Training your Dog
We hope you find our training tips below useful. For training classes, please visit the Assosciation of Pet Dog Traininers website to find a trainer near you
Introducing a New Dog
The first meeting should always be on neutral ground and preferably outside.
Walk both dogs parallel to each other and at a distance where they are relaxed. Gradually move the two dogs closer together and if they appear to be comfortable with each other, release them and allow them to meet. Avoid meeting while on lead, as a tense lead may cause problems. If you are worried about the recall of either dog, then allow a long line to trail. Keep the meeting brief and call each dog away after the initial greeting. Treat both dogs and allow them to meet again. Try to keep the meeting controlled and low key. Pay particular attention to the dogs' body language and notice if either dog is becoming tense. If you notice tension building, move the dogs apart to a distance where they are relaxed, and attempt the exercise again.
Once the dogs seem at ease in each others' company, the next stage is to introduce the new dog to his home. Make sure that the resident dog is not in the house when the new dog arrives. The first introduction will be one of scent discovery, so allow the new dog to run around all areas of the house to which he will be allowed access.When he has thoroughly investigated the house, take him into the garden and allow him to explore. The resident dog can then be brought back into the house and should be allowed to investigate the new smells. When everything is relaxed and calm, reintroduce the dogs in the garden and then allow them into the house.
Be aware that crowded areas, corners, confined spaces and doorways may be flashpoints if either dog is apprehensive, so try to keep everything calm and give each dog as much space as you can.
Order and peace is more likely to be maintained if dogs understand that humans make the rules. Teach both dogs to be patient and polite and do not allow them to barge past in doorways or show similar rude behaviour. Both dogs should learn the benefits of waiting their turn and sharing.You can help to teach this by putting each dog on either side of a safety gate and asking them in turn for a simple "sit". Using Rover's name, ask for a sit and then treat him. Request the same from Fluffy and treat her for the same action. Rover will soon realise that when Fluffy is treated and petted, patient waiting will ensure that his turn is only moments away. Until they understand this game, always make sure that they are separated by the gate.
In the early stages, do not leave the dogs unsupervised. If you own safety gates, they can be put to good use as they allow the dogs to sniff and see each other but they can also move away if they wish. They should be on opposite sides of the gate for eating and sleeping. Keep beds and food bowls far apart at first but gradually move them closer together until the two dogs are comfortable to eat and sleep close to each other.
It is sometimes difficult to tell if dogs are playing or fighting. Good signs are bouncing and play bowing or gentle rolling on the floor with each dog taking turns on his back. There may be mouthing and open mouthed 'jousting'. If the excitement starts to escalate and you are worried that play is heading towards a fight, then separate the dogs and allow them a period to calm down. It should be quite clear if one dog is gaining the upper hand and the other is attempting to retreat.
If a fight breaks out, separate the dogs (but only if it is safe to do so)and give them time on their own. Ignore them for a period as you do not want either dog to feel that they have "won" and accomplished anything by their actions.
Both dogs will benefit from control type obedience such as down-stays, and need to understand that polite behaviour is rewarded but pushy dogs always have to wait until last.
It is difficult to tell how long it will be before both dogs are comfortable in each others' company and peace and order can be expected, as it will depend on individual cicumstances and the personalities of both dogs.
Patricia McConnell has written a very good booklet called "Feeling Outnumbered" which contains many helpful suggestions for maintaining peace and order in a multi-dog household. It can be ordered through Canine Concepts and Doodle Trust will benefit if you use this link.
This is an easy one. Just teach him to retrieve things and bring them to you rather than legging it down the garden.
Collect together a bag of the things that he likes to steal most and then go to a small, confined area (kitchen?) and tip the bag out on the floor. When he picks something up, stick a treat under his nose and say 'drop it' as he opens his mouth. Throw the object on the floor and let him pick another object.
Before long he will happily drop the object on command, or better still, bring it to you.
Mouthing & Biting
These tips are intended for puppy mouthing and nipping. It is a normal stage that all puppies go through. If you have an older dog that you feel is biting aggressively, then contact your vet straight away. He will be able to rule out any medical problems and will refer you to a qualified behaviourist if necessary.
All puppies bite but learning bite inhibition will teach them to have soft, gentle mouths when they are older.
The first stage is to phase out all hard, painful bites. Most puppies will respond to a sharp squeal when they bite too hard and will stop mouthing.
Some become excited when they hear a squeal so instead turn your back with arms folded, give a wide eyed stare or low growl, or turn your back and walk off.
Once the painful bites have stopped, start to phase out medium bites in the same way by pretending that they hurt.
When you have a puppy that mouths in a gentle way, phase out all mouthing so that he understands that he must never put his mouth on human flesh.
You will keep his mouth soft if you continue to keep him familiar with the feeling of hands in his mouth.Brush his teeth and stroke around and in his mouth when he is relaxing.
