Training Methods

Training Methods

Your puppy needs clear and consistent boundaries and you should start obedience training as soon as they arrive. Training should be fun for you and your puppy and the most effective way of doing this is in short but frequent sessions. Trust and consistent routines are especially important to helping your puppy feel confident and that they can rely on you and it is important the entire family use the same signals to reassure them, reducing chance of confusion. Positive rewards and encouraging good behaviour, rather than punishment will help you foster a strong bond, mutual respect, and a rewarding friendship. Keep training sessions short and frequent to help your puppy learn and reinforce good behaviour.

2-6 Months

Toilet Training

The key area of training in the early days together is learning to go to the toilet in the appropriate place – outside! Ensure your puppy is outside at the following times:

  • After every meal or prolonged chewing on a toy
  • After drinking water
  • When he/she wakes up, even from a brief nap
  • After play or excitement
  • If you notice him sniffing out spots in the house.

Remember to calmly reward your puppy when he/she performs their toilet training outside. As your puppy is going to the toilet give it a specific command eg ‘toilet’. If you see your puppy is going to the toilet in the house you can distract him and take him/she outside to do it. If he/she has already messed in the house do not reprimand them but quietly and calmly remove him/her from the area and clean it up. Do not get angry in front of your puppy if he/she does mess in the house as this may make him frightened of performing their ‘business’ in front of you.

Hold a small treat in front of him/her close to his nose (do not allow the puppy to snatch the treat from your hand), move it slowly back over his eyes so his nose rises up. His body should go into the sit position naturally. As soon as he sits give him the treat praising him simultaneously and apply the verbal command ‘sit’.

Lie Down
Hold the treat in front of his nose, slowly move it towards the ground and in between his front paws. this should encourage him to lie down to get the treat. As soon as he sits give him the treat praising him simultaneously and apply the verbal command ‘down’.

Learning to walk on a lead
Your puppy should be accustomed to his collar but will need to be introduced to being on a lead gradually. It’s a good idea to start in the house or garden.

Place some treats in his food bowl a few feet away and allow him to walk on the lead alongside you to the bowl, gradually increasing the distance.

Try a treat in your hand next to the puppy and walk along with a loose lead encouraging him to walk forward by using the treat as a lure.

Do not allow him to snatch the food and only reward him when he is walking with you in the required position.

Home alone time
You must train your puppy to cope with time alone as this will be part of his daily life at some point. He must understand that when you do leave him alone you will come back, otherwise he is likely to become anxious and destructive. Build up your puppy’s familiarity and comfort with being left alone over an increasing the period of time by:

  • Leaving him alone for short periods where he is in one part of the home environment and you are in another.
  • Going outside leaving him in the house alone for a few minutes.
  • Gradually extending this over a period of time, establishing you puppy’s confidence that you will return.

Protecting his bowl - food guarding
To prevent your puppy perceiving your presence as a threat to his food at feeding time it is important you accustom him to being in your presence when eating.

Start by standing beside him while he is eating, then gradually add a little food to his bowl by dropping it from your hand while standing beside him.

When he is relaxed you can lift the bowl and add some more food or a treat.

Try walking a short distance away from him and his bowl and then walk towards him and add some more food to his bowl.

Repeat these steps regularly and this will reassure him that his food is safe and that he shouldn’t fear people approaching his bowl. This will help avoid unpredictable and aggressive behaviour in the future.

7-12 Months
Off-lead control

You must be confident that he will:

  • Obey your instructions, respond to his name and return to you when you call.
  • You should introduce this to him in the home where there are fewer distractions from other dogs and smells.

When you do start walking off the lead call him to you at random times rather than just waiting until the end of the walk as your puppy will associate you calling him with the end of his fun. Don’t forget to positively reward him with a treat of verbal praise when he returns to you to help reinforce the behaviour.

Manage your expectations
Depending on his breed type and size your puppy will start adolescence and reach sexual maturity at different times. 

Small breeds:                                 12 months (adolescence from 5 months)

Medium breeds:                             12 months (adolescence from 6 months)

Large breeds (below 40kg):           18 months (adolescence from 9 months)

Giant breeds (above 40kg):            up to approx. 24 months (adolescence from 12 months)

Although he may start to look like an adult, he is still very much a puppy and he will continue to be for some time yet, particularly if he is a giant breed as he wont reach maturity for at least another year.