One of many videos to be created by a Canine Companions Intern.
Training your dog should be fun! But it can also be quite challenging. Especially if your dog is young, bouncy and strong!
I’ve selected some helpful tips for you below.
I’d like to help as many people as I can and so I’ve also set up regular tips by email which will answer many of your questions.
Okay! Now for some tips you can start working on right away.
Sometimes the simplest tip can make the biggest difference to the pleasure you get from training your dog.
Here are some of my favorites, together with a few important rules that will help you have more fun with your Labrador.
#1 Build a dog training habit
Training a dog takes time and needs to be done regularly.
Like any other demand on your time, you are most likely to stick with it, if you make your dog training sessions a daily habit.
Habits are hard to make, but hard to break. So making good habits is always worthwhile.
Pick a time to start when your motivation is high! A New Year, a new month, a birthday.. these are often powerful motivators for us.
Rewarding your dog is good, but you need to reward yourself after each training session too – spend five minutes doing something YOU really enjoy.
#2 Getting started
Link your dog training sessions to something else you do every day. Sessions don’t need to be long, especially in the beginning.
Getting the habit going should be your priority. And experts reckon it takes from 30 to 60 days of daily commitment to get a habit well established.
Five minutes training after the school run each day, or when you get home from work, will work wonders if you do it religiously every day.
Later, when the habit is well established you can skip a day if you need to, or train for longer if you want to. But in the beginning, aim for short sessions every day.
#3 Choose the right rewards
Choosing the right treat for the skill you are training today, is critical. And your ability to make the right choice will improve with practice.
The most important factors which will influence your choice will be
Each of these factors work together and against each other. If your dog prefers roast chicken to sausage, you may still find training with sausage is effective, until you increase the distractions around him.
Then you may need to switch to chicken for a while.
Unless of course he is very hungry indeed, in which case sausage may work just fine!
Special or unusual foods often make better training treats. If your dog gets kibble for every meal, kibble is not going to cut the mustard.
Not unless he hasn’t eaten for 48 hours.
While it makes sense not to try and train a dog that has just ‘stuffed his face’ we don’t want to starve our dogs. So when distractions are increased, we may need to offer better treats for a while.
#4 Learn to use an event marker
An event marker is one of the most useful dog training tools you will ever possess.
This is because it is so easy to reward the dog at the wrong time and reinforce the wrong behavior, and an event marker avoids this problem completely.
Your event marker makes a distinctive sound that lets the dog know exactly what the reward is for. The most common event marker is a clicker, but you can also use a word.
Using an event marker is a skill. It does not come naturally and you will need to improve your timing and co-ordination.
You can practice by watching a TV programme and ‘marking’ a specific type of behavior, such as an arm lift or a smile. Practice on your kids, or your cat!
Just don’t use it around your dog, until you have mastered the skill of clicking when you observe a change in behavior, with a reasonable level of competence.
It won’t take you long, and you will continue to improve after you have started training your dog.￼
#5 Start easy
It ought to go without saying that easy tasks need to be learned before hard ones.
The reason many people fail with this, is because they don’t realize what is easy for a dog and what is hard.
It’s common for people to think a dog is being naughty if he obeys the word sit in your back yard, but won’t obey the word sit at the dog park. The truth of course is that sit is much harder for your dog where there are distractions.
The right short term goal is one that stretches your dog just a little, but that is attainable within a training session or two.
#6 Pick the right goals for your dog
Modern dog training methods focus on training good behaviors IN rather than training bad behaviors OUT.
Thus we train dogs to SIT to be petted rather than trying to STOP them jumping up.
This makes sense because there are often many different ways for a dog to be bad, and usually just one way for him to be good.
Whatever you are trying to teach make it easy for yourself and figure out what that ONE way is.
Decide what you want the dog TO DO, not which of the many alternatives you don’t want him to do.
#7 Sandwich the hard stuff!
Sandwiches are very important in dog training, though maybe not the sort of sandwiches you had in mind.
Memory is a funny thing. We tend to remember things best if they happened at the beginning or the end of a particular event or time period.
Sandwiches can help you to keep your Labrador’s confidence high, whilst ‘stretching’ him just a little bit more each time you train. And no, we are not talking about edible sandwiches here!
This is about sandwiching the hard tasks between two easy ones.
Each time you challenge your dog, it is a really good idea to ‘sandwich’ the most challenging or stretching thing you ask him to do, in between two simpler versions of the same task.
Yesterday your dog sat perfectly still for 10 seconds, ten yards away from you. Today you want him to sit for 15 seconds at the same distance. Here is what I would do.
• Sit 1: 6 seconds
• Sit 2: 15 seconds
• Sit 3: 3 seconds
The sandwich ensures that the dog begins and ends with success. It gives him confidence and helps him to remain stoic about the extra time you have added on in the middle.
I use sandwiches a lot in dog training. They are a great way to ‘set the dog up to win’.
#8 Avoid punishing your dog
Several studies have shown that punishment, even mild punishment, interferes with learning.
It causes some dogs to shut down so they cannot learn and appear increasingly stupid.
And it causes some dogs to become ‘hard’ so that increasingly harsh punishments are required to get the same results.
Using punishment also impedes your ability to become more skilled in positive reinforcement training – and thus increases the likelihood that you will resort to punishment in the future.
Most worryingly, punishments of any kind have been shown to increase the risk of a dog becoming aggressive.
A punishment is anything that diminishes behavior – you don’t need to frighten or hurt your dog to be punishing him. It really is an outdated dog training tool and best avoided.
#9 Teach your dog to work for food
There are lots of ways to reward a dog without food, from affection to games and access to activities that are intrinsically attractive to most dogs such as hunting scent.
Food however, is supremely useful, especially in early training.
If you dismiss the use of food you are doing the equivalent of trying to train a dog with one hand tied behind your back.
Some dogs that have not been used to food rewards, ignore them to begin with.
But you can teach any dog the useful skill of working for edible rewards. Don’t miss out on this great opportunity with your dog.
#10 Manage your dog outdoors
Some dogs can become a problem outdoors if they are not properly supervised.
There are dogs that can just be allowed to trot along on a walk, without any intervention from their owner, and that never become a problem.
But for many young dogs, a certain amount of management on a walk, can make the difference between a dog that is a pleasure, and a dog that is a nightmare on walks.
Running off, pestering other people and chasing wildlife are common activities in young labradors that are not well supervised outside.
Managing your dog means engaging him in games, and activities at intervals during the walk to keep him focused on you and responsive to you.
#11 Do the recall challenge test!
Recall is so important and recall outdoors can be very challenging.
One thing that can really help you, is teaching your dog how to recall away from really tasty or attractive things, at home where you can control the outcome.
Try this recall challenge test
Place some tasty treats in a bowl. Little lumps of meat or cheese is fine, or you can use pieces of your dog’s kibble.
Let the dog see what is in the bowl, but don’t give it to him.
Now place the bowl on a raised work surface where the dog can see but not reach it.
Whilst the bowl has his full attention, walk to the other side of the room and give a single recall command.
What does your dog do?
Does he rush to you and then back to the bowl again? If so, perfect.
Go with him to the bowl, give his a piece of the food from the bowl and congratulate yourself.
Your dog has already learned to look to you for the good things in life. This is a great basis for training and teamwork.
Many dogs however, will simply be unable to tear themselves away from the bowl, and will gaze lovingly at it whilst trying to ‘wish’ the contents into their tummies.
