Puppy Training Part 1

“What Every Owner Should Promise their Puppy”
“I welcome you into our family pack and promise to be a good leader. To provide you not only with food, water and shelter but with exercise, companionship and knowledge of how to live in a human world.”
Congratulations! Today you are proud parents of a beautiful new, squirming, big eyed bundle of tail wags and kisses. Promises of wonderful adventures lie ahead for you both. However many of these beautiful puppies will never see their second birthday, not because of any viral epidemic but because no one taught them the skills needed to live in a human world.
Behavioural problems kill more young dogs than all other causes combined. Some of these problems are as simple as jumping up, chewing and digging. Most of them are normal dog behaviours displayed in ways that are inappropriate or annoying to humans. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be like this. With a little early effort on your part, the vast majority of these problems are easily preventable.
The First Step – is to change your mind set from:

“How do I STOP my puppy FROM …. (chewing, jumping , biting, etc.)”
“How do I TEACH my puppy TO . . . (only chew his toys, sit when greeting, accept physical handling)”.

This change puts you in charge because it means that instead of being a ‘victim’ of your puppy’s behaviour, you have assumed the responsibility for teaching him what will be required to live in your home and share your life.
Positive Training and Good Management.
The best way to train your puppy is by rewarding him for the things you like and ignoring him for things you don’t like. Rewards can be attention, praise, games and food. To make it easy for your puppy to succeed you need to provide him with an ‘errorless learning environment’ – to prevent mistakes and to provide lots of opportunities for reward. For example, it would be silly to allow a young puppy full freedom of the house before it has learned to toilet outside. By confining your puppy to a small area and taking it out every hour to the appropriate toileting spot, you are preventing mistakes and ensuring that you are present to reward the correct behaviour. Rewarding any behaviour makes it more likely to happen again and again. By confining your puppy now, you will be ensuring that he learns good house etiquette and will have earned the right to much greater freedom as an adult.
A suitable confinement area.

You will need a confinement area that contains:
• A comfortable sleeping area
• A clean bowl of water
• Suitable chew toys such as ‘kongs’ and hollow bones stuffed with kibble and treats
• A toileting area (ideally a piece of turf )
The purpose of this area is to :
• Prevent mistakes
• Develop a good chew toy habit ( as it is all that is available)
• Reduce the options of where your puppy may toilet
• Teach your puppy to settle down quietly in it’s own area
• Teach your puppy it’s ok to be alone for periods of time.
• Gives you peace of mind and a little break!

Unless you are actively playing or supervising your puppy it should be confined in it’s special area. Some people also like to have a short-term confinement area such as a crate, where the puppy is very unlikely to want to toilet as it would soil it’s bed. Training your dog to accept crating can be very useful as a crate can be used for a variety of purposes as the dog matures. The crate can be become your dog’s main sleeping area (with the door normally left open) and can also be useful when travelling and staying in new places. It is important to remember however that crates are not storage units for dogs and are suitable for short term confinement only.

Leaving your dog the run of the back garden is another alternative but in itself is not as effective for training your puppy as leaving it in it’s confinement area. Firstly, being in the back yard does nothing to teach your puppy to settle quietly in the house. Secondly, there will be many more temptations other than chew toys such as irrigation systems, clothes lines and pot plants. Thirdly, you will be less likely to interact with your puppy when it is outside and you are inside.


Puppy hood – from eight to eighteen weeks is the most important developmental period in your dog’s life. It is the best time to develop good habits and prevent bad ones. It is the best time to introduce all the amazing things that will encompass your puppies world – people, other dogs and animals, kids, vacuum cleaners, garbage trucks, toddlers, bicycles, skateboards, slippery floors, teenagers, stairways, motor cars, veterinarians, football games, swimming pools and babies – to name just a few. Even though your puppy will not be fully vaccinated until nearly the end of this time there are still lots of lessons you can and should begin to teach your puppy TODAY!

1. Teach Your Puppy to Toilet Outside

This is probably the most urgent of issues and one that will have profound effects on the rest of your relationship. Dogs want to be where the rest of the ‘pack’ or family is – in the home. You’ll double your enjoyment of your puppy if he learns right from the beginning how to live and behave in a family home. Statistics have shown that dogs who are relegated to the backyard are more likely to engage in nuisance behaviours such as barking, hyperactivity and destructive chewing and are also more likely to end up in animal shelters. This can be prevented if you take the time now to teach your dog the appropriate place to toilet.
Step 1: Assuming your chosen toileting area is your back yard lawn, include a square of turf in preference to paper as the toileting area in your dogs confinement area. This cuts out ‘the middle man’ in your dogs education – making it easier from the start for your puppy to understand that grass is the preferred surface.
Step 2: Take your puppy out to the designated area of your garden after every play, sleep, meal or drink – on average every hour. Say your special word that will eventually tell your dog to eliminate such as ‘hurry up’ and wait . When your puppy squats praise and reward him with several food treats. Make a really big fuss – this is great stuff. Your puppy may wonder why you think a natural function is so amazing but pay him big time and he’ll be happy to oblige you quickly and consistently.
Step 3: Repeat! Your puppy will need a long ‘reward history’ before he makes the connection that toileting outside is a consistently good thing to do.

Common mistakes:
• You forgot to go out with your puppy to reward him thereby providing less confirmation to your puppy that ‘toileting outside is good!’
• You roused on your puppy when he wee’d on the carpet in front of you – so now puppy is reluctant to ‘wee’ in front of you at all! Convinced you have a problem with bodily functions, in future he will take care to hide when he needs to go – behind the couch, under the bed, etc.

• You let your puppy out of its confinement area unsupervised . One mistake is all it takes before your puppy’s keen sense of smell tells him that the lounge room is the appropriate place to toilet. Avoid cleaning accidents with products containing ammonia, diluted white vinegar and wool mix or one of the washing powders containing bio-enzymes will neutralize the odour better.

Part 2 of this article coming soon.

Article courtesy of Karin Larsen Bridge, partner of Get S.M.A.R.T. Dog Training, Sydney.
You can also follow this and other articles at my publishing site publishing site.

Previous post:

Next post: