- Puppy and Toy Breeds Training
Canine Training Academy
Effective techniques for training puppy 7 weeks to 6 months and toy breeds.
Many people find having a dog like having a child who ignores them, causing stress and frustration and ultimately diminishes the joy in a special relationship.
This book will teach you different ways to train your puppy with food and with positive and negative reinforcement.
Once your dog learns various habits, they are hard to break. So teaching your dog good habits at an early age will go a long way in establishing a fun, healthy and productive relationship between you.
Training dogs from a young age is the key to many years of fulfilment with your canine friend.
In this book, I will share my experience and expertise by revealing good techniques to get off to the right start with training your puppy.
So we will take a look at how pups think and learn.
One of my favourite sayings is:
“if we can figure this out, we can get a
dog to do almost anything”.
Chapter One – The breed and intelligence of you dog matters
First let’s look at what breed of dog you have as that plays a big role in how your puppy will behave. Breeds of dogs are separated into a few categories such as working dogs, hounds, terriers, gun dogs and toys.
Many people don’t realise that how a dog thinks and learns is closely connected to what it was bred for and the general intelligence of its breed. Understanding this will help owners to appreciate what to expect from their dogs and the level of their inbred abilities.
So if you have a working dog, you can definitely expect it to behave differently compared with a toy dog.
A working dog will be more eager to please as well as being a fast learner, which comes down to how many repetitions you must go through before your dog picks up the command.
You can look your dog up on the following website:
The level of intelligence of a breed is determined by how many repetitions they need to go through before they pick up the command and how many more repetitions before they become a habit.
This may seem obvious, but is so often overlooked.
Managing the expectations of dog owners starts with them learning about the characteristics and limitations of their particular dogs.
Chapter Two – Getting started
Housebreaking and, most importantly, stopping your dog from getting into bad habits are foundational techniques in successfully training your puppy.
When to start?
At around 7 weeks of age, your pup will be at its most receptive to its environment and have a high degree of willingness and ability to learn.
By harnessing this early period in your dog’s life, you will start it on the right track, making it easier for you and for your dog in the long run.
We will also discuss certain boundaries that are important to set early on in your dog’s life, showing it exactly its place in your ‘pack’ or household.
Dogs are pack animals, continuously fighting to move up the ranks in a pack. An individual puppy in a pack will try to assert its dominance by jumping, sitting, mouthing/biting the other puppies in order to be number one.
Translating that to us, your puppy will jump on you, sit on you and will bite you to show that you’re not as important as it is!
So never let a dog do these things to you until the puppy learns you are in charge and it knows its place in the pack.
Earlier, I said dogs think in the simplest form. By that I mean they learn from their own experiences – positive and negative – so now it’s up to you to provide the experiences that will make your puppy become the dog you want.
Now that we know the intelligence of your dog matters, it’s time to look at how dogs think and learn.
Let’s consider a dog’s brain for a moment – from between the ages of seven weeks and 21 weeks – a puppy is still in a mouldable or ‘jelly like’ state. This means its skill set is still not completely developed nor has it become hardened like pottery.
I always emphasise that:
“the way to go about training your puppy is
significantly different than that for
a mature dog – aged from six-months and up”.
Chapter Three – Tools for training puppies
Believe it or not, we need to be trained as well! So remember this training in just as much for you as it is for your dog to produce a successful outcome.
So what’s needed?
- You are going to use food and your voice.
- You will also need to have a suitable cough collar and a light lead.
Voice control is by far a better approach than lead control. As I am a strong believer in voice control, I prefer not to use clicks or any other tools or gimmicks.
As you’re going to be speaking to your dog all the time, I think it’s important for your dog to learn to recognise your voice commands.
You can expect to get off lead obedience much faster if your dog listens and obeys your voice commands. Having voice control is crucial before your dog starts advanced basic obedience.
Seemingly small things like the type of food used to train dogs are in fact very important. You should opt for something that the dog does not need to chew – like thin, small pieces of cheese or something similar. That way, your dog will always be able to indicate frequently that it wants more without the distraction of it having a food item in its mouth that requires lots of chewing.
