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Puppy Blog

Welcome to Foxglove Farm, I love to write about our beautiful Cavachons. You may also find puppy training tips, product reviews, and a few good stories.

Filtering by Category: Puppy Training

The Compliant Puppy

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Cavachon Puppy Foxglove Farm

You can read in their faces if you are a student of all things “DOG”, a puppy’s expression and manner will give you much in the way of direction in the path you need to take in your role as pack leader to your new little canine charge.

Of course I’m passionate and raise the Cavachon, not only for their beauty which is much of their draw for me I’ll admit, but what led me to this breed above all other’s is what I call a soft nature or a compliant personality which makes the average dog owners life so very much easier when it comes to raising a loving family companion.  We all lead such busy lives and some breeds of dog while delightful in many ways, are so much more strong willed than many people are willing or able to cope with.

Compliant puppies take a lot less in the way of correction than more strong willed puppies, comparing say a Jack Russel Terrier or perhaps a Beagle, both may be great dogs but will absolutely require a lot in the way of structure and direction on your part to ensure that the energy that they typically would have vented chasing rabbits or assisting in the hunt, doesn’t turn into chewing your new wool rug or favorite pair of sling-backs!

That being said, if you’ve followed this blog very long at all, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of loving but firm ownership and training, it’s easy to spoil compliant puppies (look at that precious face of baby puppy girl above) if you’re not careful, you’ll lean heavily toward the affection and love side of ownership but neglect the structure and firmness that make for a superb companion dog. Love them with all your heart, but remember to love them enough to lead them as well.

The Strong Willed Puppy Grrrr!

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Ruby Cavachon Puppy

Well I must qualify that a bit, I’ve worked with so many breeds over the years, a “strong willed” Cavachon puppy is a far cry less difficult to deal with than say a strong willed Rottweiler puppy!  That being said, in every breed, even a breed as generally laid-back and sweet natured as the Cavachon, there are individual puppies in a litter who are just a bit more precocious, yes, a bit more strong willed, and you as puppy owner and trainer, need to know how to train your particular puppy. For those who would be students of the dog and learn how to live with them more effectively, you need to access where your puppy fits as far as his temperament goes?  If you watch carefully he’ll give you numerous clues to find the path to being the loving but firm owner this puppy needs.

If your corrections are often ignored, you might have a strong willed puppy. (OR you might not be giving proper corrections, given with the right timing, given with the right amount of energy, the right tone of voice etc we’ll discuss all of that in an upcoming article). An easy way to decide where your puppy falls on the line between compliant and strong willed is to look for how he carries his ears and tail, especially when you are disciplining him.

Are his ears held high on his head? Is his tail high in the air and waving? Probably a sign that your little munchin will need a bit more firmness and you’ll need to carefully watch that you are the pack leader, not the follower which he’ll happily prefer. Compare this adorable little Ruby Cavachon puppy with his more soft natured sibling,,, see the ear set?

The soft expression (rather a sweet forlorn I’m trying to be a good puppy” look), our red head above is equally adorable, but looks more ready to chase the cat if you’re not quick to teach him the boundaries he needs to be a truly good dog!  Not to worry, both puppies (especially in THIS breed), with care and wisdom will end up at the same place, but your journey will be a happier one for both of you if you acquire the skills to train your puppy effectively from the very beginning.

Sometimes I forget

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I try to be a good dog, but sometimes I forget…
I try to be a good dog, but sometimes I forget…

I try to be a good dog, but sometimes I forget…

Oh the puppy blues~ some puppies sail through puppy-hood smoothly and put nary a paw wrong all the time they are growing up (I like to think that mine are in that category of course!), others are a bit more strong willed and will keep you on your training toes, regularly asking “who’s in charge here?” and you’ll need to be quick to answer that all the leadership spots have been taken thank you very kindly!

That being said, having a structured start with a fair amount of discipline and guidance even as babies helps loads, but sometimes even the best of puppies will make rather alarming departures from the path you want them on, not to panic!

