What To Do, What To Do . . .

Posted on 10/14/09 22 Comments

Those words should never be uttered out of anyone’s mouth once we get this monster list of rolling. Don’t be shy there are no wrong answers. What do you do with your puppy?  What skills do you teach your young dog. I don’t mean tricks (although if you have any tricks to add, check and see if it made our list of 100 tricks first and then if not, send it on).

On my puppy 100 are things like shaping the dog into a swimming pool, then a bath tub, it will include necessary things like enjoying nail trimming and grooming.  But there are the skills that make for a great family pet like retrieving to hand or sitting to go out a door. There are five of the 100 that are on my list.  

My list of skills include crazy ones like holding things in your mouth so I can take great Christmas card photos like this vintage ones of my now past dogs.  This was long before photoshop, look at the lit cigarette in Stoni’s mouth.  I used to stage and take all of these photos by myself. You absolutely need coorporative dogs to do that!Christmas Card mid '90s


Beach party, mid '90's.



So keep all of your suggestions coming. What else you got out there? I would love to hear from each of you, lets create a list that will benefit everyone in the stratosphere that owns a dog or is thinking about getting a dog!

Today I am grateful for the wonderful fall weather we have been blessed with so far this week at Greg & Laura’s workshops.


  1. Mary Jo says:
    Friday, October 30, 2009 at 7:04am

    We’ve got two pups with us and I find that they are cranking each other up. I’m spending more time with them alone now that they are in the 10 week old range. When they are together, I find it’s tricky to wait for behaviors in both dogs (sit, quiet, not jumping) but it seems that waiting until each can offer is creating duration in the other. Interesting to me. Not always the same pup who is lagging. I’m enjoying playing tug with them and letting them interact with our older dogs (extremely good teachers in all things dog). Working with them to take treats while facing the same direction as me. Recalls, recalls, recalls.


  2. Jo says:
    Sunday, October 25, 2009 at 5:48pm

    A lot of important things have already been said, but my prio one is to teach the dog to wait for releaseword before going out any door, extremely important if you live anywhere near a big road…


  3. BB says:
    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 8:21am

    I teach all of my dogs “left turn”, “right turn”, “left curve” and “right curve” while driving in the car. This helps them prepare/brace themselves for a change in direction if they are standing in their crate. It also helped when a dog went blind. I was able to be her eyes and even allowed her to run in the yard with confidence. This also transfers over into many dog sports and leisure walks.


  4. Jenn says:
    Tuesday, October 20, 2009 at 3:02pm

    I teach my own dogs to be hugged. They simply go limp when you put your arms under their chest and around their neck and actually enjoy it. I learned the hard way with one of my dogs who was head shy that when I needed to restrain him at the vet it was much more difficult because he was not used to being touched that much. I also found that small children try to give hugs and kisses to my dogs and I don’t want them to react badly. It has also helped with my hand shy foster dogs. It is really bad manners on our part to do it to our dogs but everyone loves to give hugs and kisses so why not make it fun!


  5. Donna says:
    Monday, October 19, 2009 at 11:18am

    One set of skills that I have taught my last two puppies was the set of skills that are required in AKC Rally Obedience (all kinds of heeling, pivots next to me, stays with me moving around them, etc). All skills have been taught with positive reinforcement and shaping. A lot of them really are just ground work for agility. Some are just learning to walk quitely at my side and pay attention to me in any situation. I can talk to my dog and reinforce in class and practice. There is a lot of hind end awareness and practice working with Mom in all situations and with distractions. We learn to work as a team and I think it makes a difference in life and in agility. My young pup has really responded and continues to mature as the distractions increase.


  6. Jen says:
    Friday, October 16, 2009 at 10:03pm

    I decided this time around to teach my dog to stop at the end of the sidewalk, and sit before we cross the street. You sit there and you wait until given the instruction to proceed.
    Go to anywhere you’re allowed into behave in a manner that doesn’t get you kicked out.
    I’d like to say I taught him this, but he came to me knowing how to occupy himself with a toy.
    Check in with me when we’re out walking. He’s always on a leash for now, but I want him to acknowledge there is someone at the other end of the leash.


  7. dawn says:
    Friday, October 16, 2009 at 11:19am

    I have to say i think my rescue, Hunter, has taught me more but two of the lifeskills he has are an automatic ‘suppertime’ which means he goes to mat when people sit at the table and he has to wait to go down or up the stairs before following me or anyone else.


  8. Kim says:
    Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 10:27pm

    What time zone are you in – I’m CST so that would have been 11:49am by the way, your most reply shows as 9:46p but it is actually only 9:27p here). WOW – I was up later than I thought. That would have been it. I am kinda new to this blog stuff – I have my own but have not spent a whole lot of time studying the ins and outs of it. Do you keep a certain number of posts – like after so many, they have to be deleted or something? I know different websites have different rules.


