Teach Your Puppy To Be Left Alone

Teach Your Puppy To Be Left Alone

It’s fun and helpful to take some time of work to bond with your new puppy and help them settle in. But there’s something super important to teach them during this time that a lot of people miss – how to be content being left alone.

If you are constantly with your puppy and then you need to go back to work or go out, there’s a sudden and stark contrast between what they’ve got used to and being alone. This can cause them to really struggle and feel very stressed and anxious alone.

Next, the owner often panics and arranges for the puppy to always have someone with them. But the longer this goes on, the harder it is to ever leave puppy alone, and you could end up with an adult dog with separation anxiety.

Part of healthy socialisation is learning, sights, sounds, smells, environments and situations that a dog needs to be able to deal with in the human world.

Part of that is learning to be happy left alone.

Another thing to be careful of is giving your puppy another dog for company from a young age meaning the puppy can become overly dependent on needing the other dog to be around and not truly learning independence even if the owners can go out.

If you have an older dog, teach your puppy to spend time totally alone without any other being around. You never know when you will need to do this and you don’t want a stressed out and anxious dog later.

If you need help with puppy training, check out the resources at our website including my online puppy course that goes through puppy raising essentials in more detail.

Teaching Your Puppy To Walk On A Loose Leash

Teaching Your Puppy To Walk On A Loose Leash

One of the first things puppies learn about walking on a leash is that when they pull on it, they get to move forwards. This is a form of reward and reinforces the behaviour of pulling.

It might not seem to matter much when your puppy is small, but by the time they grow up they could be making walks unbearable for you, not to mention the damage they can do with the constant pressure on their neck or chest (pulling on harnesses isn’t ideal either and pulling on any dog equipment can cause damage in various areas).

With this in mind, here’s what I recommend to prevent your young pup from growing into a strong puller – because walks should be enjoyable for both of you.

  1. Never follow the puppy when the leash is tight. If only we could all be 100% consistent with this, we would have a lot less pulling dogs. Remember that moving forwards rewards the dog for pulling. So teach your pup from day one that pulling simply never works. No forward movement for pulling, ever.
  2. Teach your puppy to respond towards you when they feel gentle leash pressure. Practice the leash pressure exercise. Like we mentioned, if puppy puts pressure on, they won’t get anywhere. Teach them next that when you put pressure on the leash, the next thing to do is to move towards it instead of away from it. You can reward puppy for moving towards the leash by immediately dropping the tension in the leash. You can also add in a food reward or praise if you like – but make sure they feel that release of tension!
  3. Reward your puppy for being next to you or looking at you. Both of these behaviours contradict pulling ahead of you and whatever you reward will happen more often – so reward the heel position and eye contact a lot!

Remember your puppy is a baby learning all of this for the first time so give them lots of encouragement and celebrate all your little wins. They add up!

If you need help with puppy training, check out the resources at our website including my online puppy course that goes through puppy raising essentials in more detail.

Why Crate Training Is Great For Your Puppy

Why Crate Training Is Great For Your Puppy

Crate training was a totally new concept to me when I got into dog training. It’s never been as big a thing in Australia as it is overseas.

At first, I wasn’t sure why you’d want to put your dog in a cage. Now, I don’t know how anyone survives puppyhood without the proper use of a crate.

I just want to clarify that I’m not referring to just putting your puppy in a crate. There is a training process to make sure your puppy is calm and comfortable being in the crate. They shouldn’t be panicked, stressed or trying to escape.

Here’s why crate training is great for your puppy-raising adventure…

Your puppy is a baby animal that can walk, jump and has an instinct to chew just about anything it can find, like electric cables. Puppy also doesn’t have full bladder control and doesn’t understand that pooping is for outside.

One thing that puppy DOES know is that they don’t want to toilet where they sleep.

That’s why crating can help with toilet training – you can time your pup’s toilet breaks and know that within reason, puppy will hold it when in their crate.

Crating also keeps puppy safe. You hopefully wouldn’t let a toddler free roam the house unsupervised, so why a puppy?

The golden rule with puppy raising is supervision or confinement. Either you actively keep an eye on your puppy or you put them in an area where they can’t practice unwanted behaviour or get hurt. Gradually, your puppy can earn more freedom.

If you need help with puppy training, check out the resources at our website including my online puppy course that goes through puppy raising essentials in more detail.

Help! The puppy is biting the kids!

Help! The puppy is biting the kids!

There’s nothing as exciting as getting a new puppy! But the excitement can quickly turn to stress because puppies are like toddlers with sharp teeth and no hands running around in your house.

