Tuesday, February 2, 2016

4 Puppy Training Tips by Melinda Curtis

My family got me a puppy for my birthday. My husband named him Duke, because he's so very small (3 pounds) and so very cute that he needs a manly name!

I love baby beasties, but I always seem to forget how exhausting they are, especially puppies. Really. It's like having kids again. I get up at midnight and four a.m. for potty breaks (I've never been good with crate training, and sleep interruption is exhausting, so I have no trouble falling back asleep).

Duke is good for a puppy. He's too small to do any major chewing damage (knock wood that he never develops a fascination with electric cords). He will go on his potty pads and his "indoor grass" (which I highly recommend), but he has a tendency to miss or forget to look for an indoor safe zone if he's playing. And then there's the joy he has tearing up the potty pads...

Up until a week ago, if Duke was awake he was on a 20 minute potty schedule. That's right. I had to take him out every 20 minutes. And that's where puppy training is like toddler potty training. It's not about your schedule. It's about their biology and ability to hold it. The more you make your schedule temporarily fall in line with their natural inclinations, the more success you'll have.

Recently, Duke received the last of his shots and we were cleared to take him outside. Silly me. I forgot to get him used to the leash. He kept backing up or planting his feet and not going anywhere. Since we had to shop for a new washer this weekend, we took him to Lowes and Home Depot (along with paper towels and poop bags). That did the trick. He was eager to take the lead through both stores. He wasn't spooked by the shopping carts and played nice with the other shoppers. We went on a walk today and he only balked once!

Although he's small, I began training him with sit, stay and come very early. I use regular puppy food
kibbles as incentive. One of the best tricks I've learned over the years is to train in the bathroom. If I call Duke and he follows me into the bathroom, he gets a kibble. We're now in an enclosed space with fewer distractions. So far, he's mastered sit and (if he's eager to please and hungry) he'll occasionally stay as I back out of the bathroom. We're working on down.

I hope these brief tips help you train your puppy or other fur baby. Here's Tally training Duke to inspect every box of books. This just arrived last week. Make Me a Match contains three stories about three best friends in Alaska. These guys have played sports together, dreamed together, and failed together. Now they're planning to turn things around by being...matchmakers?

Melinda Curtis is an award-winning, USA Today bestseller. Her latest release is Make Me a Match, a sweet set of three romances from Harlequin Heartwarming. You can order Make Me a Match at all etailers now, but you'll only find print copies on Harlequin.com OR you can find print copies in March in larger Walmart stores.

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  1. Duke sounds delightful. I've been thinking about getting another dog since my Monty died last year, but I'm not sure I'm ready for another puppy. Maybe an older dog. Still thinking about it.

  2. They truly bring joy, so I hope if you decide to adopt that you find a perfect match!

  3. Truly, your puppy is absolutely adorable. Have fun with Duke!