the weekend I was so proud of him. I came home and I couldn't stop talking about how well he did. He exceeded all my expectations on every subject. The hotel stay, he was great. He slept through the night. He didn't bark or whine or growl. He didn't have any accidents. He let me know when he needed to go out to go to the bathroom. When we were walking through the public, he paid attention to me. He left people alone when we saw other dogs. That was probably one of the biggest things that I was excited to go out and experience with him is because it's cold here where I live, we don't see other dogs out in about very frequently during the winter months, and so to go to a warmer climate where there are dogs out in abundance with their owners was a really good a practice for us. But he blew me away. He exceeded my expectations and I came away from that trip super happy, super excited about our training, re-energized to keep going and pushing forward. I think many of you will be able to find that same experience with your own dogs. As we talk about these realistic expectations today, if we can keep our expectations at a realistic level, you're going to come away from this training experience with feelings of success and accomplishment, which is what I want for all of you.
speaker 0: 5:09
As part of our online puppy school, we incorporate into our intro unit a document called Realistic Expectations, and I go through many of the typical dog behaviors that puppies do because they're dogs, and I talk about what the realistic expectation is as well a what you can do about it and for it. I go through a lot of different categories. I'm just gonna highlight a few of those, but if you're interested, you can go check that out in our intro unit. I know many of you are members of the online puppy school, and so you have access to this document already. If you don't and you'd like to learn more, check out my site at www.BaxterandBella.com.
speaker 0: 5:51
Let's get into this. Let's start with a brand new puppy that just came home from a breeder. This puppy, for its entire life so far, has lived with littermates. 8 to 10 weeks, they now transition from living with the littermates and their mom to your home, where they might be the only dog. Maybe there's another dog in the home. There are probably other people in your house. For some of you that looks like young children, some of you that looks like older children. Some of you might be adults only. But either way or any away, this puppy is leaving what it knows and they're coming to your house where there are no more littermates. If you watched puppies play together, they are chewing on each other and tackling each other and wrestling, biting ears, biting tails, that's what they've spent the last 8 to 10 weeks doing before they came to live at your house. The expectation when this puppy comes to live in your house should be a realistic view, would be this puppy is probably going to try to mouth us and put their teeth on us. They're probably gonna want to wrestle. They're probably going to want to chase us. They're probably going to want to roughhouse a little bit, so that would be a realistic expectation of normal puppy behavior. Now I want to give you a little heads up. I want you to plan on being in puppy mode for the first year. This would be another realistic expectation is this is not something that's gonna happen in a week. You're not gonna be able to train this dog, this little tiny puppy in one week to not mouth you or not by you or not jump on you or not pee in your house. It's going to take time, and I would just set your expectations at around the year mark. By a year, your puppy can absolutely be well trained. Know how to be calm. Know how to greet a stranger, or greet a guest in your home, they're sleeping through the night, they're walking loosely on a leash. That would be a realistic expectation, plan on that first year. The good news is, as you practice the training with each passing day, it does get easier. Around 4 to 8 months, you're gonna notice a change as your puppy enters adolescence, which we call the teenage months, and this is going to bring some added energy. There's gonna be fewer naps, less desire to be with you as the world suddenly seems super exciting and some testing behaviors as they learn more what will or won't work for them. From 12 to 18 months, significant maturing happens is your dog grows into adulthood. I know that's a little later than the year, sometimes it's even pushed to like that 24-month mark, but if you're dedicated to this training and you're working with your dog on a daily basis several times a day, I'm not even talking to stay at home with your dog and work on it all day, but if you are doing these little mini-training sessions and incorporating the training into your everyday life, by that year mark, you have a really good dog. With that said, there are several categories that we're going to mention: mouthing and biting, barking, whining and growling, patience and impulse control, jumping, house training, the crate, leash walking. Those are kind of the categories that I want to point out to you and help you have a more realistic expectation of those things.
