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32–35 Weeks: What to Expect From Your Puppy

Solve Your Pup's Stress with Tolerance Techniques :: A Guide to Puppy Hip Dysplasia and Treatments :: A Guide to More Advanced Obedience Training :: How to Keep Your Pet Safe with Microchipping and Tagging

Solve Your Pup's Stress with Tolerance Techniques

Does your puppy seem to still be in his Fear Imprint Stage? Does he seem stressed and anxious a lot of the time? Even if your puppy's fear imprint period is coming to an end, there may be some residual affects. Dogs experience stress much like we do, except it is in the moment, not stress from something such as worrying about paying the bills.

Your main goal is to keep the stress from escalating. This means if your puppy gets stressed out from thunder storms, you're going to try to solve the stressor before it really gets going. Instead of fixing the problem after it's past a breaking point, you're going to keep your pup in a calm, submissive state from the beginning. Remember that "submissive" is not a bad word in the world of dogs. It indicates a place where your puppy feels secure in his role. There are several ways to teach your puppy to handle scary situations with a calm demeanor.

Teaching your puppy that he can handle a little stress and that it's no big deal is helpful for both of you. By keeping a stress from escalating you can help him "give up" and relax. Signs of a stressed puppy include panting, restlessness, walking in circles, and pawing at the ground. Your puppy might also try to hide. You can help your pup with a few simple steps.

Stress Tolerance Techniques

We'll use the example of a puppy who is afraid of thunderstorms, though this works with any stressful situation, such as walking through crowds of people or a fear of other dogs.

  1. Identify the Stressor - This can be tough, as it's sometimes not exactly as it seems. Your puppy could be stressed by another factor than the actual thunderstorm. It might be that the baby cries during a storm or that awhile back the cat attacked your pup at the beginning of a storm.

  2. Recreate the Stressor - If it is, indeed, the thunderstorm itself that is the stressor, record a storm or buy a recording of one. When your puppy is in a relaxed state, turn the recording on very quietly. Go about your business as if everything is fine.

  3. Up the Ante - Keep raising the volume until you notice your puppy looking alert. Lower it again. Repeat this until he can handle the stress at about half the volume of a real storm.

  4. De-escalate Before It Happens - Once your puppy is comfortable at this volume, turn it off and wait for the real thing. When you know a storm is coming, put on your recording on low and slowly raise the sound again as you did previously.

  5. Take Your Time - Do everything more slowly than you think you should. The point is to teach your puppy to tolerate the stress and this takes time.

You can use this for any stressor: Just introduce your pup to it very slowly and increase it as he gets comfortable with each stage. If the stress continues to escalate, you may see physical problems in your puppy, such as trouble breathing, hyperventilating, a racing heart or sudden bowel movements, so these techniques are crucial.

Of course, the calmer and gentler you are, the calmer the whole atmosphere will be so put on your Patience Hat and your Compassion Muffler. Your pup will pick up on your demeanor and it will influence him.

Photo by: FPat via Flickr Creative Commons

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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