The following is an excerpt from "The Complete Guide to Cockapoo Dogs" by David Anderson. For more information visit the books Amazon Page.
Author Credit: David Anderson
Once your Cockapoo puppy is adjusted to their new home, it’s time to get to work. Puppies require a little discipline so that they can grow up to be awesome adult dogs and not tiny terrors. Your aim is to be consistent, but gentle, while you show your dog how things work around your household. In the end, your Cockapoo pup will know exactly what you expect from them and will feel even more like a member of the family.
Standing By Your Expectations
When starting out, it’s so easy to come up with a list of expectations for your puppy, just to loosen the slack once you find out how much work it is to train your dog. Resist this urge to become complacent at the sight of your puppy’s sweet face. You don’t need to be a drill sergeant with your Cockapoo, but it’s beneficial to have a clear set of rules that don’t have exceptions.
For example, you may decide that you never want your dog to sleep on your bed. It’s understandable that you’d want one place in your home to be clean and dog-free. So, when your puppy tries to jump on the bed, you shoo them off and teach them not to jump up there. But then you might decide that you want your pup to jump up there so you can take cute pictures on your nice bedspread. This change in the rules confuses your dog and makes them think that maybe it’s okay to jump on the bed. Then, they’re utterly confused when you shoo them off again later and get mad when they leave dirty paw prints on your bedding.
Dogs don’t understand conditions like humans do. They can understand hard and fast rules (bed is forbidden), but they don’t understand exceptions to the rules (bed is okay, only when the owner wants to take pictures). Because of this, if you make a rule for your dog, you should stick to it. Dogs do well with routine and consistency.
Crate training is an often-misunderstood practice that can be really beneficial to both you and your dog. Don’t think of it as locking your dog in puppy prison; crates should be used to keep your dog comfortable and safe. When used correctly, a crate, or kennel, is a comfy spot to curl up and relax. It can double as a dog bed, with sturdy walls to make your dog feel protected. It’s meant to be a place for your dog to sleep through the night and hang out for a few hours at a time otherwise.
Where owners go wrong is when they use it too much. Some will use it in place of human supervision and lock their dog up all day while they’re at work or when the dog is misbehaving. This is not an ideal use because it teaches your dog that the crate is a bad place to go, and it could create anxiety in a Cockapoo. If your dog hates going in their crate, it has lost its utility as a safe spot for your dog to go when they get stressed.
It’s normal for a puppy to be a bit wary of the crate at first, so it’s your job to get them accustomed to hanging out inside. Never push them in; instead, give them space to explore on their own. Put a comfortable blanket inside and toss a tasty treat in there for your dog to snag on their own time. Do this a few times until they’re ready to go inside. Next, practice spending longer quantities of time in the crate by putting food and water dishes inside. Your puppy will come to associate food time (good) with spending time in the crate. As your puppy becomes accustomed to hanging out in their crate, try closing the front gate and extend the amount of time you leave them in there. Your goal is to go a whole night without any issues.
Especially with puppies, chewing is a necessary activity for dogs. It keeps them calm and entertained as well as cleans their teeth. Puppies will chew regardless if you want them to or not. So, it’s best to redirect them from chewing on whatever they find lying around to a more suitable chew toy.
Inevitably, you will catch your Cockapoo chewing on something they shouldn’t. When they do this, get their attention. You might clap loudly or say “hey” or “no” in a loud and firm voice. When they’re distracted, give them a chew toy and let them continue with their appropriate chewing.
This kind of training requires you to constantly supervise your puppy. You must be watching them in order to correct their mistakes in the moment, because if you discover one of your items with old tooth marks, the teachable moment has passed. Catch your dog in the act, get their attention, and redirect them to a more appropriate item. And if all else fails, pet stores sell sprays that can be applied to furniture that are supposed to taste terrible to dogs. That kind of deterrent may help you if you turn your back on your dog for a moment.
When choosing a dog chew, make sure it’s something appropriate for their size. If it’s too big, a small Cockapoo won’t be interested in gnawing on it. If the toy is too small, it can become a choking hazard for your dog. Pick a toy that will not break into small pieces easily. You might even consider buying different chews to keep your dog interested in chewing on bones and uninterested in chewing on your belongings.
Along with chewing, you will find that your puppy will try to bite you at one point or another. They don’t do this because they want to hurt you, but because that’s how they play with their puppy siblings. Over time, they’ll learn how hard they can mouth another dog before it’s painful, but as a puppy, they don’t know that their teeth can hurt.
To correct this issue, act like a fellow puppy. If a puppy bites their brother too hard, it will respond with a yelp that signifies that the puppy caused pain. If your dog bites you, let out a high-pitched yelp or “ouch”. They’ll be surprised by this and will stop biting you, if only for a moment. Continue this every time their sharp puppy teeth nibble you, and they’ll finally figure out that their teeth can hurt others.
Vocalizations are a dog’s way of communicating with others. Your dog might bark to warn you that there’s someone at the door because they sense a stranger and they want to protect you. However, it can get very annoying if your dog is constantly yapping at seemingly nothing. If you live in an apartment, it’s important to teach your dog how to be quiet so you don’t drive the rest of your building crazy. However, overriding your dog’s natural instinct to bark at stimuli is easier said than done.
