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32–35 Weeks: What to Expect From Your Puppy

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A Guide to More Advanced Obedience Training

Are you the proud owner of a pup who has made it through Puppy Obedience School or is just getting ready to graduate? Or has he made it through your home training plan with flying colors? Luckily, obedience training doesn't ever have to end (and shouldn't). You can keep taking your puppy to class for the rest of his life and work with him at home. Dogs are always eager to learn and love praise for a job well done.

You've probably already noticed the benefits of puppy obedience training - a clearer definition of your role as Alpha, a puppy who pays attention to you, a puppy who is calmer and more at ease, not to mention a better-behaved dog. Lifetime obedience training means a chance to continually teach your pup new commands and tricks, an assurance that your pup will remain well-behaved and a chance to move on to such things as therapy or agility training. Whether you are immediately going into another class or are working with your pup at home, here are some new commands to work on.

These are a bit more fun than our past basic obedience tips. It may seem like you're prepping your puppy to appear on Pet Star but these commands also teach useful skills for everyday life and reinforce your puppy's ability to listen to you.

Shake Hands: Bound to delight people who meet your puppy for the first time, this command also helps your pup feel more comfortable with new people. This is a simple one. Have your puppy sit in front of you. Say "Shake hands!" and gently grab his paw. Hold it for a few seconds, say "Good job!" and release. Reward with a treat. Repeat as often as you think of it.

Crawl: This could actually be useful if you ever need your puppy to drop down and move forward, say, to get under an obstruction. Have your dog lie down. Holding a treat in front of him, say "Crawl!" and pull the treat slowly away. If he gets up, start over. You can gently press on his shoulders to keep him down. If he moves forward even slightly, praise him and give him the treat.

Speak: This can help you control your dog's barking as he can eventually learn that he's only to speak when commanded. Holding a treat or a toy, say "Speak!" in a high, fun voice and bark. When your puppy speaks, reward him with the object. You can also teach your puppy to whisper. Instead of "Speak!" say "Whisper!" in a whisper and bark quietly.

You might consider getting a book on dog tricks such as "Dog Tricks for Dummies" to continue this training. It is a great bonding experience and it's fun. These especially work well to keep your dog focused in between training classes or in conjunction with them. And you can consider enrolling him in an adult class now as long as you speak with the instructor first.

And, who knows? Maybe your pup will prove to be a Pet Star.

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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