Rearing Hovawart Puppy

Hovawart puppy rearing and training information van de Hoevemeester and Hofmeester Hovawarts.

In order to train Hovawart pups more effectively, it is helpful to understand that Hovawart puppies behave instinctively, they cannot do anything else. You feed them, care for them, are with them most of the time, take them for walks, and they feel safe with you; as a result your Hovawart puppy will automatically show compliant behaviours, obedience and follow you. By acting as the dog expects and by giving him all sorts of non verbal messages in daily life you can positively reinforce your position as a good owner. The hovawart will work very hard to meet the expectations of the owner who exudes positive confidence, resourcefulness, competence and is above all both resolute and consistent.

Hofmeester Chananigans (Sanne)
Hofmeester Chananigans alias Sanne
Hovawarts posses their own initiatives and living with a human family in contemporary society makes guidance a necessity for all pups. Teaching, socialising and allowing them to experience and know that everything is under your control strengthens your partnership. Your attitude and behaviour needs to be very consistent, that means thinking in terms of black and white and acting in terms of black and white. Grey does not exist. What is allowed once is always allowed ...what is not allowed, is never allowed. Inconsistent behaviour by you will be translated by the dog as weakness. If you behave inconsistently (weakly) there is a big chance that his character will develop negatively. Hovawart pups are friendly, happy and enthusiastic, having an individual character which affects the manner in which they act and feel; much like a child, their character must be guided in the right direction.

Make some rules.
It is important to sit down with all your family and make a list of things that your pup, from now on and for the rest of his life, is allowed and not allowed to do. REMEMBER that he will not stay a small puppy but that he will become a fully grown Hovawart with all the characteristics of the breed. If your pup is allowed to lay on the settee once, then he is always allowed to lay on it even if he is in moult or if your mother-in-law is visiting. If your pup is allowed to jump up at you, then he is always allowed to jump up, even if he has just come out of a muddy pool. If your pup gets food from you at the table when you are having dinner, then you cannot be angry when it sits drooling heavily and soiling your carpet.

Use your voice and hands.
Training a pup mainly relies upon your observation of your puppy and the timing of your commands. To help the puppy with commands use your voice and then your hands as a reward to stroke it, play with it and to give the puppy toys and dog snacks. The most important aid for bringing up hovawart puppies is your voice. When the hovawart pup first comes into your house he will not understand what you say to him. He has yet to associate your words with his actions. Hovawart puppies will experience words said in a high tone as something pleasant, or in a low tone as something unpleasant. You can make good use of this fact in all training, and you should 'exaggerate' when using your voice. Men will have to learn to use a higher tone of voice and women a lower one. The tone of voice and the timing of it are of equal importance. You must praise your pup at the very moment it does something 'good'; conversely, 'tell the pup off' at the very moment it does something 'wrong' and always praise a hovawart puppy when it has corrected any unwanted behaviour.

Natural learning.
From around 8 weeks and up to approximately 8 months old the Hovawart pup's whole being is geared up to learning and during this time they learn very easily and quickly. This is the natural learning period so make good use of all situations and opportunities. For example when the pup wakes up from a sleep, call him by name; he was almost certainly coming to you anyway, so he will come without hesitation. Praise him enthusiastically. Now your pup has learnt its name, 'come', praise and that to walk to you is pleasurable.
This 'easy learning' period will never come again; consider the elegant simplicity of the wisdom of Alan Newman-Moore training a fictitious pup named Rouge.
..............only give a command as the dog is carrying out the action of sit or down etc under its own choice otherwise you create an opportunity to fail!

