We all love to be around a well-trained dog and find a naughty dog a challenge! Training your lovable mutt to behave well and obey your commands is important for your furry friend’s safety and happiness, as well as their social acceptability!

 

Understanding how to harness your dog’s enthusiasm and eagerness to please you will make sure everyone enjoys having them as part of the family. Our articles cover topics such as how to introduce a new puppy to your family successfully, how to read your dog’s body language to spot trouble and how to go about basic reward-based training. We’ll add new articles regularly to help you and your dog have a safe, fun-filled and happy life together!    

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Dog playing with toy on grass

It’s so exciting getting a new puppy, but do you know what to expect as they grow? It’s important to understand how your puppy will develop so you don’t expect too much from them too early, and you introduce new experiences at the right time for them. Studying a few puppy training books will help you to plan your first year together and learn how to bring up a well-behaved dog, and here’s a summary of what to expect to get you started. Newborn – 2 weeks old  Your puppy is completely dependent on his mom, just able to suckle, sleep and crawl around enough to find warmth and food. His eyes open at around 10-14 days old but vision is poor initially. A small amount of very gentle handling to check him over is all that’s needed in this period. Transitional period 2-3 weeks old    Your puppy’s mom is still hugely important influencing behavior. His hearing and sense of smell develop and he starts to get his first teeth coming through. He learns to walk and lap water. Conscientious breeders will pick up the pup each day to check they are gaining weight and developing as they should, and to get them used to being handled a little.  Socialization period 3 – 12 weeks old You will probably take your new pup home at 8 weeks old, or perhaps slightly more. It’s crucial during this phase of development that your pup is socialized with people, other dogs, the home environment with its noisy machines and comings and goings, and the great outdoors. Your breeder should start this process. Stage 1: 3-5 weeks old By this age your pup can see, hear and smell pretty well. He starts to eat solid food, wag his tail, bark and play with the other puppies and his mom. He’ll start to try to leave the bed area to have a wee.  He’ll start to paw, bare his teeth, growl, carry things in his mouth and play prey-killing games by 4-5 weeks old. His mom will start to prevent her puppies feeding when they want to, and he’ll learn not to bite too hard when playing with his litter mates and mom. They need clear sleeping and playing areas so they can leave the bed area to relieve themselves. This is an important start for toilet training. Puppies raised in too small a space can struggle with understanding toilet training later on.      Stage 2: 5-8 weeks old By the age of 5-8 weeks of age weaning starts, ear and facial expressions are more obvious and it’s important your pup has great interactions with humans. You’ll see games between the litter mates, and will need toys to play with. Being raised in a breeder’s home is important as they learn about house noises and human activities. If they are exposed to kitchen noises, people coming and going, washing machines, dryers and vacuum cleaner noises, all the better!  There should be lots of contact with people of all ages, especially if they are going to a home with children, and they should be handled daily with at least 5 minutes individual attention separated from their litter mates and mom. Puppies are hugely curious at this age, although can start to become a little more cautious, and at the end of this period will come home with you. Stage 3: 8-12 weeks old    At this stage they are highly dependent on you, need lots of social contact and really want to please you. They become increasingly cautious of new experiences and by just 16 weeks old your opportunity to train your puppy to enjoy his environment and meeting new people is all but gone, as caution overtakes curiosity. That’s why it’s more important to expose him to new experiences now, more than at any other time in his life.   Play with him, teach him human games and to inhibit his play biting. He needs daily socialization, so get him out and about at least once a day to encounter the environments, animals, types of people and experiences he will encounter during his life. You could consider early vaccination at 6 weeks so he has some early protection, and socializing him with other dogs you know are vaccinated are great precautions. Carry your puppy outside so they start to encounter the outside world and put him down in areas you know other dogs have not been. He’ll need lots of reassurance and positive encouragement but this commitment to great socialization gives you the best chance of having a well-adjusted dog later.  Juvenile Period 3- 6 months old Your puppy is still highly dependent on you, eager to please with a growing awareness of his environment. Chewing behavior increases now as his teeth develop and so investing in a wide range of chews and toys so you can change them daily is a good idea to protect your shoes!   This is the time when training your puppy to have good manners is important as he grows and is able to concentrate more. You can start to fun games as a reward for a good training session. Socialization remains important so your puppy learns to cope with new situations.       Adolescence 6 months – 12 or 18 months old  This is when puppies become independent, sexually mature and more territorial. Chewing is still a big feature of their behavior. This can be the most difficult time to get through as a pet parent, and many dogs are given up for rehoming at this time because owners haven’t laid the ground rules and done the socialization and training needed to have a well-adjusted dog. Even if you have done the hard work, you can still wonder what’s gone wrong!  You are less important to your dog as they focus on the wider world, and hormone fluctuations cause behavior changes. They can become more assertive and aggressive and any issues surface now. This can be difficult to cope with as adolescence is a selfish time and you might feel you’re losing your relationship with your pup. Don’t give up on them, keep training them, don’t let him get his own way all the time, reinforce good behavior, be consistent and this phase will pass. You could shorten training session if things get frustrating as you need to try and avoid being angry with your pup. But remember, it is just a phase! Maturity 1 year – 18 months    Luckily adolescence passes faster in dogs than in humans so by the time your pup is a year to 18 months old you’ll be coming out of the most difficult phase. He’ll still be inexperienced and will fill out a bit more, but your hard work will be paying off and you should have a well-mannered dog you can take anywhere. Be aware he is inexperienced so you’ll still need to watch out for hazards and top up on training but everything should be a bit more relaxed now!    The first year of any young animal’s life is intense and full of development milestones, and it will be hard work. Understanding your puppy’s needs and capabilities, and investing time in their training and development will ensure you end up with a great addition to your family!

