Pet Podcast

Starting your puppy off right – Pet podcast #9 on –

Pet podcast #9 features an interview with training expert Elizabeth Simpson of Tenderfoot Training. In this episode Elizabeth gives us TONS of information on starting your new puppy out right. There is a lot of great information in this half hour interview and you WILL learn something new. You can download this pet podcast directly by clicking the preceding link or listen to it almost immediately with the embedded player below.


Please note that this is an audio transcription. grammar and punctuation may not be perfect.

::Intro Music::

Marko Kulik: Hi there everyone and welcome to the podcast #9. My name is Marko. We are coming to you from Montreal, Quebec, Canada and today is January 12, 2007. First off, Happy New Year to all our guests and all our listeners and everyone that has listened to the show or if you have made a comment, thanks so much. This year we intend to do one podcast a week if possible. We are sorry we are a little late because of the holiday season, but we are back on our game now and we intend to put them out weekly. For today”s show, we have actually a special guest, Elizabeth Simpson of Tenderfoot Training. She and her husband Doug, Doug Simpson, provide expert care on our site and on our bulletin board to our visitors. They have been dog training for tons of years out there in Colorado and today, we are lucky enough to be able to do an interview with them. The interview is going to be based on starting your puppy out right. So, as always, if you would like to comment, we would appreciate it. You can do that through the bulletin board or you can do that through the blog directly, You can leave a comment there or a suggestion and it is greatly appreciated. So, without further ado, let us get into our interview with Elizabeth Simpson. The interview is about 30 minutes long, but the information in it is incredible and there is a lot of stuff that you would not have thought about especially if you have just gotten a new puppy or if your puppy is just really young and you need some expert opinions and/or advice. A half-hour. Let us get into it now.

Okay. So, we would like to welcome our special guest today, Elizabeth Simpson of Tenderfoot Training. She and her husband, Doug, Doug Simpson, have been running Tenderfoot Training for a long time now. Elizabeth and Doug, they are experts on our bulletin board and Elizabeth goes by the name of Tenderfoot Training. Hi, Elizabeth.

Elizabeth Simpson: Hi, how are you?

Marko Kulik: Very good. Thank you. So, we are coming up on a Christmas time where a lot of people have gotten puppies. Sometimes that is a good idea and other times, it is not, but either way, they have puppies now and we need to know how to start puppies off right. Elizabeth, how do we start puppies off right?

Elizabeth Simpson: Well, there are a lot of things to consider. It is like adopting a child. You have to sort of anticipate ahead of time some of the things that you want to be ready for. One of the very first things that we would recommend is that you start a relationship with a veterinarian almost before you get the puppy. Somebody that you feel good about perhaps you would ask your friends for recommendations and maybe go visit the vet or a couple of vets and interview them and make sure that you are in agreement with how you are going to care for your puppy. Once you get the puppy, it would be really great to take the puppy to the veterinarian a couple of times just for social interaction. Do not worry about having an exam or getting a shot that might both be potentially scary to the puppy. Create a positive environment around the veterinarian before you have to do the scary stuff.

Marko Kulik: So, even if you have just like gotten the pack. Let us say, it was bestowed upon you even without your knowledge. It was a gift. It was a surprise at Christmastime. Really, the second you get the puppy, you want to be calling the vet or finding a vet ASAP.

Elizabeth Simpson: Absolutely, because you want to have that resource especially if it is a new puppy. Something might go wrong. He might swallow something, he might cut his foot, something could go wrong. You want to have a resource that you can contact immediately for advice.

Marko Kulik: Let us be real, a lot of people do get pets very quickly and they know nothing about pets. At least, they could ask the vets some of the basic questions right away.

Elizabeth Simpson: Absolutely because you want to make sure that you are on the right program for vaccinations. Vaccinations alone right now are a huge conversation because some veterinarians are very adamant about it, they have a very stringent schedule for vaccines and other veterinarians are more natural and homeopathic vets are now saying that we over vaccinate. So, you want to make sure that you are understanding what you are giving to your puppy.

Marko Kulik: A good tip. A good tip. Find a vet right away. That makes absolute perfect sense. What will the next step after that?

