Archive for the Don’t Place the Blame if You Didn’t Actually Train Category

Who Killed These Dogs? | Dog Star Daily

Posted in Don't Place the Blame if You Didn't Actually Train on August 21, 2013 by Red Dawg Lady

Who Killed These Dogs? | Dog Star Daily.


I really don’t have much to add to the blog post linked above. It’s a well-written article by someone who truly understands the issues and isn’t caught up in the animal rights hyperbole.



Housebreaking 101

Posted in Don't Place the Blame if You Didn't Actually Train with tags , , , , on February 26, 2013 by Red Dawg Lady

The Fundamentals of house training are beautiful in their simplicity.

Be consistent in supervising your puppy for a whole weekend, and you will be amazed at how quickly they will grasp the concept.

Set your puppy up for success by learning to predict when she needs to be taken out. Truly observe your puppy for a couple of days so you can learn her patterns.

Most puppies need to go:

  • • After sleeping
  • • After play
  • • After eating
  • • After exercising

They will usually start to frantically sniff and turn around in circles before they go potty. Don’t wait! Either pick the puppy up and carry them outdoors, or happily encourage them to follow you outside. As soon as he  starts to go, quietly say “Good” or click your clicker, and the millisecond he is finished, lavish him with praise and a small food treat. “Good Puppy! Excellent Potty!”

If your puppy doesn’t go, take him back in and restrict him to a crate or an easily-cleaned area, or supervise him carefully before trying again in 15 minutes.

  •  1.            NEVER allow your puppy go potty in the wrong place
  • 2.            Praise and reward when he goes in the right place
  • 3.            Do not scold or punish your puppy if he has an accident.


If your puppy has an accident, clean it up calmly, using Pet-Tastic Solution or Nature’s Miracle.

Do NOT scold your puppy. Punishment of any kind can and will delay housetraining because he doesn’t understand why he is being punished!


Bear in mind that tiny puppies have tiny bladders, and it’s further for them to get to the back door. Set them up for success!

  • The general rule of thumb for bladder control while the puppy is AT REST is “age in months plus one”.
  • 2 months = 3 hours
  • 3 months = 4 hours
  • and so on

If the puppy is awake and playing, they need to potty every 20-30 minutes!


House Training FAQ

Q.           My puppy is still having accidents during the day, but is okay at night (or vice-versa)

A.            Some puppies take longer than others to physically develop the muscles needed to control bladder and bowel. Usually the bowels are controlled before the bladder. Sometimes, the puppy will be 14-16 weeks before they can manage this. In the meantime, follow the housebreaking routine. Believe me, Vizslas do NOT naturally want to eliminate where they sleep.

Q.           How do I teach my puppy to potty on command?

A.            Say “Good Potty” every single time she starts to go, and eventually she will catch onto what “potty” means.

Q.           My puppy is eating their own feces! How do we stop this behavior?

A.            Don’t panic. We find this habit very unpleasant, but it is natural behavior for dogs. Most puppies outgrow this habit, but in the meantime, clean up after your puppy immediately after they are finished, and you can prevent the problem from becoming ingrained behavior. If it persists, contact your vet for advice.

Q.           My puppy refuses to go outside to potty, even when we have the door propped open, and chooses to use potty pads indoors instead. How do I get her to potty outside?

A.            You’ve got two problems.

  • 1.            Shut the back door. If the door is always open, there is no difference between indoors and outdoors.  You need to physically be there to supervise and reward your puppy, and also to open the door!
  • 2.            Get rid of the potty pads. I use washable pads as an insurance policy against accidents happening in front of my doors, they are not there as an alternative to going outside in the first place. As soon as a pup has an accident, I remove that pad, replace it with a clean one, and continue to strive towards outdoor potty compliance.

Here is a great video by Kikopup that goes more in-depth about how to get your dog reliably housebroken!

