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Hello Everyone,
I got my baby (2 months old King Charles Cavalier) 4 days ago. This is my first time owning a dog I am anxious about her training. I don't want to mess it all up.
I am reading books, going through internet web sites etc. Here is the situation so far:
1- Potty Training: We started immediately. She cannot go out for a month since her vaccines are not finished. I reorganized the basement bathroom and she is staying there at the moment. Our living room is in the basement as well. I covered the bathroom with pee pads and she does her business at the far corner from her bed so that's good. She understands where she needs to eliminate. Once she pees I take her to the living room and I play with her for half and hour or so. When she shows sings for pee time I take her to the bathroom and have her pee. Then I praise her like crazy. BUT she never goes there herself. I always take her or lead her there. We had 5 or 6 accidents so far and I think that's pretty good right? How can I make her go to the bathroom herself? Also sometimes she refuses to go. I know she needs to, she shows the signs but when we go to the bathroom, she finds a clean spot on pee pads and curl up there. I wait but she is stubborn. We go back to the living room and try again after 15 minutes or so. Am I doing right? Am I forcing her too much?
2- Play: I think she is teething. She bites and wants to chew everything. She has those white artificial bones and she teeths them like crazy sometimes for up to an hour. But sometimes that's not enough and she looks for other sources. When she bites my fingers or toes I tell her "NO!" very sternly. Mostly she stops but sometimes no matter how hard I tell her she insists on biting me. And she makes small "grrr" sounds. How can I stop this? Is this normal if happens not so often?
3- Aggressive playing: Since she doesn't go out, I think energy builds up in her and especially in the afternoons she goes sort of crazy. She runs every where and pulls everything. And she makes those "grrr" sounds. And she shakes things. She knows what to play with. She is not allowed to play with our things, slippers or couch pillows. We say "NO!" and she mostly understands. But she is aggressive with her toys sometimes. Not always though. Is this normal? Should I let her? I don't want to limit her everything she is not a robot after all. I just want to know where to draw the line in order not to get aggressive behaviour when she is an adult which I know is a big problem.
4- She is allowed on the couch. she doesn't want to go on the couch always but when she does I let her. We cuddle when she is sleepy and that's very sweet. But sometimes she tries to dig something up on the couch. I tell her "NO!" and she stops for a minute and starts again. I think this is also because she is bored and she has no way of getting rid of excess energy. How should I deal with this. I mostly distract her and give her something to play. If that doesn't work, I take her down. Am I doing right?
5- Entertainment. She has toys and we play with them. How else can I entertain her? How else can I help her spend her energy?

I know this is a long post but experience is the key with dog training. And I value experienced dog owners opinion more than professional trainers. I don't want a robotic doggy, I want a happy loving and peaceful friend.
Thanks for your valuable opinions in advance.
Cheers, Elcin
 

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You can probably take her outside to potty. Keeping a dog inside with no socialization until vaccines are done is generally not recommended anymore unless you live in an area that is super high risk for parvo. Do you own your own house with a yard? If so, then it's perfectly find to take her outside to potty. You'll have a much easier time potty training long term if you take her outside now.

Puppies don't start teething until around 4 months, so she's not teething, she's just being a bitey puppy. It's what they do. If she bites you, try redirecting her to a toy. If that doesn't work, yelp in a high pitched voice and then get up and walk away and stop playing with her. But it's totally normal and will likely last for at least a few months.

Growling and shaking toys is totally normal behavior. She's not being aggressive, she's playing.

In general, I think you need to stop saying "no!" so much. Dogs don't come pre-programmed to understand what "no" means and it's going to be ineffective long term. Show her with you do want her to do and reward her for chewing on the right things. Pick up things she's not allowed to chew and manage her environment so she doesn't have a chance to make so many mistakes.
 

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Hi Elrohwen, thanks, all you wrote makes sense. I definitely stop saying so much "no".
About potty training outside, the vet does not allow it because in our city there are so many street cats and dogs. After a month we will be able to go outside. I am looking forward to that!
 

