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Puppy Training - overnight housetraining

Written by Louise, February 2018 

At some point in every Puppy School course I am asked by an owner "how do I stop my puppy from toileting (or waking me up) during the night?". These owners are usually experiencing relatively successful housetraining throughout the day by being vigilant, spotting the "I need the toilet" behaviours (distracted, sniffing, circling) and by knowing the times that their puppy will likely need to toilet (upon waking, after eating/drinking, after excitement). So why are they often greeted by mess in the morning, or worse, disturbed sleep as their pup wakes them up during the night? 

The first question I have for them - what time is the puppy's last meal? 9 times out of 10 the answer is 6/7pm and the puppy wakes up around 2am. If this is the case, the first step (and usually the solution to the problem) is to feed the puppy's dinner later, spreading the other meals out accordingly. A puppy digests its meal in roughly 8 hours. So if an owner is feeding their pup at 6pm, he's waking up at 2am because his body is telling him it's time to poop. Not all puppies will be 2am poopers, but their digestive system may well be waking them up - and when young puppies wake up, they pee.  So, if you'd like your puppy to sleep through the night, try feeding his last meal of the day at 9/10pm, make sure he toilets before bed and he should settle until around 6am, when you can get up and immediately take him outside.

For more help with housetraining please contact us

Training Tips: How to teach "settle"

Written by Louise, February 2018 

Whether you have a new puppy, a recently rescued dog or a well established canine, learning to lie down and relax on cue is really useful training to have.  In week 3 of our Puppy School course we teach young puppies to do this - and that's a big ask for excitable bouncy pups, but they understand and even the liveliest puppies learn to chill out when their owners are sitting, listening to their next instructions. 

This exercise can be trained to older dogs as well as puppies. With any new training exercise it's best to start in a quiet, familiar environment with minimal distractions. The only prerequisite is that your pooch can be lured into a "down" position. You may find it helpful to have a little blanket or small bed at your feet  for your dog to settle on. 

  1. Have your dog on a lead and place your foot on the lead so it's reasonably short but long enough that your pup can stand, sit and lie down comfortably. 
  2. Lure your dog into a down position, quietly say "settle" and scatter several small pieces of treat between his front paws
  3. Wait a few seconds and then put a few more pieces of treat between his front paws
  4. If he stands up, simply lure him back into a down
  5. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until your dog is staying in a down position at your feet
  6. Reduce the frequency of the treats gradually by increasing the time between treats and try to reward when he's not looking up at you (avoid looking directly at your dog - we want to reward calm, relaxed behaviour rather than for your dog lying down looking up at you).
  7. Once he's mastered this at home, you can train in busier locations such as pubs, cafes and public transport.

For more help training your dog to settle, or if you would like us to join you for training in the pub, please get in touch!

Will tuggy games turn my puppy into a terror?

Written by Adele, March 2018 

Play is a huge part of any dog’s life and toys are an invaluable tool in training. Toy play is great for building and strengthening bonds between owner and puppy, it’s a great energy burner, gives an outlet for unwanted puppy biting and channels instinctive behaviours such as chasing appropriately.

So why is there such a misconception in playing tug of war games? It is one of the most common worries I come across when talking to owners -that playing tuggy games will build their dog's jaw strength and make them aggressive. The truth is, playing constructive tuggy games with some basic rules can help to improve your puppy’s self control, help to prevent unwanted behaviours from developing and strengthens the bond between you and your puppy.

There are lots of toys on the market to choose from but I've found the best tuggy toys for puppies are long, soft plaited toys. These won’t cause damage to tiny puppy teeth and will ensure that said teeth stay far away from your hands.

To introduce tug games, use two identical toys, keeping one hidden initially. You want to make the toy fast moving and enticing, keeping it low on the ground to avoid your puppy from jumping up. Tease your puppy with near misses and then let him win it, giving him a tug of war game then let him have it. Your puppy will likely run away to parade it around you. Keep your cool, then whip out the other toy and make that really fun enticing your puppy to drop the original toy and come to engage with you. Once your puppy is reliably exchanging the toys the word ‘Drop’ can be introduced as a cue to introduce some structure to the game. If your puppy gets a little bit too excitable or accidentally makes contact with you skin, the game ends abruptly, walk away and leave your puppy to settle down.

Tug games are not just great for puppies but are also a useful outlet for stress and frustration based behaviours and so can be a useful for dogs of all ages and backgrounds.

For more advice get in contact for some 121 training to learn more about the advantages of toy play and its use in training. 

Loves walks, hates harness?

Written by Louise, July 2018 

"My dog loves going for walks but whenever I pick up his harness he runs away". Sound familiar? Harnesses are now very popular for walking dogs and they're great for a number of different reasons; they use less pressure on the dog's neck, they're often more comfortable than being walked on a collar and they can be useful for training. So why am I seeing so many dogs at the moment who wriggle, protest or run away on the sight of their harnesses, surely the dogs must know that means they're going for a walk? The fact is that many dogs have had harnesses put on them without any form of choice or reward - the dog wasn't given the option to wear the harness, it was just put on them. Furthermore, most harnesses require physical manipulation of the dog and are taken off and on again while owners figure out how they work and how to resize them. Once you take these things into considerations, it's no wonder some dogs aren't keen!

There are seemingly endless varieties of harness, some go over the head, some are step-in, others are more complicated and have multiple bits to clip onto, some claim to stop your dog pulling (they usually don't!), some tighten and some just look nice.

Our favourite is the Perfect Fit harness as it can be fully clipped on without the dog having to put his head or legs through, plus it's super comfortable and has a handy chest ring. 

The good news is that dogs can easily be taught to remain relaxed while their harness is put on - or even better, they can be taught to willingly participate in the process. This can be done by sitting with your dog's harness and plenty of tasty treats, waiting for him to come to you and allowing him to CHOOSE to put the harness on by putting his own head through (not you putting it over his head) or stepping in using a treat lure or simply rewarding him for standing whilst still giving him the option of moving away should he wish. Allow yourself a few minutes before a walk to take the time to positively association your dog to his harness and you'll have a happier pooch in no time. 

For more help in training your dog to love his harness, muzzle or for any other training please contact us.

The handsome dog in the photo is Teddy, currently on foster with Louise and looking for his forever home, if you could be his new family please visit www.battersea.org.uk