Helping Your New PON Adjust To Your Home

Crate Training

Biting/Mouthing

Socialization

Grooming


 

Helping Your New PON Adjust To Your Home

1. Set up a schedule and follow it consistently. ALWAYS feed, water, walk, socialize, etc., your dog at the same time. Like the rest of us, dogs feel much more comfortable if they know what to expect. Follow this schedule for at least 4 to 6 months, as it will take the dog some time to feel "at home". Consistency also makes potty training a LOT easier as the PON's system will respond more reliably to a set schedule.

2. Be consistent. Not just with the schedule, but with everything you do with your dog. Decide on the rules the dog will live by and then stick to those rules. Dogs learn much more quickly and behave much better if you are consistent in your actions and expectations. Consistency must start the minute you get the dog home. Everyone in the household needs to agree on the rules for the dog, how those rules will be taught and how they will be enforced. This means that you will need to be prepared for the dog BEFORE he comes home. Be fair to the dog -- don't get him on the spur of the moment. Be ready for him. Dogs don't just walk in the front door and say to themselves "Oh...there's the potty". They need to be trained where to relieve themselves even if they are already housebroken. A new house means new rules and you MUST TEACH HIM the rules.

3. Don't get angry. Anger doesn't teach, especially with a PON. It tends to make the PON confused and stubborn. PON's love to please their owners and you will get the best response by treating your PON with kindness. Deal with disobedience by using quick, matter-of-fact corrections. Don't get your emotions involved. Many problem behaviors are not the result of the dog's attempt "to get even" but rather a result of being bored, lonesome, frightened or having learned to get attention by some undesirable means.

4. Pack leader. A leader is clear, concise, consistent. PONs are extremely intelligent and learn quickly, they need and want to have a pack leader. If you don't assert your right to that position a PON will naturally and gladly move into the leadership role. That means that the sofa is his, the garbage is his, the Thanksgiving turkey is his, and the new pair of shoes you just bought is his. In short, he is in control. Just because he is adorable and makes you laugh doesn't mean you should not correct him the second he does something wrong. Letting a PON do something once in his/her mine means its OK to keep doing it forever because nobody told me not to. Leaders don't come when called. Leaders may bark when and how long they want. Leaders may bite. Think about it..

Often common behavior problems are caused by the dog's assertion of leadership rights over at least some members of the family. If you are not familiar with "pack leadership" as it pertains to the family dog and training, read "Is Herbert There? A Survival Guide for Pet Owners", by Animal Behavior Consultant, Terry Jester.

5. Enroll in Training Classes. Pet Smart offers many kinds of classes from puppy socialization classes, to clicker training and advanced obedience classes and their instructors are experienced in all facets of dog ownership. Training classes help you communicate with your dog. Learning to obey when there are lots of other dogs and people around helps build confidence in both the dog and owner. Owners who work with their dogs find that the mental exercise is just as important as physical exercise for keeping the dog from becoming bored.

It is a proven fact that people who put in the effort to obedience train their dogs and maintain the training have fewer problems with their dogs. An added bonus is the working bond that develops between the dog and the owner when they spend time training together.

6. Praise. Praise is the reward the dog receives for obeying your command. There are some simple rules for giving praise/rewards:

A) Make the reward immediate. Praise delayed = praise denied.
B) Reward the dog only for obedience. He doesn't get any praise without earning it.
C) Praise should be short-term. Only a few seconds of patting is enough.
D) While some trainers discourage the use of food as the primary type of reward, it can be a very useful tool when training most PONs who are usually very food-motivated.

7. Be positive. Tell the dog what you want him to do instead of what you don't want. It is easier for the dog to understand one positive command (like "down") instead of a series of negative commands (don't chase the cat, don't jump off on the sofa, don't bark). Being positive enforces the idea that you are the leader because you give and enforce commands.

A) Giving commands gives definite direction.
B) Obedience earns a reward (praise) for the dog.
C) It puts you in control.