Elizabeth Simpson: After that, I would say puppy proof your home. Literally get down on your hands and knees and crawl around your house. You want to look at what is going to catch his attention. What little knickknacks do you have that are way down too low that he is going to grab and think it is a toy and crush or swallow or what about like electrical cords that might be dangling somewhere or too easily visible behind the couch for them to go back there and grab.

Marko Kulik: If you had to choose one, what would be the most, I mean obviously, everything is important, what is the most common let us say problem that puppies get when they are in a house that is not puppy proofed?

Elizabeth Simpson: They will chew on your personal items like your shoes, maybe what you have in the laundry basket. They will tend to go after personal items in the laundry basket like socks and underwear and then swallow the entire thing and then we have possible surgery. They will oftentimes and this is amazing to me, but they will go after your remote control for the TV or the VCR and they might even be able to successfully pop out the battery and then swallow it and that is incredibly dangerous.

Marko Kulik: Wow! Okay.

Elizabeth Simpson: So, there are things like that that we think, “Oh, our puppy is not going to go for that,” but they do.

Marko Kulik: Okay. So, you really have to get down there like a dog, on all fours, inspect as if you were the puppy yourself.

Elizabeth Simpson: Absolutely.

Marko Kulik: Okay. Again, a lot of good sense.

Elizabeth Simpson: Now, the other part of that is that you want to have lots of things available to them that they can put their mouths on. So, get lots of varieties of toys. Two or three toys are not enough. They need at least a dozen. Puppies have a very short attention span and so, they are going to go from one toy to the next, exploring until they get bored and then move on to the next one. You want hard toys, hard rubber toys, good hard bones. You want soft toys, you want squeaky toys, toys that they can pull and tug and tear at because every puppy is an individual and they will have certain things that are their favorites to do.

Marko Kulik: Should all those toys be out at the same time? Will they get bored if they are all out at the same time?

Elizabeth Simpson: It kind of depends on how many you have.

Marko Kulik: Okay. Okay.

Elizabeth Simpson: What kind of place you have. Some people will put out six toys at a time and then keep six toys back and trade them out regularly. If you are just a toy fanatic, you can have a whole basketful, but everyday at the end of the day maybe put them all back in the basket. The puppy can go and pick out the ones that he wants to play with that day.

Marko Kulik: Okay. Okay. So, if you have 18 toys, do six for one day, six the next, six the next…

Elizabeth Simpson: Yeah.

Marko Kulik: Then rotate back kind of thing.

Elizabeth Simpson: Yeah.

Marko Kulik: Okay. Okay. What would be next?

Elizabeth Simpson: Socialization is so important because you only have a window of about the first four months to really make a difference in your dog”s life. Socialization is important for the entire life of the dog, but that first four month window is huge and so, you want to make sure that you introduce them to all kinds of different people, all different kinds of animal, all different kinds of environment experience.

Marko Kulik: I am sorry. So, it is not just socialization with other dogs. It is really socialization in a sense with the world.

Elizabeth Simpson: Absolutely with the whole world and especially a lot of people, they want to sign up for a puppy class because they think that, “Well, my puppy needs to be socialized with other puppies.” Other puppies, they have been living with already. They know other puppies. They need to learn about big dogs, little dogs, cranky dogs, happy dogs, older dogs, younger dogs, people, cats, horses, birds as well as environment. My house field is different than Home Depot field, than PetSmart field, than McGuckin, our local hardware store, field.

Marko Kulik: If they are outside, excuse me, they should see cars and bikes. They should see all kinds of distractions.

Elizabeth Simpson: Yes. Absolutely. As much as you can think of. The more that you create for them especially in their youth, the more that they are just going to take for granted in life, “Oh, that always happens. Oh, we always deal with those kind of things. Oh, look there”s more people” instead of freaking out about it.

Marko Kulik: Okay. When should we start?

Elizabeth Simpson: Right away.

Marko Kulik: Right away.

Elizabeth Simpson: Immediately. Immediately. Trainings and socialization should start right away. Puppies are sponges and so, they are learning all the time. We want to create positive environment, positive experiences and we can also start shaping their good manners now. The more that you teach a puppy, the greater his capacity for learning actually becomes. So, it is beneficial on limitless level. So, start your training now. You can start immediately. A little puppy knows how to do it all. He already knows how to sit and lay down and run towards you and lay on his side, lay on his back. Just start creating associations with that and you are shaping their behavior.

