Puppy Tips

Top tips for puppy training..


Going to collect your new puppy is an exciting time, but it is important to ensure you are well prepared.

It is important to stock up on puppy food which your breeder has used and recommends, a sudden change in diet could cause your puppy an upset tummy. Have feeding bowls, toys, leads and bedding all sitting ready for when your puppy arrives home.

Decide on where your puppy will sleep at night and spend its day. An outside run is advisable for larger breeds for daytime free run, it is advisable to have this in place and prepared before your new puppy arrives.

Be prepared to spend time with your breeder when collecting your puppy. Your breeder will offer you sound advice on how to look after your new puppy. It’s also advisable to have a list of questions prepared in advance so as not to forget anything.

Ensure you have a travel crate to transport your puppy home in. This will keep them safe and secure. Play relaxing music in the vehicle during the journey home, this will have a calming settling effect and makes your pups likely first car journey as stress free as possible.

* A Contract of Sale

* It is recommended that the breeder provide you with this. Amongst other things this should detail both the breeder(s)’ and your responsibility to the puppy. The contract should also list any official Kennel Club endorsements (restrictions) that the breeder has placed on the puppy’s records, and in particular on what basis the breeder may be prepared to remove the endorsement.

* Endorsements the breeder may place on your puppy include not for breeding and not for export. Before or at the time of sale, you must give a signed acknowledgement of any endorsement placed.

* Written advice on training, feeding, exercise, worming and immunisation.

* A pedigree detailing your dog’s ancestry – this could either be hand-written or a printed pedigree from either the breeder or an official one from the Kennel Club.

* Copies of any additional health certificates for the sire and dam.

* Ask which vaccinations your puppy has had and which ones are still required.

Never under estimate the importance of early socialisation for your puppy. Introducing your puppy to lots of different sights and sounds will help them grow into a happy confident adult dog.

If you’ve bought your puppy from a reputable breeder they should have already experienced a home environment.  Ideally they should be familiar with children, television, radio, vacuum cleaners, hairdryers and other household appliances that make noises such as the washing machine or tumble-dryer using sound therapy.  Speak to the breeder to find out about what the puppy has been exposed to before you bring them home.

Even before your puppy’s vaccinations are complete there is still a lot you can do to help socialise them.  Take them on short car journeys to the vet or supermarket.  Puppies should learn to enjoy being handled by different people of all ages in a variety of environments.  Research shows that the early months of a puppy’s life are when they are most open to learning.  It is important to make the most of this time and introduce them to as many social situations and experiences as possible.  Fears and phobias are often created by the reactions of anxious owners, so try to remain relaxed and happy and pass confidence on to the puppy.

Here are some different situations that you can gradually introduce a puppy to after vaccination:
A market place or town – to accustom them to being walked among crowds of people and to get used to traffic noises.
Confined Spaces – under the stairs or in cubby holes to accept confinement in a small place.
Different Surfaces – such as walking on a laminate floor, and going up and down metal fire escapes or open stairs & steps
Loud Noises – including thunder, fireworks, cars backfiring or doors slamming.  You can buy noise CDs that have been developed specifically to help anxious pets or acclimatize your puppy.

Bus and Railway Stations – to experience travelling in a crate, and seeing and hearing trains and buses.
Veterinary Surgeons – to prevent anxiety during your puppy’s check-ups.
Farmyard – to meet other species of animals and birds.
Household Noises – including the vacuum cleaner, hairdryer, doorbell and telephone.
A Variety of People – including children, adults, wheelchair users, people wearing hats or carrying umbrellas, people with facial hair, glasses or wearing a uniform.
Bridges and Tunnels – to accustom him to heights, darkness, trains, water and passing vehicles.

Invite visitors, relatives and your children’s friends and their pets to meet your puppy.  Children are not naturally able to read a dog’s body language, so ensure they are supervised whenever the puppy is with them.

Encourage everyone to handle the puppy and stroke him in a calming way so that he becomes happy and relaxed with strangers.

An indoor crate can make a perfect bed and help keep your puppy safe and secure.  It satisfies the natural den instinct of your puppy.  Make it a positive place for them by making it comfy and providing toys.

Get into the habit of leaving your puppy alone for a few hours every day, by putting them on to their bed or into his crate with a toy.  This will help to prevent separation anxiety.  When you return don’t make a huge fuss of the puppy, or you will give them more importance to your return than is needed and make an issue out of the fact that they were left alone.

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Grooming is a good way to build your puppy’s confidence, strengthen your relationship and keep him tidy. Your puppy should enjoy being groomed, and this is a great opportunity for you to bond and spend some time with each other. Some breeds need more attention than others, but all puppies will benefit from a pamper session once or twice a week. If it’s nice weather you can sit outside in the garden and relax in the sunshine as you work.

By the time your new pup comes home, which is usually between seven to ten weeks of age, they will probably be eating 4 small feeds a day. Although they are growing incredibly fast and need lots of calories, their stomach is very tiny which is why several smaller meals are better than one or two large ones. You can gradually cut down to three meals a day by 12 weeks and two feeds at four or five months, but if necessary check with your vet.

It is dangerous for dogs to snatch food, particularly from children, so teach your puppy to be patient and wait for permission to eat.

Approach the puppy with a bowl of his food.

Hold the bowl above the puppy’s head so they have to look up.  This encourages them to drop their back end down so they go into a sit easily. Ask the puppy to ‘Sit’ and then kneel down and put your hand on their collar before placing the bowl a little distance in front of you.

Tell the puppy to ‘Sit’, putting them back into a sit if they stands up again.

When the puppy relaxes into a sit and makes eye contact with you, give a release command such as ‘OK’.  Eating the food is their reward for showing self-control. Remember “Calmness leads to Reward”.

Although it may look cute if your puppy growls and puts up their hackles when someone approaches their food bowl, it definitely won’t be cute if they continue to do this as an adult.  You should be able to approach your dog when they are eating.

If your puppy starts to exhibit signs of food guarding behaviour consult a behaviourist immediately.

Early Training – Start As You Mean To Go On

Training your new puppy starts the moment you get them home in other words what I call boundary training or house rules.  Formal obedience training should start around the 4 months/16 weeks when your puppy is more able to concentrate.  Although there is no upper age limit its never too late to start training your dog.  Most people don’t seek professional help until they have got a problem, which could have been prevented had they sought professional help sooner.  Training the older dog can be achieved with a high degree of success it simply takes more consistency, patience, love and understanding.

Don’t allow your puppy on your sofa unless you have granted them permission.  Make your puppy sit before getting its food or a toy. Remember ‘Calmness must always lead to Reward’.

When you return after a period of separation from your puppy don’t make a fuss of them, until they are calm, never reward excitable behaviour , don’t look at them or touch them until they are calm. Remember Calmness Leads To Reward.

All puppies chew as part of their teething process, unfortunately they may decide to chew your favourite pair of shoes or furniture or your hands. Provide your puppy with lots of teething toys and if necessary place them in the fridge so when they chew it cools their inflamed gums.

See our toilet training section.