Reward and reprimand
In this book, we are going to use a ratio of 98% reward to 2% reprimand. Positive reinforcement for your dog’s obedience includes saying “good boy, well done, aren’t you clever” using a higher pitched voice. Your puppy will quickly respond to this in a positive manner. Reinforcing a good response will cause it to be eager to do it again. You should speak to your puppy with only the command and in a way that it understands that you are speaking to it. That way it will not learn to ignore your voice.
When training a puppy, I do not condone any reprimand except the sound of a voice.
Extreme measures such as a pinch in the back of the neck along with a small shake, while saying the word “no” should be avoided. These techniques will have a negative impact on your dog as it will start to associate your hand with in a negative way. By saying the word “no” in a growling tone is the closest that we can get to in reproducing its mother’s correcting reprimand.
You’re never to hit your dog with your hand or any other part of your body as it will quickly associate you with a negative experience and will try to avoid you at all costs.
To be fair with your puppy, you’re going to say its name first, then give a command –
for example: “Nelson, come”.
We recommend that you speak the dog’s name first and then give the word for a reprimand –
for example: “Nelson, no”
A wording of warning here, you should never handle your dog or try to train it if you’re not in the right state of mind to do so. Should you be in an angry state, unrelated to your dog, it will pick up on that and will associate that training with a negative experience.
So remember, make sure you are always in a calm state when teaching or reprimanding your dog.
If your dog has caused some damage or made a mess and you were not present at the exact time that it happened, do not reprimand your dog in this occurrence as it will not associate your reprimand with the reason for its punishment.
A warning about patting your dog
You should never pat your dog on its head continuously. Constant petting on the head will cause it to start biting as it will think it is being lowered down the pecking order in its social structure. You should always pat your dog on its chest, lifting its head upward as if to say to your dog “how big you look, how strong you are”.
On your dog’s body, starting from the front shoulder blade, pat it backwards towards its hind quarters saying “good boy, well done”.
This approach will ensure that your dog will receive a positive and affirming message.
I always stress that:
“having voice control is crucial before your dog starts
advanced basic obedience”.
Chapter Four – Five key commands to learn
As I mentioned in Chapter three, I believe using voice control is a far better approach than lead control. In this book, we will learn about five key voice commands to teach your puppy.
Come your dog makes its way to you by the most direct route when called.
Sit your dog will sit on the ground where you tell it.
Stay your dog is either in a ‘sit’ or ‘drop’ position and does not move unless instructed to do so.
Drop your dog drops to its stomach, touching the ground in a lying position.
Heel your dog is on the left or right hand side, depending on your preference, without pulling or jumping and giving you its full attention.
What’s the most important command to start with?
In my experience, the most important command you can establish at this early age is the command ‘come’. The earlier your puppy learns that come is a positive command, the less likely it will be to run away or get lost. If your dog has had bad experiences in response to this word, it may associate the word come with negative experiences and choose to run rather than come to you.
Once your dog develops this habit, it’s extremely hard to break!
The training area
The training area should be a place preferably with no distractions and familiar to your puppy – like your backyard.
I like to train a dog around the house as their attention span is very short and I can do many small exercises over a period of an hour without boring it or inconveniencing me by going outside all the time. The more familiar the training area is, the better and easier it will be on your puppy.
We are going to start training your dog with the most important command, that is “come”.
1) How to get your dog to “come”
This is the most inviting command you give to your dog. You should never call to your dog and reprimand it; otherwise it will associate this command as a negative experience.
By placing a lead and collar on your dog, just to have a bit of control, take it to an open space within your training area (along with small pieces of cheese you’ve prepared earlier) and walk about 1½ metres backwards from your dog.
Then lean down and call your puppy by its name first and then give the command “come”.
As your dog advances toward you, start praising him with your voice by saying “good boy, aren’t you clever” and repeat the word of command “come”.
When your puppy reaches you, reward it with a small piece of cheese and then repeat the exercise, but each time increase the distance between the two of you. In addition, lengthen the time period before giving the command.
