Family, Kids, Mental Health

How to Train a Puppy & Our Animal House!

There is a new dog in the neighborhood so roll-on over and make some room! No seriously, move over cause he isn’t the smallest pup and he loves to snuggle.

We did not decide to get a puppy just because corona was happening, although staying home more than we have in ages, did play a role in the decision making.

In general we try to pair pets in the house for their happiness as well as ours. We would have been fired if we had Noah’s job though because sometimes we adopt an extra (we adopted a 3rd cat last year) and sometimes we don’t adopt another dog for awhile. We have had only 1 dog for the last 7 years!

I call our senior golden retriever sleeping beauty, which is ironic because our female cat is the one named Aurora! Our older dog can’t see or hear well anymore but she still enjoys sleeping and eating.

How Did We Decide on this Pup?

We lost our other dog who was a Shiba Inu about 7 years ago and that was so hard. We probably won’t ever have another dog with that thick of a coat in Pennsylvania again because he had so many skin troubles.

We still miss him because he was such a fun and quirky fella. We were traumatized by this last experience so we spent a lot of time considering the right time and what kind of dog we would want next. We’ve been talking about getting a new dog for over 3 years now!

We did look at hypoallergenic dogs because we have friends and family that have allergies but the competition for them is fierce, they are expensive, and it’s not a guarantee that your loved one won’t still be allergic. At the end of the day it wasn’t like getting one hypoallergenic pup was going to make a big difference in our furry-friend filled house.

So we knew we were looking for a medium (to largish) sized dog, that was loyal and sweet, and would be a good family dog for years to come.

We looked at about a million dogs and different breeds and it always seemed like the wrong time, wrong price, or the wrong dog. When a friend’s beautiful dogs were having puppies we got really excited. Her blue heeler and chocolate lab had a big litter of the cutest puppies!

Massive Puppy Messes

Our pup is energetic and sweet and has adjusted to our routine pretty quickly. I’ve loved how easy he was to potty train other than the poop disasters that happened overnight this week while he was supposed to be sleeping in his puppy crate.

He decided for a few days in a row that he didn’t want to poop outside in the evening. This resulted in him pooping in his crate, stepping in it, and smearing poo all through the crate and making a mess of his dog bed and toys.

The worst day was the day we had to take the cat for a last minute vet visit for a crazy ear infection. We had a hard time getting an appointment at the vet and had to call early in the day to get a same day appointment (if they had one available).

Well they did have an appointment available but then I had to clean out the puppy crate at super speed because that is also our pet carrier!

I cleaned the pet carrier, Billy took Aurora to the vet, we got her ear drops, and I bathed the puppy in a whirlwind of early morning smell-bad activities.

Potty Training

Our new pup came mostly potty trained already because they had used puppy pads on a hardwood floor when he was young. This meant we just had to place puppy pads by our back door and let him out very fast every time he went to his puppy pad.

Since it had been very cold at night he’d wanted in right after peeing and hadn’t wanted to stay outside to poo. Thank goodness Billy figured out how to encouraged our pup to poop outside in the evening so when I wake up he smells as sweet as he looks.

Billy just stands outside with the dog and tells him they aren’t going in until he poops. Dogs are pretty smart in general and our dog is very clever. When we talk to him, use simple words and commands, and have the patience to “out-stubborn” he figures out what we want pretty quickly.

We also make a big fuss about how good he is when he performs an activity the right way.

While explaining this to my kids I compared it to how I get super excited and make a big deal about every time our toddler pees and poops on the potty. Yes we are potty training the dog and our youngest at the same time!

Training to be a Big Dog

So we are working on other training too and trying to get our new guy to stop jumping and nipping before he gets bigger! It’s going pretty well except when he gets really excited. I’ve been giggling because heelers are apparently a herding breed but I feel more like the herding animal lately.

It’s also been making me laugh that I am not sure who I spend more time training lately. Am I training the dog more, or am I spending more time training the kids on how to train the dog? I sort of feel like it’s the second one.

I have trained 3 other dogs from puppies in my life and taught many other dogs tricks along the way. I know I learned a lot of techniques from my dad but my parents also bought me a puppy book when I was a kid. The book was to help me figure out how to understand doggie behaviors and try to replace them with similar activities that are better suited to living inside a house.