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Hello Everyone,
I got my baby (2 months old King Charles Cavalier) 4 days ago. This is my first time owning a dog I am anxious about her training. I don't want to mess it all up.
I am reading books, going through internet web sites etc.
Try not to be too hard on yourself- having a puppy is a stressful experience already, but allowing it to become too stressful takes the joy out of it! Forgive yourself for doing some things wrong- you probably will, and that's OK. You don't have to do everything 100% perfectly to have a stable, lovable, happy adult dog, and Cavaliers are a fairly forgiving breed in this regard. I will say that they do tend to have health problems- if you haven't already, look into the breed-specific health issues and be aware of warning signs. Heart problems are at the top of that list, I think. They are known in some circles as one of the 'danger' breeds that almost definitely will develop some kind of genetic health concern over their life, even from "responsible" breeders and especially from less than responsible ones. Despite their health problems, though, I think they're by far one of the most fun breeds out there. Just little fluffy loves that want to play and learn and love everything, lol.

1- Potty Training: We started immediately. She cannot go out for a month since her vaccines are not finished. I reorganized the basement bathroom and she is staying there at the moment. Our living room is in the basement as well. I covered the bathroom with pee pads and she does her business at the far corner from her bed so that's good. She understands where she needs to eliminate. Once she pees I take her to the living room and I play with her for half and hour or so. When she shows sings for pee time I take her to the bathroom and have her pee. Then I praise her like crazy. BUT she never goes there herself. I always take her or lead her there. We had 5 or 6 accidents so far and I think that's pretty good right? How can I make her go to the bathroom herself? Also sometimes she refuses to go. I know she needs to, she shows the signs but when we go to the bathroom, she finds a clean spot on pee pads and curl up there. I wait but she is stubborn. We go back to the living room and try again after 15 minutes or so. Am I doing right? Am I forcing her too much?
You're doing it right, yes. Bring her to her bathroom area, wait patiently and be as uninteresting as possible. It's going to take some times for her to realize she needs to move there herself but it will "click" eventually. However, I agree with others that it's not a good idea to isolate her until her vaccines are done. Don't let her meet strange dogs you don't know or run around on the ground where other dogs have been, but playdates with friend's known healthy dogs, meeting new people, and going places to see the sights (I usually carry my small puppies around if they're not squirmy and if they are put them in a carrier/bag of some kind and just stuff them with treats so they learn new sights=treats and scary sounds of the city=treats) are important in socialization. Also, she should be OK to go outside to go potty. Some people like to teach dogs to go on peepee pads, I prefer to just go straight to eliminating outside. Like others have said, if you have a yard that other dogs can't get into she can run there as well.


2- Play: I think she is teething. She bites and wants to chew everything. She has those white artificial bones and she teeths them like crazy sometimes for up to an hour. But sometimes that's not enough and she looks for other sources. When she bites my fingers or toes I tell her "NO!" very sternly. Mostly she stops but sometimes no matter how hard I tell her she insists on biting me. And she makes small "grrr" sounds. How can I stop this? Is this normal if happens not so often?
In terms of playing too rough and biting people- yes, that is totally normal. When we bring tiny 8 week old puppies into our homes, we then take the place of the mother dog/litter mates in letting the pup know how hard it is OK to bite (teaching bite inhibition) and whether or not they are allowed to mouth at us. Puppies explore the world through their mouths, and they play with other dogs mostly using their mouths. We have to teach them they can't play with people the same way they do other dogs. Some people will recommend yelping or saying "Ow!" loudly when they bite, I have found that to make them more excited than make them stop. I usually just stop playing/engaging when they bite, wait for them to calm down/ give me that "why'd you stop" look, and then continue. If they're too rough again, repeat. If they're immediately too rough, the game ends. Another thing I do is constantly keep a small toy near me when I'm with the puppy and when they nip, ignore for a second and then redirect nipping to the toy.

