Please keep in mind that these training techniques are what I use in raising my dogs and have had much success with them, this is why I am making these training tips available to my potential and current puppy parents. You can ask professional trainers and friends for advice but the BEST person to go to for advice first is always your breeder. Your breeder takes much time in raising their dogs and often have dependable, well accredited trainers just a phone call away. I chose to make the commitment in bringing new lives into the world and I want to share the joy of having a well behaved, rare breed dog. The reason many dogs end up in rescues is because of breeders who do not commit to ensuring their puppies go to the right homes and do not care what happens when they leave their homes. 

CRATE TRAINING

What are the pros of crate training your new puppy?

  • Potty training is much easier with a crate trained puppy.
  • Saves you money on household destruction.
  • Your puppy has a 'safe place.'
  • Your puppy/dog is safest in a crate while travelling. 
  • If your puppy is going to be a sport dog, it best be crate trained.
  • Your puppy/dog will be less stressed out in a Vet Clinic or Grooming Salon.

How do you train your new puppy to want to be in its crate?
Your new Cardi Catahoula will pretty much be crate trained before you take him home. I introduce crates very early to puppies to get them used to being inside enclosed spaces. Dogs are naturally den animals so having a space to curl up to have some alone time is good for having a balanced dog. When you get your new puppy home I encourage feeding your puppy in the crate. After feeding your puppy wait about 15 minutes before you let her out and take her straight outside to do business. Reward for doing their business outside for the first couple weeks with a 'good pee pee!'  And a treat. Positive reinforcement is much more effective in training than negative. Keep the crate door open when your puppy is up and about so he can go in whenever he likes to. As soon as your puppy crashes for a nap, put her in the crate and close the door. When nap time is over, carry your puppy outside to do their business and then play time can carry on. Being persistent in the first couple weeks with the crate training makes the potty training so much easier. Your puppy should only be in a crate for short periods of time, as it gets older this time increases to as long as 8 hours while you are away at work. Your puppy should be in the crate at night while you are sleeping, be sure to get up once during the middle of the night for a washroom break. The reason why you want to get up is that your puppy will be sleeping this means it will be calm when you take it out of the crate. If you wait until the puppy wakes up and starts crying the puppy will start to associate that when it cries, it gets let out. You do not want to encourage this otherwise it can cause constant crying when it is in the crate.

What kind of crate should I get my new puppy?
I recommend the wire collapsible crates for your new puppy. Your puppy should be able to stand up, turn around and lay down comfortably in its crate. Instead of buying a new crate every two months, purchase the crate that it would fit in when it is full grown. These crates come with dividers to put in for as your puppy grows. You do not want your puppy to have too much room in its crate because then they will go to the washroom in it.  

POTTY TRAINING 

What kind of pee pads should I get for my new puppy?
NONE!! Many people think that putting pee pads or newspaper down in the house is the way to start potty training. This is a big no no! If the puppy is allowed to pee on the pee pad, why is it not allowed to pee on the rug that feels the exact same as the pee pad? Always encourage washroom breaks outside from day one of receiving your puppy. This is where the crate training helps with this, these two training tips go hand in hand. 

How do I prevent accidents in the house?
Yes, from time to time these accidents are going to happen. This is why it is crucial that you have the time to commit to your new puppy for its first couple of months. Keeping an eye on your puppy while it is running around playing is key to avoiding these accidents. Look for signals for when they are about to use the washroom: spinning in circles and sniffing around. Unfortunately, sometimes puppies will just stop dead in their tracks and start peeing in the middle of play. This is why you want to be monitoring their play time, so you can scoop them up and get them outside as fast as you can when these accidents happen. ALWAYS reward for going outside with a 'good pee pee' and a scratch on the chest or a treat. The more excited you get them for using the washroom outside, the quicker they learn. Catahoulas are very intelligent and take no time to catch onto things as long as its owner is taking the time to train. Your Catahoula should be fully house trained by 16 weeks at the latest.

OFF LEASH TRAINING

When should off leash training start?

Immediately after getting your puppy! Your puppy has just integrated into a new pack, you being the pack leader which means it is naturally going to want to follow you. Many people are worried that their puppy is going to take off when it is off leash, this is often not the case with an 8-12 week old puppy. Also keep in mind that it is much easier to catch a wandering 3 month old puppy than a fast 6 month old! Catahoulas look to the owners for constant direction, when your puppy is young it is not going to want to leave your side because it is learning what it wants from its master. If you have your puppy off leash and it decides to sit an cry, most people react by 'aww, it's okay puppy!' And walk over and pick it up. Tough love! Continue walking and encourage the puppy to follow you by saying 'come on' or 'let's go!' If he knows that you are going to leave if he doesn't start moving, he will get his butt moving!


How do I teach my puppy to come?

Teaching the come command should start early and be done properly. Teaching this command incorrectly at an early age can have a lasting effect which is very hard to re-train. How many times do you want to call your dog if it is about to run across a busy street of traffic? Once. When you first start to teach this that is how many time you want to be calling your puppy's name. Start these training exercises in your yard or house. While your puppy is distracted playing and has no contact with you, call its name once. If your puppy comes bounding to you after one call it should be the greatest thing in the world! When he gets to you be very excited and say 'good come!' Reward with a treat or just plenty of scratches and love. Do not call your puppy more than once otherwise it will start to think that it does not need to come until it feels like coming. DO NOT over do this exercise either. Doing so will start telling your puppy that it is not allowed to explore and play because you are calling it constantly. Remember that you want to be the most exciting and interesting thing to your puppy when it is called so that no matter what it is distracted with, it would rather be with you. After your puppy starts to come by calling its name regularly start to add the command (come or here) and hand signal (hand flat, palm facing puppy on your right or left side.) Impress people with how well behaved your puppy is at such a young age!