speaker 0: 8:59
Let's go into the mouthing and biting. This is probably one of the biggest puppy parent problems that I hear about. Let's talk about what it is, why it happens, and some of the training tips and tricks that you can use. Puppy's mouth, for several reasons, they're exploring and learning about the world around them. It's a natural way to strengthen their jaws and initiate play. Expect that your puppy is going to constantly be moving their mouth when they're awake. They are literally just moving their mouths up and down when they are awake. That's just a realistic expectation. Other things, puppies love quick movements. They see what they want and they want it right now. Puppies love being with others, they're very social, and they have razor-sharp teeth. If you put those four things together, we pretty much have a nightmare on our hands. Some of you getting a puppy is a live fluffy stuffed animal while others are seeing more of a piranha type view. Very typical, very normal puppy. Yes, puppies could be extremely cute and lovable, some are snuggly, not all of them. Many are sweet, and they're super funny to watch a lot of the time. But they do also have razor-sharp teeth, and they move their mouth all day, except for when they're sleeping, and my guess then is they're probably dreaming about it. That would be a realistic expectation, that your puppy is going to mouth and bite and chew. Puppies are constantly doing these things, it's our job to show them what they can and can't mouth or bite. Teaching them no is helpful, but the immediate redirection onto something entirely different is just as important. I want to talk a little bit about redirection here. Some people think that redirection would be, 'here, give my puppy a toy'. Let's paint this picture for you. The puppy is with you, you're interacting with them. You are exciting. You move, you make sounds, you make noises, you talk, your hands move, your arms move, you twitch. To your puppy, you're very exciting. If you simply redirect her puppy onto a toy and you say, 'here puppy' and you drop the toy on the floor, the puppy will most likely check it out because it just fell on the floor, but your puppy will most likely want to come back to you and play with you because you are exciting. The toy is now lifeless on the floor. That's very common. To by step that or to work around that if you simply hold the toy and wiggle it, move it around and engage in that play with your puppy. He's going to be more apt to pay attention to the toy and not come right back to you. Redirection means not just giving your dog something else but making sure that he's moved on to something else. He is now engaged in a new activity, that's really important for redirection. Puppies are like toddlers, and as such, they have very short attention spans. That's just realistic. They can only do things for a short amount of time before they're bored, and they want to move on to something else. They also make their own choices, and they may choose to bite even when they're told not to. Even though we teach a puppy no, it doesn't mean that he's never going to mouth or bite you again. That's just not realistic. We absolutely teach the word no, and we work to help our puppy understand that that means we don't like this. But in the meantime, as he's learning that, we're going to do several things to prevent him from biting and mouthing us. That might be getting up and walking away, it might be creating separation between the two of you, whether that's a crate or an exercise pen. I even tell people, 'you can go in the exercise pen', just create that barrier so the puppy can't get to you. The puppy has to learn that if he wants you to be around him. If he's seeking your attention, this is a very effective method. If he's not, then it's not. But if your puppy's wanting your attention, then you simply walking away the second he puts his teeth on you is very effective in teaching him, Oh, she doesn't like that. I do get asked, is my puppy being aggressive? No. Most puppies at 8 to 10 weeks, this is typical puppy behavior. That's just a realistic expectation. We expect that puppies will mouth and bite. It's our job to simply show them what they can mouth and bite. Your puppy is not being aggressive, he's not trying to hurt you on purpose, this is what he knows. He's been playing with littermates this exact way for the last 8 to 10 weeks, and now suddenly he's in your home, he's not going to change overnight. He's going to want to play the way he's been playing, so we need to teach him some manners. But that comes through things like impulse control. We teach them to wait for things, things like 'stay', 'go-to-bed', 'wait'. All of those behaviors that we teach our puppies helped build that impulse control in them and they learn 'sitting-to-say-please' is much more rewarding than jumping on someone, but that takes time.