Marko Kulik: So, right away, the second you get them.

Elizabeth Simpson: Absolutely. They are never too young to learn and they are never too old to learn either, but you want to just remember too that puppies have a short attention span. So, you are just going to do little things successfully here and there throughout the day.

Marko Kulik: Okay. I guess just my last question on that topic would be some people get some puppies too early. Some people get them maybe when they should still be with their moms…

Elizabeth Simpson: That is a huge problem. Here in the United States, it is illegal to sell the puppy before eight weeks old. Ideally, a puppy should actually be staying with their mother until they are about 10 or 12 weeks. The mother teaches so much and the other puppies teach a lot too. Mother teaches bite inhibition, but if we take the puppy away too early, they have not learn that and they come home with this nippy, little, bitey, snappy puppy and suddenly, we have to teach bite inhibitions. There are great advantages both socially and learning to keeping the pup with the mom a little bit longer.

Marko Kulik: So, for those people that have not gotten puppies yet, but are thinking of getting them, we do not want to get them before age what? What would be your opinion?

Elizabeth Simpson: My perfect answer to that would be 10-12 weeks.

Marko Kulik: 10-12 weeks.

Elizabeth Simpson: The realistic answer is that breeders want to get rid of their puppies usually at about eight weeks. They have had their fill with their puppies at eight weeks.

Marko Kulik: Okay.

Elizabeth Simpson: They are like, “Just take them home now.” Puppies are so cute at eight weeks. We all want to bring them home when they are tiny and cute.

Marko Kulik: If we have one that is eight weeks old or even seven weeks old, we should not have one, but they are still not too young for training if we do have them.

Elizabeth Simpson: Correct.

Marko Kulik: Okay.

Elizabeth Simpson: Absolutely. Mom would be teaching them then too.

Marko Kulik: Okay.

Elizabeth Simpson: Even the other puppies are teaching each other. So, right away. Just make sure that if you bring home a puppy that young that you are really supporting them emotionally. We are big advocates of having them sleep in your bed with you at least for the first few weeks or first few nights to help them with that adjustment, but that is for just really, really young puppies because they are going from sleeping with all their litter mates and their mom to potentially being in a crater and just a bed by themselves or down in the kitchen or something and they tend to freak out. So, it is better to support them emotionally and have them at least in your bedroom with you.

Marko Kulik: In the best world, we are only going to adopt them after they are 10-12 weeks old.

Elizabeth Simpson: Right.

Marko Kulik: Okay. After that, what would be another really important thing to do?

Elizabeth Simpson: You want to desensitize your puppy to touching. Mama would be licking the puppy all over his body and we just tend to pet them maybe on their head or on the top of their back, but we want to make sure that they are used to having their whole body touched. You want to massage their ears, massage their face and literally get in and massage their gums, teach them how to open their mouths so that when the veterinarian has to look at their teeth, he knows he is going to have a good experience and roll them on their back gently and massage their tummies. Make sure that they are used to you touching all of their toes and actually take your fingernails and flick their little nails. It stimulates clipping their nails so they get desensitize to that sensation all the way down the body, all the way to the end of the tail.

Marko Kulik: I am sorry. I am sorry. I was just thinking that is such an excellent idea. The whole body is important, but the feet especially. So many people have problems clipping their pet”s nails. If they would just start massaging them and getting them used to being touch in that area, it just makes perfect sense that it will not freak them out later on.

Elizabeth Simpson: Absolutely. If a dog were to get a cut in their paw, they are not going to have to overcome just the fear of you touching their foot in addition to the pain in the paw, they are already trusting you. It helps to build that relationship of trust.

Marko Kulik: Really good idea. That are really good ideas. Are there certain spots where you have to be really careful with like a massage of your dog?

Elizabeth Simpson: You are going to be using sort of an even, gentle touch all over their body and the feet are very, very sensitive and especially the webbing between their toes. Oftentimes it is used as a test for temperament. If you touch it lightly and they react, they are sensitive dogs. So, you want to make sure that you are working within their comfort zone and then you can expand from there, but try not to give deep muscle massage because it might be overwhelming for them.

Marko Kulik: Okay. Very interesting. I would totally have to agree with that. It just makes such perfect sense. Start touching your dogs early. Give them good massages.

