Help us train our new puggle!
July 2, 2011 1:39 PM   Subscribe

So we just adopted Apple the two-year-old puggle and need some training resources. More after the fold.

So she was found by Animal Control as a stray in Staten Island about three months ago and has been living in the shelter since about then. The place we adopted her is reputable, she's chipped and fixed and has her shots. She's got a bit of kennel cough, but we got some pills and they explained how we give them to her. She's still getting acclimated -- we literally brought her home a few hours ago -- but the documents say she is friendly and has no behavioral issues. She will be living in a crate in a Brooklyn apartment, but she's howls when she's in there so it is apparently new to her. Also, we renamed her.

Anyhow, we need to tart a training regimen. My girlfriend has grown up with dogs but my family did not do pets so I'm pretty new at this. We just finished a week of babysitting a friend's dog and that was great, so I am not Bad With Animals or anything of the sort (he was, however, much more trained than Apple.) I am well aware she will, at some certain point, destroy something and poop on something else and so on.


We borrowed a few of the Cesar Milan DVDs (the training ones, not the show) but what are some other good books or DVDs or whatnot? We are specifically interested in training an adult dog who was clearly not trained as a puppy.
posted by griphus to Pets & Animals (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Oh, and she's 21 lbs and we were told she's a bit underweight for her size.
posted by griphus at 1:43 PM on July 2, 2011

My mom, who has always done a good job training her dogs, likes How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend. The featured review at Amazon does a nice job describing the limitations of the book, but for the basics, it should be helpful.
posted by maxim0512 at 2:02 PM on July 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

There are a lot of resources out there that specifically address the needs of the rescued dog. Having done rescue for 25+ years, my recommendation is always something more positive reinforcement based than Cesar Milan.

One of my favorite books for the new rescue owners is "Second Hand Dog" by Carol Benjamin. You can likely find it at a local bookstore. Good luck with your new furry friend!
posted by labwench at 3:30 PM on July 2, 2011

Most everyone here hates Cesar Milan, so brace yourself for the push back.
posted by raisingsand at 4:05 PM on July 2, 2011

Bearing in mind that dog training practices are just about as controversial as philosophies of parenting, I personally found the aforementioned How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend very helpful. I don't go in for all their techniques, but I like the basic philosophy of treating the dog like a dog, but also like a family member who deserves patience and respect. I also found The Adoptable Dog to be useful, although the training methods are almost exactly like those presented in How To Be Your Dog's Best Friend. Sometimes it's good to have two different people explain the same methods, though. For a book that does a pretty good job of explaining positive reinforcement methods of training, check out The Dog Whisperer: A Compassionate, Nonviolent Approach to Dog Training by Paul Owens (not to be confused with Cesar Milan's "Dog Whisperer" TV show!). I personally found Owens' style to be a titch too cutesy, but the techniques are pretty sound. I found the explanation of clicker training therein to be particularly handy.
posted by crowyhead at 4:36 PM on July 2, 2011

Response by poster: Most everyone here hates Cesar Milan, so brace yourself for the push back.

Oh yeah, how come? I haven't really participated in pet-based AskMes.
posted by griphus at 5:00 PM on July 2, 2011

I would advice spending some of that money on a basic training class to start. This way you will know you are communicating clearly with your dog and THEN will be able to use the books to expand the knowledge.

I resisted classes thinking I could do it myself until I realized I wasn't getting very far, a short amount of time with a trainer watching me fixed most of my bad habits.
posted by trishthedish at 5:12 PM on July 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

Training classes are also great for getting your dog used to being around other people and other dogs, and focusing on you with a lot of distractions. My dog is awesomely well-trained when there aren't distractions around, but out on a walk is a whole new challenge.
posted by crowyhead at 5:27 PM on July 2, 2011

Yes, a training class is an very excellent idea, especially for getting your dog around other dogs.

Puggle is half Beagle, right?

Hounds (like Beagles) tend to be sensitive sorts that are in love with food, which I think makes them a natural for clicker training.

This book, written by Karen Pryor, would tell you about everything you need to know about clicker training your dog. Her original, more general, book goes into the rationale behind clicker training, and I think it is really interesting and entertaining. She also has a website, but the basic stuff you need is in those 2 books.

