Training – Enrichment – Management


New Dog Equipment Checklist

  • Crate with a divider
  • Five or Six foot nylon or leather leash – not a retractable leash
  • Flat collar or harness
  • Kong® and other food-dispensing toys
  • Fetch and tug toys
  • Long line for outdoors (regardless of yard fencing)
  • Chews, such as bully sticks,,antlers, and hooves


Landing in any new environment is stressful for dogs.  Early training makes an enormous difference in behavior – both short-term and in the long-run. You are immediately communicating to your dog that you are setting an order to his world.  This makes a critical impact and helps reduce stress as your new family member settles into your home.  Eight-week-old puppies are, indeed, capable of learning basic obedience cues.  Don’t wait to teach your new arrival to respond  to:  “watch”, “sit”, “wait”, and “come” – in all contexts.  Reprimands are replaced with learned cue responses.

Owners can install emotional self-control in their dogs by using learned obedience cues.  Training in several cues teaches patience and frustration tolerance, and reduces impulsivity (commonly referred to as “hyper”).  Many dogs become aroused very quickly, and they (unlike humans) do not simply outgrow these behaviors with maturity.  Asking your dog to “watch/sit/wait/come” before gaining access to what he wants requires him to THINK.  Mindfulness reduces impulsivity.  Over-the-top jumpy, nutty behaviors may be cute in puppies.  Make no excuses.  These behaviors aren’t cute or charming in adult dogs.  Start training as soon as you bring your new dog home.


Puppies and young dogs are either resting or looking for something to do.  Left to their devices, they will get busy.  You may not like their choices of activities and chew objects.  Set up for appropriate preferences and behaviors.

Providing environmental enrichment and mental stimulation activities need not be onerous for owners.  Replacing your dog’s food bowl with food-dispensing toys is only one simple solution.  Incorporate learned obedience cues into everyday play, such as fetch and tug games.  Teach your dog to “drop it” as part of a fetch game.  This technique is preferable to relinquishing a stolen sock.  Playthings can be separated into:  toys and chews.  Toys are tennis balls, squeak balls, and tuggies that you and your dog play with together.  After the game, put these toys up and away for another play session.  Chews are bully sticks, hooves, sterilized bones, and antlers that you give your dog for independent engagement.

Short and frequent playtimes (approx. 10 minutes) work best.  It’s doable for most of us to carve out that time in our busy day, AND the game ends before your dog loses interest.

Socialization, which includes unfamiliar people and dogs, noises, new places and situations, is a critical component of raising a puppy.  Remedial socialization is often necessary with adult dogs.  Proper socialization is deliberate and systematic. It involves set-ups, with positive outcomes for the dog. Appropriate actions on the part of the owner along with these positive outcomes can – over time – change the dog’s conditioned emotional responses. The result is a calm and manageable dog with many opportunities for enrichment and mental stimulation

Please note that on-leash greetings DO NOT qualify as socialization. These interactions are helpful for behavioral assessment purposes only. The natural greeting ritual is thwarted by the leash. Over-zealous dogs can become frustrated and tentative dogs can become frightened. Don’t set your dog up to be a “scanner”.  (Refer to Blog article:  “On Leash Interactions”.)


Dogs without boundaries, structure, and routine are likely to make many choices that are not human-approved.  They are guessing what will “work” for them in obtaining what they want and need.  Dogs just want to have fun!  If the result of any behavior is gratifying for your dog, it will be repeated.

Set up to increase the chances that your dog guesses correctly.  This means limiting options.  Kind actions – in human terms – are often confusing for your dog.  Less space is more comfortable for him.  Two or three available chews aren’t an overwhelming choice.  Taking a puppy out to her potty place is good structure and leadership.  Expecting her to “tell” you when she has to eliminate is unrealistic and haphazard housetraining.  This is also a fine example of a puppy training her people.

The crate is a great management tool for more than housetraining.  (Refer to Blog article:  “The Crate:  Beyond Housetraining”.)  Having a plan BEFORE your dog arrives reduces stress for everyone.  No newly landed dog has yet earned free roaming in the house.  An attached leash/drag line makes redirecting behaviors easier.  There is no drama, and no one plays the fool, chasing the dog.  If your dog is in and out of his crate 30 times during the course of the day, you are managing wisely.

Copyright © Kimberly B. Mandel   CPDT-KA, 2015

Kimberly Mandel Canine Behavior and Training LLC