Elizabeth Simpson: Everyday and you will find that they will just sort of go, “Oh, it”s 6:00, time for my massage” and they will lay down and be ready for it. So, just make it a part of your relationship.

Marko Kulik: I guess what also be a smart thing to do or you tell us if different members of the family massage the dog as well.

Elizabeth Simpson: Sure, but you want to always be careful that when children are doing this that there is a parent involved.

Marko Kulik: Okay.

Elizabeth Simpson: If a dog reacts negatively and the child does not know how to respond in a healthy leadership, parenting type role then it can backfire on us. The dog will then learn, “Oh, I can object to what that child does to me” or “I can push that child around” or maybe “I don’t have to listen to anybody anymore.” So, we always want to have that parent”s presence to make sure that everything is successful.

Marko Kulik: Okay. So, it is a good idea for children, but only with supervision.

Elizabeth Simpson: Yes.

Marko Kulik: If we are talking where there is a situation where there is no children, let us say, a boyfriend and girlfriend and they are starting to live together, have the other one start massaging the dog as well at what level, what pace, what would you suggest?

Elizabeth Simpson: When you are talking about a partnership?

Marko Kulik: A partnership, yeah.

Elizabeth Simpson: Absolutely, because it is about the dog”s relationship with everybody in the family, not just one person. All the people in the family provide leadership. Provide a trusting, loving relationship for that puppy. So, that puppy needs to experience it with everyone or that puppy might start to not have relationship with just men because only the woman works with the puppy. It is like socialization. The puppy is getting experience with everybody.

Marko Kulik: Perfect. What would be next on the list, Elizabeth?

Elizabeth Simpson: One big mistake that people tend to make…

Marko Kulik: Okay.

Elizabeth Simpson: We get our puppies and we give them way too much freedom in the house. We are sort of just hanging out with our dogs because that is what people do. What happens is the puppy starts to be in-charge of his world. He gets to sort of do what he wants to do, 24/7. Go get a drink, come get a pet, look out the window, bark at the squirrel, play with their toy. In his little doggy brain, he is thinking, “Oh, what do I want to do next?” It should be that he is being engaged with his person or people. That they are saying, “Come on over here. Let”s do this.” “Oh, let”s come on over here and do this.” You are shaping his behavior. You are teaching him. You are engaging his brain and you are taking him out of recess. He is also starting to look to you for the answers. He is like, “Oh, what are we doing next? What are you, the leader, want to do?” instead of having the world sort of circle around him all the time and he wants to do.

Marko Kulik: Someone on the other end… of course, the next logical question is, “Yes, but I work all day and I have to leave my dog alone.” What would be even though it is certainly not the best thing to do, what would be some good alternatives if that is the situation for someone?

Elizabeth Simpson: Well, it is tough nowadays because everybody is working and dogs are not meant to be left alone essentially. They are social creatures and they are meant to be with the pack. So, there are some options. There are doggy day cares out there now that are providing, as long as it is a good doggy day care, they are providing a great resource for people with their dogs, where the puppies can be socialized and kept busy and exercised, but that is not always an option for everybody. So, crate training, we think, has a lot of value. It keeps your puppy safe and keep yourself safe.

Marko Kulik: Right.

Elizabeth Simpson: Allows you to control the puppy”s environment a little bit better. They learn how to be alone. They learn to self entertain. They learn to wait until you come back.

Marko Kulik: For those people, sorry to interrupt you. For those people who just may not know what crate training is even though so many of us do…

Elizabeth Simpson: Okay.

Marko Kulik: Could you give just a really quick description?

Elizabeth Simpson: Crate training is the theory that we are creating a den environment for the puppy, which is a natural environment. What we do is they started 10 years or 15 years ago by using the airline kennel, those hard, plastic airline kennels as a crate?

Marko Kulik: Yeah.

Elizabeth Simpson: You are basically creating a nice little den environment for the puppy to be in. Typically, they will not soil their den, so it is a great opportunity to help with house training, but you want to make sure that the puppy is not spending his life in a crate.

Marko Kulik: Right.

Elizabeth Simpson: A couple of hours here, a couple of hours there is very good for him, but he needs breaks, he needs entertainments, he needs play, he needs to be let out to the bathroom and to be fed. So, it is good that if you could maybe even have somebody come halfway through the day or if you can come home from work halfway through the day and let him out and give him a good long break.