Often it’s simply a need for more opportunities to vent puppy energy, like all young creatures, puppies need to be able to run and play, it’s amazing how much better a puppy will listen to your commands when he’s had a half hour to let off a bit of steam!  Look at it from the puppy’s viewpoint, life is so much fun and learning to sit can be rather dull, make training fun and try to time your sessions for after your little fellow has worn himself out slightly, he’ll listen ever so much more diligently!

Remember to make doing the right thing fun and rewarding, doing the wrong thing, not so much! Your voice is your most valuable tool, use it wisely, use it with great timing, praise sincerely, reprimand firmly but fairly and hang in there, your puppy baby will be all grown up before you know it!

Tired Puppy = Good Puppy

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Cavachon Puppy

Try to remember with all the structure, puppy gates and crates that are an important part of having a new small furry one who doesn’t have full rights and privileges of the fully house-trained dog, that too much confinement, not balanced with a proportionate amount of exercise will very quickly create a puppy with vast reserves of unused energy that may begin to evidence themselves in ways that are not on my top ten list of puppy good behaviors!

Puppies like children are energy filled and are simply easier to live with if you keep in mind that lots of time in a small crate must be balanced with time to run and stretch little legs, with fun and affection & with yes, discipline and some training thrown in for good measure.

Fun and Games

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Cavachons love the water and swimming

Your new puppy can learn to enjoy just about any family activity given a bit of encouragement and lavishly applied praise. Here’s a photo of one of our Cavachons, Maggie Masters from Georgia  who obviously couldn’t be happier riding on the family boat (love the goggles!). Don’t be afraid to take your puppy along to the kids soccer game, camping at the state park, even in a basket riding on the bike trails. The more your puppy does with the family at an early age, the better well adjusted and social dog she’ll become.
I tell my clients not to wrap their new puppies in cotton wool, by that I mean that little puppies benefit from just about any new experience, again experiences that are pleasant and filled with praise, even a few puppy biscuits can make walking through the dog friendly local Lowe’s an enjoyable & fun time for your new canine companion!

Who is your puppy learning from?

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Remember, your new puppy is like a sponge, she’ll absorb and learn from everyone she associates with, so keep an eye on her four footed role models!

Remember, your new puppy is like a sponge, she’ll absorb and learn from everyone she associates with, so keep an eye on her four footed role models!

Just like with children, puppies quickly pick up behaviors and begin to imitate the older more mature friends they spend time with.  If your neighbor wants their barky Jack Russel Terrier “Bosco” (who loves to run off, ignores their shouted commands, and is more than a little on the disobedient side of things), to spend lots of time having play dates with your little angel, be aware that your baby could quickly begin to display some of the same hard to correct behaviors if she spends too much time with Bosco on a regular basis!

Try to tactfully keep interaction with dogs who are not good role models to as much of a minimum as possible or you’ll have a little Bosco of your own before you know it!  “Bad company corrupts good morals” be they canine or no!  That being said, playtime is important for dogs of all ages, there’s no better way for your puppy to learn how to be a stellar canine companion than to observe the great dogs in your circle of family & friends and have them help her learn the doggie ropes. Rather than wrap your puppy in cotton wool & never allow her to put a paw to the ground when other canines are around, just be a good observer and if you think things are heading in a direction you prefer your puppy not go, don’t be afraid to scoop her up for a bit of a time-out until the rough housing ends or the less than well behaved Fidos head to greener pastures!  Let her practice a bit of patience and either pop her in her crate for a nap or hold her out of harms way until calm reigns.  Never forget, your puppy is always learning, you decide what you want her to learn and more importantly, not learn, no apologies!

Correct Effectively

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Learn to be an observer, when correcting your puppy, less is sometimes more, but on the other hand, too mild of a correction is often worse than none at all.

Ruby Cavapoo Puppy

Gauge your puppy’s reaction, if when you clap your hands, she skitters away and hides under the ottoman, soften your correction. Your goal is two-fold, to quickly stop bad or unwanted behaviors i.e., chewing your new rug, before puppy excitement builds and establish your role as puppy’s leader and loving but firm guide.