Let him be a dog. Enjoy him, train him, have fun with him. Do not expect him to make decisions. That's your job -- you're the leader. Expect him to act like a dog -- nothing more, but certainly nothing less. Dogs are intelligent, energetic and very adaptable. Given the right training and being respected for the qualities that have made them "man's best friend" for thousands of years, dogs can become very good companions and valued members of the household. Without training, proper care, or an understanding of how dogs think, feel and react, these four-footed creatures can become problems to both owner and neighborhood, and not give the pleasure that good training can create.

Crate Training
by Karen Willson

Dogs in the wild are naturally den animals. They like their own spot to feel secure and protected. A crate, if used properly, makes a great substitution. If you make crate training an enjoyable experience, your dog will adapt to it and even learn to enjoy it! The key is not to abuse its use. I very, very, rarely leave my dogs in their crates for more than 3 hours. Because of this, I've never had any difficulty getting my dogs into their crates. They have learned (on their own!) to head for their crates whenever I tell them I'm leaving. They also go in all by themselves periodically throughout the day for naps or to get away from noisy children or each other.

Crate training is indispensable for these reasons:

  • It keeps the puppy out of trouble when you aren't there with him to keep him safe. Few people have the time or energy to follow a puppy around the house during it's every waking moment. But that's exactly what you would have to do to prevent him from chewing carpet, gnawing on furniture, getting entangled in drapery cords, chewing on electrical cords and the like. Keep him and your house safe by putting him in a crate.
  • It speeds up the housebreaking process. Dogs do not like to soil their "home". You can use this basic instinct to your advantage by using a crate to housebreak your dog.
  • Traveling. If you ever take your dog on an airplane he must be in a crate (unless, of course, he's a puppy who can travel with you up front). When you take him in the car, unless you buckle him in a harness, he should be in a crate. He cannot balance himself when you make abrupt stops and could end up flying into a window and seriously injuring himself. If you ever have to stay overnight in a hotel with your dog, it is usually required to crate him when you are out of the room so he will not destroy it or run away if the maid opens the door to clean.
  • Its much easier to crate your dog when you have a houseful of guests or children. Then you don't have to make sure the dog isn't jumping or licking a guest who doesn't appreciate it or constantly supervising so a child doesn't pull his fur or ears. PONs may also find great delight in herding a group of children around the house which definitely isn't their idea of having a good time.

Start your crate training as soon as you bring your puppy home. They can be purchased at pet stores, some major department stores or through mail order catalogs and usually cost about $30 and up depending on the type you buy. Keep in mind that if you're using the crate on an airplane it must be airline approved. Never use a metal crate in the car. More than one dog has been impaled or horribly entangled in one should you be involved in a severe car accident. Plastic crates are cleaned easily but are not collapsible like metal ones so this may be a consideration. There are also some alternative kinds of crates available which are very nice but can be very expensive. A soft-sided crate is almost like a miniature screen room for your dog; however, it is not a good choice for a PON who doesn't like being crated and tries to escape by pawing or chewing on it.

Buy a crate that's big enough for the dog to move around and lie down in when he is full grown. The top should be 2-4" above his shoulders and 2" from the dog's rump when full grown. Then partition it for use when you bring your puppy home. Leave just enough space for the puppy to be able to lie down. Too much space allows puppy to potty in one area and lie in another. Put the crate in the room the family uses most so he will not feel left out when he's in it. When you move to a different room, bring it with you, particularly at bedtime. If puppy can see you nearby he will settle down to sleep much faster.

