Fisher Friday – House Training Your Puppy

You have a new puppy and he/she is SO cute! You could never picture them destroying anything or doing anything to annoy you, how could they, they are just this cute fluffy ball of fur?

We got lucky, Fisher really is a wonderful puppy and (knock on wood) he has been relatively easy to house train so far. Within the first few days he came home, he would go to our bedroom door (was confused and thought it was the front door) and whimper to tell us he needed to go to the bathroom. We never used the potty pads we got for him!

In one afternoon he learned how to sit on command (I know, I’m bragging, but I’m one proud puppy mama!)! But where he is advanced, he also has some faults. Like all puppies, Fisher is teething and likes to mouth on everything. When we play with him and get him really wound up, he thinks we have pushed the play level up a level and he gets a little more aggressive and bites a little harder (not meaning to on purpose, of course). This became really frustrating and painful to play with him, we couldn’t sit on the floor with him and play for a few days because every time we did he would pounce and try to bite. All trying to play, but ouch! He also is a herding breed, so when Ryan and I take him for walks he likes to walk behind us and cut us off; making us go the direction he wants us to go.

Australian Shepherd dogs are very strong willed and very intelligent. They need to be trained to keep their minds active with commands, otherwise they get bored and that’s when they get destructive. So how have we overcome our play biting/constant mouthing, herding puppy?

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If Fisher starts to get a little too excited when we play and bites us a little too hard, we “YELP!” in a high pitched voice like a puppy would if it were hurt. We then let our hand/leg (whatever he bit) go limp. This shows him we are hurt and are not going to play anymore. When puppies play together and their play gets too intense and one gets hurt they will yelp and walk away, showing the other dog, “ouch, you hurt me and weren’t playing nice, I’m outta here for now!” Repeat this process if your puppy keeps biting. After Fisher does it twice, we get up and ignore him. Don’t talk at all to him.

If he REALLY bites, and he knows when he does, yelping simply isn’t enough. This is when he gets into those moods where you swear he stuffed his face in the sugar jar and just went nuts. Something’s gotten into him and he needs to unwind big time. When this happens he just needs a moment to breath and relax, which can be hard for him to do. So, we grab him and place him on his side (like if he were sleeping) and hold him down with one hand by his shoulders and the other on his bum. The first few times we did this, he HATED it. It took us both to hold him down for him to settle. But once we did it a few times, he knows this is his, “I need to calm down before I get into trouble” position. It doesn’t hurt him and never use excessive force to hold him down. After he has been still for a few moments, slowly release the pressure until you’re no longer touching him and tell him he’s a good boy!

When he herds us when we are walking we hold his leash with less slack so he is forced to walk next to us. If he turns his head sidewise to bite (putting us back where he wants us), we yell, “HEY!” and tell him no. We then do not continue to move forward until he has calmed down a little bit. Stand still and let him know that he isn’t allowed to herd you, children, or cars.

I think the most important thing we have learned from house training Fisher so far is always reward him when he’s doing a good job. Even if it’s just walking over to a spot on the carpet and laying down. Anytime he isn’t biting, chewing on something he isn’t supposed to, or herding us, he needs to know we appreciate his behavior and he’s such a good/pretty/boy!

We love our boy and cannot imagine our lives without him, we can’t even remember what it was like before he came into our lives. He feels like he has always been part of our family. He greets me at the door every night when I come home, buns wagging and eager to give me a puppy kiss! He loves to play fetch and go on long walks with Ryan and I after dinner. He’s our boy! He has taught us patience, loyalty, and love. He may have some frustrating puppy training moments, but we are all learning together.

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