One way to deal with barking is just to eliminate all barking triggers. If your dog barks when your front blinds are open, simply shut the blinds and see if that helps. Your dog may be trying to communicate to you that they see something out there that you should be aware of (though they don’t know that you’re not interested in neighborhood stray cats). A doorbell is another big trigger for dogs because something exciting happens when they hear it. If your dog is a doorbell barker, teach them to lie on their bed or in their kennel when they hear the noise. This might keep them too busy to bark.
Some trainers even suggest that the best way to teach your dog not to bark is to teach them to bark on command. That way, they learn that they must be commanded to bark, and they’ll understand the “no bark” command easier. However, these commands can be tough to teach to a puppy.
Another option is to get your dog’s attention whenever they bark and surprise them into silence. For example, when your dog begins to bark, clap loudly or shake a bottle of pebbles. The sound will be so surprising that they’ll stop barking for a second to figure out what’s going on. When they’re quiet, praise them and give them a treat. This will let them know that you like it when they’re quiet.
Separation anxiety is a very real possibility with a Cockapoo. They’re very family-oriented, companion-minded, sensitive creatures, so they don’t like to be away from their people for very long. When they are apart from you, they can get so upset that they act out. While anxiety in dogs may take the form of crying and whining, it can cause your puppy to turn into a tornado of destruction, ripping apart furniture and going potty on the floor.
There are a few things you can do for your Cockapoo to minimize their separation anxiety. One of the biggest things you can do is be mindful of the way you exit and enter your home. If you say goodbye to your dog every time you leave and make a big show of it, it’s going to get the dog wound up before you leave him alone for several hours. Or if you return from your day at work and get excited and talk in a high-pitched voice, this shows your dog that it’s a big deal for you to return. Over time, this puts them on edge when you leave because they know it’s serious for you not to be home. It’s really fun to see your dog get excited when you come home, but the best thing you can do is act like nothing exciting is happening. Leave in the morning without hugging your dog goodbye, and return in the afternoon in a calm manner. If you pretend like there’s nothing to you leaving and returning, your dog will get the idea that this is normal and there’s nothing to worry about.
Another thing you can do is practice spending time apart from your dog and working up a tolerance for time spent alone. For example, if you usually let your dog ride along with you to the grocery store, leave them at home while you’re gone for a little bit. When you return without incident, they’ll start to understand that there’s nothing to be worried about when you’re away. Over time, prolong your absence until they can go a full workday without causing destruction.
The night can be a difficult time for your new Cockapoo puppy. They’re used to being the center of attention all day, and then you ask them to be quiet for eight hours so you can get some sleep. This can be a little strange and confusing for a puppy that has been on their own schedule for they’re whole life thus far.
You may decide that it’s best for your dog to sleep somewhere near you so they know you haven’t abandoned them. This also allows you to hear when they need to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. However, this arrangement might not be a permanent option, as dogs tend to do things like lick themselves and scratch in the middle of the night, which can disrupt a light sleeper. As your puppy ages, start increasing the space between you and your dog at night.
Sometimes your puppy will not want to settle down when you’re ready for bed, or they’ll wake up and want to play shortly after retiring. To mitigate this issue, make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise before bed. Maybe go to the park or go on a walk in the evening to burn a bunch of energy, and then cuddle with your dog right before bed to calm them down. That way, they aren’t full of pent-up energy, but they aren’t still excited from playtime either.
It’s also important to make sure your puppy goes potty immediately before bedtime. Their tiny bladders can only hold so much, so to increase the amount of time between potty breaks, you’ll have to get them to go before bed. Using the bathroom before bed will help them get into a routine. They’ll understand that going out at night is for their bathroom break, and then they’ll settle down and go to sleep once they’re inside.
A well-behaved adult Cockapoo can be trusted to stay home alone for a few hours, but puppies are another story. Puppies like to get into mischief and go to the bathroom where they please. If you have to leave your puppy home alone, here are a few tips and ideas for minimizing potential disasters.
Make sure your Cockapoo gets as much exercise as possible throughout the day. If you work away from home, take your dog for a quick walk in the morning to wake them up and get them moving. When you leave for the day, leave out fun puzzle toys for your dog to work at. This will keep them busy for a little while so they won’t get bored. Chew toys are also great for entertaining your dog and they don’t require your supervision. If you come home for lunch or have a sitter let your dog out, use this time to throw a ball and get your dog moving again. If your dog is tired, they are less likely to become anxious and may even nap while you’re gone.
If you have issues with your puppy going potty in the house while you’re gone, hiring a dog walker gives your dog the opportunity to go outside to use the bathroom midday. This means that you have fewer accidents to clean up when you get home, and your dog won’t be so worried about being alone all day.
A new puppy takes a lot of work. It’s easy to get frustrated at their behaviors, but they’re still learning to assimilate to your household and your rules. It takes a little time for them to learn how to be a dog and how to be a pet. Be patient and stick to your training. In the end, all of your hard work in puppy raising will pay off when you have a great adult Cockapoo. Also, don’t forget to enjoy your time as a puppy parent. Before you know it, your little puppy will be a grown dog!
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