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Dog and Puppy playing on grass

It’s a big decision to add another member of the family, and if they are a little furry addition, there’s lots to think about! Preparing your home and family for the new addition will make sure their introduction to your pack is a happy one.  Once you’ve decided to get a puppy, studied the breed guides, talked it over with the family, got advice and decided what type of dog would suit you and your lifestyle, everyone will be excited about the new fur baby! Your little puppy will probably be very little when you get him – maybe only 8 weeks old, so what do you all need to do to make sure he fits in right from the start? We’ve consulted with Petplan and their comprehensive puppy guide and come up with these top tips for you.  Preparing for the trip home  Look for potential hazards. Before your puppy arrives home you need to get down to their level and see what they will see so you can spot possible hazards. Yes, get down on all floors and look for sharp objects that might hurt them, and move anything they could chew or eat that wouldn’t be good for them, out of reach. If you love your shoes, or your kids like their toys, they need to be out of reach as puppies chew a lot!   Look for toppling hazards. Do you have a wobbly bookshelf or a top-heavy TV that could fall on them? Secure them before there’s a disaster! Check for trailing power cables and secure them out of reach too, or your puppy could chew through them, or pull a lamp, stereo or TV on top of themselves.  Secure trash cans. You don’t want your puppy having a tummy upset because they’ve raided the trash. Use baby gates. They are really useful for confining your puppy to safe zones and out of areas that are off limits.  You will need a crate to bring your puppy home in and which will become their ‘safe zone’ in the house. You could get one that has removable sections that can grow with your puppy or replace it as he grows. To start with it needs to be big enough for him to move around, stand up without bumping his head, stretch and lie down but not big enough for him to wee in one corner and lie in another. You need your puppy to love his crate, so get a good quality, soft dog bed to go inside and do some research on how to get your puppy to love it. There’s lots of animal behaviorists online.        You’ll need some practical, and fun, equipment. Buy food and water bowls appropriate to your puppy’s size and go shopping for toys! Look for a variety of textures such as rope or rubber for instance and make sure they are the right size for your puppy’s mouth. Lots of interesting toy and chew options can save your furniture, so always praise your puppy for choosing their toys rather than your shoes! You’ll need a harness, leash and a collar with an identity tag, and if you live where it’s cold, you may need a dog coat, too, so your puppy stays warm and dry once he can go out with you.  Preparing your family  If you have kids, they are going to be sooooo excited!  It’s important that everyone stays safe and your little puppy is not overwhelmed or accidentally hurt so supervise all introductions and initial playtimes carefully, and encourage all children to be calm, quiet and as gentle as possible.  