How to start your pup off on the right “paw”. Using Chaz’s male pup that he named Zues, I’ll give a few pointers.
So you bought a puppy! Be prepared from a bit of hard work ahead of you, but rest assured most of the hard work will
only be in the first few months and as the time goes by it’ll become easier. Do not give up, just stay at it day in and day out and you’ll create a trusting bond with your pup as well as be a proud dog owner, as I am, when you can get these basics down. They are almost more important than teaching them to sit, stay, fetch etc. A proud owner is not one that has a dog who will sit when he knows a treat is available, but there’s more to be proud of when you have a dog that is well behaved and respectful to you and others.
Only Award good behavior. For example:
- When your new furry friend wants to affectionately get closer to your face and ‘jumps up on you‘, gently put him down on all four paws before petting, not when he’s got his two front paws on you. This will teach him not to jump up. You don’t want your kids or your friend’s kids to get bumped over or scratched in their face when your cute pup is now an adult. This is one reason why we always try to get dew claws removed as every new owner are not going to be the best dog trainer. But now you can’t say that no one told you that you shouldn’t be awarding your dog when he jumps up on you by loving on him at that moment! If you put his 2 front paws on the ground and he ends up in a sitting position then that is even better as you can use it to your advantage by saying the word “sit” while awarding him with praise.
- When you have more than one dog, always feed the alpha dog first, then the others. By you acknowledging the alpha in this way, they won’t feel the need to fight for their dominance as much. This is the pecking order they have chosen and you should pinpoint who that is. Bear in mind that this might change as they grow. There is no such thing in the dog world as fairness. If you have only 1 treat, give it to the alpha and don’t worry about ‘hurting the other one’s feelings”. They will be happier this way.
- Alternatively, a pup that will submit to an alpha is not a bad thing as all packs have a pecking order, but if that submissive behavior is very strong, then don’t feed it by awarding a belly rub when pup submits by laying on his back. Some pups will submit when an alpha is present, but will grow out of it as they mature and start setting their own dominance in the pack. Setting dominance in the pack, might not happen without a few growls at each other or maybe even a dogfight or two as they fight for a higher position. That is a dogs world, so don’t put yourself in the middle of that fight. If you find your pup laying on his back a lot when you or other dogs approach, then you would have to judge by your pups temperament in relation to his behavior with and without an alpha present. Bear in mind that he might see you as an alpha depending on your personality and other factors. The last thing you want to do when he goes to lay on his back is scolding him. Instead encourage him to toughen up by lowering your body to the ground and then helping him to get up onto all four paws or a sitting position again before petting/rewarding. Bring a treat and don’t give it till he puts himself on 4 paws or a sitting position as mentioned earlier.
- More on the Apha. Blue heelers have a tendency to assume alpha position. Texas heelers, being part Blue heeler, you might find your pup trying to be the alpha over you. You must set the Alpha position from the get go. Ausie, the dam on site, definitely was one of those and as a pup, whenever she tried alpha behavior over me, I’d have to wrestle her to the ground by grabbing her collar and pinning her to the ground and holding her until she relaxed. Relaxing, in that sense, is similar to submitting. Sometimes with her head pinned to the ground she’d stand her hind legs up. Id just bump her over so she lays in a submissive position even though she was standing up on the inside. It would take as much as 5 minutes or more but I’ll hold my stance, until she relaxed her body. As soon as she relaxed her body, then I’d reward her by letting go but not allowing her to jump right back up. I’d start rubbing her body slowly telling her what a good a dog she is, then letting go of her collar slowly and keep on rubbing, then just let her lay there by herself for a moment or two. Then she can get up and be all relaxed. I, the alpha, won this dog fight. Over and over I’d have to do this, until she learned to respect my boundaries and now she know whos boss and shes happy with that. Now that there’s other dogs in the pack, she wants to growl at them constantly as its a constant fight to retain Alpha position, but when I’m around, at my stern command (which she might read as a growl coming from me) she will refrain.
- When you leave your new pup in a crate to go off to work, shopping or some important appointment that can’t have a dog present, use an ‘I’m in charge’ tone of voice and firmly say ‘STAY’ then turn around and leave. Your pup might cry and pretend to go crazy and if you start to backtrack and try to tell him in a high pitched sorry tone of voice that its OK, not to worry, then this will just create a separation anxiety in your dog. You don’t want that. What you want is a dog that knows that you are leading and who knows that if you say the stay command, you will always come back. Don’t feed that emotional pull. They will only cry the first couple of times and then learn that they won’t die when they are not touching you every moment.
