Puppy Training 101 – High-Value Treats + Staying Consistent

If you’ve ever had a puppy before, it’s easy to forget how much work it is. Especially once they’re all grown up and so easy to cohabitate with.

As you’ve probably read in recent posts, my fiancé and I brought a new fur baby into our home just a little over a month ago. My fiancé has never had a pet before [aside from a goldfish he won at the fair when he was a kid], and even though Otis is the 7th puppy I’ve had [between my parents and myself], we are basically both starting from scratch.

When Mitch and I made the decision to finally bring another pup into our home, we already knew we wanted a Puggle. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to find a reputable breeder on the west coast, so our search led us inland – the midwest, to be exact. Mitch really wanted a black Puggle, and that narrowed our decision to a breeder out of Iowa. Before we knew it, we had a deposit down on the puppy and his one-way flight was booked to SMF for that Thursday.

My fiancé and I really didn’t discuss how we wanted to train or raise Otis prior to adopting him. Within five days we went from a one-dog household to a two, without much room for conversation. Being the only one in the house who had raised a dog before, I naturally took on a bit of a leadership role with regards to setting rules and guidelines for Otis from day one [we’ve also been undergoing an overhaul with resetting rules for Bella, as well]. As it turns out, Mitch and I are very much on the same page with regards to raising Otis, however, little dude does not feel the same.

 

Since night one, Mitch and I have been crating Otis. He sleeps in it all night, and for short spurts throughout the day while we are at work [we have a system where he’s not in his crate longer than four hours during the day without being let out for at least an hour]. We have tried all of the crating tricks: covering a hot water bottle, playing music, putting things that smell like us in his crate, covering the crate with a dark blanket, letting him sleep with his favorite toys, feeding him in his crate – we’ve tried everything! And literally until a few days ago, the dude would scream, howl and cry from the time we put him in to anywhere from 5 to 45 minutes after. We have been dealing with this for a month, you guys. A month! Yeah, persistent little fella.

My biggest advice to you is stay consistent! Don’t give up! Your pup will catch on and follow the rules you set for him. Find out what motivates your dog, and use that to your advantage. Otis inherited most of his mother’s Beagle traits, and therefore has an extremely strong nose which makes him very food motivated. I bought a variety of high-end, raw freeze-dried treats as rewards for jobs well done. He’s also one of the smartest puppies I’ve ever had. Within a week he’d learned to sit when he wanted something – whether it’s to get on the couch [he’s not big enough to jump yet], waiting for dinner, expecting a treat after a good outside potty – he already knows sitting nicely equals delicious treat!

With a predominantly Beagle brain, Otis needs exercise as well as mental stimulation, which is something that training definitely falls under. He is extremely eager to please and will literally do just about anything for a treat. I am constantly finding new ways to teach him to behave and making a game out of them. My current task is training him to be sitting calmly before he gets let out of his crate. We are about a week into this and he has pretty much nailed it. He still has that puppy excitement when we walk up to the crate, but again, with consistency and constant rewards, he is learning very quickly.

If you’re currently training your dog or pup [old dogs can learn new tricks!], I highly advise you to check out training books, podcasts or Facebook groups. I have learned so much from reading books by and listening to trainers discuss the best practices to train and set guidelines for your pets. It’s also great to be a part of a group that can give you support when you get frustrated and feel like giving up. There are some major trolls out there in the world, but there are way more good people who will encourage you and try to help you when you’re feeling like you’re at a loss. Joining Doberman and raw-feeding groups on Facebook has taught me so much about different training methods and how many different ways there are to go about training your pet.


I’ve linked the brands I use for Bella and Otis’ treats below. I usually break them into smaller pieces – if the quality is high, then you really don’t need much treat to motivate them.

  • Stella & Chewy’s – they make great freeze-dried raw food and treats that my dogs think are super delicious. I buy the beef and duck treats and the beef and salmon meal mixers and just give the meal mixers as treats.
  • Plato – these are high-value treats that are the kind that leave your hands a little greasy after [gross, but it means dogs freakin’ love em!]. I buy the salmon and duck real strips treats.

You’ll notice that I only buy duck, beef and fish formulated treats. I tend to steer clear of any turkey or chicken based treats, regardless of whether or not they are gluten-free and grain-free. I’ve done a lot of research on hot and cold food diets, and I have my own theory that chickens and turkeys ingest a lot of grain, therefore there’s likely going to be gluten and grain in chicken and turkey products. I’ve found that chicken and turkey seem to do more harm than good when it comes to dogs, so that’s why I avoid giving byproducts of those two white meats to my fur babies. Bella’s coat has improved tremendously by cutting these two meats out, and while Otis is still too young to test this theory on, I will continue to give him the same treats I give to Bella.

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