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Puppy Probation is a rehabilitation program for dogs who are dominant, unruly, aggressive,
wild or destructive. It is also a suitable regimen for newly-adopted untrained dogs. Its aim is
to change your dog's attitude by reducing his choices and requiring him to work for the things
that he wants. It is not punishment. You must not have a "gotcha" attitude during the
probation period; rather, you should think of it as a time to re-order the dog's world so that he
can learn to respond by being pleasant and cooperative instead of wild and bossy. He will
begin to see you as his leader, and will love and respect you for it.
Many of the Puppy Probation provisions involve changing your behavior, not your dog's. If
you do not follow through on these rules, even though they seem unrelated to the problem at
hand, you will not be able to transform yourself into a leader in your dog's eyes, and the bad
behavior will continue. If you start Probation and then apply it inconsistently, or back off
when your dog's behavior worsens, you will have done more damage than no training at all -you will have taught your dog that you don't mean what you say, and that he can succeed at
getting what he wants by resisting you.
Puppy Probation lasts a minimum of one month, and is applied along with training to address
the specific behavior problems that your dog is exhibiting. Items that are underlined are
habits and rituals that you should apply to your dog for his whole life.


The dog is confined to his crate (in your bedroom) at night, and
confined when you are away.
He is not allowed to choose his own sleeping place or roam the house unsupervised.
But he is allowed to be near you while you sleep. Remember, isolation is punishment,
and he will feel resentful if you isolate him every night.


Two obedience sessions every day.
Work your dog on the obedience commands that he knows and introduce new
commands in ten-minute sessions twice a day. Be absolutely firm and consistent
during these sessions, and ask your dog to progress each day. Do not use treats in
obedience sessions, but praise lavishly.


The long down
If your dog knows how to down and stay, he must do it once a day for a half-hour
(minimum). If he does not know the down-stay, start teaching it now, and make him
hold a half-hour stay next to your chair by pinning him with his leash.


Nothing is free
When your dog comes to you for petting, play, or attention, he must obey a command
before he gets it (sit, down, heel). He must sit while you put his dinner down and wait
until you tell him okay. There should be no prolonged or absent-minded petting
sessions. No between-meal treats, snacks, or bribes.


Time out
When your dog is being a pest, he goes to his crate for ten minutes to a half-hour of
time out. Don't inject a lot of drama in this, just quietly get him out of your hair. (Or
require a down for the same period, if you can watch him and enforce it.)


You control the space
Your dog gets no furniture privileges. If he is in your way, he must move -- don't step
around or over him. He must wait at the door for your permission to go through, and
for permission to jump out of or into the car.


Get a grip
The dog wears a correction collar or head halter with a tab or four-foot leash all the time
when someone is home, so that you able to easily catch and correct him. (Never leave a
correction collar --except a martingale -- on an unsupervised dog -- he can strangle in


Hit the dirt
Command him to down whenever the mood strikes you, and enforce each command.
He should perform a minimum of fifty downs a day. Have him do "situps" -- a sitdown-sit-down sequence. At least ten times a day, roll him belly-up. Reassure or
center him with a "nose hug" or scruff tug whenever he needs it.


Run it off
Your dog needs exercise to vent off his energy if he is to pay attention. Give him one
hour of solid exercise a day -- chasing a ball, playing with another dog outdoors, or
jogging with you. NO tug-of-war or keepaway games allowed.

(10) Tone it down
You have probably been yelling at your little canine terrorist when he acts up, which
may be all the time. Stop it now. Practice silent physical corrections. Hold daily nearsilent eye contact sessions, and reward him quietly for looking to you. All commands
are to be given in a normal tone of voice. Praise should be given in a high, happy tone.
Correction should be no louder than your normal voice, in a deep, growling tone.


131 Chadborne Court
Cranberry Twp., PA 16066
© Copyright 1995. Heather Houlahan. All Rights

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