Top Tips to Successful Puppy Training

Puppy Trick Training

If you’re getting a new puppy – or – know someone who is, here are our top tips to successful puppy training!

  • Lower your expectations. Remember, your puppy is just a baby; he doesn’t know he should toilet outside or know even his name. A human baby takes many months to learn to walk, talk and toilet training can take years. It’s the same principle when you’re training your puppy.
  • Adolescence. Typically, from around 6 months of age the puppy moves into adolescence (for giant breeds this is a little later). ‘Teens’ can get bored easily and have no self-control, they like action and speed! Set some boundaries, if you haven’t already done so.  For example, is your puppy allowed upstairs?
  • nelly-leaveAvoid long training sessions. Your puppy’s ability to concentrate over long periods is poor, much like toddlers. And, you need to help teach him self-control. So, keep training short, fun and easy. NOTE: If your puppy appears distracted during your training session consider that he could be tired so needs a break or he may need to pee or poop!
  • Join a training class. Sign up to a training school that uses postive reinforcement methods. Your dog’s first exposure to training may be at a puppy class, so this should be a fun and positive experience. Do make sure the trainer is certified and insured. We suggest you pop along and watch a class before signing up. If you’re in the local area, then you can find out more about our Puppy & Dog School in Hertfordshire which gives your puppy the opportunity to meet other young dogs in a safe, calm environment, learn basic training and have fun.
  • Have fun with your puppy. Play with your dog. This may sound obvious but often busy lives take over and soon our playful puppy may get himself into trouble due to frustration and or boredom. Playing with your dog teaches him to focus on you and it builds the association that you’re fun to be with! What could be better than that? Check out the book ‘Playing With Your Dog’ by Hanne Grice for great game and tricks ideas for all ages.
  • Socialisation and habituation. It’s really important to introduce new experiences and environments to your puppy and repeated experiences. This includes; noises, machinery/objects, clothing, animals, transport and people – young, teenage, adult, and old. But do take a common-sense approach as these experiences should be positive ones. If the puppy is scared by something – move away in a calm manner to create space away from the stimulus, avoid making a big fuss instead use an upbeat tone of voice / act ‘jolly’ and distract your puppy’s attention onto you by playing a game or giving him some tasty tid-bits etc. Ultimately, you want your puppy to become habituated to these varied stimuli so, for example, when he sees another dog it isn’t a big deal.
  • Never hit, shout or punish the puppy. More and more research has come out over recent years to show that dogs trained using positive reinforcement are more obedient and well-rounded characters than dogs trained with punishment. Two such studies by Hiby et al and Blackwell et al found that dogs whose owners used punishment were more likely to have behaviour problems such as fear and aggression – who wants that?
  • Toilet training. Look for the key times the puppy will go; typically upon walking, when something exciting happens (e.g. a visitor arrives), playing and eating. Pups will typically sniff and circle before eliminating, whine a little or act more distracted. Encourage your puppy outside into the garden. As the puppy eliminates say a word like “be clean” / “hurry up” as this builds an association of that word to that action. So, in time you’ll be able to say the word and the dog will eliminate on cue. Once the pup has finished, always praise him and give him a reward such as a tasty treat. Avoid going inside the house straight after the puppy has been to the toilet, as the puppy may learn to hold on for longer, as they want more time to explore the outside! If it’s raining – get your coat on, umbrella up and be prepared to wait it out with your puppy!
  • Start grooming early. Teach your puppy that grooming is a pleasant experience. Brush him when he’s sleepy, gently touch ears/teeth/paws to enable him to get used to being investigated in these areas. This will help when he goes to the vets, or when you need to clip his claws or brush his teeth.

For more information about our six week puppy courses and our other services, visit or call us on 01442 768894 / 07976 743031.



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