3- Aggressive playing: Since she doesn't go out, I think energy builds up in her and especially in the afternoons she goes sort of crazy. She runs every where and pulls everything. And she makes those "grrr" sounds. And she shakes things. She knows what to play with. She is not allowed to play with our things, slippers or couch pillows. We say "NO!" and she mostly understands. But she is aggressive with her toys sometimes. Not always though. Is this normal? Should I let her? I don't want to limit her everything she is not a robot after all. I just want to know where to draw the line in order not to get aggressive behaviour when she is an adult which I know is a big problem.
I think there are 2 things to address here. Firstly, that kind of play is totally normal. It's her essentially treating that toy like a prey item- chasing, shaking/killing, excited vocalization (the growling). Some dogs like to play like this more than others, and some breeds are more likely to play in this way than others. For example, both my Boston Terriers I've had play like this, while my Lab mix would always prefer to either gently "nurse"/chew a toy or play tug with a person or a dog she lives with. Some dogs are also more vocal during play than others. Vocalizations during play may include barking and growling, and these are different than warning barks/growls or alert barking and when you hear her growl in warning you will likely be able to tell the difference. My Lab mix is very growly when she plays, my now passed Boston also tended to growl a lot, my current Boston rarely growls and only barks when very excited. I think if you do have a dog that like to growl a lot, it's worth brushing up on dog body language in order to have some other helpful indicators whether her growling is playful, fearful, aggressive or whatever.

Secondly, it sounds like maybe you have an incorrect understanding of what causes aggressive behavior. It is an old myth that rough play (roughhousing, playing tug-of-war) and playful vocalizations like growling lead to aggressive behavior as an adult. There are, unfortunately, a lot of myths out there about aggressive behavior, especially with the rise of dominance theory from shows like Dog Whisperer. Here is a site explaining different kinds of/causes of aggression:
https://www.animalhumanesociety.org/training/reasons-aggression-dogs
And a highlights real of different kinds:
- Aggression due to medical problem (often ties into pain)
- Genetic predisposition (this has become common in some breeds, like Dalmations)
- Fear-motivated aggression (usually accompanied with significant calming signals, which are a sort of body language that includes looking away and lip licking, and often warning growls prior to a bite)
- Pain-induced aggression (essentially they are ornery because of pain)
- Territorial aggression ("protecting" their space)
- Resource guarding (when a dog guards food, toys, sometimes even people from other dogs or people, a behavior which is tied to insecurity)
- Predatory aggression (going after small animals or cats, includes large dogs whose predatory response is aroused by small dogs)
- 'Frustration' (more often called 'redirected') aggression (what can happen when you use a lot of the physical corrections that dominance theory suggests on an already thinly stretched dog)
- Social Aggression (example: dog doesn't want another dog so close to it and the other dog isn't reading signals asking for space, so the other dog snaps at them)
- Same Sex aggression (example: male dog can't be around other male dogs)

The best way to prevent aggressive tendencies as an adult is to socialize, socialize, socialize. Other dogs, new people, new places, new smells. Find out if there are things that make her uncomfortable and if there are, work with her to change her emotional association with those things (a fancy way of saying this is creating a "conditioned emotional response" through "classical conditioning"). She doesn't like men wearing hats? Every time she sees a man wearing a hat (it is important she does notice the "trigger" first) she gets loaded with treats so she's so busy eating she doesn't have a chance to react negatively. Also, don't fall into the trap that "any socialization is good socialization," she needs to be having positive experiences with other dogs and people for it to be helpful. I would be wary of dog parks after she's had her vaccination as well- a lot of people go to them thinking its the best way for socialization but IME its a risky game to play, especially if you're not familiar with body language and can't see warning signs in play and especially if you have a small dog that may set off predatory responses in other dogs.

remember: at 8 weeks she's pretty much a blank slate and all the positive experiences you can give her will be the breadth of experience she has to look back on as an adult to say "huh, is this new situation/dog/place/person something I should be scared of?"