Marko Kulik: Get a neighbor that you trust or someone that you trust to come over and maybe you could do it for them once, they could do it for you, trade…

Elizabeth Simpson: Yes, that would be great. Crate training is something that typically you are going to use maybe off and on for the first year of the puppy”s life. You may not use it a whole lot after that once they have matured and they have learned how to be alone in the house and not get into the trouble, but it is a skill that they will always have so that if ever you needed to keep them quiet maybe after surgery, the crate is a great opportunity to keep them safe while they are recovering.

Marko Kulik: It is not to be used when they do something bad. Is that correct?

Elizabeth Simpson: No. It is never ever a punishment. It is always a positive environment.

Marko Kulik: It is always a good thing because they will go to the crate when they feel tired or stressed or just to relax.

Elizabeth Simpson: Absolutely. Absolutely. I agree. We tell our dogs, “Go to bed” and they just go hop in their crates. It is what they learned to love. They learned to feel safe in that place and it is sort of this whole skill to help them prepare for life. If you ever have to travel with your dog and you put them in the crate, they already have the skill. It is already done. You do not have to worry about it. So, it is no matter where they are in the world, if they love their crate and they have their crate there, they are already home.

Marko Kulik: They are made of steel normally?

Elizabeth Simpson: A lot of…

Marko Kulik: Can they be made of other materials?

Elizabeth Simpson: Yeah. Actually, there is a crate training article on our website that people can go to…

Marko Kulik: Afterwards I am going to leave some links in the show note as well and yeah, we are going to send you to Elizabeth”s site. She has some great info on it.

Elizabeth Simpson: Yeah. That article tells you how to do a good crate training job. It should only take about three days or so to really teach them to be well crate trained. The crates can come in a sort of hard plastic type environment. They can come in more of a wire cage looking environment and they can come in a soft canvass almost like a tent-like environment. So, each dog is going to have his preference. Our dogs all tend to like the hard plastic ones because they create a dark, den-like environment. Other dogs enjoy the more cage-like wire environment and other dogs are just fine with the canvass one, but you kind of have to know what is going to work for your dog.

Marko Kulik: Okay, but it is a place to relax. It is never to be used as a punishment.

Elizabeth Simpson: Never punishment. No.

Marko Kulik: What would come next after that?

Elizabeth Simpson: Just the house training. Just to remind everybody that house training takes time. It is a matter of patience and consistency. Everybody is an individual and especially if you have ever raised kids, you know you did not potty trained your kids all in one day. Nobody really learns it in the same time frame that everybody else learns it.

Marko Kulik: What is an average time? Some people might think it should take two days. How long does it normally take? There are always exceptions, but normally, how long should it take if the dog let us say has never been house trained?

Elizabeth Simpson: House trained. To be honest with you, it would be hard to put a perfect number on that.

Marko Kulik: Okay.

Elizabeth Simpson: Some people will say, “Oh, my dog in two days. We never had an accident again.” Another person might say, “Oh, it”s been six months and they still occasionally have an accident.” It might be that a dog is good for three weeks or three months and then, “Oops, we he had an accident.” Then they think, “Oh, you know. My dog is failing in house training,” but it is not. It is just accidents will happen. You just have to say, “I need to be a little bit more aware” and “What could I have done differently to perhaps catch that opportunity.” Puppies need the potty a lot.

Marko Kulik: Right. Right.

Elizabeth Simpson: So, when they wake up from a nap, in the middle of play sometimes, when they have taken a drink, after they have eaten and periodically in between, they have to be taught how to hold it for a long time. Usually the rule of thumb is one month in age equals one hour of being able to hold it, but again, each puppy is going to vary.

Marko Kulik: You have seen them all. You have seen different breed house train quickly and some take longer. These two bulldogs, one might take two weeks, one might take a month and a half like you say. Is that right?

Elizabeth Simpson: One might take six months.

Marko Kulik: Right. Okay.

Elizabeth Simpson: Sometimes they say you do not really know if your dog is completely well house trained until they are a year old, which feels extreme, but I want to present a realistic picture so people do not give up too early.

Marko Kulik: Right. People just should not freak about this. Once they are trained, they are trained, but if they take a little longer, they are doing their best. They are never soiling to madden you or to anger you. It is never a revenge thing. They just have not learned it yet.

