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Training Tips

Puppy Development Stages

Any training tips can be better understood if we know how puppies think. And, since puppies' brains are developing while they go through cognitive stages of development, we need to know what stage puppies are experiencing to understand what behaviors are normal for that stage. Before changing or beginning training methods, remember to check the cognitive development stages for puppies of varying ages.

Click here to view those stages and characteristics. This link will open in a new window.

Potty Training

Puppies are too young to be potty trained until they are about 8 weeks old, which is when most of my puppies leave me. At that time, they are becoming ready to understand training and can catch on quite quickly with diligent/watchful families.

Puppy Aggression/Biting Phase
(Typically Between 3-5 Months Old)

Like children, puppies go through some "interesting" developmental phases as they grow. Around this time, puppies can get overly assertive/bossy and they will often bite. It is a phase, and puppies grow out of it as long as they are properly treated and not allowed to be dominant over their human family members.

However, this no-fun phase can be shortened or stopped, too. The first key is to not let the puppy become the leader of your pack. Have you heard of the "Dog Whisperer?" He has some excellent tips and explanations on his web site regarding raising puppies. His page at  is about this age group. It's amazing that all breeds of puppies follow almost the exact same timeline and stages!

There are many web pages that address this puppy stage and give tips for how to get through it. Below are just a few I've found and read.

From :

The Juvenile Stage
3 Months to 4 Months

The Juvenile stage typically lasts from 3 to 4 months of age, and it’s during this time your puppy is most like a toddler. He’ll be a little more independent - he might start ignoring the commands he’s only recently learned – just like a child does when they’re trying to exert their new-found independence. As in “I don’t have to listen to you!” Firm and gentle reinforcement of commands and training is what’s required here.

He might start biting you – play biting or even a real attempt to challenge your authority. A sharp “No!” or “No bite!” command, followed by several minutes of ignoring him, should take care of this problem.

Continue to play with him and handle him on a daily basis, but don’t play games like tug of war or wrestling with him. He may perceive tug of war as a game of dominance – especially if he wins. And wrestling is another game that can rapidly get out of hand. As your puppy’s strength grows, he’s going to want to play-fight to see who’s stronger – even if you win, the message your puppy receives is that it’s ok to fight with you. And that’s not ok!

The Brat Stage
4-6 Months

The Brat Stage starts at about 4 months and runs until about 6 months, and it’s during this time your puppy will demonstrate even more independence and willfulness. You may see a decline in his urge to please you – expect to see more “testing the limits” type of behaviors. He’ll be going through a teething cycle during this time, and will also be looking for things to chew on to relieve the pain and pressure. Frozen doggie bones can help sooth him during this period.

He may try to assert his new “dominance” over other family members, especially children. Continue his training in obedience and basic commands, but make sure to never let him off his leash during this time unless you’re in a confined area. Many times pups at this age will ignore commands to return or come to their owners, which can be a dangerous, even fatal, breakdown in your dog’s response to you. If you turn him loose in a public place, and he bolts, the chances of injury or even death can result – so don’t take the chance.

He’ll now begin to go through the hormonal changes brought about by his growing sexual maturity, and you may see signs of rebelliousness. (Think adolescent teen-age boy!) If you haven’t already, you should have him neutered during this time. (Or spayed if you have a female.)

From :

Aggressive dogs do not like restraint - they like to be in charge. If you succeed in restraining them it often changes their entire personality for the better. I like to roll them in a beach towel and watch television or do some other activity with them in my lap for 30 minutes to a hour until they realize that you, rather than they, are the boss.

Also helpful are mild mannered games such as fetch, hide-and-seek, sniff-out-the-treat, leash training and romping play. It is very important that you cure your pet of biting aggressively before 16-20 weeks of age. The longer the pet maintains this bad behavior, the harder it will be to break him of it. In a normal pack situation, his brothers and mother would not stand for such activity. Now it's your responsibility to socialize him by teaching him how to control himself in a group setting.

All puppies need to be handled gently, firmly and frequently between the ages of six and eighteen weeks. They should be hand-fed by all members of the family and taught to accept food slowly and daintily without snapping or lunging. They should be verbally scolded or affection denied when they jump up on people, chase running joggers and children, ride legs or growl for any reason. Aggression-prone dogs should not be rough housed with, wrestled with or engaged in tug of war. Instead of physically punishing them one should speak to with a sharp “No” when they break the rules and then deny them affection and interaction for ten minutes. When they begin to understand what you consider objectionable actions reward them with a food treat.

I've found lots of good tips while searching this morning, but most seem to repeat the ones above.


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Bedford, IA  50833
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