speaker 0: 13:42
Another topic would be barking, whining, and growling. An unrealistically expectation would be that my puppy will never bark, whine, or growl. That's just not true. Most puppies will bark, whine, or growl at some point in their life. That is how they communicate. If a puppy has a toy and they don't want you to take it from them, they will most likely let you know with a growl. If a puppy sees something outside that they want to get to and they can't get to it, they might let out a bark because they're vocalizing that they want to get to that thing and can't get there. If they want your attention or they're playing, maybe they're having fun, and they're excited, they're happy they want to vocalize their happiness. That's also another reason for barking. Dogs will bark, whine, and growl. Puppies are also not used to being alone. They've come from that litter of however many puppies were with them, and now, suddenly they're at their house and there are no other puppies with them. They're in a crate, maybe all by themselves. Maybe they've never been in a crate. Maybe they don't know what that is or when they're ever going to get out of the crate. The puppy is probably going to whine some or bark at you and try to get your attention, say, 'Hey, I'm over here. Remember me? Let me out'. The realistic expectation is that absolutely our puppies are going to do some barking. They're going to do some whining. They're going to do some growling. Now with these different things, we can teach our puppy how to better handle his frustration or his excitement or his want to be with you, but then that takes some time, and it takes some training and some practice, but they get there. They learn that. But the first week, it's not realistic to expect your puppy to not do these things. These are natural dog behaviors.
speaker 0: 15:22
Dogs naturally see what they want, and they want it right now. This causes problems when guests come over. Puppies want to jump to say hi right now. Let's say that food falls on the floor, your puppy wants to gobble it up as fast as they can. If you see other dogs out walking and your puppy is excited and wants to go say hi, they're gonna try to pull on that leash and run to get to them as fast as they can. That's natural dog behavior. Patience is not something inherent in puppies, but it can be taught. In fact, teaching this concept to your puppy creates a nice, calm, well-mannered dog, and then you'll enjoy living with them for years. The best part is this is fairly simple to do. Teaching your puppy things like a sit, a down, stay, wait, go-to-bed, loose leash walking, leave it, and all of the games in our paws-fit section are wonderful for this, but they teach your puppy to wait for something, and that when they do wait for something good things happen. When teaching these behaviors, start with super short durations because, remember, puppies are young. They're like a toddler, and their attention spans are super short. Set them up for success. Don't expect your puppy to stay right away for 20 seconds. It's just not gonna happen. To us, 20 seconds doesn't seem like that long of time. We're hoping our dogs will stay on the mat for an hour eventually, right? But 20 seconds to a puppy is eons of time. We want to start with a one-second stay. Then we're gonna increase that to a two-second stay. Two is gonna turn into five, five's gonna turn into 10, 10 turns into 20, and so forth. We need to start setting our puppy up for success because expecting our puppy to stay for any given amount of time is really just unrealistic because of what we just talked about, they see what they want and they want it right now. A realistic expectation would be okay, our puppy can maybe do half a second stay or one-second stay, and then I'm marking and I'm rewarding and then I'm releasing. So, puppy sit, stay, yes, release, and that's what it looks like in the very beginning. That's very realistic. Then I'm gonna transfer that one second to two, two turns to 5, 5 turns to 10, and so forth.