Elizabeth Simpson: Right and maybe they did have. Maybe in their mind they just walk past the door and that was their way of asking you, but you did not notice or did not understand and they think, “Oh, well, I went to the door and nobody did anything so I”ll just potty here.” So, a lot of times we have to see how did we miss that opportunity to create success.

Marko Kulik: This is something that, of course, they could do with training right at the beginning of the list as well.

Elizabeth Simpson: Immediately. Yeah. It has got to start immediately. It is a matter too of heightening the person”s awareness to their puppies” needs. Puppies have to potty a lot.

Marko Kulik: Right. Right. They do indeed.

Elizabeth Simpson: Yeah.

Marko Kulik: Next, I would say we have to be talking about exercise.

Elizabeth Simpson: You know what? Can I add one more thing?

Marko Kulik: Yeah. Yeah. For sure. For sure.

Elizabeth Simpson: Okay. You would ask about breeds. For the potty, smaller breeds do have a tougher time traditionally being potty trained and that is just kind of a heads up for anybody that is getting a Toy breed.

Marko Kulik: Is that because they have smaller bladders?

Elizabeth Simpson: To a point, but really, it is hard to catch them. They are so little and they just scoot behind the couch or pretty much when they even squat to pee, you almost do not even see it and you do not know it until after the fact and then it is too late to correct them. So, a lot of times, taking on a Toy breed takes on a little bit more challenge for house training. So, I just kind of want to give the heads up for that.

Marko Kulik: People should just be a little bit more patient. That is all.

Elizabeth Simpson: Absolutely.

Marko Kulik: Once they are usually trained, after a while, I mean however long it takes to get them trained, once they are usually trained unless there is a serious ailment after, are they usually house trained for life?

Elizabeth Simpson: Again, all things in balance. If a dog has diarrhea and we are just not aware of it and in the middle of the night, caught off guard, he is going to have an accident and we just have to know he was sick. It is not his fault.

Marko Kulik: It is not the end of the world either.

Elizabeth Simpson: It is not the end of the world. You just clean it up and go on.

Marko Kulik: Exactly. I am in total agreement, total agreement.

Elizabeth Simpson: Yeah. These are animals and they are kind of perpetual kids. They are going to make mistakes and it is not their fault all the time. So, we just have to be a little forgiving.

Marko Kulik: As we should, as we should.

Elizabeth Simpson: Yeah.

Marko Kulik: What would be coming next after the house training?

Elizabeth Simpson: Okay. Let us actually go to feeding because that is really appropriate for house training.

Marko Kulik: Okay.

Elizabeth Simpson: Little, tiny puppies need to be fed a few times a day. Again, this is going to vary from size of dogs and as they mature, you are going to try and take that down to about one to two times a day. Certain breeds do require to be fed more often, but I just want to make sure everybody understands that puppies need to be fed frequently. They were nursing off of their mom a lot and we are kind of weaning them from that process, but you do not want to just put down a bowl of food and have the puppy pick at it all day. That is what is called free feeding and what it does is that it does not teach the puppy to eat proper meals. It actually creates often a picky eater. Puppies are built to eat a meal, go to sleep, play for a while, go potty, come back and eat another meal, not just pick throughout the day.

Marko Kulik: You mean they are not like us where they will snack on this and snack on that…

Elizabeth Simpson: Right. They are…

Marko Kulik: Get a May West in the middle, get a chocolate bar here and there?

Elizabeth Simpson: Yeah. They are not, dear. They do not graze.

Marko Kulik: Okay.

Elizabeth Simpson: They eat proper meals and that aids in potty training because if you put in three meals a day into your puppy, you can pretty much count how many meals are going to be coming out.

Marko Kulik: Right.

Elizabeth Simpson: Okay, but if they are grazing all day…

Marko Kulik: Right.

Elizabeth Simpson: Then they are going to need to be pooping all day.

Marko Kulik: So, it makes sense to feed them at the same time too for the same reason? Everything happens more like clockwork, it is more predictable?

Elizabeth Simpson: To an extent the predictability comes in that when you feed them a meal, they are going to need to go and you are going to need to know your puppy. They are going to need to go immediately or in 20 minutes.

Marko Kulik: Okay.