Some will bounce up and down in the hopes of defeating gravity.
These dogs have not yet grasped the idea that they can get you to help them.
It’s time to teach your dog that you are the provider of all good things.
You can ‘capture’ or ‘shape’ this new skill.
After giving your single recall command, you can wait the dog out. Stay where you are and wait for him to give up his futile quest for the food.
You can encourage him to you with squeaky noises if you wish, but don’t repeat your recall.
When he eventually comes to you, tell him ‘GOOD’ and immediately go with him to the bowl and give him a piece of the food.
Repeat the process until he is rushing to you each time you call. Give him a piece of food each time.
If you wish, you can ‘shape’ the recall away from the food. Instead of waiting for the dog to come right to you, you can reward him for just glancing in your direction.
When he is repeatedly looking at you to earn his reward, you can ask him to turn towards you, then eventually to take a step towards you, and so on.
Finish up with asking for a full recall before he gets his reward.
Expanding the concept
Recalling away from a ‘nice thing’ is so important that it is worth spending some time on this useful concept.
You can teach your dog to recall away from people, and even other dogs, all in the comfort of your home.
It is a good idea to do this before taking these exercises outdoors.
You can find many examples of these, and other recall exercises in my book Total Recall
#12 Train for distractions
Don’t assume your dog will generalize what he learns at home, to the very different situations he encounters in new locations. He won’t.
Retrain all the skills your dog has learned at home, in each new environment he encounters.
Proof his recall, his loose leash walking, and other basis skills, against the presence of other dogs and people.
The time spent on this stage of training is worth its weight in gold.
#13 Use a training lead
We couldn’t make a collection of modern dog training tips without including the all important training lead or line.
When you first train your dog in the presence of distractions you need to prevent him helping himself to rewards – such as playing with other dogs – if he doesn’t obey you.
The training lead is your friend, because it helps you prevent the dog grabbing these ‘rewards’ after being naughty. It puts you where you should be, in charge of all rewards.
The best way to do this, is to have your dog drag a training line until you are confident he has understood your commands apply when there are ‘other dogs around’ or when he is ‘on the beach’ or ‘at the dog park’.
The new biothane training lines are light, tangle resistant, and easy to clean.
#14 Fake it till you make it
How do you teach your dog not to jump at old ladies, steal ice creams from children, or not to run off every time he sees another dog in the distance?
It is not as if these things happen every single day. So how to you train for them?
The answer is you need to fake it!
Setting up fake training scenarios at home and in public places is a vital part of successful dog training. And it requires two things:
- A friend
- A training lead
You will need a friend, or friends to help you set up your fake scenarios. You cannot do this on your own.
If your dog behaves badly when other people are around, you can use a friend to set up the kinds of situations where he goes wrong, in easy stages, so that he can learn how to cope. I will give you an example in a moment.
If your dog behaves badly around other dogs, you will need a friend with a dog, so that you can practice how to behave near other dogs.
Using a training lead is a great way to prevent your dog helping himself to rewards after he has been ‘bad’.
The kinds of rewards that dogs commonly take for themselves are ‘games with other dogs’, ‘running up’ to strangers and ‘jumping’ on them, joining in children’s games uninvited, chasing leaves, and so on.
Anything that your dog enjoys doing can be used by him, as a reward.
An example of a fake it till you make it!
Here is an example of a fake scenario to help a dog that will not walk nicely on a lead past other dogs.
You cannot attempt this until your dog will walk nicely on the lead at home and where there are no other dogs around.
You will need a friend with a dog that will sit and stay calm whilst on a lead.
If your friend is training her dog too, you can take turns to be ‘the distraction dog’.
If you have a large garden you can do this at home, otherwise you will need to go to an open space early in the morning or when the weather is bad, in order to avoid other people distracting your dog.
Seated distraction dog
Ask your friend to sit her dog next to her, and 20 to 30 feet away from you. This is the seated distraction dog.
Now you need to behave as though the other dog is not there. And to practice lead walking up and down, well away from your friend and her dog. Do not approach them. If you are training with treats use some very tasty and special ones here.
Walk in a neat circle or square, walk up and down an imaginary line, stop and start, ask your dog to sit every now and then. Keep him focused and concentrating on you.
When he is successful and only then, you can move 10 feet nearer to your friend and repeat. Gradually work your way nearer until your dog can heel in a square around and close to your friend.
Now move right back to thirty feet away.
Moving distraction dog
This time, have your friend walk her own dog around in a small area 30 feet away, whilst you do the same with your dog. Each dog must focus on his own handler, and not on the other dog.
Gradually, as the dogs succeed, bring them closer together until eventually you can have one dog making a small circle inside the circle made by the larger dog. Have the two dogs moving in opposite directions so they have to walk past facing each other.
Vary the drills and keep practicing. Try walking up and down an imaginary line with you and your dog on one side, and your friend and her dog on the other.
Reduce the space between the dogs until they almost brush past one another without breaking focus on their handlers.
Taking your time
Getting to this point takes time. Depending on the dogs it will take several sessions.
These kinds of exercises can also be practiced in a good training class. Check out the APDT website for training sessions in your area.
You can see that the principle here is to ‘dilute’ the power of the distraction to begin with. Often diluting a distraction means moving it further away, or moving your dog further away from it.
Remember, no dog is going to cope with huge distractions without this kind of preparation. You have to fake it, to make it!
#15 Film yourself
It is often impossible to spot flaws in your own performance or to figure out what you are doing wrong, without some kind of feedback or perspective.
The advent of smartphone have transformed this aspect of dog training, because a great way to get this feedback and perspective is to film yourself.
You can easily do this with a smart phone and a gadget for steadying it. I use a GorillaPod, which can act as a miniature tripod or be wrapped around a branch or rail.
#16 Plan for problems
This is about anticipating trouble. Because trouble WILL happen.
Don’t assume you have a field or the beach to yourself just because it is early in the morning.
Do assume another dog will come bowling up at any minute to interrupt you and PLAN what you are going to do when he does.
Don’t go out without your ‘training lead’ or any of the rewards you need to have ready when your dog is successful.
Be prepared for every eventuality!
#17 Drop your standards
“What’s that?” you say. “DROP your standards!” “Have you gone mad?”.
Nope, I haven’t gone mad. Dropping standards, or lowering the demands you make on the dog during training is very important at certain times.
You do it whenever you add or increase a second factor of difficulty. Here’s an example:
You want your dog to sit and stay when you walk ten yards away from him.
Assuming you have already taught your dog to sit and stay AT YOUR SIDE for two minutes (some people unwittingly skip this bit) the next task is adding distance.
Moving away from your dog makes the sit stay harder for him.
So you need to make the duration of the task much easier to begin with – forget two minutes – make it ten seconds. Or less.
Build up duration back up at ten yards. When you increase distance again, drop the duration again.
If you add a third factor of difficulty – other dogs for example – drop the duration AND the distance.
#18 Find a positive trainer
It is entirely possible to train a dog yourself without ever visiting a professional dog trainer or attending a puppy class.
In fact, if you can’t find the right class or the right trainer you are probably better off figuring things out for yourself. Or taking one of our online training courses.
An old fashioned, punitive trainer can do untold harm to a puppy.
Having said that, help from a good positive reinforcement trainer is invaluable and will make training your dog much easier.
#19 Find the right information
This tip is not quite so important, because you are here, after all! There is a mountain of information on this website to help you.
