Category Archives: Dog Training

Some tips on training your dog

Walking, lead training and pulling.


Starting off.

If you have a young puppy the best thing to do before attempting to put on a lead is to get him (or her) used to following you.  Start with some food held in your left hand. You may have to bend down a little. When the puppy is in the heel position, reward with food and give the command heel. Practice this for short periods (your puppy will get bored or distracted easily), and practice doing left and right turns using food as a lure.

Next make sure you have a comfortable lead and collar. Start training indoors or in the back garden where there are few distractions before attempting a walk in the park. Encourage your puppy to follow you. If he surges ahead of you on the lead, stop and then lure him back into position. Allowing your puppy to move forward when he pulls on the lead rewards him. This behaviour will then be repeated. Instead, if you stop whenever he pulls, he will realise that pulling is pointless and will wait for you to take a lead.

Pulling a problem?

If you have an adult dog that is pulling this training method will also work. However, it will probably take longer as he has learnt over a period of time that pulling is effective.

For a quicker resolution I recommend a “Halti” head collar. This device is a quick an easy way to stop your dog from pulling. I often see people using a harness to try to stop their dog from pulling – unless you have a special training harness this is pointless. In most cases a harness will give the dog even more power and will make it easier for him to pull.

I always advise people to think about controlling a much larger animal like a horse. If you want a horse to pull a cart, you put a harness on it – this gives him maximum power for pulling. If you want to lead a horse you put a head collar on it, and it is quite easy to lead it. The same principals apply to the dog. If you have control of the head you have control of the dog. The “Halti” does require a little bit of training – but there are clear instructions with it. This is one of the best ways of getting immediate control of a dog that pulls.

Another important part of walking your dog is being able to let him off the lead when it is safe to do so. To do this you must be able to get your dog to come reliably when called. This is probably one of the most important commands you can train a new puppy.

One major rule with a new puppy is reward them every time they come when called. Never call your dog to you in order to punish it.

Practice with friends or family calling your dog. When he comes to the person who is calling him reward him with a treat, a pat or praise.  Do not make excuses for your dog when he refuses to come to you indoors. If he will not come to you indoors where there are few distractions he certainly won’t come when he is called on a walk.

If you bring your dog on a walk and leave him off lead, make sure to call him back several times during the walk. Always have a treat or a toy or a ball so you can reward him for his obedience. Also try to have fun and play with him when he is with you. This rewards him for sticking with you on a walk, and means he is less likely to be distracted by other dogs and other people.

It is best to put him take his lead on and off throughout the walk. This way putting his lead on is not a signal that fun time is over, it is just part of the routine.

The more exercise your dog has the better behaved he will be, it keeps him stimulated, tires him out and relieves boredom – the root of many behaviour problems. Therefore if you can train your dog reliably to come when he is called, you will be able to let him off his lead more he will get more out of his walk.

Toilet Training and Crate Training Your Puppy


How do I toilet train my new puppy

Toilet training your puppy is all about supervision.  You need to anticipate when he needs to go and then direct him where to go.

If your puppy has just eaten, woken up or had a drink, chances are will need to eliminate. He may start to sniff about intently and this means he is probably about to go. If you suspect he needs to go I recommend wherever possible bring him straight outside  to where you want him to go. He will usually go after you let him out of his training crate. If you can’t bring him outside then paper training is a good second choice.

The best way to ensure adequate supervision is to crate train him. There are other methods of training but I found crate training to be by far the best.

What if my puppy goes and I am not there?

There is no point in scolding your puppy for urinating or defecating indoors unless you catch him in the act.  If you come into a room where the puppy has defecated an hour ago, give out to him and rub his nose in it you will just make him nervous.  A puppy should always be greeted enthusiastically when he comes bounding up to you.  He will make no connection between relieving himself and you being angry with him an hour later. He will just get the impression that if he is left alone you will return and rub his nose in pooh! This makes him nervous.

So what is crate training?

A crate is a small enclosure for your puppy that he will see as his “den”. There  is just enough room for his bed, some toys and a bowl of water. Your puppy will not want to urinate or defecate in his bed so if at all possible he will hold on until he is let out.  I would recommend introducing your puppy to his crate slowly. Put his bed in there, and some chew toys and let him wander in and out. Once he becomes accustomed to his crate you can confine him for longer periods.

Whenever you let him out of his crate you can bring him straight outside and give him the command “get busy”. Ignore him until he goes to the toilet and then heap him with praise. Your puppy will be toilet trained in no time.

Crate training is can be helpful in many other ways for your puppy. It is useful for house safety and to prevent destructive behaviour.  If you are supervising your puppy and for example he tries to get into the rubbish bin you can tell him “No” distract him with a loud noise, or draw his attention to something else. If you are not present when he tries to get into the bin he may get a reward of some left overs for his bad behaviour! This behaviour will then be repeated! If you don’t catch him in the act there is no point in giving out to him for making a mess one hour later – he will have forgotten what he has done at that stage.  So while he is still being trained what is right and wrong restrict him to his crate or to outside when you cannot supervise him.

Is it not cruel to put my dog in a cage?

Young puppies can sleep for as much as 16 hours per day. Leaving them confined for short periods is not cruel, provided that they are released frequently to relieve themselves, they get sufficient time and attention to play and exercise. Most of the time your puppy spends in his crate he will be asleep. Leave him some toys to entertain himself. Your puppy will see his crate as his den, if you leave it open he will probably wander in himself when he needs to sleep, or when he wants some quiet time! You should not put him in his crate as a punishment.

What if he barks and cries when he is put in his cage?

If when you first close your puppy into his crate he starts to whine and bark the best thing to do is ignore him. Wait until he settles down then let him out. This way he will learn to settle quicker. If you let him straight back out he will learn to bark and whine and you (and your neighbours)  may have a problem on your hands. Remember behaviour that is rewarded will be repeated.

Do make sure that if your puppy has been in his crate for a while that if he starts barking he is not trying to tell you that he needs to go outside!

Will he need his crate forever?

Overtime when is toilet trained and he is house trained you will need the crate less and less. I always keep it handy if I bring the dogs to visit friends. This way they have a home from home! Dogs that are crate trained always cope well if they have to come into a veterinary hospital or if they are in boarding kennels.