My social media pages seem to be full of puppy photos at the moment – I have to admit, it’s making me feel rather ‘puppy broody!’ So when our friend Sarah, an animal behaviour expert, who is also the brains and inspiration behind the fabulous Ruffle Snuffle, offered to write an article for us all about Puppy Training I simply jumped at the chance.
Her tips and advice are fantastic, so if you’re lucky enough to have the pitter-patter of tiny paws in your life, make sure you have a read.
There’s even a discount code exclusively for Dotty4Paws readers so can you order your very own Snuffle Mat. Poppy dog absolutely loves hers and can highly recommend them as part of your training routine (they’re also great for adult dogs too, as they can be used to alleviate boredom, reduce stress or to slow down eating).
We hope you love the article – we think it’s wooftastic!
Love Kate and Poppy x
Puppy training: Top 6 Tips from animal behaviourist Sarah White
Bringing a new puppy home is an exciting experience for your family, but training your dog right from the start is very important.
The first few weeks you spend with your puppy are a crucial period for both you and your new dog. The relationship you establish during this time can set the tone for the rest of your life together. Puppies grow up very fast and the first few months will fly by, so getting their training absolutely right from the start will help them become calm, well-behaved adult dogs. Sarah White is an animal behaviourist who uses positive reinforcement methods to shape and change behaviours across a wide range of animals. She also runs Ruffle Snuffle®, which designs and produces an award winning range of environmental enrichment toys for pets.
Here’s a few of Sarah’s top puppy training tips.
Set your puppy up for success from the moment you and your new puppy get home. Especially for the first few days your puppy will be feeling quite uncertain, so establishing a good, consistent routine is crucial from the start. Make sure you always wake up, feed, and put your puppy to bed at the same time every day. I recommend that you pop a piece of paper with the routine on the fridge so all the family can see it as a reminder and can support each other.
Your puppy needs to know their own name. Make sure you say it to them frequently to get their attention so they won’t confuse it with another command. Refrain from using nicknames until they have learnt their own name properly.
Puppies normally need to go to the toilet as soon as they’ve woken up, which means you’ll need to be up with them to put them outside. They will usually want to urinate about a quarter of an hour after eating, and do a poo another fifteen minutes after that.
Young dogs have small bladders and not much control over them, so they will need to be put outside every 20 minutes to start with. This period of time can be increased slowly by 5 minutes each day as you help them learn how to hold their bladder for a little longer. Don’t assume they will tell you when they need to go – take them out anyway. Set a timer on your phone. You will be surprised how quickly they can progress. While they’re urinating or defecating, make a point of saying “wee wees” or whatever word you’d like to use to remind your dog to toilet, and praise them when they are finished.
If any accidents do happen and your puppy makes a mess indoors, it’s important not to punish them, or they may end up being scared to relieve themselves in front of you, whether they’re outside or not. Just clear it up and make sure you use a cleaner specifically for pet stain and smell removal as it can remain long after you think it is gone and the puppy will be tempted to go in the same spot.
From a very early stage you need to make sure your puppy gets used to having other people – and other dogs – around. This means introducing them to lots of different people and animals in a controlled manner and rewarding them for interacting positively. It’s especially important to make sure your puppy meets as many different kinds of people and dog as possible – children and adults of both sexes, wearing hats, holding umbrellas, cycling, jogging as well as dogs of all different sizes and breeds. See if your local vet or puppy trainer organises puppy parties as they are a great opportunity for your puppy to meet other dogs and people in a safe environment.
The crucial thing with any new experience in this period is that they all have to be positive. That means keeping a stash of treats handy at all times! Use these or a favourite toy to distract your puppy if any of their new experiences seem to worry or stress them.
The key to stopping unwanted behaviours isn’t “asserting dominance”, but rather about cutting out rewards for behaviours you don’t like in your puppy. When training your puppy, ensure you reward behaviour you want to encourage, and ignore those that you don’t. Remember that any kind of attention is a reward; even saying ‘no’. Avoid verbal or physical punishment which will only have a negative long term effect on your puppy.
The first few weeks you spend with your dog lay the foundations for the rest of your life together, so it’s very important to get this time right. With consistency, time and dedication any puppy can learn using the tips above, and even more. If the whole family pulls together, there’s no reason why puppy training should be the nightmare it’s often made out to be.
For more hints and tips on dog training, plus a range of environmental enrichment toys take peek at the website at www.rufflesnuffle.com. Use discount code DOTTY5 for £5.00 off when you shop.