If on the other hand, “Phoebe” is tugging wildly on your daughter’s shoelaces, and you clap your hands and she tugs even harder, adding an excited growl to her antics, your correction was too mild for your particular puppy. Some puppies for example, Georgie in the story shared below, take less correction.  Some puppies, like Phoebe, for instance, will need you to up the level of correction so that you change her direction, and she drops her energy level to one of submission and not aggression.

Here’s an example of puppy personality that shows the difference in three puppies and how their personalities will guide your approach in training. I was giving Snowball and Georgie a bath this morning, they are just small and at about 4 pounds each, they enjoy a bath buddy, since no dog really enjoys getting bathed in the first place, might as well have a friend along to share the misery!

Snowball got soap in his eyes and though it’s a safe non-tear formula, he was blinking and looking a bit unhappy, his littermate Georgie sweetly leaned over and began to wash his brother’s face, amazingly sympathetic and nurturing behavior in such a young puppy.

Case in point, Georgie is more of a sensitive and gentle natured puppy, observant and quick to pick up cues, his corrections need to be very mild until he gains confidence, he may always be a puppy who listens quickly and takes only soft training.

On the other hand, Phoebe stood on her hind legs during most of her bath (no bath buddy for this little diva!).  Here’s a puppy with a higher energy level and loads more confidence than Georgie, in addition, she’s about a month older which adds to her enthusiasm and her confidence level as well.  Phoebe will need firmer corrections, more likely picking her up and looking deep into her adorable brown eyes & telling her “No Phoebe!” will help her drop her energy and excitement level.

Your new puppy is like a sponge, able to absorb both the good and the bad your training (or lack thereof!). Most importantly, your puppy must learn that you are a loving & kind, but firm leader, you must balance the geneous amounts of love and affection you naturally want to lavish on your new puppy, with equal amounts of educating her in the basics of canine good manners and obedience. If you don’t invest time in early training, a year from now you might find yourself the unhappy owner of an ill-mannered dog. Puppies are a lot of fun, but you’ll enjoy your dog more if you train properly now. What is cute on a puppy may not be so cute when she’s all grown up – plan for the future. A proper foundation is crucial!

Potty Training

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If you invest some time & energy up front, and give your puppy few opportunities to make mistakes in the house, you’ll have a house-trained puppy in no time!

 

This is baby “Bella” she’ll be our poster child for what to do and more importantly what NOT to do to help your puppy navigate through the perilous potty training waters~!  I’ll try to break everything down into baby steps, have everyone stay on this course & your puppy will soon graduate potty training 101~!

Each time your puppy goes outside, go with her if at all possible, (I know life happens but do your best), being present while your puppy is learning this important skill is important for several reasons, you can’t praise good behavior and reinforce with a yummy treat if you are not there to monitor, you can keep puppy focused on the area of the yard you want her to do her business, and most importantly, you’ll know if it’s safe to consider her “empty” because you saw her go,,, that way you’re less likely to bring her back inside only to see her immediately have an accident on the floor because you didn’t ensure that she had done her business outside.

When puppies first get outside, it’s only natural and good that they have time to run around a bit and vent puppy energy (remember TIRED PUPPIES ARE GOOD PUPPIES), that being said, it’s also easy to let puppy play and zoom around and scoop her up to go back inside and realize that it was indeed all a play time and she forgot to go because she was having too much fun.  

It’s very important to balance interacting with her

and yet not distract her too much from the business at hand.  

 

Keep a sharp eye out for pre-potty behavior, sniffing the ground, circling, and stand still, stop speaking (be a tree!) until she finishes, then enthusiastic praise,,, this is important too,,, don’t leap and shout for joy (though you might be tempted that thank goodness FINALLY she seems to be getting it!), instead, use her name, making the vowel sounds long and full of quiet praise: “Bella, gooooood giiiiiirl, go potty outside,,,, goooood girl!” Then quickly, (remember, have great timing) a bit of treat for a job well done. (You want to reinforce that good behavior with a double reward, your praise & a puppy cookie).  Never forget what an important tool your voice is, use it wisely, softly, keep commands and praise short and not too wordy,,, “OH BELLA!!! GOOOOD GIRLLL! GOOOOD DOG!!!! OH WHAT A GOOD DOG GO POTTY OUTSIDE NOT ON MOMMA’S CARPET” etc, you get the point : )

NOTE:  It's easy to miss when tiny puppies actually "go", they are so low to the ground it's easy for you to think they haven't gone potty when they actually have.  