Ask small children to see if they can be as quiet as a mouse so they don’t frighten the puppy. Make sure they are as gentle as possible and don’t grab at the puppy as this could trigger a defensive bite. Also make sure they leave the puppy alone while he is sleeping or eating as interference could also result in a nip. They will need lots of reminders of the rules, so keep repeating the message and don’t leave small children and the puppy alone. Older children need similar rules so encourage them to sit on the floor and let the puppy come to them (treats are useful!). Make sure they don’t chase or throw things at the puppy and don’t grab at them puppy or sit or lie on them, for obvious reasons! All children will need supervising around the puppy at all times to ensure there are no unfortunate accidents, and even when the dog is older playtime should be monitored. Introducing a new puppy to your cat and dog needs planning, too.  Cats and dogs can get along... If you have a cat consider using a cat pheromone spray for a few days before the puppy arrives to make sure your cat is calm and happy. Provide your cat with a sanctuary where they can escape to and the puppy can’t follow, and ensure they can get somewhere high, out of the puppy’s reach. Cat indoor climbing frames are a good way to give your cat a vantage point. Internal cat flaps can give them a useful means of escape to another room or baby gates can help, if your cat can jump over them and escape unwanted attention.  Don’t force the puppy and your cat to meet, this could frighten both of them! When you do introduce them, it’s a good idea to have exercised the puppy first so he isn’t too boisterous and some basic training to sit or lie for treats is useful. Have treats they both like such as small pieces of chicken with you and introduce them through the bars of the baby gate and give both treats for good behavior. You want them both to associate the other with treats! Move slowly and repeat over several days so they get used to each other. Once your cat is calm and doesn’t seem frightened and wants to meet the puppy let them meet in a room but make sure your cat can get up high and escape, and your puppy is on a leash for meetings for a couple of weeks.  Let your cat set the pace.    Good body language would be your cat rubbing against the puppy, or batting at him with sheathed claws, and the puppy bowing or gently nudging back. If things get a bit boisterous distract your puppy with obedience tasks for treats and a gentle reminder on the leash. No shouting or scolding so everyone stays calm! It’s a good idea to keep them apart when you are not around.  Dogs will welcome a new puppy but might need a bit of time to adjust...  Introduce the new friends on common ground away from where you feed them and any favorite sleeping spots and put away favorite toys. Put them both on a leash and ensure they are calm and under control. Let them sniff and meet each other but watch their body language carefully. Playful bowing from both is good as is sniffing and positive tail wagging. If there are any signs of your dog being uneasy such as licking his lips, cowering or tucking his tail, stay relaxed and get him to focus on you, giving treats as rewards for obedience tasks and when he looks at the puppy. This way you’re helping him to relax by distracting him and getting him to focus on rewards.  it’s a good idea to only let them meet while on the leash for a while to make sure they have bonded properly and the bigger, older dog isn’t too rough with the puppy. Always give your dog’s their own feed bowls and feed them away from each other. Make sure you spend time with both of them individually and monitor their body language carefully looking for signs of unease when they are together.  If your older dog is well socialized, hopefully there will be no problems, but don’t leave them alone until you are sure they are happy together, and there’s no risk to the puppy. Hopefully these tips will help you introduce a new puppy to you family successfully, so everyone can learn to get along and have lots of fun together!