Puppy Biting

Posted in Don't Place the Blame if You Didn't Actually Train on February 18, 2013 by Red Dawg Lady
Puppy playing with littermate

Puppy playing with littermate

I have just received a random e-mail from someone who bought a Vizsla puppy from another breeder, and is having some puppy biting problems that are mostly caused by the human. While I usually go over all of this in person with my clients, it surely doesn’t hurt to get the information out there early

The one thing I can guarantee everybody is that your puppy will, at some point, be very mouthy and will likely chomp down on you (or your kids, or your clothes, etc) too hard. This is normal puppy behavior, and is not a sign of aggression in a 2-5 month old puppy. It absolutely does need to be stopped though!

Sometimes when a puppy bites it is because the puppy is over-stimulated and needs a time out. Sometimes it is because the puppy is under-exercised and needs to go out to play some fetch. Sometimes, the puppy is over-tired and needs a nap. You need to be able to assess the situation to know whether the puppy needs time in a crate or if you need to start playing outside to burn off steam.

My puppies usually don’t bite me, because I’ve established from the time they are very little that it is not appropriate to do so, just like they don’t bite their mothers. However, puppies haven’t learned to not bite you (your kids, your grandchildren, etc) and must be taught that it is never appropriate, period. Even when I bring home dogs I’ve purchased from other breeders, I have 1-2 days of teaching NO BITE. It doesn’t take me longer than that, because are 100% consistent in reinforcing that it is not acceptable, and that it will either get you a time out, or that I will walk away and leave you. Either way, if you bite me too hard, your fun or freedom is ended for a little bit. It is of the utmost importance that you all are as consistent.

If your puppy bites you, a sharp exclamation of  “OUCH!” should be enough for them to stop biting for a moment and for you to be able to redirect them with an appropriate toy, or to lure them into a sit with a treat and reward them for sitting. If your puppy bites again, loudly say “OW!”, and stand up, and walk out of the room. They have now lost your presence for 30 seconds. When you re-enter the room, forget about the previous bite. You’re starting from scratch, just like their mother would. Dogs don’t hold grudges.

If you’re consistent, you are teaching your puppies that are very wimpy playmates that must be treated extra gently! Once you reach the point where your puppy puts his mouth on you and it no longer hurts, you now pretend it hurts. The ultimate goal being that the puppy realizes that even the most gentle mouthing “hurts”.  In the event that your dog ever were to bite someone as an adult, the odds of it causing severe injury are much less than with dogs that have never learned appropriate pressure! This can quite literally be the difference between life and death for your dog.
There’s a few things you need to know:

1. Puppy mouthing doesn’t go away on its own, you have to teach them what is appropriate pressure. When my dogs wrestle, play, or even if there is an argument over a bone, there is never any damage done to anyone. Why? Because they have learned exactly how hard they can bite down before it causes pain. Remember, this is an animal that has the jaw strength to pulverize rabbits and deer legs. We want them to learn what is and is not going to cause “damage”. I know we don’t like to think of our companion animals as highly-evolved predators, but they do have the ability to survive in the wild.

2. Puppies explore everything with their mouths. They use their mouths the way toddlers use their hands. If a 2-year old child came up to you and slammed a toy truck in your face in an attempt to get you to play, you wouldn’t respond by slamming them to the ground and wrenching their arm behind their back. Grabbing a puppy and squeezing their muzzle and pushing their lip into their own teeth is doing basically the same thing. Dogs use their mouths the way that a toddler uses their hands, and both must be taught how to be gentle.

3. The methods described above work, 100% of the time. If you are consistent, you will curb the problem within a few days. If you are inconsistent, it may take a few weeks. Either way, it will work, I promise.

4. Having a puppy that is super mouthy is actually a good thing! You can teach them that human skin (and clothing! they don’t know the difference between our skin and our clothes!) are so sensitive that they can never do much more than “gum” us to make us yelp in pain.

5. Screeching/running/spinning kids basically entice the puppy to bite. The best thing for kids to be taught is that if the puppy is biting/tugging on them, stand up or stand still, cross their arms over their chest, turn away from the puppy (keeping your back to the puppy) and “be a tree”. The puppy will get the idea VERY quickly that it is not okay!


There is a great podcast by Dr. Ian Dunbar located here:


Crate Games – Teaching Your Dog to Love the Crate!

