Dog Manual

Puppy Education

From 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.

Puppy "Training"

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 being destructive.

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 ride.

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 clear.

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 work begins.