If you're sure she hasn't gone, (keep an eye on her so you know for sure)  then bring her in and put her back in the crate, wait 15 minutes or so and take her back outside. If she’s too intent on zooming about the yard and not concentrating on business, you might have to try putting her on the lead, Puppies are just little kids, they go outside, get excited and forget why they went outside in the first place. Again, letting that energy be vented with playtime outside is good, but be sure the reason you're out there isn't forgotten in all the fun.

 

When “Bella” potties outside – give a treat, play with a favorite toy, use your voice as a reward "Good puppy Bella!"  make sure that the puppy thinks, “Wow! Going potty outside is loads of fun, I’m going to do this again!”  Here’s where the NuVet is a help, try having a few pieces of a tablet  in your pocket to reward “going” in the right place and not fill puppies tummy with junk food or empty calories.

Use a tether while inside –

Tethering is a great idea, you can slip the end of a lead over the drawer knob of your computer desk, onto your wrist,       (or the older children’s!) Bella can snooze at your feet while you are on the computer, or while the kids are doing homework watching TV, or whatnot, the tether keeps her in a 2 or 3 foot area and she’ll be much less likely to “go” in the wrong sport (or chew up your new gym shoes!). In my house, I like to use the knob on my kitchen door, I have a nice soft rug there and when Bella is tethered, I put a couple of tempting toys (a Kong with a bit of peanut butter is a great puppy pacifier), and puppy learns to wait patiently while I tidy up the kitchen or do a stir-fry. Bella is close to the action which helps her learn to be a responsible canine citizen, she learns to be patient and wait while I’m busy, she even learns to entertain herself and be content even though she’s not my entire focus at the time, the planet will not stop revolving if she doesn’t have my attention every moment, good for all of us to learn~!  One last tip about tethering, keep in mind, puppies can easily get tangled in the lead, don’t leave a tethered puppy without supervision even for a moment.

Take puppy outside often -

Typically I’d say every one to two hours during the day, the exceptions would be worth noting:   

~  Immediately after waking in the morning carry puppy outside to avoid her getting “lost” on the way to the door.

~  After a period of excitement or rambunctious play (not too rambunctious of course), it's easy to be surprised by the sight of your puppy suddenly coming to a screeching halt when in the midst of a game, nose dropping to the ground as she suddenly remembers she has to GO!  If you keep her “empty” before freedom in the house, and are alert for her pre-potty cues that it's time to scoop her quickly up and take her outside, you’ll get her house-trained in the quickest manner possible!

Watch for "pre-potty cues" puppy stops, walks in a circle with her nose to the floor, you have about 10 seconds to scoop her up before an accident happens so be quick!

Teach puppy to let you know when she needs to go outside –

It’s a huge help when your puppy will let you know when she needs to have a potty break, you can facilitate this process by pausing at the door as you carry her outdoors, ask “Bella” let’s go potty! Good girl! Potty outside? good Bella!” Praise is important at this step, at the door, you are giving her clues to what pleases you, how to find the bathroom, it’s very much a mystery to your baby puppy so it’s your job to provide the clues she needs to solve the mystery of how to make mom really happy & get yummy snacks too!  Keep in mind that if you give your puppy one last potty break as you close down the house for the night (this means waking her and taking her outside right before you retire for the night), that is time well spent, usually puppies who have a late evening chance to relieve themselves right before bedtime will typically sleep more soundly and often not wake until around 7 or 8 am, no real need for “walkies” at 3:00 am if you follow this golden rule~!