Of course, we are not the only source of great dog training tips and information around. So it can be useful to know when the information you have found is going to help you and your dog.
There are a few clues that you have landed on the wrong kind of page.
If you are reading about the need to ‘dominate’ your dog or be the ‘pack leader’ you have probably landed on a website with outdated dog training information on it.
‘Correcting’ a dog is simply a euphemism for mild punishment, and ‘respect’ is often a euphemism for fear. Anyone states that you need to show your dog who is the boss, is probably not very knowledgeable, or has not kept up with their professional development as a dog trainer.
This kind of information is becoming less common, but you are bound to come across it from time to time.
#20 Join a support network
There are some excellent support networks online.
The Labrador Site has a forum where many Labrador owners give up their time to help others with dog training and behavior issues.
The Dogsnet Training Center also has a private forum for training course students where you can get help from me and my team.
A listening ear and advice from others who have been where you are now can go a long way.
#21 Practice, practice, and don’t give up
Dogs only learn through the consequences of their actions and typically need to repeat those actions and experience those consequences several (sometimes many) times in order to learn from them.
Sometimes we forget that we need to practice to get good at something.
If you want your dog to be good at recalling from other dogs, he needs to practice recalling away from other dogs.
There’s no way around this.
Practicing desirable behaviors using fake set-ups like the one described above, is an essential part of any dog training program.
Fake training scenarios help you to practice recall, heel and other basic commands in at home and in public, in a way that you can control.
This enables you to ‘proof’ your dog’s commands against the distractions which will inevitably arise in the real world.
Don’t give up because it is sometimes difficult to find people to help you do this. Be persistent. This is what separates well-behaved dogs from naughty ones.
Find ways to practice and pester people to help you.
It’s important. Especially when it comes to recall. Your dog’s life could depend on it.
#22 Enjoy your dog training
My final tip is to take deliberate steps to ensure you are having fun.
If you are not enjoying training your dog you MUST take action!
This is because your dog will know and because you simply won’t stick at it if it isn’t fun.
If you are not enjoying it, try something different
- Check you are using the right methods
- Try a different skill
- Teach a silly trick
- Watch a youtube training video
- Just take your dog for a walk and start training again tomorrow
- Make your lessons easier for the dog
- Train at a different time of day
- Join an online course
- Read a good training book
- Start over with puppy stuff
- Join a forum or find a trainer
Just don’t try to battle on alone.
This also applies to classes – don’t keep going if it isn’t fun. Modern dog training is a pleasurable experience. There will be ups and downs, but generally speaking you and your dog should be enjoying yourselves.
If you are not, then get some help – joining the forum would be a good first step.
How about you?
Do you have any dog training tips to share with other readers? Drop your comments into the box below.
Dog Training Tips was brought to you by Pippa Mattinson.
Pippa is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.
She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and creator of the Dogsnet Online Training Program.
You can get regular training tips from Pippa by email, using the box below
House training your puppy is about consistency, patience, and positive reinforcement. The goal is to instill good habits and build a loving bond with your pet.
It typically takes 4-6 months for a puppy to be fully house trained, but some puppies may take up to a year. Size can be a predictor. For instance, smaller breeds have smaller bladders and higher metabolisms and require more frequent trips outside. Your puppy’s previous living conditions are another predictor. You may find that you need to help your puppy break old habits in order to establish more desirable ones.
And while you’re training, don’t worry if there are setbacks. As long as you continue a management program that includes taking puppy out at the first sign he needs to go and offering him rewards, he’ll learn.
When to Begin House Training Puppy
Experts recommend that you begin house training your puppy when he is between 12 weeks and 16 weeks old. At that point, he has enough control of his bladder and bowel movements to learn to hold it.
If your puppy is older than 12 weeks when you bring him home and he’s been eliminating in a cage (and possibly eating his waste), house training may take longer. You will have to reshape the dog’s behavior — with encouragement and reward.
Steps for Housetraining Your Puppy
Experts recommend confining the puppy to a defined space, whether that means in a crate, in a room, or on a leash. As your puppy learns that he needs to go outside to do his business, you can gradually give him more freedom to roam about the house.
When you start to house train, follow these steps:
- Keep the puppy on a regular feeding schedule and take away his food between meals.
- Take puppy out to eliminate first thing in the morning and then once every 30 minutes to an hour. Also, always take him outside after meals or when he wakes from a nap. Make sure he goes out last thing at night and before he’s left alone.
- Take puppy to the same spot each time to do his business. His scent will prompt him to go.
- Stay with him outside, at least until he’s house trained.
- When your puppy eliminates outside, praise him or give him a treat. A walk around the neighborhood is a nice reward.
Using a Crate to House Train Puppy
A crate can be a good idea for house training your puppy, at least in the short term. It will allow you to keep an eye on him for signs he needs to go and teach him to hold it until you open the crate and let him outside.
Here are a few guidelines for using a crate:
- Make sure it is large enough for the puppy to stand, turn around, and lie down, but not big enough for him to use a corner as a bathroom.
- If you are using the crate for more than two hours at a time, make sure puppy has fresh water, preferably in a dispenser you can attach to the crate.
- If you can’t be home during the house training period, make sure somebody else gives him a break in the middle of the day for the first 8 months.
- Don’t use a crate if puppy is eliminating in it. Eliminating in the crate could have several meanings: he may have brought bad habits from the shelter or pet store where he lived before; he may not be getting outside enough; the crate may be too big; or he may be too young to hold it in.
Signs That Your Puppy Needs to Eliminate
Whining, circling, sniffing, barking, or, if your puppy is unconfined, barking or scratching at the door, are all signs he needs to go. Take him out right away.
House Training Setbacks
Accidents are common in puppies up to a year old. The reasons for accidents range from incomplete house training to a change in the puppy’s environment.
When your puppy does have an accident, keep on training. Then if it still doesn’t seem to be working, consult a veterinarian to rule out a medical issue.
Do’s and Don’ts in Potty Training Your Puppy
Keep the following do’s and don’ts in mind while housetraining your puppy:
- Punishing your puppy for having an accident is a definite no-no. It teaches your puppy to fear you.
- If you catch your puppy in the act, clap loudly so he knows he’s done something unacceptable. Then take him outside by calling him or taking him gently by the collar. When he’s finished, praise him or give him a small treat.
- If you found the evidence but didn’t see the act, don’t react angrily by yelling or rubbing his nose in it. Puppies aren’t intellectually capable of connecting your anger with their accident.
- Staying outside longer with puppy may help to curb accidents. He may need the extra time to explore.
- Clean up accidents with an enzymatic cleanser rather than an ammonia-based cleaner to minimize odors that might attract the puppy back to the same spot.
- How To Teach A Dog To Come
- How To Teach a Dog Loose Leash Walking
- How To Teach a Dog To Sit
- How To Teach a Dog To Stay
- How to Teach a Dog to Lay Down
To start off on the right foot (and paw!) with your pup, he’ll need to know what you expect from him. This will make him feel secure in his ability to meet the goals laid out for him going forward.
The foundation of dog training should be based on positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement is the process of giving a dog (or person!) a reward to encourage the behavior you want, like getting a pay check for going to work. The idea is not to bribe the behavior but to train it using something your dog values. Avoid using punishment such as leash corrections or yelling. Punishment can cause a dog to become confused and unsure about what is being asked of him. It is important to remember that we can’t expect dogs to know what they don’t know – just like you wouldn’t expect a 2-year-old child to know how to tie his shoes. Patience will go a long way in helping your new puppy learn how to behave.
