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Error-Free Puppy Raising™ Tips

by Rolan Tripp, DVM and Susan Tripp, MS

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Getting Started Week 27 - Getting to Know You...

If you want to prevent your puppy from being a problem barker every time the mail carrier arrives, you can begin a new exercise that is intended to create a new association with the mail carrier.  You will need to be home and able to anticipate these visits.

1.  Say to your puppy, "Here comes the mail!" in a happy voice and get a very tasty treat. Crouch down next to your puppy and watch the mail carrier approach.  Be happy and relaxed. When the mail carrier reaches your mailbox say, "Yeah!"  If your puppy barks, say, "Bark - Good!" as if this is a big game. Then, put the treat on your puppy's nose and say, "Okay, your puppy. Now, "Sit - Good, Quiet - Good! and release the treat for a quiet sit.

2.  Then begin to experiment with getting your puppy to sit and wait quietly for the treat as the mail carrier approaches.  Repeat, "Sit - Good, Quiet - Good" and keep the treat on your puppy's nose and if necessary put your thumb inside the collar to keep your puppy in a "sit"  As soon as the mail carrier reaches the mailbox and before your puppy barks, release the treat and praise a quiet, sit, and then repeat.

3.  When you think your puppy can handle it, work on the Sit-Quiet until the carrier is leaving, then offer the treat and lots of praise and lovin'. 

4.  The last step - when you know your puppy is more interested in the treat than "the job" of scaring off the mail carrier with the barking routine - is to have your puppy on leash and hold it securely for the "Sit-Quiet-Stay", praising. Open the door only if your puppy seems focused only on the treat.  Ask the mail carrier if they would mind offering a treat for a quiet sit. 

5.  Make sure you go out in front of your puppy to stand next to the mail carrier as he/she crouches down (not bending over) and extends a hand with the treat in it. Tell your puppy, "Say Hi" in a relaxed tone to give permission to take the treat from the mail carrier.  If your puppy shows any tension in muscle tone, you are doing this exercise too soon. 

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