Once your puppy loses interest, stop the exercise and resume it at a later time. This exercise must be fun and when a dog loses interest it is saying to you that this is no longer any fun.
Once you have successfully got your dog to respond to the word “come”, introduce the next command word – being the “sit” command.
2) How to get your dog to “sit”
Before the exercise, prepare some small pieces of cheese. Put on its lead and collar and stand directly in front of your puppy. Then place one piece of cheese in your hand and place it in front of your dog’s nose.
However, do not let it eat it, but slowly lift your hand above the dog’s head, making him look directly upwards and causing it to sit on its bottom.
You can assist your puppy by slightly pushing on it hindquarters and saying his name for and then the command sit
I recommend only doing this exercise a maximum of four times in a session because your puppy will learn this command quite quickly. Over practicing will cause it to associate the command to sit with a piece of cheese.
3) How to get your dog to stay
Once your dog is obeying the commands for come and sit, you can now introduce the command “stay”.
We can try and tell a dog to stay by putting it in the stay position and then saying the command word using a dominant, assertive voice while walking away from it. However, we all know that if the dog decides to run off it can be very hard to catch it up. That’s not much fun!
So how can we avoid this scenario during training?
To begin with, place your puppy in the middle of the training area in the sit position and attach its collar and lead.
While in front of your dog, reach out with one of your hands in front of its muzzle and create an artificial barrier in front of its face. Call its name and use the command stay. Then, slowly step backwards to the full extent of the lead and then wait approximately 30 seconds. Now go back to your puppy and reward it using your voice and food.
Remember, you should practice this exercise no more than three times per training session.
The stay command is measured by distance and time. The further the distance – the more time and more control you will have.
Once you reach a comfortable waiting period and are at least a distance of four metres from the dog and without the dog breaking the stay command, start calling it by name first, followed by the command to come.
Ideally, you should achieve a stationary period for your dog of seven minutes, at a distance of 21 metres.
I would encourage variety, rather than routine, in training so that your dog does not try and anticipate your commands.
If it does not know what to expect next, it will be more inclined to wait for your next command.
There are only three ways that your dog should break the stay command:
1) If you give it the command to come, it must obey and come directly to you.
2) If you give it the command to “heel”, it must obey and heel and walk away with you.
3) If you give the “free” command, your dog is free to do as it pleases (I teach this in the Advanced Obedience Course).
If you give your puppy the command to stay and it breaks it – meaning it gets up and walks away – you must take it back to the same exact spot. Say nothing except the word “no”. Once you have reached the spot, give the hand-to-hand command and say the command stay and start the exercise over again.
If your puppy seems unwilling to obey the stay command in a particular training session, then I strongly recommend that you skip it and come back to it another time or even another day.
Please remember that it’s important to increase the distance and the time slowly. Don’t try any shortcuts – by training your dog correctly to obey this, you will soon discover just how useful this command can be.
4) How to get your dog to “drop”
The “drop” command will be a hard command for your puppy to learn as it goes against its natural instinct. In this position, your dog cannot protect itself easily or run to safety. So you need to introduce the drop command with just 100% reward and zero reprimand to successfully train your dog to do it.
Start by preparing small pieces of cheese for this training session. Place your puppy in front of you in the sitting position and hold a piece of cheese in your right-hand in front of the dog’s nose. Slowly bring it down directly in a straight line while saying your dog’s name. For the drop command make your dog look downwards and slowly move into a drop position, but don’t let it have a treat until it has achieved a full drop. Here, we are trying to get the dog to follow the command slowly to the ground. On completion, you should praise your dog and give it a treat.
Don’t be surprised if you have to indicate the hand signal and say your dog’s name and then the command for drop a few times before it catches on.
Don’t worry if your puppy resists this command at first – be patient. I strongly suggest you have a break and come back and try again at a later time.
5) How to get your dog to “heel”
As for the command “heel”, you cannot really train your puppy this command in the house or in very small area. But don’t worry, the training up to this point establishes the groundwork to enable your dog to learn how to heel.