Reinforcement can be anything your dog likes. Most people use small pieces of a “high value” food for training treats — something special — such as dried liver or even just their kibble. Lavish praise or the chance to play with a favorite toy can also be used as a reward. Dogs must be taught to like praise. If you give the dog a treat while saying “Good dog!” in a happy voice, he will learn that praise is a good thing and can be a reward. Some dogs also enjoy petting. Food is often the most convenient way to reinforce behavior.
Puppies can begin very simple training starting as soon as they come home, usually around 8 weeks old. Always keep training sessions brief — just 5 to 10 minutes —and always end on a positive note. If your puppy is having trouble learning a new behavior, end the session by reviewing something he already knows and give him plenty of praise and a big reward for his success. If your puppy gets bored or frustrated, it will ultimately be counterproductive to learning.
How To Teach A Dog To Come
You’ll want to begin training a recall (come when called) in a quiet area and indoors. Sit with your puppy and say his name or the word “come.” Each time you say “come/name,” give your puppy a treat. He doesn’t have to do anything yet! Just repeat the word and give a treat. Easy!
Next, drop a treat on the floor near you. As soon as your puppy finishes the treat on the ground, say his name again. When he looks up, give him another treat. Repeat this a couple of times until you can begin tossing the treat a little further away, and he can turn around to face you when you say his name. Avoid repeating your puppy’s name; saying it too often when he doesn’t respond makes it easier for him to ignore it. Instead, move closer to your puppy and go back to a step where he can be successful at responding to his name the first time.
Once your puppy can turn around to face you, begin adding movement and making the game more fun! Toss a treat on the ground and take a few quick steps away while calling your puppy’s name. They should run after you because chase is fun! When they catch you, give them a lot of praise, treats or play with a tug toy. Coming to you should be fun! Continue building on these games with longer distances and in other locations. When training outside (always in a safe, enclosed area), it may be helpful to keep your puppy on a long leash at first.
When your puppy comes to you, don’t reach out and grab him. This can be confusing or frightening for some dogs. If your puppy is timid, kneel and face them sideways and offer him treats as you reach for the collar. Never call your dog to punish! This will only teach him that you are unpredictable, and it is a good idea to avoid you. Always reward your dog heavily for responding to his or her name, even if they have been up to mischief!
How To Teach a Dog Loose Leash Walking
In competition obedience training, “heel” means the dog is walking on your left side with his head even with your knee while you hold the leash loosely. Puppy training can be a little more relaxed with the goal being that they walk politely on a loose leash without pulling. Some trainers prefer to say “let’s go” or “forward” instead of “heel” when they train this easy way of walking together.
Whatever cue you choose, be consistent and always use the same word. Whether your puppy walks on your left side or your right side is completely up to you. But be consistent about where you want them so they don’t get confused and learn to zig zag in front of you.
First, make sure your puppy is comfortable wearing a leash. This can feel strange at first, and some puppies may bite the leash. Give your puppy treats as you put the leash on each time. Then, stand next to your puppy with the leash in a loose loop and give him several treats in a row for standing or sitting next to your leg. Take one step forward and encourage him to follow by giving another treat as he catches up.
Continue giving treats to your puppy at the level of your knee or hip as you walk forward. When he runs in front of you, simply turn the opposite direction, call him to you, and reward him in place. Then continue. Gradually begin giving treats further apart (from every step to every other step, every third step, and so on).
Eventually your dog will walk happily at your side whenever he’s on his leash. Allow your dog plenty of time to sniff and “smell the roses” on your walks. When they’ve had their sniffing time, give the cue “Let’s Go!” in a happy voice and reward them for coming back into position and walking with you.
How To Teach a Dog To Sit
There are two different methods for showing your puppy what “sit” means.
The first method is called capturing. Stand in front of your puppy holding some of his dog food or treats. Wait for him to sit – say “yes” and give him a treat. Then step backwards or sideways to encourage him to stand and wait for him to sit. Give another treat as soon as they sit. After a few repetitions, you can begin saying “sit” right as he begins to sit.
The next option is called luring. Get down in front of your puppy, holding a treat as a lure. Put the treat right in front of the pup’s nose, then slowly lift the food above his head. He will probably sit as he lifts his head to nibble at the treat. Allow him to eat the treat when his bottom touches the ground. Repeat one or two times with the food lure, then remove the food and use just your empty hand, but continue to reward the puppy after he sits. Once he understands the hand signal to sit, you can begin saying “sit” right before you give the hand signal.
Never physically put your puppy into the sitting position; this can be confusing or upsetting to some dogs.
How To Teach a Dog To Stay
A puppy who knows the “stay” cue will remain sitting until you ask him to get up by giving another cue, called the “release word.” Staying in place is a duration behavior. The goal is to teach your dog to remain sitting until the release cue is given, then begin adding distance.
First, teach the release word. Choose which word you will use, such as “OK” or “free.” Stand with your puppy in a sit or a stand, toss a treat on the floor, and say your word as he steps forward to get the treat. Repeat this a couple of times until you can say the word first and then toss the treat AFTER he begins to move. This teaches the dog that the release cue means to move your feet.
When your dog knows the release cue and how to sit on cue, put him in a sit, turn and face him, and give him a treat. Pause, and give him another treat for staying in a sit, then release him. Gradually increase the time you wait between treats (it can help to sing the ABC’s in your head and work your way up the alphabet). If your dog gets up before the release cue, that’s ok! It just means he isn’t ready to sit for that long so you can make it easier by going back to a shorter time.
Once your dog can stay in a sit for several seconds, you can begin adding distance. Place him in a sit and say “stay,” take one step back, then step back to the pup, give a treat, and your release word. Continue building in steps, keeping it easy enough that your dog can stay successful. Practice both facing him and walking away with your back turned (which is more realistic).
Once your dog can stay, you can gradually increase the distance. This is also true for the “sit.” The more solidly he learns it, the longer he can remain sitting. The key is to not expect too much, too soon. Training goals are achieved in increments, so you may need to slow down and focus on one thing at a time. To make sure the training “sticks,” sessions should be short and successful.
How to Teach a Dog to Lay Down
“Down” can be taught very similarly to “sit.” You can wait for your dog to lie down (beginning in a boring, small room such as a bathroom can help) and capture the behavior by reinforcing your dog with a treat when he lies down, giving him his release cue to stand back up (and encouragement with a lure if needed) and then waiting for him to lie down again. When he is quickly lying down after standing up, you can begin saying “down” right before he does so.
You can also lure a down from a sit or stand by holding a treat in your hand to the dog’s nose and slowly bringing it to the floor. Give the treat when the dog’s elbows touch the floor to start. After a few practices, begin bringing your empty hand to the floor and giving the treat AFTER he lies down. When he can reliably follow your hand signal, begin saying “down” as you move your hand.
Just like with sitting, never use force to put your dog into a down.
And Remember …
Keep training sessions short and fun. End each session on a positive note. If you feel your dog is having a difficult time learning or being “stubborn,” evaluate the speed of your training and the value of your rewards. Do you need to slow down and make the steps easier, or does your dog need a bigger paycheck for a harder exercise?
The “Basic 5” commands will give your puppy a strong foundation for any future training.
And just think, if you and your puppy continue to work hard—and have fun—at training, someday you may become obedience champs!
There’s no doubt about it, puppies are cute, but they’re also hard work. There’s the general training, the socializing, the feeding, and also the toilet training. So, to help you get ahead, here are some tips and tricks you need to take note of when it comes to toilet training your puppy.
