Puppy to Junior Dog
Because it is impossible to really train a puppy, I have purposely
entitled this chapter "education." For a puppy is educated rather than
trained. Practically every owner purchases a puppy with the intention
of raising it to a full grown dog that will afford him pleasure later
on. If, however, the youngster is not brought up in the right way, he
will prove a disappointment in many particulars. And so, in order to
avoid trouble, and because a good education may be said to constitute
one half of training, it is advisable to begin systematic education as
early as possible. There are just a few sacrifices required of the
owner and the dog but these the true dog lover will gladly make. The
housebreaking of the puppy will prove the initial test as to whether
the dog owner is to develop into a dog lover. This is a comparatively
simple job, but if it is deemed too onerous or too annoying, then let
me recommend that the puppy be given up immediately. True, it is not
pleasant to clean up every morning. It is not so nice to keep a cloth
or a mop forever at hand to do away with those disagreeable little
souvenirs the puppy leaves in his path while travelling the road to
junior dog, but this is one of the obstacles that must be surmounted.
And while I myself have had puppies absolutely housebroken at the age
of ten weeks, I know that this is unusual unless early bad habits are
quickly overcome in the right manner. There are too, unfortunately,
grown dogs which are not clean, but the fault lies with the owner
rather than with the dog.
As an example of how correction can be made, it may interest puppy
owners to learn of an experience of mine some thirty years ago. I had
what I considered to be a "problem child" . . . not actually a problem
child at all, merely a case rendered difficult through my own lack of
sufficient housebreaking experience. I tried slipping a newspaper under
this youngster whenever he started to misbehave, with the result that
when he felt the urge, he straightway began to search for a floor
covering approximating a newspaper. Thus my daily newspaper, delivered
each morning through a slot in the door, became his favorite depository!
I saw I was on the wrong track so I endeavored to make him use the
balcony. I was unfamiliar with the regular feeding schedule, and
naturally, due to late feeding, I had to let him out often during the
night. The most convenient thing for me was to open the balcony door.
In an amazingly short time, the puppy grew so accustomed to this spot
that even during the day, when I had had him outside for hours, he
became so absolutely "street clean," that he would run to the balcony
immediately upon reaching home. This goes to show how easily a puppy
can be induced to accept routine which develops into a habit. I broke
him, however, of this habit by washing the balcony with a solution of
creolin whose unpleasant odor prompted him to shun the place thereafter.
Observation of a puppy's natural habits will prove of the greatest
assistance in housebreaking. He will of course require relief
immediately upon awakening, and shortly after each meal. Also, the
excitement of playing will cause him frequently to forget his manners.
But if you watch closely you will notice the signs he gives.
Ordinarily, he will run around and around, as if seeking a place. That
is the time to pick him up by the back of the neck and carry him
outdoors. The experience of being held in this manner, and of being
carried outdoors, will enable him to catch on quickly to what is wanted.
The average puppy never soils the place where he sleeps, consequently
when he is a bit older, he can be fastened close to his sleeping
quarters, when he will very shortly learn to restrain himself and seek
a place other than that in his immediate vicinity. It is hardly fair to
feed and water a dog late at night and then expect him to be clean
until late next morning.
And now, just one thing more about doors. If there are several doors to
the room, when it is necessary to carry the puppy out or to open the
door so he may go out by himself, use the same door each time to avoid
confusion in his mind. Don't above all push the puppy's nose in his
filth as a corrective measure. Accomplishing nothing insofar as the
puppy is concerned, this type of "education" generally shows ill temper
on the part of the owner, and as we have previously remarked, ill
temper has no place in conscientious training.
Regularity in the entire regimen will be found of marked assistance in
housebreaking the puppy, that is, institute a definite feeding schedule
and permit nothing to interfere with previously planned meal-times.
Then, take the puppy out at stated intervals, at least every three
hours or so, in order to encourage regular habits.
Take him if possible to spots in the yard that have been visited by
other dogs for this is one of the best methods of explaining to the
little fellow what he is taken out for. He will not be long in
recognizing the chief purpose of that particular place. Females
especially will prefer certain chosen places even in later years,
though males, if not taught otherwise, will develop the bad habit of
stopping at every tree. When handling dogs in training, I have found
this a very difficult habit to break but it is one of the first things
I make it a point to do.
Should it so happen that the puppy forgets himself, don't strike him or
punish him. It will only make him hand-shy and afraid of his owner;
furthermore, it will be hard to regain his confidence. And should
he select dark places—underneath the bed, closets and dim corners—to
hide his misdemeanors, clean them up with a strong solution of
disinfectant to eliminate the unpleasant odor and to make the puppy
shun the same place again.
