Training A Puppy!
Training a puppy can be a daunting experience for many people. Our head dog trainer Heidi explains why it is important to persevere and how you can make it fun and utterly rewarding…
You would think by now that after nearly 20 years working with animals I’d have got puppies out of my system but I truly can’t walk past a puppy on the street without swooning. There is just something so adorable about their awkward lollopy swagger that’s irresistible.
Having said all of that the reality of raising a puppy is not much fun! It is incredibly difficult training a puppy! Most puppy owners I see are exhausted, covered in puppy bite marks and busy mopping up another ‘accident’ off the kitchen floor. A lot of people say how other people’s children are better because you can give them back! I feel the same about puppies!!
If you are planning on bringing a puppy home you need to be prepared for the constant demands such as the chewing of furniture, stealing of shoes, needing to visit the garden to pee/Poo on average every hour of the day. So how can you make it as smooth as possible? Having realistic expectations is essential. Don’t expect the play biting to stop over night as it won’t. It’s your job to gradually educate your puppy about life. So here are my top 5 tips for training a puppy.
- Never punish your puppy! Reward based training has been scientifically proven to be the best way to educate your puppy so interrupt bad behaviour, redirect your puppy to do something you like and then reward that!
- You are not pack leader so don’t bother to eat, go through doorways, or greet everyone else before your puppy.
- It’s proven that dogs are not pack animals. They would rather live in a cooperative environment and be your friend!
- Throw away the food bowl! use your puppy’s daily food allowance for activities and training opportunities throughout the day. Carry some dry food with you at all times to reward any good behaviour as soon as it happens. Feed any other food and treats in a Kong or a Feeding puzzle toy, or hide it in the garden for your puppy to find.
- Be consistent! If you keep changing the rules it’s confusing for your puppy so don’t change the goal posts. If the puppy is not allowed on the furniture then don’t cuddle him in your lap on the sofa. Your puppy doesn’t know the difference!
- Go to a good puppy class which only uses managed supervised play and not free for all puppy play. The nervous puppies only get more nervous and the boisterous ones learn to play rough and become a bully!
My favourite day of the week is a Tuesday, as I teach VIPs puppy class in the evening. The classes are always fun. I never want any puppy to leave my class feeling anxious and not wanting to come back. I want to build confidence in the shy puppies and to get the more confident puppies to learn how to better focus on their owners and pay attention. The course runs for 4 consecutive Tuesday evenings and each class is an hour long. I teach all the basics such as listen to name,sit, lay down, stay, leave it, come when called and much more. I would also recommend attending a Pet First Aid seminar to prepare you for any accidents or injuries that may happen in those first few years.