All puppies use their mouths to explore and play so puppy mouthing and biting is a natural behaviour and likely doesn’t mean that your pup is aggressive at all, so rest assured there.

But it’s still a problem because dogs need to know that in the human world we don’t put teeth on skin. And sharp puppy teeth hurt!

This can be especially difficult when you have little kids to train as well. Kids just want to play without being chewed on and puppies just want to play… by chewing.

So what to do? Here are a couple of my starting tips:

  1. Teach your kids as well as your puppy. Puppies don’t have great impulse control so we need to help them handle their excitement by being calm and still when they’re getting over the top. I usually tell little kids to, “be a tree,” when puppy is getting too bitey. Running, flapping arms around and squealing all encourage the puppy to escalate the biting and jumping further. I do not have kids discipline pets – they have a role in learning calmness and respect with animals but they can’t be expected to take on all responsibility with the dog when they’re still learning themselves.
  2. Start play sessions with a toy rather than getting a toy out after the biting has already started. Occupy pup’s mouth with a chewable or soft toy during play. If you get the toy out after they start biting, this can redirect them but you need to be careful the puppy doesn’t see it as a reward that comes out after the biting.
  3. Ensure puppy gets a break. You probably feel like you need a break with all these kids and puppies running around. And you know what? You deserve one. Nap time and personal space are important for everyone, including your puppy. Just like kids, puppies can get tired and cranky, and they need a lot of sleep!

Puppies can be hard work, but this too shall pass. Try to focus on the joyful moments and savour puppyhood because it’ll be over before you know it.

If you need help with puppy training, check out the resources at our website including my online puppy course that goes through puppy raising essentials in more detail.

Is It Bribery To Use Food Treats In Training?

Is It Bribery To Use Food Treats In Training?

A lot of people I meet are concerned about using food treats in training. When the dog is performing well, they’ll say, “he’s just doing it for the treats,” or, “she’ll do anything for food!”

When it boils down to it, there are two motivations in dog training – the dog is either working to receive something or working to avoid something.

There is then a spectrum of value on either side. For most dogs, food treats are of high value compared to say, verbal praise or pats. The other advantage of a food treat is that you can be more precise in timing the treat to be a clear reward for a specific moment in time, especially using marker training.

Not many dogs will work for praise only when they have no prior experience with the command. When they’re experienced with the command through training with a higher value reward such as food, they can be gradually weaned to praise only. But when you’re starting from scratch you need a way to show the dog what to do and how to move their body. There are usually two options for this: show the dog where to move their head by following a treat or physically move the dog into position. You can also do a combination of the two.

For most dogs, receiving a reward as part of the process and not being shoved around is a lot more motivating.

The next step is to ensure the food reward happens as a reward, not a bribe. The dog may initially learn the movement by following the treat but next, you want to create the behaviour to happen first, then present the reward second.

In this way the food can truly be a reward rather than a bribe, and can be reduced to a sometimes thing, rather than a necessity.

For more training tips, visit our website.

The Number One Rule Of Leash Pulling

The Number One Rule Of Leash Pulling

There are many factors that influence leash pulling. When I’m helping a client to stop their dog from pulling on the leash, I break it down into steps and layer each step over the top of the next.

We work on how to hold the leash in the best way, the timing of rewards, when to change direction and how to correct the dog if they’re pulling. But above all, there is one number one important rule to stop and prevent a dog from pulling on the leash.

I am repeating this line all of the time because it is so crucial. It’s this:

Never follow the dog when the leash is tight.

If the dog pulls and you follow them for even one step, the belief is confirmed in their mind: pulling works.

The dog thinks, pulling gets me to where I want to go. It is worth it. If I want to get somewhere, I pull and I get to go there.

Their pulling is rewarded by the forward movement (or whichever direction they are trying to go).

What often happens is that I’ll be talking to the client, and we are just standing in one place. The dog is impatient or distracted by a smell, and starts to pull in the direction they want to go. Subconsciously, the owner begins to give more leash to the dog. They might just reach their hand towards the dog to give them more leash. Or they take a few steps to allow the dog to go where they want.

All of this rewards the dog for the act of pulling and confirms to the dog that pulling works.

This is why we never follow a tight leash – we need to change the dog’s belief that pulling works into, “pulling never works. A loose leash does.”

This one small change can make a big difference. And yes, it can be frustrating in the beginning – dog training will teach you patience for sure.

Try it and see how you go. For more dog training tips and tricks click here.