Decide on which side you like the dog to walk beside you. Traditionally, dogs walk on the side of their owners with which they have a free hand. For example, where owners use their right hand to hold the lead, their dogs will be positioned on their left hand side and vice versa.
Put the lead on your puppy and then place it in a sitting position. Line yourself up parallel to the dog with your knees in line with its chest.
Now, put a few pieces of cheese in your hand closest to your puppy (this means you hold the lead in your other hand – so the lead goes across your body). Your hand with the cheese should be closest to the dog, in a closed fist position, right above its nose. Keep saying its name first before the command. Heel and walk approximately 3 steps and then command it to sit. Reward your dog and repeat the exercise. If your puppy walks in front of you, then pull slightly on the lead, saying the word “no”.
A useful tip is you can place the food behind the dog’s head while you’re walking causing it to walk slightly behind you trying to get at the food.
As I mentioned earlier, never pull the lead and say the word of command as your dog will associate the command with a negative response and then the command will have meaning – as a command “no”.
Increase the amount of steps between saying heel and sit – depending on the amount of space room you have available.
Remember puppies have very short attention spans, so break the training sessions into lots of 7 to 15 minutes. You can do approximately 4 sessions like this throughout the day and still keep a dog interested in achieving a high level of training results.
It’s crucial to remember:
“call your puppy by its name first
and then give the command…….”
Chapter Five – Things you should not let your dog do!
Avoid the pain of having to break bad habits by not creating them in the first place!
1) Your puppy should not sleep in your room or on your bed or it will think that it is equal or better than you.
2) Do not feed it in the kitchen or this will give your pup a message that it can hang around the kitchen and wait for food.
3) Never feed your dog sitting around the table for the same reason.
4) Never let your puppy jump up and sit on your lap as this is the way it tries to establish its place in the pack. This will undermine your authority and confuse your dog as to who is boss!
Prepare a place for your puppy in a location that is not too far away from you – preferably a place you hang out most with it. You can put bedding in it and give the puppy time to get familiar with it.
In this place, you can give it the command “on your mat” by putting it on the mat with the command stay. It’s important to give praise for staying on the mat – it will become the dog’s place.
I also recommend refraining from carrying or holding your dog as canines cannot fly! When you put it down on the ground, it has no idea how it got there.
5) Believe it or not, try to limit the amount of toys your dog has! If it has too many toys, it will be hard for it to distinguish between its toys and your valuables. Just a few toys are sufficient to keep a dog occupied.
The toys I recommend are the Tuffy and Kong brands that are made of strong rubber. In particular, look for the interactive toys that are designed as hollow cones.
The idea behind these types of interactive toys is to place a bit of peanut butter inside the cone and give it to the dog. It will be determined to get the peanut butter out, but in doing so will have hours of entertainment. The chewing toys come in different sizes, so be careful to choose the right one suited for your dog. This is both to avoid any accidents and because dogs will not play with toys if they are too big for their respective size.
One of my favourite toys has to be a 600 ml Coca-Cola bottle (remove cap). I do not know why, but all my dogs prefer this toy about all others. It’s probably like babies who prefer to play with boxes rather than the actual presents.
6) I do not play tag of war or chasing games with dogs as these may give them wrong messages regarding their respective places in a pack. Not only that, but teaching dogs to run away from owners and chasing them are acceptable options as they can’t distinguish games from non-games. All it does is open the door for dogs to learn bad habits which will then need to be broken later on.
“Avoid the pain of having to break bad habits
by not creating them in the first place!”
Chapter Six – Socialisation
The subject of socialisation is quite a hotly disputed matter between trainers, but I will share with you my hands on experiences and techniques regarding socializing dog.
Socialisation is the most important part of your dog’s life. If you don’t have a social life correctly established – which includes both other dogs and people – you will not end up with a well balanced, sociable dog.
Before your puppy can mix and socialise with other puppies, you need to ensure that it has been appropriately and fully vaccinated and that it does not have any known diseases or skin rashes etc.