4- She is allowed on the couch. she doesn't want to go on the couch always but when she does I let her. We cuddle when she is sleepy and that's very sweet. But sometimes she tries to dig something up on the couch. I tell her "NO!" and she stops for a minute and starts again. I think this is also because she is bored and she has no way of getting rid of excess energy. How should I deal with this. I mostly distract her and give her something to play. If that doesn't work, I take her down. Am I doing right?
I let all my dogs on my furniture as well and this is something I've had to deal with with each one. My lab mic actually dug a hole in my old couch when she was a puppy. In her case it was definitely out of boredom and not getting enough exercise. One of the first commands I work on with my dogs is "off"- cued by a vocal "off" accompanied by pointing and snapping at the ground and meaning get off the object you have your front feet one/are standing on or get off the person you're jumping on. They then get a treat when they do what I want. I don't really teach it the same way I teach other commands- I don't ever say "ok, now we're going to work on 'off'" but rather just keep treats on my body when they're young and reward them when they listen to be telling them not to jump on me or to get off my things. In terms of digging, I will usually make them get off the couch and find another toy to play with, just like you're doing. It is a habit that will likely fade eventually if you constantly remove and redirect when she does it.

5- Entertainment. She has toys and we play with them. How else can I entertain her? How else can I help her spend her energy?

I know this is a long post but experience is the key with dog training. And I value experienced dog owners opinion more than professional trainers. I don't want a robotic doggy, I want a happy loving and peaceful friend.
Thanks for your valuable opinions in advance.
I will say this: getting involved with a good, local trainer is one of the best things any new dog owner can do. There are a lot of different methods in dog training, from "dominance methods" relying on outdated pack/alpha theories, to more traditional trainers who may utilize aversive methods and equipment like leash corrections, prongs or ecollars to so called "Natural Dog Trainers" who consider dogs to be nothing more than the embodiment of their owner's emotions to positive reinforcement only trainers who use shaping and capturing methods in training and often utilize clickers.

Part of entering into the world of dog ownership is deciding what methodology you feel is the most humane/useful/effective as well as deciding what you want from your dog in terms of training. Do you just want a happy, adjusted dog? Then maybe just take a beginner obedience class and teach things for safety/convenience, like 'come' or walking nicely on a leash (loose leash walking) and socialization skills. Do you want rock-solid obedience in any and all situations? Then maybe you need to take a few more classes and work at home as well. Dog you want your dog to be able to do tricks? Do you want your dog to get excited to learn new tricks?

I would HIGHLY recommend enrolling her in a "puppy obedience" class ASAP at the very least. These are geared towards socialization as well as basic commands and do great things for shaping a happy adult dog. It is also helpful to work with a trainer as a puppy and then have someone you know of already if at any point in her life you need help from a trainer.

I personally am a proponent of force-free/ positive reinforcement training, and like I said before I do like clickers. Here's a website that explains all the reasons why I like them: http://www.clickertraining.com/whatis
The owner of the site- Karen Pryor- also has a book called 'Don't Shoot the Dog' that I would recommend as well both to learn about dogs and because it's an interesting read in general. In Positive reinforcement training, you use either a clicker (little box that makes a clicking noise when you press a button) or a marker word like "yes!" or "good!"- the click or the marker word let the dog know they've done something right- and then give a treat. When they do something wrong, people will either just wait patiently for them to do something right or, like I do, use a specific word to say "that wasn't what I wanted, try again"- I say "nope!"

It's totally OK to not want to get hugely involved in training, but it can be a lot of fun for some people and it's always great for a dog to be engaged mentally and learn how to think. Also, Cavaliers tend to be fun dogs to train- they're thinkers and they like to learn and engage with their people.

On your last question:
This period where young puppies aren't fully vaccinated yet and can't go for walks is often sort of miserable because it is very, very hard to get them adequately exercised cooped up all day. If you have a yard, bring her out there to run around and play a few times a day. If you don't have a yard, my best advice is to occupy her mind as much as you can and to teach her to play fetch. Most dogs will chase a toy and bring it back, sometimes it just takes working on them giving it to you to have a really fun game of fetch. Occupying her mind can be just as exhausting for her as physically tiring her out. You can work on formal commands (obedience or tricks) as well as just play fun little "shaping games/ free shaping". Here's an article that explains what I mean by that:
http://www.whole-dog-journal.com/issues/9_3/features/Training-Your-Dog-Using-Shaping_15792-1.html
 
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