Begin to accustom your puppy to it's crate by putting some treats under a towel or blanket while puppy is watching. Allow puppy to go in and get the treat. While he's in there, praise him, "Good puppy". You can also throw a toy in there to retrieve and then praise again, "Good puppy". After you do this awhile, close the crate door when he goes in for a few minutes. If the puppy is quiet while he's in there tell him, "Good puppy" let him out, and give him a treat. If he starts complaining, ignore him until he is quiet and then praise, "Good puppy", let him out, and give him a treat. Never let him out while he's complaining or you'll be reinforcing this unwanted behavior. When it's time to feed puppy, put his dish in the crate so he'll also associate his crate with the pleasure of feeding time. Praise him for eating inside. After he's grown accustomed to eating inside, you can close the door while he's in there. Then let him out and praise him when he's done. Next time leave him in there a bit longer after he's finished, let him out, and praise him. If you make this fun for puppy he will learn he has nothing to fear from being inside. Gradually increase the amount of time puppy stays locked in his crate. Start with 5 minutes. When he's quiet, let him out, praise him and give him a treat. (Don't forget to put an especially good treat inside to get him to go in too!) Then go to 10 minutes or so. Try leaving the room for a minute, return to him for a bit, and then if he's still quiet let him out, praise him, and give him a treat. Keep increasing the time he stays in the crate and the amount of time you're out of the room while he's in the crate. Remember, lots of praise when you let him out and give him a treat. When he stays quietly in his crate for 30 minutes or so while you're out of sight, he's ready for you to take short trips and eventually longer trips away from home to run an errand. Congratulations you're puppy's now crate trained!

Biting/Mouthing

First of all one must realize that normal puppy behavior includes biting and mouthing. Puppies don't have hands so they use their mouths to explore their world. It is through play with their mother and littermates that a puppy learns to control the force of their biting. Here is a typical scenario: A puppy runs up to its mom to play and bites her too hard. Mom then squeals her distress. This catches the puppy by surprise and the puppy usually stops a minute. The puppy decides to bite mom again and this time mom really lets out a cry. She may even bear her teeth and growl at the puppy to get her point across. Then mom turns and runs away, completely ignoring her pup if it should approach her for further play. The puppy eventually learns the message mom is teaching it; if you can't play nice with me I don't want to play with you at all! If the puppy won't take no for an answer and continues to bug mom for play, mom gives an especially nasty growl and using her teeth she grabs the puppy by the scruff of the neck and shakes him. She will continue to shake him until the puppy gives up and relaxes his body while keeping perfectly still. In this way the puppy is telling mom that he agrees that she is boss in dog language. Thus mom is establishing dominance over her pup. Sometimes if a pup is really out of control its mom may knock the puppy over with her paw and pin it to the ground. She may even growl at the puppy or pinch it with her teeth until it squeals but does not hurt him. Just like the first instance, she only lets go of the puppy when he completely relaxes and lies still. Then the puppy is free to run off.

Now lets apply this same principle to teach our puppy not to bite humans.The first time your puppy bites you let out a good loud OUCH! Make it clear to your puppy you are very distressed. Completely ignore your puppy for a few minutes. Turn away from your puppy and don't play with him, talk to him or give him any attention at all. If he insists that you play with him and won't leave you alone, grab him by the scruff of the neck and give him a good shake. At the same time make a low growling noise in a deep voice. Don't be afraid to sound very menacing. If the puppy just won't give up, and/or his behavior starts to escalate every time you attempt to use this correction, pick him up so that he is facing you, look in his eyes and give him a fierce "NO" . When he stops his struggling and looks away he has gotten the message that you are the boss. Tell him "good boy" and put him down to go on his merry way. Please do not overuse this last technique. It will only be necessary if you have a particularly strong-willed pup. Another technique used by many people is to spray your hands with Bitter Apple. Then when the puppy grabs your hands instead of the toy you're holding he learns that hands taste nasty and it will discourage him. A third technique you can try with a puppy that has a softer temperament and gets the hint without escalating, is to tap him on the nose gently when he bites. Only tap him hard enough to get him to let go. When he lets go, tell him "good boy". Whatever technique you use, be consistent with this training! Even though puppies love to play rough, it is never a good idea to wrestle or play tug of war with a puppy. This confuses the puppy as to when he is allowed to use his teeth in play and when he is not.