Don’t push them
First and foremost, remember your home is not a familiar environment for your puppy, and the first few days can be stressful for them. Everything is new, and your pup needs to get used to you and your movements just as much as it needs to get used to the new location – house, backyard and neighborhood included. And it’s not just the sights that matter to your dog either, but also the smells and noises.
While you should start toilet training your puppy as soon as you get home, it takes time and patience, and every puppy is different.
Watch out for the signs
There are signs your dog will show when it needs to go. These include sniffing around, fidgeting, and beginning to circle before squatting.1 A whining or pacing dog may also be indicating that it needs to go to the toilet, as well as a dog that has been chewing on something for a while and suddenly moves to do something else.2 If you keep a constant vigil on your pup during the toilet training process, watching out for these signs will mean fewer accidents.
Choose an area where you would like your pup to toilet – this might be a pee pad on your apartment balcony or in a bathroom, or outside. The moment your pup indicates it needs to go, take it to this area. This teaches them that they need to go to this spot or area when they feel the need to go to the toilet. Picking the pup up straight away is crucial, so they associate the act of going outside with the feeling they’re getting.
It’s also important to continually take your puppy out according to timings. The key times are after waking up from a nap, after eating, or after a play. Puppies can’t hold their bladder for that long, so give them plenty of opportunities to go. This will of course change as they get older.
A puppy learns associations in training. When it comes to going to the toilet, a puppy will associate an area with a toilet because of the to the following:
- Smell of urine, feces or ammonia.
- Location – when training, try to take them to same spot every time. That way, your puppy will associate that spot with going to the toilet.
- The feeling of the surface beneath its paws.
- Physiological things such as after food, when it wakes up, and after a play.
- Commands – when trained, dogs will associate certain words, commands or sounds with going to the toilet.
At first, it’s a good idea to take your puppy out frequently. For example, set a timer for every hour. When the timer goes off, pop your puppy on a lead and take it to the designated toilet spot. Once there, be patient as your puppy may not go instantly. Give it time, but do not play while waiting otherwise your puppy may confuse toilet time with play time.2
If your puppy doesn’t go, don’t be alarmed. Simply take them back inside and try again a little later – dogs like humans are not robots.
If your puppy does go, reward them straight away. Use encouraging words and make a fuss that they have gone to the toilet in the correct spot.
It’s also a good idea to have a little play outside once your puppy has successfully gone to the toilet. This ensures your puppy associates outside with its toilet space and a place it can play, rather than one or the other.
Add a cue
It would be ideal if your puppy learns to go on command. While it won’t be needed every time, there will be moments when you’ll need your puppy to go to the toilet at a specific time. For example, before bedtime or on a long car ride. Wouldn’t it be great if at these times you could simply take your dog outside and say a specific word, and suddenly they’d relieve themselves? Well, it all starts as a puppy.
Whenever you take your puppy to the toilet, use the same command. For example, you could say the word ‘toilet’. Say it before and during the fact. That way, whenever your dog hears the word ‘toilet’ they know they need to relieve themselves.
Accidents will happen
One of the most important elements you need to remember when it comes to toilet training is that accidents will happen. It’s a fact of life. Crucial to this; however, is not to get angry. It’s highly unlikely your dog has done this on purpose, and getting angry will only make things worse. Puppies do not have full control over their bladder. That’s what toilet training is all about – teaching them how to hold and where they should be going. It’s all part of the developmental process. So, accidents can happen without the dog even being able to prevent or control them.3
Never shout, become angry, say ‘no’, or punish your dog for going in the wrong spot – it doesn’t teach your dog where to go, but it does teach them to be scared about going in front of you, which makes training much harder.2 Don’t make a fuss or an issue over it, just simply clean it up.
It’s also important to use an ammonia-free cleaning product and make sure you clean it well when a puppy has an accident. If the area smells like the toilet area to your pup, it will continue to be used as one.
If you notice your dog is about to go in the wrong place and you’d like to avoid an accident, interrupt them in a calm and cheerful way, and take them to the correct spot. Remember to praise them when they go.
Reward your puppy
Positive reinforcement is a successful and effective way of toilet training. Your dog will soon associate going to the toilet in the correct spot, with the fact that it’s doing something right.
The reward itself can be in the form of praise, whether it’s talking to your puppy, a long pat, a tummy rub or even a play. As long as you are talking and interacting in a positive and upbeat manner, you are reinforcing good behaviour. You can also give your dog a delicious treat or its favourite toy to play with.
Other issues or difficulties
There are other elements that need to be considered, especially if your dog is having a hard time picking up toilet training. For example, being cooped up for too long can stall the process. Sometimes dogs, especially puppies, can’t hold on. If you’re going to go out for a while, it’s a good idea to leave your puppy in a spot where they can go if they need to.
Also, remember your puppy has gone through a change coming into your home. It’s a brand new environment with new people, and this can affect the way it learns. Be kind to your puppy and give it time.
If you are really struggling with toilet training your puppy, please seek veterinary attention. Occasionally there may be a medical reason why your puppy has issues with toilet training. Your vet is the perfect professional to help you with this and advise you how to treat.
Puppies learn very quickly with proper instruction. The first few days at home are extremely important for puppies and the precedents you set now will last a lifetime. All family members must agree upon responsibility and rules for the new pup.
It’s normal for a young puppy to be a little ‘input-output’ machine. Since puppies are growing and developing rapidly, they eat food often, burn up lots of energy and seem to need to eliminate constantly! They also have not yet developed bowel and bladder control, so they can’t ‘hold it’.
Crate training can be an effective way to house train a puppy. Puppies do not like to soil their resting/sleeping quarters if given adequate opportunity to eliminate elsewhere. Temporarily confining your puppy to a small area strongly inhibits the tendency to urinate and defecate.
Biting and mouthing is common in a young puppy especially in play and while teething. Puppies must learn to inhibit their bite and normally, they would learn this from their littermates. But, because we take them away from this environment before this learning is completed, we must train our puppy they cannot bite us.
Whining, crying and howling often result when a puppy is left alone. Puppies will whine and cry when separated from their owners. The puppy is afraid he is being abandoned by his pack and is sounding the alarm so that he can be rescued. At other times, a puppy whines, crys, or barks because they need or want something.
Obedience training is one of the best things you can do for your puppy and yourself. Although obedience training doesn’t solve all behavior problems, it is still the very best foundation for solving just about any behavior problem. Training opens up a line of communication between you and your puppy.
To many a puppy, the command “come here” means, “quick, run the other way!” Your puppy is always learning whether you are intending to teach something or not. We often unintentionally train our puppy NOT to come when called.
Jumping up can be dangerous as well as annoying. Young children and elderly people can easily be toppled over and seriously injured by exuberant, friendly dogs. Start now to teach your puppy not to jump up. Even little dogs can cause problems and injury to themselves and others when they leap and jump around.
Introducing your puppy to his collar, leash and the stairs can be a challenge. If your puppy is trained properly, it will be simple, satisfying and successful. Always use praise and lures rather than force.
Do not drag your puppy. Do not yank or pull on your puppy’s delicate throat and neck. Never use a choke collar on a puppy. Instead, teach your puppy to walk nicely on leash before he develops a habit of lunging and pulling on leash.