Also be aware of your dog’s environment so that you can minimise it from picking up diseases such as parvovirus or distemper. Basic cleanliness and hygiene will help. However, I would also recommend that you avoid public parks and dog walking areas, where many dogs socialize, until your dog reaches approximately 6 months of age. By this age, it should have had all its various vaccinations so there is far less risk of it contracting diseases.
When your dog socialises with other dogs be careful to observe the behaviour of your dog as it interacts with other canines. You never know what may happen. Some dogs always try to gain dominance and are aggressive. It’s very easy for violent fights to break out between dogs – so be vigilant with your dog.
So for that reason, I totally socialise in familiar areas where I know it will be safe.
If you are taking your dog by car everywhere, remember never leave your dog in the car alone. The interiors of vehicles can reach extremely high temperatures very rapidly.
Precautions aside, the more experiences your dog has, the more well rounded it will become. That means your dog will not act like everything is new to it and its easier for it to be out and about.
I regularly tell friends, acquaintances and strangers that I don’t allow my dogs to be picked and carried for any reasons. I have the same approach with food. Do not let other people feed your dog or it will teach your dog to be on the lookout for extra meals and treats from other people.
Again, it’s the same with voice commands. Do not let other people know your dog commands if they don’t know the rules of giving a command to a dog.
Remember, that is by saying his name first and then giving the appropriate command. Your friends need to understand that commands should be enforced (same methods as discussed earlier) otherwise the dog will soon learn that it doesn’t always have to obey.
On the same note, it is the same with reprimand. For instance if you say “sit”, “sit”, “sit”, your dog will learn that there is another way to communicate and respond to the command. So the correct approach is its name first and then the relevant command.
I find people are generally fine when you explain the purpose of the sticking to commands and correct ways of interacting with your dog.
A well behaved dog is one that has been socialised correctly for its environment. It has been given boundaries that it understands that it is not allowed to cross and obeys them.
As I said earlier, this needs to be a happy relationship, so socialise your dog in a way that gives it clear, workable boundaries that you’re happy with – for you are the one who has to live with it!
When introducing new people to your puppy, don’t make a big deal of it. The way to introduce people to a dog is by letting it discover the person or persons. For example, if you have guests who have just come over, you should get them to sit down in the lounge and then let out your dog. This way, you let your puppy discover them without a big fuss and it will not become over excited – which will then become an expectation at every new introduction.
Remember to tell new guests your training rules.
“Socialisation is the most important part
of your dog’s life!”
Chapter Seven – Dealing with destructive behaviour
As you might expect, puppies are well known for their destructive behaviour, such as chewing anything that they can get their teeth around etc.
If you have not ‘caught your dog in the act’, you cannot reprimand it for what you suspect it of having done. But where you catch it being destructive, if absolutely necessary, the right way to deal with it is:
- Grab your dog on the back of the neck and give it a slight shake and say the word “no”, to reinforce its negative behaviour.
- Then give the puppy its toy to play with instead of – this emphasises positive behaviour.
For all other destructive behaviour, if you catch them in the act, the reprimand should always be the same. If you reprimand with a different reaction in each situation, your dog will not know what to expect. Therefore, it will most likely continue with its destructive behaviour.
Every problem has a technical and a training solution. You have all the tools you need to train your dog and start it all off on the right track.
By adopting my techniques, you will have a far greater understanding of your puppy’s abilities. This solid platform will enable you to train your dog to do almost anything and have fun at the same time!
The next steps
In my next book, Basic Obedience, you will learn how to take all these techniques and experiences up to the next level of the course. You’ll probably be way ahead of those who have not done this part, but I am sure you will find it quite easy to advance because you will now have a solid foundation.
This will provide techniques for teaching more commands – like boundary awareness and dealing with problems such as food refusal.
In my book, Advanced Basic Obedience, I will teach techniques for taking off your dog’s lead and how to manage its freedom off the leash. Adding out of sight control is a worthwhile course if you’re going to let you dog off lead at any time.