Personally tested on a spunky Golden Retriever puppy, here are a few life changing tips I have found!
#1. Oral care! Um, have you ever actually tried to brush your dog’s teeth? I did all the things to try to desensitize our young pup from day 1 - pull at her lips and give her treats to reward her, touch her teeth, start gently brushing those little puppy teeth with a brush that fits on your finger as well as a soft bristled brush, tasty toothpaste…she always HATED it!
Enter…this ridiculously shaped bright green toy with bristles. So brilliant! I can literally hear her teeth squeaking against the rubber while she chews. Personally, I spread PB (her kryptonite) on the inside of the bristles. Dog toothpaste seems too thin and she licks it off right away. The PB keeps her going, even after any detectable PB is gone (probably the smell?!). She goes at this thing with some force and it has held up really well.
#2. Treats! As I mentioned above, we use treats A LOT. They are the best way to train your dog…the books I read really focused on positive reinforcement. Probably not unlike raising kiddos, dogs do not respond well to punishment. We have a golden retriever, and they are notorious for wearing out their joints. Keeping track of their weight is very important, so not going over board on treats is key. To do this, we use these really small but tasty treats. Dogs honestly respond just as well to a huge dog bone as they do to these delicious little morsels.
#3. Exercise! I notice such a difference in Roubaix’s behavior once she has had some exercise (again, probably just like kids!). I admit, these Michigan winter days don’t always make me want to go on a long walk, so playing with toys in the yard has been huge! She loves tennis balls…like LOVESSSSSS tennis balls, almost too obsessed with them. However, they get lost easily in the snow or leaves that are in our tree-scattered back yard. We just started using a frisbee and it is a game changer! It is easier for her to track in the air and find and she can’t chew on the fuzz (which is not great for their GI tract).
#4. Chewing! For a puppy, she hasn’t been too bad. The worst of it was a corner of carpet that she really was going at for awhile before I realized it. Guess we don’t use that room too much anyways - meh. Puppies start to lose teeth and get their adult teeth starting around 4 months of age. The adult teeth are typically in by 6 months. However, you may think that means the chewing phase is over - don’t be fooled! Those teeth need to settle in the gums and chewing feels really good for that! Our puppy has a resurgence of chewing around 7 months. The AKC recommended this toy that has different flavors (we chose PB, of course!). You can’t smell it, but the dog must be able to because she loves this thing! Once it starts to wear down (after about 1-2 months) we do buy her a new one as it is not meant to be eaten. Since getting this she has not (finger’s crossed and knock on wood) destroyed anything else.
#5. Walking! Last but not least, I have saved my new favorite thing. For as well behaved as Roubaix is, walking was a serious struggle. I love going for walks, but after a few times out on the icy sidewalks with her pulling me, I knew it was time to find another option. I had been using a choke collar, but it didn’t see to phase her and as an ahem, chiropractor, it was making me nervous as to what it was doing to her neck. I actually came across another dog owner with a doodle who said her dog needed to go to an animal chiropractor after a neck injury from that thing! I knew it. Anyways, enter…the Gentle Lead. I laughed when I saw it came with a DVD, but after our first time using it, I knew I needed some help. She hated having this thing on. However, once I figured out how to put it on correctly and use it, walking became a breeze. Because there is a loop around their nose (with the hook for the leash on the side of their snout that faces you), if they pull it pull their nose to the side. It was incredible how responsive to it she was. We have successfully taken several 1-2 mile walks using it. I will say, other dog owners totally think it is an aggression thing and they switch sides of the sidewalk when they see us coming. Harumph!
Hopefully these tips will help you train your puppy or your dog! If you know of any other tips, please let me know. I am always looking for creative ways to train and play with Roubaix!