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12 Essential Training Tips For Your Puppy

Karen Cobb

June 6, 2017

Norman the Scooter Dog

Norman the Scooter Dog

LIke Norman on Facebook @NormantheScooterDog

We met with Karen Cobb to interview her about her dog Norman, Pawtivity’s first amazing pup!


Norman is a Briard, famous for holding 2 Guinness World Records in riding a scooter and bicycle. Norman can also do a variety of tricks and is active in agility and obedience. This dog has some serious skills and is so polite! He can jump rope, dry off his beard on a towel after drinking, and take a bow. Bravo!

We were interested to learn how Norman became so good at doing tricks. A lot of it came down to being very well socialized with much of that training done while Norman was still a puppy. While Norman is very curious, building socialization and training skills in everyday tasks or games was also essential.

Given that French Sheepdogs are traditionally bred to control and guard sheep, they can be somewhat overprotective or suspicious if not socialized and trained well. Clearly, Karen has done a phenomenal job socializing and training Norman.

Training takes commitment and patience from you and your dog! While Norman learns tricks easily, it did take him some time to ride a bike well. Boy can he ride now!

Start with these puppy foundations and you may find yourself with tomorrow’s dog star. Think of all the wonderful things you can do with your dog given the proper socialization and training. It all starts today to create memories with your dog that last forever.

Karen shares with us 12 very useful tips on how she trained Norman as a puppy. Read on for some great training tips!

Want to learn more about Norman the Scooter Dog? He’s the first of our amazing pups.

Intro by: Carol Chi, Pawtivity

12 Essential Training Tips For Your Puppy

“Every moment awake is a learning experience for your puppy – Make it positive.”
Karen Cobb, Trainer of Norman The Scooter Dog

  1. Greet & Meet People – Your puppy should meet new people every day, and display proper manners. Stand outside the pet store, grocery store or anywhere with high foot traffic (visit different locations every day). Bring some extra tasty treats that can be broken into small pieces. Everyone wants to greet a puppy, so when they ask to pet your dog, ask them to have the puppy sit and then give him/her a treat first. Goal: 10 people per day. Gold Star: 20 people.
  1. Watch Command – Teach your puppy to watch you. Watch is one of the most important behaviors to teach your dog. It’s right up there with sit. Your dog will respond much better to other behavior cues, if he/she’s looking at you and paying attention. Goal: 10 reps, 2x a day.