Paper training –

I’m not a fan of giving puppies a place to go potty inside the house. Some small breed owners swear by them. I think they are confusing to puppy if your ultimate goal is for them to potty outside. It will take longer to house train if you first teach your puppy to potty on paper, then turn around and want her to potty outside. Cavachons are fairly hardy for small dogs, they love the snow & brief potty breaks outside even in winter are fine so don’t let the weather get you off track with your training schedule. That being said, if you absolutely MUST use pads or papers, it’s not the end of the world, these are smart little characters and they indeed can figure out even the ins and outs of pads vs going outdoors to potty!

Invest in a good odor neutralizer -

Mistakes are going to happen so plan for it. If you are observant you’ll notice your puppy will give subtle but clear signals that he’s about to go potty, sniffing the ground, walking in a small circle are indicators that your need to quickly scoop puppy up & tell her “No! Potty Outside!”  If your puppy has an accident (and these won’t be often if you keep your eye on her & she’s only loose when supervised and AFTER having a potty break) WHEN the accident occurs hopefully you catch her “in the act” and again, scoop her up and hurry her outside to the potty place. It’s ok to mildly scold, no shouting, remember this is a baby. Use an odor neutralizer like Nature’s Miracle or Simple Solution – these products neutralize odor instead of covering it up. You don’t want the puppy going back to the same spot on your carpet. (By the way, NO access to carpeted areas for the first week is really a great idea, then only supervised access until puppy is dependable).

Don’t be afraid to be a firm leader, dogs LOVE LEADERSHIP!  The biggest mistake I see is people who don’t discipline their puppies for bad behavior because they think they won’t love them if do.  Just the opposite is true, dogs are most drawn to and love and respect the leaders of their packs, be they canine or human leaders, puppies feel safe when they know someone is in charge!

Be aware it’s not unusual to for puppy to regress for a brief period.

Some time after you think your puppy has got it, that she totally understands the house-training thing & you can allow her more freedom,,, to have an accident when you thought all that was behind you?  Step back a bit in training, you might have given too much freedom too quickly, take away a few privileges and go back to tethering and limited access to all but a small area of the house, your puppy will quickly catch on and the accidents will happily become a thing of the past!

Hang in there, with perseverance and patience, you’ll be through this stage quickly and your puppy will be the canine good citizen you are proud to own!

Crate Training

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Foxglove Farm Cavachons House Training Article

Your puppy should be in the crate or in a small area with a washable surface, puppy pens are great, as the crate can be too confining if you are gone long hours during the day.  A small puppy needs to have time to exercise and play, not just be confined for the entire night and day in his kennel.  Use loads of common sense, young children and young puppies both need to use up their energy to be healthy and happy, while you are at work, sleeping, or anytime you are not able to watch him, keep your puppy in his kennel at night, and in a slightly larger area during the day, either a laundry room with a baby gate, set the open crate on one side, along with toys and water dish, puppy pads or paper a few feet away if you are going to be gone more than 2 hours. The crate is fine again, for overnight, and up to 2 hours at a time during the day.  Remember, too much crate time though is not a good thing!

Dogs are den animals, so being in a crate is natural for them. Puppies will cry and want to be released at first, but be patient; it will get used to being in the crate and come to enjoy it. Make the crate a happy place, not a punishment. Teach your puppy a command when going in the crate, for example, kennel or go to your room; this will make it easier than trying to force or push the dog into the crate later. Also, dogs are pack animals so it’s helpful if you keep the crate in the bedroom where the rest of the “pack” is sleeping. This is a tough one in the beginning because the puppy will cry and you will be tempted to let it out. Tough love, if the puppy is loose in the house then it will have the opportunity to potty anywhere it pleases. Keep the puppy crated at night until it can be trusted in the house. You may have to let the pup outside during the night and during your lunch break during the day. Be prepared to lose some sleep, like I said, it’s like having a new baby.

For those who have asked about the source for this super practical pet pen, it's available FAST from Amazon here: I like the medium version (36" long) with or without the top, or add the wheels to make it portable!  Everyone who visits and sees it in my kitchen wants one, it's attractive and such a great puppy playpen!