  9. Kim says:
    Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 9:26pm

    I’m not sure what happened to my reply that I left last night – must have been sometime between 10:30 and 11 pm – there were other replies here, dated 10/14/09. If I had known it would not stay here, I would not have spent the time to type it. I cannot remember what it was about other than the skills and tricks mu dogs are capable of and besides like I said – if I had known that it wasn’t going to stay then I would not have taken the time to post – sorry.


    • Susan says:
      Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 9:46pm

      I see a comment from you that was registered at 12:49 AM last night Kim, perhaps that is the one you can’t see or are did you leave another one last night?


  10. Kathryn says:
    Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 7:51pm

    Sleeping until I decide it’s time to wake up. Haven’t yet mastered having them make coffee, but that would be good.


  11. Kathy Kass says:
    Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 7:45pm

    Fetch the remote, definitely makes for good pet behavior—-especially since @ my age I dont always remember where I left it:>


  12. Kim Collins says:
    Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 5:13pm

    ok here is another one…playing with and retrieving the toy I choose in amoungst other toys ( not swapping out for something they think might be better!)


  13. Helen says:
    Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 4:00pm

    Basically, I thought I could be a rescue foster, so now I am a dog mama to a nice big family and I no longer volunteer to foster. No room. But I do help out in other ways.

    A lot of young adult dogs get into rescue due to the fact that their former owners did not teach them household life skills and they are not little pups anymore, but big Dobies with puppy minds. I also have Aussies. I’ve adopted an Aussie as young as 6 months old and a Dobie as old as 10 years. It’s amazing to find older dogs whose owners tell me the dog’s name, and yet the dog does not respond to it. Or I get a dog with no name tag. So I start at square one. RESPOND TO YOUR NAME. That’s from a short distance to a very far distance. I love watching the dog I’ve singled out from the pack zooming towards the door because I’ve called his name.

    RESPECT PACK MEMBERS. That’s a big deal at my house because I have a pack and a small house and I love my peace. There’s a big list of behaviors that could fit under this. Mostly, dogs teach each other about mutual respect, but I get an occasional beast with a hairy eye ball that needs to be taught to tolerate other dogs, and that can take a while. My pack rule is “You don’t have to like every dog in the pack, but you have to tolerate everyone.” Each dog has a sacred space in the house, and that’s where they go when I tell them to go if I see the eye ball. GO TO YOUR SPACE.

    As I think about starting more formal training, one of the first behaviors I want is attention. WATCH ME. I play a game with my pack when they are gathered around me vying for MY food when I’m eating a snack standing up. I will put a piece of food in each hand and hold them both out to my sides. I wait a few seconds and say nothing. The dogs that look in my eye get a share of the food. That brings me to TAKE THE TREAT NICELY. That’s a big deal. And there are times I don’t want the audience, so GO AWAY is another household skill I teach. That’s to go someplace I’m not.

    The number one issue for rescues is WALK ON A LOOSE LEAD. There are more people who ask for help with that than anything. I would love to teach that to a brand new pup.

    Just one little anecdote. I remember one huge, gorgeous black/rust cropped/dock year-old female I picked up in a parking lot where the owners met me to turn her over to rescue. This 6-foot-plus man brought the dog out on a leash. Then showed me this great trick he taught her. The dog jumped up on him and had her front paws all over his chest. Eegads, I’d call that mauling! She had no manners whatsoever and what this barbarian had taught her was beyond my understanding. He told me she was good with little dogs, and I had a home ready for her. I drove her straight there, and she immediately tore after the little dog as if it were a lure and trashed everything in her way. I had her at my house for several months. Valium didn’t even slow her down! No matter how much I took, she still ran fast. Thank goodness she was gorgeous. I had many many apps for her, but finding a person who could train her was the big deal. I just brought this up because some people have very different ideas of life skills. And some people who rescue have to undo a lot of behavior and swap it for civilized-pet behavior.


  14. Kim Collins says:
    Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 2:34pm

    ok this may be redunandt with the advent of crate games but getting into a crate ANYWHERE. The car, the airport, the motorhome. Some of my dogs have no problem with this but some don’t like one or the other.

    Also having their crate lifted ( ie airplane).

    I also like my puppies to go sleep over at someone elses place at least 2 x before they are 6 months. Different people, different house, different dogs etc. The will have to go to a vet at some point to be spayed/neutered and I want them not to be freaked out about different people and a different place. Also had our dogs sent to a different city accidently when flying and they were potentially going to have to be put at a boarding kennel overnight ( thankfully they didn’t but still could have happened!) so I don’t want them to be freaked out if that happens.