Jumping and NippingIf the dog is over excited, then he probably needs to be outside running off a little energy, or perhaps placed in a quiet place for a few minutes to calm down. Games between children and puppies need to be managed carefully as childrens' high pitched voices and fast movements are very stimulating to small puppies. Teach children to stand still with their arms folded across their faces when the puppy becomes too boisterous.
You can manage puppy nipping with a preemptive strike if you can predict the behaviour. If you know that the puppy will rush at you and grab the hem of your trousers, then you can distract him with a treat as he comes towards you and practise a little heelwork instead of heel biting.
If he grabs hold of clothing, stay still and gently take hold of his collar. Do not pull him away but hold gently and remove the tension on the fabric. He will soon let go as he is unable to tug on the material.
Older puppies that are still grabbbing hands, (it's a labra' thing!) need to be dealt with more firmly. Teach 'off' by offering a treat in a closed fist. He will attempt to get the treat at first but will turn his nose away when he is unable to reach it. As he turns away say 'off' in a neutral way and treat him from the other hand.
When you are sure that he understands that off means 'remove your face from my hand', you can use it for any hand grabbing.
He has to understand that you do not like him grabbing your hand, so say it in a firm voice, keep your hand still and give him a hard, wide eyed stare.
Puppy mouthing does not last for long and if you train him correctly, he should eventually have a mouth that is so "soft" that he will be able to carry an egg in his mouth. In the meantime, keep the Savlon handy!
To start, hold a tasty treat in a closed fist and show it to the puppy. Say nothing but wait until she gives up trying to take the treat from your fist and pulls her nose back. As she does this, quickly present her with a treat from the other hand. Do this several times until she is reliably moving her nose away every time that you present a fist to her.
For the next stage, uncurl your fingers. Be prepared to clamp your fist shut again if she makes a move towards the treat. As you give her the reward from the other hand , say 'take it'.
Do this for several training sessions before moving on. This is a behaviour that needs to be hard wired, so don't rush each stage.
You will notice that no cue word has been added yet. I like the dog to work out for herself that she needs to reject the treat in order to receive the reward.
When you feel that she is ready for the next stage, put a treat on the floor close to your foot. If she makes a move towards it, quickly cover the treat with your foot. It is important that she never succeeds in getting the treat, otherwise she will believe that it is worthwhile carrying on trying on the off chance that she may be successful.
If at any point she does manage to get the treat, take the training back a stage and don't move on until you can be sure of success.
After a while she will back away from a treat placed on the floor, then you can move outside.
Set up a line of temptations and with her on a lead, walk parallel to the line. Make sure that if she moves towards the line , the lead is short enough to prevent her from reaching the items. The lead should be loose as you walk. Do not say anything or pull her back. If she moves towards an item, stop and wait. She will realise that she cannot reach the object and after a while, will turn to look at you. When she does this, present whatever are her biggest rewards . Use really great treats, squeaky toys or a quick game. She needs to know that turning away from something that she wants will bring her greater rewards.
Once she is walking along the line of temptations without a second glance, you can up the anti.
While she is on a lead, throw a piece of food ahead of you but be prepared to root yourself to the spot if she makes a move towards it. Other people can offer her a treat in an open hand but if she moves towards it before you say 'take it', they must close their fist.
It is only when I am confident that she can do all of this that I put in the cue "leave it". I say it in a happy voice as she turns away from an object that she desires and I really reward that dog.
Leaving the command until this late stage is the way that I have found works best for me. It means that I am using a cue for a behaviour that is already well in place. Traditionally, you would add the cue at the very beginning when she moves her head away from the closed fist. Do whatever you think will work best for you.
I occasionaly walk through an area where there have been rumours that bait is left down for foxes. Although my dogs have good "leave it" skills, I take no chances and keep them close by me at all times. If I had no choice but to exercise them in such an area, I would use basket muzzles. No method of training is 100% successful and even 99.99% would not be good enough for me in such circumstances.
If your dog already has entrenched 'not leaving it' skills. Go back to basics and use a different word as a cue. Remember that she will get better at anything that she practises, so if she is allowed to practise running off with someone's picnic........
Jumping is one of those behaviours that is incredibly easy to cure in a controlled environment....and then real life gets in the way.
The principle is simple. Never give a dog any attention unless all four feet are on the ground. That means don't look at, speak to or touch. Any attention - waving arms, telling off or shouting is still attention. Fold your arms, turn your back and ignore the dog completely until he is standing quietly. Then stroke and praise calmly. If there is any sign of a 'bounce' remove your hands immediately and turn your back again.
Be prepared for an extinction burst. It can happen with many behaviours that you are trying to extinguish but particularly with jumping up. You may notice that rather than give up, the dog just thinks that you are not getting the message and will try harder.This may take the form of jumping higher or using another unacceptable way of gaining your attention. Many people give up at this point and think that the method isn't working. Stick with it! This is "one final fling" before admitting defeat.
Dogs don't generalise very well, so you will need to practise the techniques with many people in varied locations until he understands that he must not jump up at anyone, anywhere, in any circumstances.