speaker 0: 17:19
Onto house training, house training takes time. A puppy has to learn that there's a specific place to go to the bathroom. This will vary depending on your house size. For those of you who live in smaller homes or apartments, the training goes faster simply because there are fewer rooms to train your dog to. If you live in a three-story home, that's gonna take a little longer because you're going to have to train your puppy with each level of your home and every room on that level. Set up those expectations realistically, paying attention to the size of your living space and recognize that puppies have very small bladders because they're small. As they grow, their bladder control gets stronger, and so they're able to hold it longer. But a realistic expectation for a puppy, a brand new dog coming into your home, who is 8 to 10 weeks old, they may have to go to the bathroom while running around every 20 to 30 minutes. I get out my kitchen timer, my old fashioned rotary timer, and I rotate it and I just remind myself we should probably check to see if the puppy needs to go to the bathroom. During the nighttime, they're gonna be able to hold it longer while they're sleeping. But during the day when a puppy is getting drinks and he's playing and then he's lying down and then he's getting up again, any time your puppy transitions from activity to activity, I would recommend that you take them out to see if they need to go potty. That's just realistic. Even if your puppy just pottied 15 minutes earlier, but now he's inside and he's getting lots of drinks of water, and then he's running around, he's probably gonna have to go again soon. They are basically input-output machines. That's just realistic. Again, watching them 100% of the time when they're out and about is necessary to prevent accidents. If you can't watch them 100% of the time, that's where we use the crate. The crate is fabulous for house training because it's a small, confined space, small enough, hopefully, that the puppy can stand up, turn around, lay back down, but they're not going to want to mess in that area because they don't want to lay in it. That's the concept of the crate, they learn to hold it until released, so it gets stronger bladder control and all of those good things. But yes, if you can't watch your puppy, they need to either be on leash with you, they need to be in a crate, or they need to be 100% supervised while out-and-about in your house, that's just realistic with a young puppy.
speaker 0: 19:30
Let's talk about leash walking. I would say for a brand new puppy 8 to 10 weeks old, a realistic picture of what this looks like, the first time you attach a leash, is your puppy is probably going to be super excited. Here's a new object, it's now attached to me, it kind of hangs and wiggles around by my face, so the puppy is probably gonna want to try to mouth it or bite it or play with it. Maybe it becomes a game of tug. The puppy's kind of jumping around in circles. I can picture this in my head because I've trained lots of puppies, and every puppy I've trained wants to play with the leash initially, it's just natural. It's a fun, wiggly item that's basically right in their face, so they're gonna want to try to get it. Things that you can do for this would be high-value rewards. You've got up the motivation and have your puppy more motivated by what you have, then this leash that's now wiggling in front of them. I'll put a little piece of freeze-dried liver in my hand, and I let my puppy smell my hand. He's captivated by what's in there, and he's suddenly focused on that instead of the leash. Then we walk out the door or we move forward to the potty area. Once he goes potty, then he can have what's in my hand. But just having that motivation and that redirection, I've redirected my puppy from biting and playing with the leash to, 'what does she have in her hand? I'm gonna focus on that', and I've transitioned his brain from one activity to the other activity of walking with me out the door. Redirection again it's not enough just to show them something. You have to move them past what they were thinking about, so that treat in my hand is helping get my puppy past focusing on the leash. He is now focusing on my hand, we're able to walk forward and make it out the door. You can absolutely give him a little taste of it to keep him with you. If you keep it in your hand and that's not enough or strong enough to get him out the door into the yard, you might need a couple of those to just give him a little morsel as you walk along to keep him playing the game with you. Absolutely, leash walking expectations are very low in the beginning. In fact, I start with one step of attention, here's a reward. Okay, two steps of attention, here's a reward. Three steps and go for a reward. We're gonna build it up super slowly but in that manner that my puppy is willing to give me that one extra step to see if that treat will come next and that's a realistic way of starting a puppy out with loose leash walking.
speaker 0: 21:56
That's it, you guys. That's what I have for you today. Hopefully, that painted a realistic picture of what it's like to have a brand new puppy in your home. I know that today's topic may have painted a bit of a negative picture of what a puppy is, but I do want to point out that having a puppy is a wonderful, lovely experience, and it is worth it. Every minute that you put into the training and the socialization and helping them live in your home is worth it. I guarantee that you will enjoy the process, and I guarantee that you will enjoy the outcome. But having that realistic expectation from the get-go helps set you up for success as well as such your puppy up for success and that's what I want for all of you. Happy training, and I'll talk to you next week. If you have a question about anything you heard on this podcast or any other puppy training question, visit my site BaxterandBella.com to contact me.