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24–27 Weeks: What to Expect From Your Puppy

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A Guide to Advanced Obedience Training

At this point, your puppy has been learning many things from basic obedience commands such as "Sit!" "Come!," and "Watch me!" to how to not let falling magazines haunt him for the rest of his life. But there is much more in obedience for your pup to learn. It's up to you how far you take your puppy through school.

You can stop after a class is finished or go on to a Good Canine Citizen certificate. Training your dog is beneficial in many ways. It creates a bond between you, reminds your puppy who is Alpha, ensures your pup can be taken with you anywhere and provides safety valves for bad behavior. It also tends to produce a more confident and calm puppy.

Based on our tips from many weeks earlier, you're probably either in a puppy training class or following a training plan at home at this point. You've likely noticed an improvement in your puppy's overall behavior. If not, and if your puppy is having trouble with problems such as walking correctly on a lead or staying when you tell him, then advanced training is even more important.

Advanced Commands in Obedience Training

  1. Stay! - The first command to add to your repertoire is "Stay!". First, make your puppy sit next to you. Putting the palm of your hand in front of him, say "Stay!" Take a step or two back. If he moves, calmly return to his side and repeat. Keep moving back further when he stays. It is absolutely all right to repeat the command a few times, contrary to some thought. When he has stayed as long as you'd like, return to him and give praise and a treat.

  2. Down! - Make certain that you only use this command to indicate that your puppy should lay down. To get him off furniture and such, use "Off!". Get your puppy to sit in front of you. Show him a treat and slowly lower it to the floor in front of him while saying "Down!". If he doesn't go down all the way, gently pull his front legs forward until he does. As soon as he's down, praise and reward him.

  3. Stand! - This comes in useful for many things, such as the foundation of a show dog's commands and as an easy way to put harnesses and coats on your puppy. Sit your pup. Put your hands under his belly near his back end and gently pull up while saying "Stand!" Reward him when he does. At the beginning, you might need to keep you hand under his belly to keep him from sitting back down.

There are many different ways of training a puppy. The methods mentioned here are very basic, for we are still covering basic stuff. Your class may cover training in a very different way. It's up to you to decide what sort of training is best for you and your pup. The important thing is to get the basics down. If you don't, you're more likely to have a rambunctious canine who takes longer to grow out of his bad puppy habits.

And keep it up! Practice with him every day for two fifteen minute sessions (puppies lose interest after that). Keep adding commands but only after he's mastered those you've already taught. Remember, what your puppy learns now will stick with him forever.

Advice from Other Dog Owners 

Start Training Your Puppy Right Away

Even though the old saying goes, "you can't teach an old dog new tricks," in reality you can start training a dog at any age - if the dog is nine weeks, nine months, or nine years old.

Even if you bring home a very young puppy, training and working on wanted behaviors starts immediately after the dog comes home with you. You would start teaching the dog to recognize her name and get her used to a set schedule of when you go outside, when she's fed, when it's time for walks and when it's time for bed time. Even playtime can be training - you're teaching her what she can and cannot play with, not to bite your hands, and rules for your games (such as, when you bite me, the game ends).

Formal training, such as sit, down, and come, can be started at a very young age as well. It's never too early to "shape" behaviors using positive rewards. A good time to enroll into a class is around 6 months old - puppy class.

~Chris & Brian C., owner of German Shepherd

Dealing with a Puppy That Chews Everything in Sight

Try offering your puppy a variety of chew toys. Notice the texture and softness of what he usually chooses to chew on (that he's not supposed to chew on) and try to pick a toy with that texture and softness. But don't get any toys shaped like any of the inappropriate items he chews. Dogs don't know the different between a chew toy shaped like a shoe and a real shoe.

Also, redirect the behavior. It's very simple to do this. All you need to do is when you see him chewing inappropriate items, show him the chew toy and encourage him to chew that instead. Praise and richly reward him for chewing the right things. Whenever he chews the wrong things, just redirect.

~Tiffany C., owner of Papillon mix

Tips on Housebreaking a Puppy

The best thing I found was crate-training at night, and when you're away from home. I didn't keep my dog crated when I was home with him, I locked him in the kitchen the first week, staying in there to play with him. On the second week we slowly let him have more freedom in the house.

We were always watching, and after all activity (sleeping, eating, playing) took him out right away. I took him out as much as every 15-30 minutes. We took him out the same door always, out to the same spot (by a big field we have beside our yard), said 'go potty, go potty' (he's 2 now, and still goes to the same area to poop) and petted/praised like crazy when he did (good BOY, good potty!) Then right back inside....no playing right after potty. If we played, it was inside, then back out to play, so he'd 'get it' that that trip out was for potty alone. When you pair whatever words (like "go potty") to the action, I think it helps...and he'd go potty on command after awhile. That's nice when you're getting ready to go somewhere in the car, and need him to go!

If he had accidents when in the crate, I never scolded...never. Just cleaned everything up. Nature's Miracle worked wonders for me; it cleans spots and odors great. We would never rub the puppy's nose in it if there were accidents in the house. That's what worked for me.

~Donna C., owner of Labrador Retriever

Training Your Puppy to Sleep Through the Night

My trainer told me that puppies can usually hold it longer during the night, when they are sleeping.

If your pup is waking up and crying to go out at night, you might try pushing her potty breaks back a little. If she normally wakes up at 12, wait an hour, then take her out at 1. If shes fine with that, push it back another hour, til 2, and so on. That's what I did with my dog and it worked well and quickly. Instead of taking her out at 5, I'd wait til 5:30. Then 6, then 6:30, etc. She was sleeping through the night by 12 weeks or so (but I'm sure every pup is different).

~Dana S., owner of German Shorthaired Pointer

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