Potty Training a Black Lab Pup Named Bear

By: David Codr

Published Date: December 1, 2015

Bear (Black Lab Pup)

Bear is a four month old Black Lab puppy who needs some potty training, doesn’t always listen to his guardians and hates his kennel; crying and whining when placed inside.

I made sure to stress how important puppy socialization classes are for Bear’s development. The sooner you can start puppy socialization the better. It is time where the pup learns so much and its time you will never get back. So if you are reading this and have a young pup who isn’t already enrolled in puppy socialization class (or classes), stop reading and find a class now.

It’s pretty normal for puppies to become easily distracted. While that can sometimes be frustrating for a new guardian, that trait can also be helpful when the pup starts chewing undesirable items.

Puppies explore things through their mouth so when they’re chewing on things you don’t want them to, they’re doing it on purpose; they are exploring. Also chewing on things feels good to a pup.

That said, there are many things that we would prefer the puppy does not chew. One of the tips I offered Bear’s guardians was to get a bag of baby carrots and put them in the freezer.

Usually a puppy will lick something before they start actively chewing it. So I suggested that whenever they notice Bear licking something that they did not want him to chew on, they go to the freezer, remove a handful of baby carrots and then offer them to the dog by dropping them on the floor behind it. This causes the pup to have to get up and turn away from whatever it was it was chewing on. Most puppies will simply drop down on the floor and start chewing the baby carrots. When this happens, the dog is no longer looking at the thing that it was chewing before and this often stops the chewing before it actually starts.

I also recommended some suitable chew toys for their puppy. I prefer hard items that the puppy can’t tear pieces off of such as; deer antlers, rigid Nylabones and real bones.

After going over dog toys and some basic obedience, we turned our attention to something that every new puppy guardian wants to accomplish as soon as possible; potty training.

Many of my clients mistakenly tell her dog to “go potty” without first defining what the potty word means. To help them get through the potty training phase as quickly as possible, I went through a number of tips and suggestions that will help Bear learn to eliminate outside.

If Bear’s guardians are diligent about taking him outside every hour or so as well as after the times he is most apt to have an accident along with marking the action with the command word, he should figure it out within the next week to 10 days.

Next we were ready to tackle Bear’s fear of the kennel. Many guardians introduce the kennel in a way that causes a dog to become fearful or have a negative association to it.

One of the most common mistakes is only putting the puppy in the kennel when they are leaving. Over time, this conditions the dog to associate the kennel with the departure of his guardians. To this end I went through an exercise that allows the dog to practice being inside the kennel in a calm manner while receiving a positive reinforcer.

By gradually increasing the amount of time that Bear’s guardians ask him to remain inside the kennel while they are present, it won’t take long before Bear looks at the kennel as his private bedroom; a sanctuary or place to go whenever he needs time to himself or becomes overwhelmed.

Next I went through some basic obedience with Bear and his guardians. I started out by showing them how to use a hand motion and high-value treats to condition the dog to recall on command.

Bear sure is one smart puppy. His response to my hand motions and recall exercise were spot on. By the end of the session he was paying more attention to his guardians, their commands and their corrections. He was even going inside the kennel on his own to hang out and play with his toys.

Bears’ guardians are likely to have a setback or two, this is common when dealing with puppies. However it was clear that this puppy wants to please. Now that his guardians know how to communicate what they want, and don’t want from him, it should be a snap for Bear to figure out the rest.

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This post was written by: David Codr