Barking is a perfectly natural canine behavior. Puppies bark, whine or howl for many different reasons. Barking can be a blessing as dogs will alert to sounds and movement we cannot detect. Barking can also be a puppy’s cry for help! Here are some training tips to help you understand and also put limits on puppy barking.
Submissive urination is a normal way for your puppy to demonstrate submissive behavior. Even a dog that is otherwise housetrained may leave dribbles and puddles of urine at your feet when greeting you. Excitement urination with a puppy is usually caused by lack of bladder control. The puppy is not aware that he is urinating; he’s just excited and any punishment will only confuse him.
Socialization and puppy training are of utmost importance as puppyhood is the most important and critical time in your puppy’s development. What you do and do not do right now will affect your puppy’s behavior forever. A properly socialized puppy is well adjusted.
Any area that the pup has access to must be kept clear and clean. Put out of puppy’s reach anything you don’t want him to chew or destroy. Do not allow your puppy to have unsupervised access to ‘unchewables.’ Do not chase the puppy in an attempt to take something away. Instead provide puppy with her own toys and teach her how to play with them exclusively.
In some situations, a puppy will experience separation anxiety when left alone. They will often bark, chew, dig, scratch at the door, soil the house or destroy your home and yard. We often unintentionally will train a puppy to behave this way by causing over-dependancy in our puppy.
Just as a child needs a caring parent; an athletic team needs a coach; your puppy needs a leader and a clear social hierarchy. If you do not take up the role of leader, your dog will; and you will end up with an unruly, disobedient dog. Many people try to win their new puppy’s love by letting the puppy always have its way. Buckets of affection is a wonderful thing for most puppies, but it must be tempered with respect.
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At first, dog training can seem pretty overwhelming, especially if this is your first dog. The truth is that training your dog is a very big project. If you take it step by step, you will find the task to be far less daunting. Here is some information to help get you started:
- Start a Dog Obedience Program: Learn how to set a basic foundation before you begin to train your dog.
- Train Your Dog Using Games: Training your dog should be fun! Everyone knows it’s easier to learn when you are having a good time, so try implementing some games into your dog training regimen.
- Six Weeks to a Well-Trained Dog: Using this schedule as a guide, you can teach your dog the basics in about six weeks.
- Positive Reinforcement: There are many different ways to train a dog, but most dog professionals agree that the positive way is the best for both the dog and trainer.
Watch Now: How to Train Your Dog With Positive Reinforcement
Unless you plan to keep your dog outdoors–and few of us do because it’s not recommended–you’ll need to teach your dog where to eliminate. Therefore, house training (also called housebreaking or potty training) is one of the first things you need to work on with your dog. Crate training can be a very helpful part of the training process. This includes house training as well as many other areas of training:
- Crate Training Dogs and Puppies: Here are the basics of training your dog or puppy to accept and even enjoy the crate. Not only will it help with housebreaking, but it will also give your dog a place of his own.
- How to House Train your Dog: When it comes down to it, house training is not that complicated, but this doesn’t mean it’s easy. Consistency and diligence are key during the housebreaking process.
- Submissive/Excitement Urination in Dogs: If your dog is still having accidents in the house, it may be more than a simple housebreaking issue. Your dog might urinate out of excitement or to express submissive behavior.
Every dog needs to learn to walk on a leash. Besides the fact that most areas have leash laws, there will be times when keeping your dog on a leash is for his own safety. Learn how to introduce your dog or puppy to the leash, then teach him how to walk properly on the leash, even beside you on a bike. A loose leash walk teaches your dog not to pull or lunge when on the leash, making the experience more enjoyable for both you and your dog.
Chalabala / Twenty20
Socialization means training your puppy or adult dog to accept new people, animals, and various places by exposing him to these things. Socialized dogs are less likely to develop behavior problems and are generally more welcomed by others. Socialization can also help prevent the development of fears and phobias.
Clicker training, a common form of positive reinforcement, is a simple and effective dog training method. Although it is still fine to train your dog without clicker training, many people find it helpful. With clicker training, you can easily and effectively teach your dog all kinds of basic and advanced commands and tricks. It’s fast and easy to learn how to clicker train your dog
There are some basic dog training commands and dog tricks that every dog should know like come, speak, drop it, stay, back up, etc. Basic commands give your dog structure. In addition, they can help you overcome common dog behavior problems and will help keep your dog safe.
How to Train Your Dog to Stay
What’s more fun than showing off your dog’s cool tricks?! Dog tricks are a great way to take your dog training to the next level and give your dog some mental stimulation.
lukajani / E+ / Getty Images
Proofing is the last step in training your dog to do any new behavior. Learn how to proof behaviors so your dog will be as obedient at the park or a friend’s house is he is in your own living room.
Remember, just because you have reached the final stages of training, it doesn’t mean that behavior problems won’t crop up. Learn about the most common dog behavior problems and how to deal with them. These guides will help you navigate this part of the training process:
- Proofing Behaviors: Practice behaviors in a variety of situations with different levels of distraction. Without proofing, your dog may behave well in your living room, but seem to forget all his training when he is outside the house.
- Teach Your Dog Self-Control: This method teaches your dog that nothing in life is free, but that he needs to earn things like food and attention through obedience.
- Common Dog Behavior Problems: Understanding potential behavior issues can help you detect and address them before things get out of control.
- Dog Behavior Management Versus Dog Training: While dog behavior management and dog training are two different things, they are not mutually exclusive. Behavior management is an important part of any dog training program.
Once your dog has mastered all the basics, you can consider moving on to more advanced tricks. These activities will help keep your dog active, fit and mentally stimulated. Plus, they will help strengthen the bond you share with your canine companion.
Remember that training is an ongoing process. You will never be completely finished. It is important to keep working on obedience training throughout the life of your dog. People who learn a language at a young age but stop speaking that language may forget much of it as they grow older. The same goes for your dog: use it or lose it. Running through even the most basic tricks and commands will help them stay fresh in your dog’s mind. Plus, it’s a great way to spend time with your dog.
** COVID-19 update: All Puppy School classes are temporarily postponed until further notice due to current restrictions to essential services. Thank you for your patience and understanding. **
What will I learn at Puppy School?
PETstock Puppy School’s program is based on using a reward-based training method which teaches pet parents:
- How to communicate with your puppy or dog
- How to develop solid foundation obedience in all environments
- The importance of socialisation, mental and physical stimulation
- Ways to help curb any behavioral problems
- How to find the correct equipment for your dog
- The appropriate rewards for best results
PETstock provides a safe environment that will see you and your dog or puppy thrive together under the skilled guidance of our friendly, professional training team.
- Week 1
- Bridge/marker and release word
- Focus, sit and recall exercises
- Building the bond wth your puppy
- Toilet training, socialisation, nutrition information
- Mat exercise
- Down exercise
- Social interaction
- Sit for a pat
- Health, jumping, digging information
- Loose lead walking
- Social interaction
- Sit & Down stay
- Complex skill
- Training equipment information
- Stand exercise
- Social interaction
- Sit & wait for food
- Basic first aid
- Grooming information
- Where to from here
- Responsible pet ownership
- Week 1
- Calming/massage techniques
- Engagement exercises
- Training techniques
- Social interaction (all weeks)
- Motivation information
- Bridge/marker words/release words
- Target training (Teaching phase)
- Recall with wait
- Mat exercises
- Behavioural issues information
- Stand exercise (stand stay for preschool grads)
- How to check your dog
- Loose lead walking with exercises
- Health requirements
- Leave it/ food refusal
- Stay exercise on and off mat
- Party tricks – having fun
- Give, take, fetch
- Q & A
Is my puppy or dog suitable for PETstock Puppy School classes?