Elizabeth Simpson: Somewhere around that zone and they may not only have to potty once, but they might have to potty a couple of times within that session. You do not have to feel like you have to feed at 6:00 exactly and 12:00 exactly and 6:00 exactly because personally, I would prefer to have a more flexible schedule. Maybe I feed them at 6:15, maybe I feed them at 5:45 so that they are not looking at their little tummy clock and saying, “You need to feed me now.”

Marko Kulik: Right.

Elizabeth Simpson: Getting very demanding.

Marko Kulik: Right. It should be somewhat predictable, I would guess…

Elizabeth Simpson: Yeah.

Marko Kulik: Like if you are feeding 5:00 one day, not 7:00 the next day and 5:00 the day after that and 7:00 the day after that, maybe more within let us say an hour or an hour and a half every time?

Elizabeth Simpson: It is nice, but again, it is not mandatory.

Marko Kulik: Okay.

Elizabeth Simpson: In nature, animals are arbitrary when they are going to get their next meal. So, you are doing really well by giving them four good meals a day or three good meals a day and they are lucky to get that.

Marko Kulik: Okay. When do they get to exercise?

Elizabeth Simpson: Exercise happens naturally. For young puppies, exercise should mimic what they would have in nature. That they would be hanging out at the den, playing with the other puppies, then sniffing about, going potty, coming and getting a meal, taking a nap and then playing with the other puppies again, but they monitor sort of their own activity level. They can play pretty intensely for about 20 minutes, but then they are going to zonk and sleep really hard for a while and people make the mistake of thinking, “Oh, I”ve got a Golden Retriever or a Labrador and they need lots of exercise.” Yes, they do need lots of exercise, but not lots of forced exercise for a really long time. If you take a young puppy out for a two-mile hike, that is way too much on his little bones and ligaments and muscle. He needs to have shorter spurts of more frequent exercise instead of big, long bouts of exercise.

Marko Kulik: The ultimate schedule would be something like what? If someone wanted to give that dog the best life possible, what would be your ultimate schedule?

Elizabeth Simpson: It depends on the breed.

Marko Kulik: Yeah.

Elizabeth Simpson: You are going to play with them in the house. That is exercise. You are going to stimulate their brains by teaching them the best exercise. You are going to throw the ball, take them out maybe for a little bit of leash work so that they learn how to have good manners on a leash, but frequent little 20 or 15, as they get older 30 minute bout, but not until they are about 10 months old do you really want to start thinking, “Oh, I”m gonna take my dog for a hike.”

Marko Kulik: Okay. You could see how people could easily mistake, “Oh, my God…” Just like you said, people think Retrievers need all kinds of exercise and they do, but they do not need it for a two-hour shot, in fact, that is bad for them.

Elizabeth Simpson: Right. You are setting them up for damage potentially later on. Things like hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia can be as much environmental as it is genetic. What is happening is you take them out on their walk on a hard pavement and you are just pacing along, their little muscles will support that body and those bones and joints for only so long. Then those muscles are depleted of their energy and now, you are grinding bone against bone and so, you can create a future of arthritis or hip dysplasia or elbow dysplasia or ligament problems.

Marko Kulik: Okay. Small bouts of exercise, not extended play for puppies.

Elizabeth Simpson: Yeah. Right. Right.

Marko Kulik: Okay. So, I am getting the feeling that, “Wow! That”s a lot of information, great information and a lot of information.” Is there anything else that we should know about starting our puppies off right? Is there anything you want to tell us a little more?

Elizabeth Simpson: Our biggest message is always this is a balance of love, trust and respect. We are all really, really good at loving our puppies, but we also have to build in them the relationship of trusting us. That we will always keep them safe, we will never let harm come to them and respecting our word and that comes with teaching. So, it is a balanced relationship and if it is missing any one of those three ingredients, the dog will become unbalanced somehow, possibly insecure or fearful or too assertive or too independent. So, we have to make sure that as much as we love our puppies, we also teach them and develop a relationship of trust.

Marko Kulik: I would wholeheartedly agree. I know that I have seen your video, Elizabeth and Doug. It is both your video and I have learned quite a lot about it. I am sure there are other people that would like to watch it or listen and learn from you. Could you tell us a little bit about your video?

