Puppy training can be confusing and frustrating. But never fear, Zoe from Best Behaviour Dog Training is here to help. Here are some puppy training FAQ’s and please remember, if you need help, it’s far better to ask a qualified dog trainer than to confuse yourself with differing advice from friends, family and YouTube.
What age should I start training my puppy?
Puppy training should start the minute you walk away from the breeder’s house with your pup in your arms. Training is more than obedience, it’s all about teaching your pup life skills and giving him or her essential tools to live happily with their humans.
There are two things you should do as soon before you bring you pup home. The first is to buy yourself a copy of the book “Easy Peasy Puppy Squeezy” by Steve Mann
. The second is to find a good dog trainer and sign up for classes. Don’t wait for vaccinations to be completed. Even if your pup cannot physically attend a class just yet, he or she (and you!) will benefit from an at-home session with your trainer or online training that is integrated with the classes.
At home Puppy training classes
Puppy Toilet training – how long should it take?
Every single puppy is different and you may need to be patient. Some learn quicker than others but kind and consistent training will work in the end. Most dogs are “clean” in the house by 5-6 months of age, some get the hang of it much sooner. Always remember that puppy tummies are tiny, so are their bladders, it’s unrealistic to expect them to control themselves for any length of time.
My tips for toilet training include
How do I stop my puppy biting me?
- Build toilet trips into your puppy’s routine.
- Learn to “read” your puppy’s behaviour. You’ll soon notice the signs that something is about to happen!
- Most pups will need to “go” just after a meal, a nap or a play session.
- NEVER punish accidents. No matter how frustrated you feel
- ALWAYS praise your pup when he or she gets it right.
- Be patient. You may have to stand outside in the rain for half an hour but it’ll be worth the wait.
- Talk to your dog trainer if you feel you are not making progress. Tips from a professional can usually help.
Nipping and biting is normal behaviour for puppies growing up with their siblings. Puppies explore the world with mouths as well as their noses. We’re very used to the idea of human babies putting things in their mouths but also glad that they don’t have sharp teeth.
Please don’t tell your pup off for mouthing – even though it may hurt. Instead, try these two things.
First, teach puppy that when the biting starts, the fun stops. Take yourself away from your pup, turn your back, ignore him or her for a few seconds. When you return to the game, keep your hands gentle and away from those teeth. If he or she is getting over excited, impose a short “time-out”. Separate the biter from the victim and change the “game” to something more calming.
Secondly, introduce a distraction. Preferably a nice relaxed pastime like a frozen carrot to chew on or “tiddle time” in the garden with lots of sniffs to explore.
Read my article on puppy biting
How much sleep does my pup need?
It’s tempting to spend every free moment you have playing with your pup. They’re fascinating creatures, great company and always happy to interact. But don’t forget that your puppy needs to sleep. And they need more sleep than you perhaps realise.
As well as they physical need to rest, puppy brains need a chance to process all of the information they’ve absorbed during waking time. An overstimulated puppy will find it harder to concentrate on training and is more likely to make mistakes like toileting indoors or play biting.
It’s important to respect your puppy’s need for sleep. And that goes for everyone in the household. Especially children! Why not build a couple of “nap times” into your pup’s daily routine? Getting used to spending time alone with a stuffed Kong toy will also help your pup cope better when you need to pop out of the house.
Is it OK to leave my puppy home alone?
At some point, your puppy will need to spend time on their own – after all you can’t take them absolutely everywhere with you. I always advocate teaching pups and dogs how to settle by themselves. But remember, dogs are social animals. They are hard-wired to live in groups and some of them find it difficult to adjust from living with their brothers and sisters to being all on their own.
Yes, it’s OK to leave your puppy home alone for very short
periods of time after some lifeskills training. Start by leaving them alone in a room for a few seconds then gradually build the time up. Little one must learn to feel confident that you will return. But at the same time, pup must never learn to associate you leaving the room with a feeling of panic and anxiety.
If your lifestyle dictates that you must be out of the house for long periods – eg going to work – then please consider doggy day care. It’s not fair to leave a young puppy alone all day.
Please talk to you dog trainer too. It’s easier to avoid separation anxiety than it is to rehabilitate a sufferer.
Which treats are best for puppy training?
It never fails to surprise me how dogs and puppies have their own preferences for treats. If you’re wondering which treats will work best for your pup when training, here’s a “game” to help you work it out.
Remember – keep quantities small and maybe adjust the size of puppy’s next meal to avoid any tummy upsets.
You’ll need one of those baking tins with the dips in them. I use mine for cup-cakes and Yorkshire puddings (not at the same time!). An old egg box works quite well too.
Prepare a selection of treats and pop a sample into a few of the sections. My suggestions include:
- Pieces of carrot
- Chicken pieces
- Bought dog treats from a packet (try 2 or 3 different sorts)
- Cheese cubes
- Chopped up hot dogs
Now pop the tray on the ground and let your pup investigate. Note which gets scoffed first and which is left until last. Do this exercise every day for a week and note down every time which treat your pup chooses first. This will give you a clue about which treats are “high value” ie a big reward, which are “ok” and which are least exciting.
Can a young puppy be trained to walk on the lead?
Oh gosh, the first time your puppy tries walking on the lead will be an adventure for both of you. Either pup will freeze and not move or they’ll be like a salmon on a line. Don’t give up. EVERY puppy can learn to walk on the lead, even a very young one.
Begin by letting your pup wear his or her harness and a short lead around the house and garden. Don’t hold the lead, let puppy drag it around and get used to the feel of it. Do supervise very carefully though. If the lead gets caught on anything, puppy could be frightened by it.
Once puppy is confident, you can hold the lead and encourage puppy to walk with you. In my classes I suggest walking backwards and calling puppy to you. The lead must be slack at all times. When pup is happily following you, turn around and walk forwards with puppy beside you.
I have included lots of information about lead walking in my Dogversity online dog training school. You’ll also learn about basic puppy obedience training, fun tricks, socialisation and good dog handling. Find out more about Dogversity
Got questions about puppy training? Contact Zoe here
More puppy training articles
Your new puppy – the first two weeks
Understanding puppy fear periods
How to teach your puppy good manners
Puppy and dog training classes in Suffolk