To ensure we’re providing all Puppy School students a safe and healthy environment, your puppy or dog will need to be:
- In good overall health
- For level 1 and 2: Minimum C5 Vaccination.
- For Puppy Preschool: Minimum C3 vaccination 10 days prior to class.
- Currently flea and worm treated
- Friendly towards people
- Friendly towards other dogs
If you are unsure if your puppy or dog meets these requirements, please contact the Puppy School Trainer at your local PETstock store.
Need to get your puppy or dog’s vaccinations, flea and worming up to date? Visit PETstock VET.
What to expect from your dog at PETstock Puppy School
Just like humans, dogs learn at different rates and each dog will often behave differently to the others during class. You may find that you dog is active, a barker, shy, boisterous or even timid.
These behaviours are all normal and it’s likely your buddy’s behaviour will change as the program continues. It is important to concentrate on your dog’s development and not compare them to others in the class. Your trainer will ensure that each dog receives individual attention throughout the course.
What to bring to PETstock Puppy School
- Your puppy or dog!
- Your dog’s current vaccination certificate
- Flat collar and lead
- Mat or towel
- Treat pouch and high value treats (in pieces which are no larger than your small fingernail)
- Your dog’s favorite toy
Tip: To help grab your pooch’s continued attention, don’t feed your puppy or dog prior to class.
Keep in mind:
- Arrive 10 minutes before class
- Wear suitable attire and closed footwear
- Family involvement in your dog or puppy’s training is highly encouraged! However please keep in mind that the minimum age for owner-trainers is 10 years old, and then only under full adult supervision
- Keep your puppy or dog on their leash at all times, unless instructed otherwise by your trainer
The value of homework
Each week, our Puppy School trainers provide participants with recommended activities to complete with your dog before the next week’s class. The work you do at home with you dog is vital part of achieving success in PETstock Puppy School!
We understand that occasionally, events beyond control mean you may need to miss a class. If this is the case, simply let your PETstock Puppy School trainer know and they can advise you on how to work on your skills at home with your dog and resume normal classes the following week. If you should miss more than three sessions, we ask that you re-enrol to complete the program at another time. No refunds will be given for non-attendance.
By Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Breed Selection Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books
We always anticipate the joys of all that’s good about owning a puppy.
But often it doesn’t work out as well as we’d hoped. Puppies are delightful bundles of energy and curiosity…. but they can also be exasperating and frustrating.
If you respond properly to the challenges of bringing a new puppy into your home, the adjustment period will be shorter and less stressful for both of you.
If you do not respond properly….. well, unfortunately that’s why so many teenage dogs are turned over to rescue groups and animal shelters.
Starting at 7 weeks old….
Routines are reassuring to puppies. For example, his food and water bowls should stay in one place.
Teach your puppy the daily routines that will govern his life.
- Where his food and water dishes are located.
- What times of day he will eat.
- Where his bed is.
- What time he goes to bed.
- What time he will be taken out in the morning.
- Where he should go to the bathroom.
- Where his grooming spot is (for brushing, trimming, nail clipping, teeth cleaning).
Be consistent, consistent, consistent.
Dogs thrive on sameness, routines that are familiar, predictable, repeated. As much as possible, do the same things with your puppy every day – the same things in the same order, using the same words.
For example… here’s a good mealtime routine:
- Cue your pup when you’re ready to prepare his meal. “Are you hungry? Want your food?” Exaggerate the key words.
- Have him come with you to the kitchen. Get his bowl from the same cupboard and set it on the same counter every time. He should be right there watching you. You want him to see that YOU are the source of his food.
- If he’s acting excitable, don’t put his food down, else he’ll learn that excitable behavior makes the food appear! If he’s racing around, barking, or jumping, he should be on leash so you can stop those behaviors. “Sit” before meals encourages calmness and patience – two valuable traits that will make other training much easier.
- When he is calm, the bowl is ready to go down. If he already knows how to sit, have him sit first – it’s a subtle and gentle leadership thing. Then say “Okay!” and place the bowl on the floor, in the same spot every time. “Here’s your food.”
- If you have multiple dogs, each should have his own eating spot away from the others. Place the bowls down in the same order each time, saying the dog’s name as his bowl goes down. “Buffy… here’s your food. Kelly… food.”
- During mealtime, don’t let kids or other pets approach any dog who is eating. If one of your dogs is not well-behaved enough to obey this rule, he should be dragging his leash so you can get hold of him. If necessary, feed the dogs in separate crates or separate rooms. Bullying or stealing food is completely unacceptable in a multi-dog household.
- If a pup walks away from his bowl, pick it up. If there is still food left, make a mental or written note, as it could suggest illness.
- After 10 minutes, all the bowls should be picked up to avoid picky eating habits or food guarding habits to develop.
- The final part of the routine is a potty break immediately after every meal. If you’re still housebreaking, take the pup out on leash. If he’s already 100% housebroken and eliminates reliably when you send him out himself, that’s fine. In either case, announce the potty break: “Do you need to go OUT? Time to go OUT.”
As you can see, you’re not only showing your puppy what YOU will do as part of the routine, you’re also showing him what you expect HIM to do as his part of the routine.
Once your pup learns the routine for, say, meal time, if you do your part every time, he will do his part every time. Automatically. Day in and day out.
The trick is to make sure the routines your puppy is learning are good ones that lead to good behavior.
Because if he learns bad routines, he will repeat them just as readily.
Most behavior problems in dogs are caused by the owner (inadvertently) teaching the pup bad routines.
Good routines should cover as many of the 24 hours in your pup’s day as possible. You want a good routine for meal time, potty breaks, grooming, play time, bed time, getting up in the morning, and so on. I recommend the best routines in my Respect Training For Puppies.
The easiest way to raise and train your puppy is to establish choreographed routines – same things, same order, same words – with yourself as the director, the one in charge. Create good routines, stick to them, and your pup’s behavior will be predictable and good.
More to teach your puppy starting at 7 weeks old
Along with establishing good routines….
Teach Puppy which behaviors are allowed in your house and which behaviors aren’t. This particular behavior would be a “No.”
- Teach your puppy that “No” or “AH-AH” means “Stop doing that behavior.”
- Teach your puppy that “Yes” or “Good” means “I like that behavior.”
- Begin a proven housebreaking program where your puppy can only go to the bathroom in the right place.At 2-3 months old, puppies are infants and won’t have reliable control of their bladder for several months. (Tiny breeds are notoriously difficult to housebreak and take even longer.)
Still, housebreaking begins the day you bring your puppy home.
Establish the right pattern from the very beginning and Puppy will be housebroken as soon as his internal organs can cooperate.
But if you do it wrong, housebreaking will become a nightmare. And sadly, many owners don’t realize they’re doing something wrong until Puppy’s “accidents” have become a bad habit…. and bad habits are hard to undo. So you want to establish the right pattern from the very beginning.
There are several methods of housebreaking, including using a crate, an exercise pen (“ex-pen”), a doggy door leading into a small potty yard, or a litter box (for tiny breeds).
You’ll find detailed housebreaking directions in my puppy training book (see bottom of page) – and yes, I cover each one of those housebreaking methods so you can choose which one works best for your pup and your lifestyle.
- Teach your puppy to go into his crate or pen and to stay quietly when the door is closed. A crate protects your puppy from household dangers and is an invaluable aid in housebreaking.