How long ought we to consider the puppy
a puppy? And for him, at what period does the seriousness of life
begin? Important questions, these, which have definite bearing upon the
puppy's proper handling. For one thing, there comes a time when we must
make it clear to him that there is a difference between being cute and
The foundation of many a bad habit is formed between the age of four
and six months, a time when naughtiness is tolerated, even
soft-heartedly excused as "cute." It does look cute, too, when a tiny
tot tries perhaps to catch a pigeon and appears mischievously concerned
as the pigeon rapidly takes to the air; but such an act may later
blossom into the trick of chasing after chickens, bicycles, automobiles
and other fast moving objects thereby endangering the lives of all who
Another embryo bad habit is started on its way when the puppy sits
beside the dinner table, turning his head this way and that to get the
scent of food and finally barking his indignation at what he considers
too long a wait for a tidbit. To tolerate begging and
unnecessary barking one time as cute, and another time to banish the
youngster peremptorily from the table, is to tempt him to take by
stealing something he cannot get in his accustomed manner.
Too, considerable hilarity is occasioned when the little fellow shakes
a rag, loses his balance and falls over his own feet. Persisted in
without correction, this trick may later find substituted for the old
rag such valuables as silk stockings, carpets, curtains and such, and
no longer is the trick held as cute.
It may also appear quite engaging to watch the young puppy attempt an
attack upon another dog, in a playful way dashing after him despite the
calls of the owner and in total disregard of the dangers of the street.
Now such things as dog righting, and not coming when called can
sometimes be traced to too much liberty in playing with other dogs
without control, as the puppy approaches the age of junior dog. Many
more examples might be cited illustrative of puppy cuteness as the
excuse for the formation of later
bad habits, but the above I believe will suffice to make the point
Until the puppy is six months old, give him as much liberty as
possible. When out of doors, keep him on leash only where
traffic may be dangerous: unleash him where he may play safely with
other dogs, though always within sight of his master. Plenty of fresh
air and play are essential to the puppy, while experience on leash in
traffic is necessary in order that he may become accustomed to crowds
and autos and unexpected noises, this principally to prevent the
development of shyness. Puppyhood is the time to teach the little
fellow that nothing is dangerous so long as he is on leash and in close
proximity to his master. From four to six months of age is the time to
begin primary education. For the first time he hears spoken in a
friendly voice the command HEEL! Let us proceed then with the lesson.
With the puppy leashed and on the left
side, walk at the regular pace, from time to time repeating the word
HEEL slowly. Accompany the command by a little slap on your left leg
and occasionally by stooping down as you pet and say to him, "That's
fine, that's good," etc. Pay no attention if he pulls but walk straight
ahead. He'll have to follow if you do not stop. Should his resistance
prove too strong, or if he attempts to break away, or run in front of
you or too far to the left, it may be advisable to practise the lesson
near a wall. He will then be between you and the wall, and will be
compelled to follow at your left side. If he grows excited, quiet him
down with a soft- spoken, HEEL! After a little while he will find it
best to obey.
Much subsequent correction will be saved if this lesson is
executed correctly in the beginning, and surprising
progress can be noted if it is practised daily for about ten minutes
whenever the dog is taken out. Avoid such varied commands as "Here,"
"Come along," etc. That single word HEEL is the order the little pupil
must always hear; it means to come, to follow at the left side whenever
it is desired. With that word he must be made familiar from the start.
If the dog is able—and many puppies are, especially those of the larger
breeds—to begin right with the entire heeling lesson as described in
the next chapter, no harm will be done, nevertheless he ought not to be
worked over too great a distance. Overwork has a tendency to make the
pupil lethargic, perhaps even shy, whereas a sensible amount of
directed effort will imbue him with a real love of obedience and of
work with no possible fear of it. When the puppy has learned to HEEL
correctly, he can go on to the next exercise, SIT.
After having been brought to your left
side in standing position, the puppy hears the command SIT! Now holding
the leash in the right hand as close to the collar as possible, lift up
on it. At the same time place the left hand on the lower portion of the
dog's back and press him down into a sitting position. In other words,
the right hand lifts the forepart of the dog up for the purpose of
support, while the other hand pushes the hindparts to the floor or
ground, thus bringing him to the proper sit- ting position. Surprised
at this sudden movement on your part, the majority of dogs attempt to
break away. At this point it is of the utmost importance that the owner
or trainer should not change his position.
Repeat the command several times and before long the dog will grasp it
and obey. Of course, we cannot expect the puppy to work as well as the
grown dog: we should be satisfied, for the moment, to have him sit even
though he does it slowly. Practise this lesson daily for about ten
minutes in connection with HEELING. Use it during the day at any
opportunity which presents itself, when feeding, for example, when
going out for a walk, etc. Later when real training begins we shall sec
its advantages. Absolutely essential is a friendly attitude toward the
puppy at all times. Talk to him, play with him, and as you play—and
this is important—have handy a stick or a ball which he should be
encouraged to retrieve. Throw the ball out and in a friendly manner
urge him to pick it up and bring it back to you. Every puppy enjoys
running after a ball, after anything in fact that rolls along the
ground. Don't expect him to retrieve correctly in the truest sense of
the word; but if we start retrieving as play we can accomplish a great
deal toward rendering the more advanced retrieving lesson easier for
the puppy to grasp when the time comes. So often have I found that the
good retriever is more readily trained that sometimes I build my entire
training schedule on this foundation.
The puppy has now learned to HEEL and to SIT.
Furthermore he is interested in retrieving. We will continue with these
lessons until the youngster is eight or nine months of age when real