    Also like to teach them to take turns for food and toys (especially living with a pack of dogs!).

    Also like to teach the word WAIT which means stop forward motion and look at me, not hold a sit stay:o)

    Will keep thinking and add as I think of them…just running out the door!



  15. Lovisa says:
    Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 1:46pm

    I think an important thing to teach a young dog is to, well, play properly.
    To put its weight backwards when playing with a toy (sorry if it is hard to understand, I am not so good at English) and to tug really hard without me swinging the puppy or the toy around to much.
    To teach the puppy to play tug also with distractions, its important that the pup always chose my play reward over everything else.
    To take and to let go of the toy on command and to be able to concentrate right after the puppy have let the toy go. And to teach the puppy to come right back to you with the toy.

    I have learned this from Fanny Gott´s articles on hers and Thomas Stokke´s website, klickerklok.se, (its a Swedish website).


  16. Carol says:
    Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 12:33pm

    Just one of the things I do is get the dog use to his body being “inspected” (like he is at the vet, etc) by myself and by people he has never met. This comes in handy down the line.


  17. Julie W. says:
    Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 12:32pm

    One thing I teach is to climb stairs calmly. I live in an older house with 3 different flights of stairs and the last thing I want is wild running up and down any of them.

    Another thing I try to do is take my pup lots of different places and one is to the big city. I usually try to take my pups to Chicago where they get to learn how to ride in an elevator and walk down busy streets.


  18. jyasi says:
    Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 9:35am

    “Pee and poop” on cue.
    “Find it.”
    Nose “Target” (to hand, then to targets)
    “Touch it” (paw target).
    Left “paw” versus right “foot”
    twist left versus twirl right
    Three kinds of “down” plus “belly up” (especially good for rescue/formerly ferals)
    “wait” from every position, and from moving
    hang out with the chickens
    hang out with the horses
    hang out with the cats, dogs, screaming kids
    hang out with the Noah’s ark

    The recall issue around high distractions is huge for my Tigerlily. I wish I had worked with her at the squirrel park a lot more when she was teeny. We have no squirrels where we live, and her prey/chase drive is intense!!

    Recently I learned about the behavior science theory of “high contrast” behaviors and am using that to ramp up motivation, and it helps me understand why it’s really not a good idea to give puppies too much unfettered freedom. I probably wouldn’t give my next puppy so much freedom, or even too much fettered freedom, but would roll out the reinforcements more slowly, to match her development over time.


  19. Bonnie says:
    Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 9:08am

    It’s not glorious or exciting, but I teach my four dogs to lie down when we’re out walking and I stop to talk with someone. It makes for a nice chat with a neighbor or friend, and the dogs lie there watching me, wating for a treat. They’re not sniffing, tangling the leashes (my friend calls that Doggie Macromae) or pulling to get to a squirrel. Just lying there quietly until it’s time to go.

    I then use this behavior (lie quietly while strangers come up to me) at Halloween. We have a small front porch and all 4 dogs lie there while the trick or treaters go up and down the street, stopping to get candy from my husband and me. By law I have to have the dogs on leash, but I’m not holding the leashes. They’re just hanging out, watching the parade of children. It beats a ringing door bell and barking. =:O)

    Susan, on another note I want to join the legions in saying a huge THANK YOU for the 2×2 DVD. Just brilliant. We learned that method in class, but my understanding of criteria was not clear until I saw the DVD. I trained my recent agility dog with this method, and now when I walk the course, I don’t worry about entries anymore. I know he’ll find it and I can stay on my line and meet him at the end. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

    Maytown, PA


  20. Lynne says:
    Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 8:26am

    Recall recall recall recall recall recall recall recall to me, I am more fun that a yard full of squirrels deer BEAR or anything else that should pop in for a visit.

    Default place to run and sit when ANYONE drives up the drive and pups are outside. Leica learned to run and sit on the wall next to the front door. Takes all the stress out of UPS and FEDX barreling up the drive after many attemps to slow them down.


  21. Laurie S. Coger, DVM,CVP says:
    Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 7:09am

    One “life skill” I now teach my dogs is how to lie in a relaxed manner on their side on the grooming table. I found with my older dogs that did not know this, grooming became uncomfortable, as old joints don’t like to stand still for long periods of time. People who show breeds such as Standard Poodles and OES have been on to this for years, but it makes sense to me for any dog with coat.

    Once I get my Slap Chop, I’m going to teach my Aussie Prank to use it. I figure he can slap his cares away and help with making dinner at the same time!


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