So far in 2022, 73% of dog owners have used some kind of training method with their companions and just 5% of dog owners made the decision to put in the work solo and trained their dogs themselves.
Whether you’ve decided to use a dog trainer or do it all yourself, the training should still continue at home and with the whole family working together in unison.
Dog training is important not only for family life but your dogs too. By ensuring we teach our dogs the correct way to behave, we're providing our friends with freedom to enjoy the things they like to do the most; like running off lead, heading to the shops or perhaps even the pub for a quick slurp. Having a well-behaved dog in tow is far easier to navigate life and means you can bring your friend almost anywhere with you – we love this thought!
WHEN TO START TRAINING MY DOG
Our companions are always learning and by working with your friend early on through positive reinforcement training, you're encouraging them to learn that good behaviour results in favourable things happening, which means the good behaviour will likely continue.
Really, you can start training your dog at any age but when your puppy arrives home is the perfect starting point. This will usually be at around 8 weeks of age and at the stage we can begin to consider training our new family member the basic commands, such as sit, stay and come.
Before you start puppy training there are some things to consider:
· Whilst using positive reinforcement you’ll want to have a tasty treat handy. You can use our Biscuit Bakes or even some kibble - we recommend changing these up to keep it interesting. You will need to ensure that you take the calories used out of their daily food requirement, so not to overfeed and cause tummy issues.
· Make sure your training is done in a space that is calm and distraction free.
· Patience is key, you may need to repeat steps but always remain consistent with your teaching and stay calm.
· Don’t use physical involvement to show your companion what to do, teach and calmly show your friend the way.
· Training is tiring work – be sure to keep your sessions short to around 10 minutes and just focus on one command for that sitting.
· Remember to have fun and enjoy, this is a great time to bond with your pet!
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR PUPPY TO SIT, LIE DOWN, STAY, COME
Teaching your dog to sit is a very useful command and a great place to start with your training. Here’s how to teach your dog in a few simple steps:
1. Whilst your dog is in standing position, hold the treat near their nose and then begin to move your hand over the top of their head, whilst their head follows the treat eventually the bottom will go to the ground. The moment she sits, give them some praise and the treat.
2. Keep practising – but remember your time, we're keeping these sessions short!
3. As your dog gets used to sitting for a treat, you'll notice they sit for longer and you can start to add in the key word 'sit' (at this point we must ensure our friend is in the sit position).
4. Soon, we won’t be required to move the treat over the head as the 'sit' command is enough signal.
Now you’ve mastered this instruction, you can take it a step further and consider moving to the 'lie down' command:
1. When your friend is in the 'sit' position, take a treat and move your hand in front of them down to the ground.
2. Your companion should follow and go into a lie position. Once again, praise and treat - as set out above, once your dog has mastered the 'lie' you can begin to use your key words ‘lie down’.
Well done, you're on a roll – let's continue with 'stay'...
1. Put your puppy into the 'lie' position and provide them with a hand signal, such as the stop sign with the palm of your hand facing forward.
2. Now wait, use your key word 'stay' and give the treat.
3. Keep practising in your short sessions, but each time make the wait longer, eventually you can start to create some distance between you and your puppy.
Now it’s time to bring your puppy to you, with 'come'...
1. Take yourself away from your dog, like the end of the garden and excitedly call your dog's name and the key word 'come' (don't forget your treats) – getting down low will of course help here too.
2. Once your puppy arrives to greet you, you can deliver the treat and praise them for their efforts.
3. After a few sessions you can change the location of the training, making it harder and the space further apart.
Next step, take your training out with you on walkies! If you’re concerned about these commands on your walks, there are some great training aids to help you. Speak to your local pet specialist at the pet shop regarding support such as ‘'Training Leads'. Psst… your puppy might see training as a fun game, remember to keep calm, consistent and your sessions short!
WALKING ON A LEAD
We understand, walkies are exciting and this is why our does are likely to pull and sometimes be a little chaotic when out walking on the lead, but it’s important for our safety and their own that we train them how to walk nice and calmly.
Firstly, we need to make sure that we get the right gear for our friends. We are looking for leads, harnesses and collars that promote comfort and safety. Again, your local pet shop is a fantastic place to start as they can help fit the right products to your puppy.
How can we stop our puppy from pulling on the lead? Here are a few tips:
1. Once again, let’s start in a place that has no distractions and don’t forget your treats!
2. We want to encourage your dog to stand by your side, so call them to you and with a loose lead let them stand by your side whilst you offer praise and treats.
3. Take a step forward and repeat.
4. If they start to pull and get distracted – stop moving, encourage back to the start position and start over with their focus back on you. Don’t pull or shout just calmly use your treats to move them back into position.
5. As your friend improves, you can carry on walking with a loose lead, the focus should be on you whilst you continue with the treats and praise. Once you’re confident, try increasing the distractions on different walks.
Don’t forget to keep these sessions short, fun and interesting!
HOW TO CRATE TRAIN YOUR PUPPY
A crate can offer a safe environment for your dog, whether that’s because they require safety from an event happening, or they can’t be left alone in the room, your pup might even enjoy this space as their own and take refuge in it from time to time.
If our dogs are taught through positive reinforcement to love the crate, it can become a safe den.
1. Firstly, we need to ensure we have the correct size crate for our friends and offer some comforts in there, such as a bed, pillow, or blanket.