  1. Dinnertime Manners – Teach your puppy where you want him/her to be during dinnertime. Don’t correct bad table behavior; teach a positive behavior instead. Tether your dog with a harness and leash him/her to a doorknob with his/her bed close by. Every time you sit down for a meal, your dog should go to his/her bed with a toy that hides food inside (like a Kong or Nylabone Romp ‘n’ Chomp). This will help form a lifelong habit of good table manners. Goal: every meal.
  1. Wait Before Leaving – Teach your dog to wait at all doorways. This is a safety issue. If they run out of the house in a frenzy, they can easily run into the street and get hit by a car. They should not exit the house without permission from you. They should let you exit first and wait for a release command, which permits them to cross the threshold. Goal: Every time you exit house.
  1. Leash Behavior – Teach your puppy the correct leash behavior when they see another dog. Do not allow a face to face greeting of two leashed dogs. This is not only confrontational, but also increases the flight or fight reaction, as both dogs are restrained. When approaching another dog, take a treat out of your pocket and show it to your puppy, so they are looking at you. As you pass the other dog, feed your puppy the treat. This will form the behavior of your dog watching you every time another dog passes, instead of the lunging and pulling behavior we see many other dogs display. Try and set this up daily. Goal: 5 dogs a day.
  1. Puppy Play – Your puppy should learn to play with other dogs properly, and with good social skills. Only allow play off leash in a contained area. When dogs are on leash they should be paying attention to you and not pulling toward something else. Allow your puppy daily play with different dogs. Try to set up daily play dates with your friends’ dogs or find a puppy socialization class. Interrupt any dominant play, like mounting, by making a loud noise and redirecting the play toward a ball or other toy. Goal: 3 different dogs a week.
  1. Brush & Bathe – Teach your puppy to not only accept grooming and bathing, but enjoy it. Get brushes out and give a few treats after every few stroke. Touch each toenail and squeeze a little to simulate a nail clipper. This can be stressful to dogs, so have a helper give your puppy a very high value treat, such as peanut butter or wet dog food, while you squeeze your puppy’s toe. Fill the bathtub with 1-2 inches of water and toss some kibble and or toys in the water and let your dog play and bob for kibble. Goal: One of each of the three areas (brushing, nails or bathtub) 1x a week.
  1. Meal Time – It is very easy to avoid resource guarding if you start young. Don’t think, “My puppy doesn’t growl over food, so he never will.” First, have your puppy sit and stay before giving them their food. On a daily basis, interrupt your dog’s meal, by walking to his/her bowl and either placing more food in it or having them sit while you pick up the bowl and add a tasty treat, before returning the bowl to them. This will not only get your dog used to being approached while eating, but also get him/her excited about the possible addition of something special. Goal: 1x per meal.
  1. Noise & Distraction – Introduce your dog to all different sounds, sights, feels, and smells to avoid fear or distraction of anything new later on. Sounds can be a vacuum or truck starting up. Feels can be using different dog brushes to walking on a slippery floor or across a sewer grate. Sights are everywhere from people with a beard and a hat, to someone dressed in a chicken suit. Smells can be walking behind a fast food restaurant to walking through a farm with many animals. Try and introduce your dog at an early age to everything you can possibly imagine them encountering later on. They are so willing to accept new things while puppies, but it gets harder as adults to overcome a fear of the unknown. Goal: 3 exposures a day.
  1. Establish House Rules – Think of the house rules you want your dog to follow when he/she is full size. Be sure to start teaching those rules at the first introduction to the house. If you don’t want your dog on the furniture, do not pick them up as puppies and put them on your lap while sitting on the couch. Instead, sit on the floor with them. Lay aluminum foil on any furniture they may jump on, so they learn it’s not pleasant to be up there (foil makes noise when they touch it and is not as comfortable to lay on). Do you want them sleeping in your bed? If not, do not allow them up there as pups. Teach them to sleep in a crate, next to your bed. Put a comfy bed inside for them. Eventually, graduate to replacing their crate with their dog bed.
  1. Controlled Play – Teach your puppy controlled play. Don’t allow chewing on your arms, but substitute a toy instead. Teach them that you start and end the play. Keep a few toys out, and put the rest out of reach. Rotate the toys you give your dog. Your dog will be more excited to play with any “new” toys you give him/her. If you play tug, make sure you teach your puppy to drop the toy on command and stop tugging before they get if they begin to get too aggressive. about the tugging. Goal: Play everyday as much as you can.
  1. Doorway Behavior – Teach proper doorway behavior from puppyhood. Where do you want your dog to go when a guest rings your front doorbell? It is best to teach a down stay in a room adjacent to the main hallway. Ideally, there would be a floor surface change they could see as a boundary of where to lay down (ex. Have your dog lay on the carpet of the living room, which borders the entrance hallway wooden floor.) In the beginning, ask a helper to get the door while you work closely with your dog. Your dog should stay until you go TO THEM and give a release command. Do not release and allow your dog to greet the visitor when he/she is excited. Instead, walk your dog to a treat jar in the kitchen and give them a treat. This takes the attention off the visitor and puts it on the treat jar. Practice by setting up the situation with a friend ringing the doorbell. Goal: 6 practice doorbell rings per day, and every time a real visitor comes!


About Karen & Norman

Karen Cobb, owner and trainer of Norman the Scooter Dog, graduated from University of Miami with a Bachelor of Science.  She has trained dogs for over 20 years, specializing in problem solving, behavior counseling, housebreaking and aggression problems.  She now primarily trains Norman for his live performances and dog sports.  Her goal is to get Norman a leading role in a movie. Learn more about Norman and Karen. Connect with them on Facebook.


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About the Author

Karen Cobb, owner and trainer of Norman the Scooter Dog, has trained dogs for over 20 years. She trains Norman for live performances and dog sports. Her goal is to get Norman a leading role in a movie

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