- First few weeks to a month, I highly recommend and encourage the use of a crate as well as a leash. Intentionally count the hours between bathroom breaks and slowly lengthen the time and he’ll be crate trained before you know it. An 8 week Texas heeler can hold up well for up to 3-4 hours between bathroom breaks. Start counting the hours after you see him do nr 1 and nr 2. This means you will need to get up in the middle of the night until he can hold it long enough. Establishing feeding times plays a direct roll in helping them to avoid an oops in their crate. They don’t have to be crated their whole life, but allowing them to learn what it means is basic training. They pretty much instinctively don’t like a soiled or wet play or eating area, therefore a small crate will be fine for short periods of time as a training tool. You’ll soon find that they will go do their thing pretty soon after you open the crate door and then all the rewards you can muster up can go to them. They will love getting crated for that reason as well as them feeling very safe in smaller spaces. Make sure your crate though is large enough for them to turn around, stand up tall and be able to lay down in a natural position and have enough space for at least a small bowl of water. You can buy a bowl you can attach to your crate door to avoid him tipping it over. You can easily start off with a crate fitted for his adult size by putting a temporary closed box inside the crate with another towel or blanket over it, when he is still small to make the space smaller and remove it later as he grows. A crate, a kennel, dog box, a dog house…all the same thing. something that contains him so he doesn’t have the run of the house.
- Ausie, the dam on site is my personal dog. Without command, she heals on my left, with most of her body behind my leg. As soon as I walk out the door, that’s the position she assumes without command. I trained her so. Off course Sparky, the sire on site, never wanted to heel on the left. The right was his spot even though I tried the left. When leashed, you walk your dog, not your dog walks you.
- Texas heelers appreciates a lot of excersize and as is breed specific they really need a job to do. A tired dog is a happy dog. If their work is to play ball and fetch and bring it back time and again, then let them work hard during the day so they can sleep all night without need to howl at the moon, dig in the yard, dig out from under the fence and go roaming around town and keep you or your neighbors awake all night. Playing or Working a dog helps him release energy and gives them a sense of pleasing his owner.
- You gotta allow your puppy to meet as many strangers as possible. Biting house dogs mostly comes from dogs that has only his immediate household’s scents in their mind. When they become adults, any other scent is foreign and household scents need to be protected. You don’t want your dog to bite your friend who comes by every 3 years, or the possible new in-law that’s making appearances as of late. So while he is a puppy, go out of your way to socialize him. Go show him off to your family. Take him with you to every family gathering, go and visit friends. Go to the pet store, the dog park and visit all the outside-seating restaurants in town. And while you do that point any new owners to us! We’ll reward you for every person you refer who makes a purchase.
- Heelers are called heelers because they will nip the heels of livestock. They are bred this way. Since you are not a livestock, don’t allow you pet to see you as one. Now how do you do that? Remember a dog is not a human so you have to talk dog to them therefore using the same heel that you pup wants to nip at, gently kick back at his snout and saying no. Stop and stand and tell him no again. Its the walking movement a working dog is after, instinctively. So stand still then proceed to walking again watching for the nipping to come and as soon as he wants to nip again you say no and if need be, kick back. I’m not advocating dog kicking in the same sense that I’m not advocating dog biting. What we are after is a dog that respects humans and who learns not to bite or nip at people. Texas heelers though are not near as guilty of nipping at humans as blue heelers so you might not even have to deal much with this but at least you know what to expense when it does happen.
- Pretend your dog is outside playing, then walk out the front door of your house and call your dog using the come command, remembering the specific tone of voice you are using. Then, when your pup comes running to you to you, say the word come and award with praise. Use the same tone of voice from earlier. When he goes to sit on his own say the word sit and award with praise. When he does things on his own that you would want a command for, say the word and award with praise. If he is already doing the right thing award it and connect a word to it. It will be much easier to teach him the meaning of all your commands than to start from a point of not understanding any English at all.
- Oh! so many things I can share….but we’re not licensed dog trainers, just dog owners.