TRAINING vs TIME

At what age do I start training my puppy?

It is NEVER to early to start training! Your puppy starts training as early as 3 weeks old. Training starts with Mom and Dad as soon as your puppy becomes mobile and playful. The first 10 weeks of a puppy's life is the most crucial for training, these are when good and bad habits start to form. The difference between a good breeder and a bad breeder is when they will let their puppies go. A puppy that is let go at 5 weeks is going to be worse off and have more issues than a puppy that is let go at 8 weeks. Just because the puppy is eating solid food does not mean it is ready to go! Between 5 and 8 weeks puppies are learning manners and socialization behaviors from their parents.These 3 weeks are when the puppies become the most work and that is why a bad breeder will let them go: Less work + More money = Bad breeder. The longer your breeder is willing to hold on to a puppy, the more they are committed to ensuring you are getting a well behaved, easier to train puppy. 


How much time should I spend on training?

All you need is 15 minutes a day to train your new puppy! 15 minutes! That's it? Yes, when you work a little bit each day on teaching your puppy something new it is much more rewarding and interesting to your puppy. Spending more than that can cause your puppy to be bored very quickly with what you are teaching, they do not have the longest attention spans! Start with your basic commands: Sit, down, stay, shake a paw and come. Be sure to only work on one command a day until they get it before you start asking them to do more than one in a training session. Once your puppy gets older you can start to teach more fun tricks like bow, spin, speak and beg. By 16 weeks you can have a puppy as good as the puppy in the video below. Her name is Cinder, she is my friend's Miniature Australian Shepherd. The best behaved, well trained dogs have the best, committed owners. 

POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT

What is positive reinforcement?

Positive reinforcement is the most effective way to get the results you are looking for with training your new puppy. Positive reinforcement can be given 3 different ways:

1. Verbally:

  • 'YES!'
  • 'GOOD DOG!'
  • 'GOOD (Command)'
2. Physically:
  • Scratch on the chest
  • Pat on the head
  • Play time
3. With a reward:
  • Treats
  • Kibble
  • Toy 
Of course when you combine all 3 you are going to have one happy puppy! Some dogs are more motivated with toys rather than food, which is sometimes more effective for training. Determine if you puppy has more of a toy drive or food and use that as the reward. Many high level trained dogs like K-9 Unit and sport dogs are rewarded with a toy and play time. 

What if my dog is doing something it is not supposed to do?
Rather than punishing your dog you should redirect the bad behavior into a positive. I'll give the example of barking out the window at dogs walking by. When your dog starts barking out the window most people would either yell at the dog to be quiet or remove it from the situation. Instead what you should do is call your dog over and reward them for coming. Now you have your dog's attention, let's do some tricks. Ask her to do a couple tricks and reward that good behavior. Now that your dog is focused on you and getting positive reinforcement it is less likely to go back to the window to continue barking. So when your dog is exhibiting an unwanted behavior, think to yourself how you can redirect it into a positive thing. 

THE DOG WHISPERER

Is Cesar Millan really a Dog Whisperer or is it just TV?

Watching The Dog Whisperer every week on National Geographic changed my life forever. Of course when I start watching the show I thought to myself that the results have to be edited for TV. Shortly after I started watching the show I started having aggression issues with my first Catahoula Bacardi. He was about 3 years old and started getting in fights with breeds like Boxers, Mastiffs and Rottweilers, mainly any tough looking dog that was bigger than him (no serious fights ever occurred.) It was getting difficult to handle and I started walking him less, but watching The Dog Whisperer more often. When I learned that your energy can be transferred to your dog I started to realize that I was the one turning Bacardi aggressive! What would happen at the park would be that I would see a larger dog coming and I would tense up, anticipating a fight and grab him with this energy often sending him into a frenzy to fight that dog. After learning the energy thing I approached these situations a different way. When these dogs would approach I would call Bacardi over and ignore that the dog was coming, and just continue walking and calling Bacardi. The incidents quickly became few and far between! It was amazing how something so simple could change things so drastically. That was my experience personally using Cesar Milan's techniques. 

In November 2012 Cesar Millan was making a stop in Edmonton for his 'Trust Your Instincts Tour.' A friend of mine had told me that he was looking for dogs to participate in the show, so I took a look at the website. One of the types of dogs he was looking for was a 'toy obsessed' dog. Perfect! I have one of those! Breezer is my Catahoula, Blue Heeler and Border Collie mix dog. Having 3 extreme high energy, working breeds in her, she is quite the handful. I submitted an entry to have her in the show and a couple weeks later, I got a call back! It was the most exciting day of my life. While watching the show I always imagined meeting him, but never thought it was possible. When he walked into the audition room he took one look at Breezer intensely staring at her ball and simply said 'perfect!' I knew she had it at that moment and she was indeed chosen for the show. We waited patiently backstage for the show to start and of course I was nervous as heck that I was about to go on stage in front of thousands of people with my idol. It was our turn on stage and we were called out. Started off with a bit of joking and then I told him that I either had to hide Breezer's toys or kennel her for her to stop playing. Cesar then took Breezer's favorite toy, placed it down on the stage and 'tttssst' at her. Breezer backed up to me and laid down, she then looked at him and then turned her head towards me and stared at me. I couldn't stop laughing, I could not believe he could fix her! 

Cesar Millan's energy is amazing and dogs can sense it so quickly. It was an honor to meet him and I practice his ways with my dogs and raising puppies.


Is it easy using Cesar Millan's training techniques?

Cesar Millan's techniques are highly effective but they NEED to be done correctly. It takes watching hours of many of his episodes to be sure that you have the techniques down and understand dog body language. Understanding dog body language is key to preventing bad situations! I am always just a phone call away when it comes to training you Cardi Catahoula.