2. Make sure that you position the crate in a calm and quiet area.
3. Let your dog become adjusted to the crate in their own time, allowing them to sniff it and walk in and out of it. If they do venture inside or close to and around the crate, throw down some treats so that they associate the crate with something pleasant. After some time, you can start to throw treats into the crate.
4. Once you have mastered the above and your dog is stepping in and out of the crate happily, you can start to only throw the treats into the crate (with the door open), let your dog enjoy being in the crate and receiving treats.
5. Now you can start feeding your friend their meal inside the crate but with the door shut but ajar, we want our friends to know that they can get out happily at any time.
6. By now we should have created a happy zone for your puppy, so the next phase is to create a relaxation zone for them inside the crate. We do this by popping a treat or a chew into the crate at natural sleepy times (like just after a walk) again, we keep the door ajar here too.
Our puppies should now be at a good level of trust with their crate and you can begin trialling them inside for short periods of time with the door shut, if not, keep returning back to the previous point and remember to be consistent, calm and never forceful – let your pet take their time.
Though we’re creating a safe place for our friends, adult dogs should not be left in a crate for longer than 4 hours, help to reduce stiffness and the potential urge to need the loo by releasing your friend back into their home.
HOW TO TRAIN MY PUPPY TO SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT ALONE
Sleeping in a new environment for a puppy can be a stressful situation, their litter mates are gone, it’s all very new and their little bladders just aren’t ready yet to hold on through the night. So, to support you in your beauty sleep, here are our top tips to help your puppy sleep through the night:
· Create a calm and inviting environment for your puppy, like a crate that will ensure they’re not out in the house during the night. Consider putting a blanket over the top to block out any potential light getting in and to help with noise pollution.
· Make sure your crate is nice and cosy with a suitable bed and or blankets.
· Burn some of that puppy energy by spending a good 20 minutes on playtime or some evening brain games to help tire them out.
· Go for a bedtime loo break before it’s lights out.
· Consider a natural calming aid for the home, you can speak to your local pet specialist about these.
· Try some music to help them settle, you can even get calming dog music and podcasts for your companion – pretty cool!
HOW TO GET YOUR PUPPY TO STOP BITING, MOUTHING AND CHEWING
Chewing and biting is our pup’s way of exploring the world and it’s how they play; you may also see an increase in chewing whilst they’re teething too. However, if they chew the wrong item, it can be harmful for them and of course, painful to us of they decide to initiate play through those needle teeth.
Luckily, there are some steps we can take to help reduce and eventually stop this behaviour overtime:
· Provide lots of suitable puppy toys and chews for your puppy, we recommend swapping these out for variety – every couple of weeks, pop one or two away in the cupboard and rotate another toy instead.
· As tempting as it may be, try to avoid wrestling and rough games with your companion as this will likely involve biting. We don’t want to confuse our friends!
· When your puppy does start mouthing and biting, stop the interaction right away, fold your arms away and turn your back.
· Make sure you puppy-proof your home by cornering off areas that your puppy could cause damage to, but make sure they have enough of their own toys to play with in the zone they’re restricted too.
· Finally, provide lots of exercise and mental stimulation to help burn through that puppy energy. Did you know that mental fatigue can make us and dogs feel more physically tired then physical effort alone – time to get those treat puzzles out!
HOW TO TOILET TRAIN YOUR PUPPY
If you want a happy puppy, home and family then potty training should be an important part of schooling for your dog. Remember, it takes consistency and the whole family to ensure that training is successful; it’s also important to not get frustrated with your dog, given our pups don’t have full bladder capacity until they’re around a year old – they’re doing the best they can with the information you’re giving them.
If you’re starting the toilet training journey, here’s what to do:
1.Watch out for signs that your pup might need the bathroom, these can show themselves in irritability, sniffing, licking their private areas and starting to circle before a squat.
2. Walk your pup the correct place, try to keep it to the same spot to not add to the confusion - once they’ve done their business, you can reward them immediately with lots of praise.
3. If your pup does get confused and starts to go in the wrong place – don’t get angry and shout (even when it’s indoors). Interrupt them by calling their name and take them calmly to the correct spot. Shouting could train your dog to believe that they can’t go to the bathroom in front of you.
CONSIDER ALL ASPECTS OF THEIR LIFE
With lots of praise, consistency and care, your puppy should be the perfect student, but if you are still having difficulties, it could be the environment that they’re in. So, here are some points to consider:
· Your puppy’s diet could be a distraction, as it may promote hyperactivity, difficulty concentrating, discomfort through low digestibility and more. Our Puppy diet has been formulated specifically to help support our friends physically and mentally in these young years.
· Their environment can also be distracting, make sure that your home is suitable to your puppy’s needs and you’re considering their requirements for rest.
· Over stimulated – yes, your puppy might have had too much stimulation in their day. Whether that’s play with the family, walkies, new people, or dogs or even just a busy day – this can all affect your dog’s ability to train.
· How are you training your friend – are you being proactive, rather than reactive, do you give enough praise and are you using the correct commands. Remember, they’re following your lead!
· An underlying health concern, if time passes and your pup is struggling or you’re noticing some odd behaviour it may be time to seek help from a dog trainer or a chat with your vet.
Want to learn more about how food affects your pet’s psychology? You can read our blog here.