Your puppy’s crate is his safe and secure den.
Some people mistakenly refer to a crate as “doggie jail” but that is not the way Puppy will view his crate.
Oh, at first he might be unhappy to have his movements curtailed, but it won’t be long at all before he goes into the crate on his own, to take a nap or just to get away from household activity.
For a new puppy, a crate helps with housebreaking and provides a safe den for sleeping.
When your puppy is used to his crate, it will be easy to take him visiting, or for trips in the car, or to the vet.
When we watch TV, we sit in our favorite chairs and our dogs typically choose to lie down in their crates (doors open), watching the same shows we watch (sort of).
Pups who are not yet housebroken should NOT be loose in your house. Unless you are interacting closely with him, your pup should be in a crate or pen, or connected to you via a leash.
The #1 mistake owners make with a puppy is giving him too much freedom in the house, too soon. Loose pups either get hurt or develop bad habits. For their own safety and to prevent future behavior problems, your puppy should not be loose in your house.
Starting at 8 weeks old….
Teach everything above (routines, housebreaking, crate training, Good, No), plus…
- Teach your puppy to be calm indoors. Pups who are allowed to be excitable indoors are far more likely to have behavior problems. Don’t allow running around the house, rushing the doorbell, attacking the vacuum cleaner, or lots of rough play, barking, or jumping.
- Teach your puppy to take food and toys gently from your hand. Don’t let him have anything if he grabs at it.
- Teach your puppy NOT to mouth or nip at anyone’s hands or feet. Teach your puppy to be gentle when interacting with people. He must not nip or chew on people’s hands.
Puppy’s mother (and siblings) began teaching gentleness by firmly correcting Puppy when he played too roughly.
Your job is to take over from where they left off and teach Puppy how to restrain himself when he plays with humans.
Remember, you must be the one who sets the limits of ALL good and bad behavior.
- Teach your puppy NOT to jump on anyone, including yourself.
- Teach your puppy to give or drop whatever is in his mouth when told.
- Teach your puppy to stay still (more or less!) and not fuss when you’re brushing him, bathing him, clipping his nails, or brushing his teeth. Teach him to accept handling of any part of his body. Start handling your puppy immediately so he learns to accept anything you need to do with him.
Your puppy must accept YOU as the leader in your family. Being the leader simply means you are the one who decides what is okay for Puppy to do and what isn’t okay.
For example…. brushing, bathing, clipping nails, cleaning teeth, giving a pill, putting on a collar or harness.
These are all times when YOU – not Puppy – have to be the one to decide what is necessary. Puppy should stand quietly for anything you need to do with him.
- Teach your puppy to respect the other pets in your family. He may not take anything away from another pet. He should “take turns” for treats and attention. No bickering, pestering, pushiness, or jealousy.
Starting at 10 weeks old….
Teach everything from the previous sections, plus…
Older puppies are ready to start learning more advanced words after they are obeying basics such as “No.” Don’t jump ahead!
- Teach your puppy to walk on the leash without pulling. If your pup is currently pulling on the leash, don’t take him for any more walks until you’ve first taught him to stop pulling inside your own home and yard.
- Teach your puppy to wait at open doors and gates until you give permission to go through.
- Teach your puppy to come every time you call. For now, that might mean keeping him on a leash in the house and a long cord in the yard, so you can make sure he comes.
- Teach your puppy to be quiet. Lots of barking makes dogs more excitable. Don’t allow barking at harmless things such as your neighbor or your neighbor’s dog. Certainly your pup can bark to alert you to something, but he should stop barking when told. He should be quiet when left home alone.
Starting at 12 weeks old….
Teach everything from the previous sections, plus…
- Teach your puppy to Sit and then to stay sitting until you cue him to get up.
- Teach your puppy to go to his dog bed when told, and to stay there until given permission to get up. This valuable exercise teaches calmness, impulse control, and physical and mental relaxation. Every pup should be able to do it.
Starting at 16 weeks old….
Teach everything from the previous sections, plus…
- Teach your puppy to go for a structured walk where he stays close beside you and pays close attention to you, instead of being distracted by everything else.
- Teach your puppy to greet people and other animals politely, or else ignore them. Don’t allow him to act excitably, aggressively, or fearfully toward people or other dogs.
Before they’re 6 months old, my pups know how to do everything in the lists above. They pay close attention to me and do whatever I ask of them.
If you’re unsure about how to teach everything on my lists, it’s all covered in my puppy training book, Respect Training For Puppies (30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved puppy).
Is your pup a little older?
You might be thinking, “But my pup’s already 6 months old… what do I do now?”
Simple. Start at the very beginning, as though your 6 month old pup was only 7 weeks old. Start by establishing the routines that will govern everything in your pup’s life. Start with housebreaking. Start with crate training. Start with “Good” and “No”.
And if your pup is 12 months old? 18 months old? Or even older than that?
When I foster an older puppy, I train him exactly as I would a younger pup – I start at the very beginning, with the basics.
You might think a training schedule would be different for a much older puppy…. but it isn’t.
Whether your puppy is 3 months old, 6 months old, or 18 months old, the order of training should start with the same words and respect training I’ve been talking about.
Namely…. daily routines, praise and correction words, crate training, housebreaking, acceptance of being handled, gentleness, and household rules.
So if your older puppy (or adult dog) is still mouthing on your hands, or barking back at you when you tell him to do something, or if he doesn’t stop whatever he’s doing when you say, “No”, you need to double down on those basics.
Then you can move on to more advanced stuff.
“But how?” you want to know. “How do I train my puppy?”
It’s best to get this right the first time around, because Puppy won’t ever be the same age again.
You get only one chance to teach all the right habits to a “clean slate” puppy. If you try to train your puppy without help, you will probably have to re-do the lessons, only this time with an older puppy with bad habits.
But what kind of help?
You don’t need to sign up for an obedience class or “puppy socialization” class to get help training and socializing your puppy. Those classes can be overwhelming for a puppy. Gentle pups can get over-run by bullies, which can completely ruin your pup’s temperament. And excitable puppies just get more excitable in those classes.
I don’t recommend taking a puppy to any group class. I don’t even take my own pups to such classes. The risk is too great.
Instead, teach your puppy at home. I’ll help you. My puppy training book is called Respect Training for Puppies: 30 Seconds to a Calm, Polite, Well-Behaved Puppy.
I’ll show you my proven step-by-step training method for teaching your puppy all the words he needs to know, plus consistent household rules and routines, housebreaking, crate training, acceptance of being handled, calmness, gentleness, and general obedience training.
My training method is:
- BASED ON LEADERSHIP AND RESPECT, which means you and your family are the leaders in your household and your pup is the follower. Dogs LOVE to be followers when you show them that you’re a confident, consistent leader who makes all the decisions.
- BALANCED, which means positive reinforcement (praise and rewards) for good behaviors, and corrections for bad behaviors.I don’t teach or recommend so-called “purely positive” methods that allow misbehaving pups to continue misbehaving, instead of teaching them which behaviors are and are not allowed. “Purely positive” is fine for teaching tricks and high-level competition exercises, but NOT for teaching the solid good behaviors that all family dogs need to know, and NOT for stopping behavior problems such as barking, jumping, chewing, nipping, chasing, etc.
If you want your puppy to be a good family dog, teach him with a balanced training method based on respect and leadership. It’s the perfect match for how your pup thinks and learns. Check out Respect Training For Puppies.