Our Puppy Gear:

EXPAWLORER Bow Tie Dog Collar and Leash Set – 3 Pack Plaid Leash Adjustable Bandana and Collar with Bells

The bells are nice for hearing where your pup is in the house but can get annoying too so it’s nice that it’s detachable. Also keep an eye on your pup with the bells as ours would eat the bell if he got a change. Heck he even tries to eat the leash pretty regularly.

Billy also bought a harness which is good in 2 ways. Surprisingly our pup likes it but I think that it’s because he feels like he is getting a hug. With his playful nature it can be quite the struggle to put it on him though. I pretty much had to tackle him this morning to put it on fast enough that he wouldn’t pee before I got him to the yard.

The harness also comes in handy with the kids doing some of his training. I feel more comfortable with the kids using the harness as when he decides to be stubborn and quit walking it won’t slip off like collars can sometimes.

No Pull Dog Harness, Reflective Vest Harness with 2 Leash Attachments and Easy Control Handle for Small Medium Large Dog

The kids aren’t always the best at not yanking on the leash and puppies will make beelines toward things with no concern for the length of the leash. I feel better knowing the harness doesn’t choke him as much as a collar would. I just found this Dog Vest Mesh Tuxedo Harness and I’m pretty sure we need this one too!

Now the harness is great right now but if he ends up being a huge energetic dog we will reevaluate his walking gear. At some point he might be able to pull the kids on a sled with that harness and none of us relishes the idea of being walked by the dog, although it really might be fun for sledding. For now the harness works great! The harness we have is similar to the 1st one above and has a leash attachment on the back and the front. Having the leash be able to hook on the front or back of his harness works well for when I put on his little coat.

ThinkPet Heat-Reflecting Waterproof Jacket, Warm Winter Dog Coat

Both the heeler breed and labs have a double coat but when they are puppies they start with a single coat and develop the double coat later. You may want to get a warmer coat for you too since you are also spending time out in the cold! Our pup tends to get chilly especially when we spend extra time outside trying to teach him that’s the place to go potty. We started with the pad by the back door and when he went to it we took him out instead.

We bought these Blue Buffalo Chicken Bits Dog Treats to reward him when he does a good job.

We have dog dishes similar to these right now but I am not happy with them because the dog tips them over so easily.

I’d like to get something like this Raised Pet Bowl Stand Feeder to help with that. I am hoping that this would keep him from tipping the bowls but the cats can still use it if he figures out how to tip this too.

I am also considering getting him a bowl like this Fun Feeder Slo Bowl more for entertainment value then for pacing his eating.

Both the heeler and lab breeds are smart and energetic and if I don’t keep him busy he will keep himself busy on whatever he chooses. Since I like my furniture intact we take him along on errands and visits and try to find entertaining toys and activities.

We have a kong we put peanut butter in. Sometimes we freeze it to make getting the peanut butter out more of a challenge.

Right now he is super into tearing things apart and to keep him away from my rug tassels we have several rope toys. They are also nice because he plays tug of war with the kids which I think they enjoy just as much as he does.

We really like Tuffy toys because they are made to withstand dog abuse. Some of our old toys outlasted our older dogs desire to chew and now they have been passed along to our puppy.

We bought a Squeaky Bone like this because the squeaking gets him interested and it helps to clean his teeth.

We are trying to brush this dogs teeth more because our older dog didn’t keep chewing out of the puppy stage and now her teeth are really bad. We were looking to help our new puppy’s teeth stay healthy for as long as possible.

We bought this TropiClean Brushing Kit and our pup did pretty well for his 1st time. We were hoping if we trained this guy with brushing while he was young that his teeth would stay healthy a long time. I also wanted to train him to get a bath while he was young.

He did awesome for his 1st bath which is great because he was covered in dog poo and the bath process could have been a nightmare! We got used to using oatmeal shampoos for the skin soothing properties from our dog with sensitive skin. They work well and believe it or not our dogs seem to really enjoy getting their baths.

Something none of us enjoys is clipping nails. We don’t like it, the dogs don’t like it, and we are looking for options. Right now we have dog nail clippers like this and it works ok but we are looking for better options. One that doesn’t involve the sound of the clip because it makes our dogs nervous.

We are considering purchasing a Dog Nail Grinder to see if everyone likes that better. Any words of wisdom on this would be appreciated!