Posted in Don't Place the Blame if You Didn't Actually Train on February 18, 2013 by Red Dawg Lady
chillaxin' in the crate

chillaxin’ in the crate

With multiple dogs, crating allows each dog to have “their” space where they can relax. Even with a single dog, it’s good for them to have one spot to call their own.

I crate train puppies from the start. It makes housebreaking easier, and prevents them from doing things like chewing up my couch if I’m not in the room. Nothing good will ever come  from a Vizsla left to their own devices or who has to invent their own entertainment. Never. You don’t allow your 3-year old child unfettered access to the entire world, and it is just as unrealistic to expect your dog, who is the equivalent of a non-verbal toddler, to behave well when unsupervised! Proper management is 90% of the equation to building good behavior!

My dogs all willingly go into their crates, and all of them will put themselves into their crates to nap. They’ve learned that it is their own space, and all of the other dogs respect that. At some point, your dog will probably need to spend the night at the vet, or you will have them in a boarding kennel, and to help them have as stress-free of an experience as possible, you owe it to them to teach them that crates are a good thing!

This video link shows how you can teach your dog to love the crate in about 15 minutes or less!

Come When Called Games

Posted in Don't Place the Blame if You Didn't Actually Train on February 17, 2013 by Red Dawg Lady

The single most important command for your dog to learn is COME. It can quite literally save her life. However, most people teach their dogs to ignore the command by doing two things:

1. Repeating the command while the dog is not coming to them. (“Rover, Come! Come! Come! C’mere! Here! Rover, HERE! #!*% Get over here!”)

2. Pairing the word COME with the end of all things fun. (“Rover, Come!” and the moment he does, you clip a leash on him and drag him away from the dog park!)

I play a lot of “come when called” games with my dogs every day. I used string cheese, or dehydrated duck, or Natural Balance food rolls cut into reasonable pieces as treats. Whatever I have on-hand that is an exciting treat for that dog. One of my dogs considers a plain hot dog to be a more exciting treat than dehydrated duck! I have another that gets too worked up over food, so we have to use lower value treats like dog biscuits or Charlie Bears. Figure out what YOUR DOG will work for, and use that as a reward!

The advantage of a lot of the Come When Called games, is that along with building a rock-solid recall, you are also giving the dog a lot of exercise without a lot of effort on your part. Seriously, I can stand with a drink in one hand and instill a solid recall in the dog with the other hand, and not break a sweat. The Vizslas absolutely love the Come When Called games!

The video link below illustrates several games you can play. You don’t need a wide-open field. You can just as easily use your basement, garage, or living room to start. Then you work up to your back yard, then play them at the dog park. If you normally spend 45 minutes at the dog park, play the CWC games every 10-15 minutes. Not only did the dog get to perfect recalls, he also got to go run/play with his besties again! Winning!

A Fabulous (and more reliable!) way to teach LEAVE IT!

Posted in Don't Place the Blame if You Didn't Actually Train on February 16, 2013 by Red Dawg Lady

I  ♥♥ love ♥♥ this method of teaching the command LEAVE IT. In the end, it will be a much more reliable behavior, plus it will have the added benefit of teaching the dog impulse control!

Not only can LEAVE IT be useful for teaching the dog to ignore food, but you can work towards generalizing it and make it an effective command in your training toolbox for controlling all sorts of unwanted behaviors:

  • Dropped medications
  • Random trash on the street
  • Kids’ toys
  • Trash bins
  • Laundry hamper
  • Cat litter box

The list goes on! The reality is that you expect your dog to leave a lot more stuff alone than to have unfettered access, so teach them to make the right choice from the start!

Remember, it will take at least 5-6 times longer to undo a behavior than it does to teach it correctly from the start!

Puppies chew shoes, don’t they?: Dee Bogetti, Sue Kindred: Kindle Store

Posted in Don't Place the Blame if You Didn't Actually Train on February 14, 2013 by Red Dawg Lady

Puppies chew shoes, don’t they?: Dee Bogetti, Sue Kindred: Kindle Store.


A free download for a training book!

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