Anyway, you can get started tomorrow with a couple of clickers, which you can buy for practically nothing at someplace like your local Petsmart or Petco. Because clicker training is based on positive reinforcement, it is almost impossible to do it wrong.

I found that using a clicker in dog training class was helpful. Hounds are distractable.

I've always avoided Cesar Milan because I understand that some of his methods are unnecessarily punitive.

I've had very good luck with clicker training for my houndy-dogs. Your dog looks adorable!
posted by easilyamused at 6:00 PM on July 2, 2011

I wouldn't worry too much about the howling if you've only had the dog home for a few hours. Spend some time getting your Puggle used to thinking of it as a safe place first, I'd suggest not locking them in and making a nice place with lots of special treats they only get there.

I'm not a big fan of Milan as his techniques are a bit old school (in my opinion anyway) based on old animal behaviour ideas that wolf packs have an alpha that runs the roost so dogs need the same thing. Trouble is he was using research on unrelated wolf and dog packs in captivity to get most of his ideas from. The more modern ideas of wolves in the wild is that most packs are based on family units and the "alphas" are in most cases the parents or related to the rest of the pack. So a lot of dog training ideas now a days are based more on being a more parental type figure to the dog. Having said that my brother uses Milans methods with his dogs and they have turned out well behaved too.

Books I found interesting and helpful
posted by wwax at 6:31 PM on July 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Any book by Patricia McConnell. Her blog also has a lot of great information.
posted by ljesse at 10:51 PM on July 2, 2011

A basic obedience class will set you off on the right foot. It forces you to set aside a specific amount of training time once or twice weekly. The bonus to starting something like this as soon as possible is that your instructor will be able to help you with concerns that are occurring with your new pet outside of class as you get to know her and welcome her into your home. Your instructor can also help you find out what training methods work best for her. Other than that, remember that consistency is very important if you expect to have a well-trained dog. Make sure that you and your girlfriend are communicating well with each other about training decisions. Having only one person reinforcing the training can make it difficult for your new pup to learn what is expected. If you do decide on classes, practice outside of class frequently.
posted by citizngkar at 2:59 AM on July 3, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks everyone so far! We're definitely going to obedience school.

I wouldn't worry too much about the howling if you've only had the dog home for a few hours.

Yeah, last night she slept with us because our attempt to lock her in the crate was pretty much Eviction City for us. I'm getting a (spray) bark collar today.
posted by griphus at 6:03 AM on July 3, 2011

I might hold off on the bark collar if I was you - she's terrified and adjusting to a new home and you want to help her feel comfortable, not scare/punish her more. Crate training takes time - you can't just put a dog who's never been crated into a crate and have it work - you have to start slowly and work up to longer periods of time. This is a good overview. Some dogs never adjust to crates at all - my rescue dog did not, but he's fine left out in the house, and he sleeps in the bed. Best of luck with Apple - she looks adorable!
posted by judith at 11:05 AM on July 3, 2011

Most everyone here hates Cesar Milan, so brace yourself for the push back.

Oh yeah, how come? I haven't really participated in pet-based AskMes.

Someone said he bases his training philosophy on outdated pack theory, but I don't know if Cesar even really uses any kind of research at all. I get the feeling he kind of makes it up as he goes along.

In any case, you can do a simple google search of all the people whose dogs they've tried Cesar's techniques on, and made their problems much worse. Or to quote my friend who tried using these techniques on her dog, "that shit doesn't work." Many dog trainers/behaviorists report working with scads dogs that were "messed up" from people using Cesar's approach. You might want to check out Victoria Stillwell instead.

Personally I think Cesar's methods might work for a specific type of dog, and be quite effective, but for the person who is just beginning dog training, they are really hard to do correctly. Most people have terrible timing when it comes to either positive or negative types of training (you have to get the timing down to a science or the dog gets the wrong message.) With negative feedback (which is largely Cesar's style), it is very easy to mistakingly make your dog even more anxious and fearful in a situation where it needs to be calm to learn. Positive-based training is easier to learn, and messing up won't make your dog a nervous, anxious or aggressive wreck. Most dog behaviors can be taught without the use of punishment.
posted by The ____ of Justice at 2:56 AM on July 15, 2011

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