As soon as your puppy comes into your home this is the time to start training your rules of sit, stand etc. How many people view preparation of the pup’s meals four times a day to stop it bloating see this as a chore. This is the perfect time to train as you have your dog’s total undivided attention!
I try to plan that at mealtime Rouge should be laying down between me and where I am about to prepare his meal. I alternate this so there is no way Rogue need bother going in front of me, as he does not know which way to go. He must learn to rely on me as the provider of food and only I know where the food is, not him.
I get up loudly and Rouge will most likely get up as well. As he starts to move into a stand, I say ‘stand’. When stood I show him the universally accepted sign of the palm of my hand to indicate stay there, and say ‘stay’ but quickly move over to him to praise him plus a titbit. I then move off towards the food with the word ‘come’ and pat my left leg! Once there I make the meal and pretend to eat a little (major dominance sign) whilst watching to see if Rouge changes from standing to a sit. If he starts to sit, I say ‘sit’ followed by loads of praise and a titbit. I finish preparing the food and lift the bowel. This will encourage him to stand so as he does I say ‘stand’ without a titbit this time just praise. I pat my leg and say ‘come’ and go to where I have left his distinctive food mat already outside. Keeping the bowel on my left side, Rouge will follow. If he moves in front, I change direction saying ‘come’ assured he will follow. Never give any rewards for Rouge being in front of you whilst walking. I then go towards the mat and place the bowel down, but pick it up again, then immediately replace it with the command ‘eat’ or any other pin command you wish. I will stay with Rouge talking calmly to him and rubbing his neck head and ears for a moment (major dominance signs) then I move away to wait.
If he leaves his meal, I pick it up to take it away! Rouge may now need to go to the toilet and so with the ‘come’ command and a pat of my left leg take him to the area I have chosen as his spot. Any previous faeces from a wrong spot I have moved to this area to encourage him to use this place and if he starts to go, I say ‘clean’ or ‘wee’ followed by saying he is a good boy and show my pleasure with a big smile. When finished I give the ‘come’ command again I take him home where he will probably now wish to lay down to rest from eating. Once he has found a spot he will start to circle as if checking for hard lumps. As he starts to go down, I say ‘down’ and if necessary put the flat of my hand on the floor hiding a titbit, which he will get once, he is fully down.
All members of the family should take turns in following this routine and use the exact same commands! As I am translating commands for actions I do not give a command for Rouge to obey, I merely give the command repeatedly along with the actions Rouge is completing, so he will learn what each word or hand command relates to each action. Only when I am certain he does know will I test a command before he makes it to see if he will respond. We all learn by our mistakes so I will take the opportunity to create mistakes like moving my left leg then moving it back so Rogue moves out of the sit so I can say ‘sit’ as my left leg returns to where it was. If I want Rouge to stay, I move off with my right leg. If I want Rouge to move off with me, I start to move with my left leg! Now that has taken 500 words and it is simply translating the command for stand, come walking to heel, sit, that you dominate by eating first, eat, toiletry commands and finally the down. Doing this four times a day with the dogs undivided attention is an opportunity not to miss and you will see amazing results…………!”

Play strengthens your partnership.
In your home the pup will miss its brothers and sisters and the game playing. They play by biting each other in the neck or legs, fighting and hunting games; and take it in turns to be the hunter and hunted.
two young van de hoevemeester hovawart puppies playing
If they bite too hard with their sharp little teeth, they get a growl and a snarl to say, you have gone too far, and the game is finished immediately. Protect your hands and clothing while playing, try using an old cloth with which to play. You always decide when to end the game, your word of command for finish or end of the game will not be understood at first, but when he stops, tell him he is a good boy.

Play with and train frequently and ensure there are enough toys around. Always keep one toy special, like a knotted rope, a sock with a ball in it or a piece of material, for you to play with together, give it a name and use it when training. Only ever play this special game together never allowing the dog to play it alone. Afterwards, put the special game away. If you want to play the special game again, call him by name together with the name of the game and say "watch it" or "look" or something like that. As a reward for the attention he gives you, play the game with him, contact and attention are the basis for everything. Make certain you are the one who decides when the game is over, always ending the game at a high point - not when he has lost interest. Hovawarts should always be taught in a very playful manner.

Through practice like this over the weeks young hovawarts learn what commands mean and what you expect of them. You must be creative and imaginative in the games you play together, it is the quality of the game which captivates and makes him attentive to you, because you (your games) are new, interesting and exciting activities. Hovawarts will want and like to play with you, it is important for the learning processes, and strengthens the bond between owner and dog. If you are resolute and have clearly defined boundaries, the young dog will learn how far it can go. If the hovawart will not play with its owner then it will not work with its owner. It is very important that there is a good partnership between dog and owner and that you as owner engage him activities which tax both his mental and physical abilities.