Elizabeth Simpson: Sure. It would be actually a wonderful thing for people to start out with a new puppy, even before they would get the puppy because it teaches you so much about how dogs think and how people can be the best dog parents to them to raise a good, well-balanced dog. It is almost three hours long. It is just huge, but it takes you all the way from beginning of understanding who dogs are and who we need to be all the way to off-leash distraction work. So, it covers everything from how a dog thinks and feels about the world to how we can best teach them.

Marko Kulik: I know it also because I have seen it. It also talks a lot about an important issue of leadership as well.

Elizabeth Simpson: Leadership is huge. It is who dogs are. They require good leadership just like kids require good parents. Children without good parents are not going to have good general manners or confidence in the world and maybe even start acting out badly, the same thing with dogs. For dogs, it is so pure and prime in them that the minute they look at you when you bring them home, they are saying, “Are you the one in charge here?”

Marko Kulik: Right.

Elizabeth Simpson: If you do not answer that somehow, they may think, “Oh, well, you”re not much help. You don’t seem to care, so I guess I”m in charge.” The second they start to take charge then they start to lead the way and then we start to have more problems. It is very important that when you feed your puppy, you only put the food down for 10 minutes and if he does not eat it, it means he is not hungry enough right now and you are going to take it away and you will offer it to him again the next meal. Again, I was talking about free feeding sets them up to become picky eaters, but it also sets them up to become leaders. In a dog”s mind, whoever owns the food is the one in charge. So, if you leave the food down and they believe it belongs to them then they will think, “Oh, I must be in charge,” but if they see you put the food down and takes the food away then they will look up to you and say, “Oh, gosh, you”re the one in charge.” So, it is a very simple way to provide leadership as well as creating a good healthy eater.

Marko Kulik: So, do not put your food down and then call your dog. Let your dog see that you are the food provider.

Elizabeth Simpson: Yes.

Marko Kulik: Okay.

Elizabeth Simpson: Yeah. You do not have to worry about all those silly things about taking a bite first or making sure you eat your meal first. That is really not necessary. They just need to see that it came from you and that you are the one that can take it away.

Marko Kulik: Excellent. I so personally agree with that as well and I was so happy to see it well-explained in the video.

Elizabeth Simpson: Thank you.

Marko Kulik: So, if people do want that video, they can go to

Elizabeth Simpson: Absolutely and just order through PayPal. Yeah. Anybody can call us seven days a week until 9:00 at night, Colorado Mountain Time, if they have questions or need help and especially if they have seen the video and then they say, “Oh, what if I do this or this with my dog” and we can help talk them through a lot of things.

Marko Kulik: Perfect. Perfect. Excellent support. Okay. So, I would like very much to thank you, Elizabeth. Please say thanks to Doug. I know he is probably not far by as well. I know you guys are a great team.

Elizabeth Simpson: Thank you.

Marko Kulik: Thanks so much for all these excellent advice. As you know, this is going to be listened to by many, many, many people and it will help a lot of people so you are doing an excellent thing for everyone by sharing your info.

Elizabeth Simpson: Well, thank you so much and that is our goal in life to help the dogs and the people.

Marko Kulik: Excellent. Perfect. So, thanks so much, Elizabeth.

Elizabeth Simpson: Thank you.

Marko Kulik: We intend to maybe do some more podcasts this year as well. Is that good for you guys?

Elizabeth Simpson: Absolutely.

Marko Kulik: Okay. So, we are going to work out our schedule and you might be on sooner rather than later.

Elizabeth Simpson: That would be great.

Marko Kulik: So, thanks very much again, Elizabeth and we will be speaking to you shortly we know.

Elizabeth Simpson: Thank you.

Marko Kulik: So, that was our interview with Elizabeth Simpson of Tenderfoot Training. We hope you learned a lot. I know I did. As always, please feel free to comment about this podcast or any other on the bulletin board. Just go to, find your way to the bulletin board or just do it directly through the blog, and it will be our pleasure. Do not forget to give your little fur babies a little scratchy under the chin from Marko. Bye for now.

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2 Responses to this Article, So Far

  1. Avatar Danielle LeDrew says:

    I have a new puppy and I learned so much from this!

    Thanks a million :)

    Danielle & Puppy Eve

  2. Great Pod Cast Marko. Keep it up.
    I also had a chance to go through some of your older pod casts outstanding. Looking forward to having these podcasts weekly.

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