Socialization

This is an EXTREMELY important part in the development of a PON. This point cannot be stressed too much! From the time your PON comes home, you should be making sure your puppy is exposed to lots of different people and places. So as not to overwhelm your puppy, start out slowly with 15-20 minute socializing sessions. Too much socialization for a young puppy is as overwhelming as too many visitors can be to a baby/toddler. They need their rest and down-time so as not to become too over-stimulated. After your puppy has had all its shots you can gradually take your puppy to new places. Parks, the entrance to grocery stores, pet stores, and schools are all good places where your puppy can meet lots of different people in a short amount of time. Work your way up to 2 to 3 times a week of exploring and continue this at least until your dog is two years old. The longer you continue this practice the better! Ask people to feed your puppy a treat that you provide. This helps your puppy associate good things with meeting strangers. The more experiences your puppy has with different people and at different places the quicker he will warm up to strangers he meets and the more adaptable he will become to new situations. If your city or town has a place that teaches puppy socialization classes, this is a marvelous way to get your puppy off to a good start. Remember, much more often that not a PON is what you make it. If you take the time to socialize your puppy he will become a well adjusted mature adult who is a delight to live with.

Grooming

Because the PON is a long-haired breed with a dense undercoat, it is important to establish a grooming routine from the time your puppy is brought home from the breeder. Using a table, whether it be a professional groomer's table or a waist high table with a non-skid mat, is good for several reasons. It will save you from getting a severe backache, and your dog will learn that being placed on the table means it's time to be groomed not to play. This will also make it much easier for the dog and the professional groomer should you decide to hire someone to do the job. As an alternative, you may lay the dog on his side while you proceed first with one side and then the other. A non-skid mat is important because if the table surface is slick, the dog will slide which can cause him to panic.

Before you begin to groom your dog, gather all the tools you will need to do the job: a good quality metal comb, a poodle comb, a pin brush and/or mason pearson brush and your detangler and /or spray conditioner. On puppies, a small slicker brush can be used over most areas. Be careful to use gentle easy strokes and keep your groom time to a minimum at first. Use the comb to do the puppies face and legs. PONs of any age hate to have their legs and feet handled so it's a good idea to be especially gentle on those areas. Handle your puppies feet regularly so they get used to the touch. This will make it less distressing to the puppy when the hair starts to grow longer and you must spend more time grooming the feet. As the puppy gets older the comb and pin brush will be used predominantly as the slicker brush tends to remove the fine undercoat which is not desireable unless you do not intend to show your PON. Begin by spraying your slicker or pin brush/mason pearson brush with a fine mist of either water or a conditioning product. First go over the coat with the pin brush to remove any loose hair. Brush the coat in the opposite direction of how it grows. Then take your comb and gather small sections, gently combing each section starting from the tips and working toward the base of the hair shaft to remove any matts. If you encounter any tiny fuzzies too small to remove with the comb, you can remove these gently with your slicker. Work across the dog in rows so as not to miss any spots paying special attention to the arm pits, chest and stomach areas.

If you come across any tough to remove matts, you can try spraying the matt with one of the many matt detanglers on the market to help in its removal. Some people use a coupon-cutter or seam ripper to make several slits in the matt starting near the skin to break it up. This helps to remove the matt more easily but can also remove more of the coat so may not be an appropriate method for the groomer of show dogs.

Not all PONs require the same amount of grooming time! Mostly black PONs seem to be the easiest to groom as their undercoat tends to be less dense. Cream/tan PONs are moderately difficult to main. White and chocolates have the most dense undercoats and take much more time to maintain. Of course, clipping your PON down in a "puppy cut" keeps groom time down to a minimum. The condition of the coat also makes a difference in the amount of groom time. While I have not added it to my puppies' diets (discuss this with your vet) the use of products such as "Bioderma", "Lipiderm" or other food supplements containing omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids in your adult dogs food can make a major difference in the coat and skin condition of your dog. This virtually ELIMINATED the itching and paw licking Casper experienced and dramatically decreased the amount of time it takes me to groom her. Remember to use these products as directed - more is not better and can do more harm than good.

There is an article about canine coat and skin which goes into alot of detail about proper bathing techniques with an overview on grooming products to use for a beautiful coat at: http://www.duurstede.ca/articles2.html. It's worth a look.