We are also looking for toys that will last awhile and keep our pup entertained. Please let me know if you have an opinion on any of the toys listed below!

SNiFFiz SmellyUFO Durable Interactive Treat Dispensing Puzzle 

Wisedom Interactive Dog Toy IQ Treat Ball Food Dispensing Puzzle Toy

Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound – Interactive Puzzle Game

HAYOO Smart Dog Treat Puzzle 

Bojafa Best Dog Teething Toys Balls Durable Dog IQ Puzzle

The other thing I’m considering is this kyeese Dog Jacket with pockets but I’m not sure what I would put in the pockets besides some poop bags. I probably won’t get it but it’s so cute that I’m having a hard time not buying, but the winter season is almost over and he already has a jacket. Decisions!

I do need some poop bags for when we take him to the park but this clip on poop bag dispenser can be used in several seasons and seems more practical at the moment.

Especially since our pup is still growing and will likely outgrow all the jackets I buy him this year.

I also want to get a training book for my kids to read. Unfortunately there wasn’t many books specifically about Labraheelers. There was a few but they weren’t about training, just encouraging different activities for you to make memories with your dog and none of those books were available until March last I looked.

So I decided to get the kids a puppy training book that focused on heelers because honestly labs are generally more cooperative and the heeler breed is clever, stubborn, and has a tendency to nip because of their herding instinct.

Because of all this I figured it would be best to concentrate on a training book for the more challenging behaviors. I want my kids to participate in the training and it would help if they can study up on some techniques that work well for this breed.

Puppy Training for Kids looks specific to the blue heeler breed, describes their temperament, and teaches kids some helpful training strategies. I am also looking at another book because I have 2 kids who like to read new books ASAP.

I figured Dog Training for Kids, a generic puppy training book for kids, would help my kids to understand the basics and give them some ideas about how our new dog might be the same or different from other dogs.

Last but not least I need a dog lead. When he isn’t in a dog run or being walked on the regular leash I’d like for him to be able to hang out with the kids in the yard (without him running off).

The kids enjoy walking him on the leash but only for 10 minutes or so. I hope that having the tie out will work so he can play with the kids and they can be hands free until we get more of the yard fenced in.

Wrap Up

Our labraheeler trains very quickly but he is definitely rough around the edges. He is just like the rest of the kids and struggles to control himself and he is ruled by impulsive behavior. When he is playing he nips just as much as our golden retriever licked when we got her.

The nipping is typical of herding breeds, and puppies especially, so we knew it was going to be a challenge to break him of this habit. Heelers in particular are a stubborn breed so we say no about a gazillion times a day.

The biggest challenge I’ve seen in the kids correcting his behavior is that they are slow to correct in the moment and I’m not sure he understands which behavior they have issue with. So now we are telling them to say “No, _____” so that he knows what they are trying to get him to stop doing. We keep telling them to talk to him and to use simple commands.

While he is tough to control when he is excited he calms down pretty well. We have our super energetic 8 year old take him out for a few runs a day, and now we are encouraging our 11 year old to run with him at least a few times a week if not more. Us adults walk with him and play fetch since we don’t run often.

Billy and I like to be out there together when we want to throw the ball far because he doesn’t always come when we call. We leave his leash attached to his harness and will let go when we throw the ball. Billy and I get in a little more running these days when he decides to detour instead of fetch but since he likes to eat random stuff off the ground he usually stops short and doesn’t make us chase him too far. God help us the 1st time he chases a cat or rabbit!

I’m really happy to have added a new pup to our family (at least 99.9% of the time). He is sweet, smart, and fun. We love having him here and I know he will be a great companion and supporting friend for my family as we all face the challenges that life throws at us.

Thanks for reading with me today! I hope that this post was helpful, entertaining, brought back some memories, or warmed your heart. I know that when I was in my adolescent years my dog was my very best friend and saw me through breakups, and fights with parents and friends.

I wanted that kind of support for my kids because sometimes you just can’t reach them and be there for them through their struggles. Plus my son needed something active to do and loves to snuggle his new puppy at the end of the day. Our dog gives my daughter a reason to run and he gives me another reason to get out and enjoy the sunshine.

Do you have a favorite doggie memory? What dog breeds have been a good fit for your household? Do you prefer to rescue adult dogs or raise your family pet from puppies?

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