Leaping at VisitorsThe entrance to the house is a real "hot spot" for excitable, daft behaviour. It is far easier to keep your dog in in another room when people come to the front door. Allow your guests to walk into a dog free room before introducing your dog on a lead and under control. If he starts to behave badly, you can remove him and let him try again when he has gained a little composure.
Dogs learn by consequences of behaviour. Calm dignified behaviour brings attention. Loopy, daft behaviour means no attention and removal to another room. There is no need to treat the removal as a punishment, it should just be a chance to calm down for a minute before trying again.
Tethering to a RadiatorTie him on a six foot lead to a radiator or something similar and then walk towards him. The moment that he starts to "bounce", turn on your heel and march in the opposite direction.
Wait at the other end of the room until he is quiet and then walk towards him again. After a couple of attempts, you should be able to walk up to him while he remains calm. Stroke and treat him. Be prepared to remove attention if even one foot comes off the ground.
After a few days, when you know that he will remain calm when you approach him, you can "up the anti". Try waving your arms, skipping, talking in a high pitched voice, doing cartwheels, Marching the Dagenham girl pipers through etc.
Raise the level of excitement in easy stages. If he reacts, take it down a notch.
Make sure that other members of the family (and anyone else that you can rope in) practise this as well.
The same technique can be used if you have a safety gate across a doorway. If he tries to jump up just stand still and wait for him to put his feet on the ground or walk away.
Leaping around at people outside is more difficult to control. If you have friends that will co-operate, you can use the radiator technique but with you as the radiator.
You are bound to come across people who will fuss your dog as he jumps and will tell you that they don't mind. (They will when 30kg of doodle powered snog lands on their face!) I usually tell such people that someone smacked my dog in the face for jumping up and I am desperate to stop him. They are often eager to help after that and will aid with a bit of training.
It is worth working hard on a behaviour that is incompatible with jumping. It is impossible to sit and jump at the same time, so work on achieving a "sit"in any circumstances. Again, do this this by starting without distractions and then build up and generalise to anytime any place, anywhere.
Imagine that you are listening to music or watching something interesting on the television; you may hear your partner chatting in the background but you are not really listening to what they are saying. The 'phone rings and you immediately take notice. You are conditioned to pay attention to the telephone. A whistle can have the same effect on a dog. If you spend time and effort conditioning the dog to react immediately, you will have a fast and reliable recall.
A whistle carries further than the human voice and is also constant and without emotion.
If you want a reliable whistle recall, be prepared to spend time making sure that each level is "hard-wired"into your dog's brain. Do not rush the process and make sure that you have 100% success before moving on to the next level.
Firstly, decide on how many blasts of the whistle you will use and then always use that signal.
Week OnePrepare his food as normal. Ask him to sit and wait and then blow the whistle and release him to eat his food. That's it. Don't be tempted to do anything else for the first week. Follow this proceedure for every meal for a week.
Week Two and BeyondPrepare his food and show it to him; then take him into another room and ask someone to hold him. Walk back into the kitchen and blow the whistle. When he is released, he should rush to you. Put the food down straight away and let him eat without waiting.
Once you are sure that he will rush to the food bowl, try taking the bowl to different rooms and into the garden. You can hide sometimes and make that part of the game.When he is reliably speeding to find you wherever you are in the house and garden, you are ready to take the whistle outwith you.
When blowing the whistle outside, remember that you want to hard-wire speed and an immediate response , so don't use it if you think that the level of difficulty is too great at that time. When you use the whistle, make sure that you use the highest value rewards. Use the best food and games that are used only for whistle recall
If he zooms back to you, do not be afraid to really show how pleased you are. Make a huge fuss and be really excited. It doesn't matter if passers by think that you are crazy; one day a good recalll may save his life.
We’ve all been there. Fluffy has been to training school and shown how clever and obedient she is. The recall was particularly good and now, walking along the edge of the field, you are finding it difficult not to feel a little smug. In the distance she spots two figures and she realises that they are none other than Leonberger DiCaprio and Johnny Deppoddle. You hardly see her for dust as she zooms towards them at a rate of knots. “Fluffy come!” You call. “Fluffeeee Come!” You shout. “FLUFFY COME!!” You scream. “FLUFFY $%£*&^ COME HERE YOU LITTLE &^%$£$%^”. Nothing. She is cavorting around with her chums and is oblivious to your protestations.
Here's WhyThe training class provides a controlled environment with few distractions. To a sociable Doodle, other dogs or people are the biggest distractions available. The key is to add difficulties in measured amounts and build her recall skills step by step. She won’t be able to deal with degree level recall until she has done her GCSEs. Set yourself up for success and do not ask too much too soon.
It may be necessary to keep her on a lunge line for a while to stop her “flying” off and hurling herself at all and sundry. You can always set her free when she sees familiar dogs that you know will not mind her doodleish charms.
There’s not much chance that you will be able to stop her running off towards Leo and Johnny unless she has been “proofed” in different situations and with increasing levels of difficulty. Start in the garden with few distractions and then go to a field or park when you know that it will be quiet. When she has mastered that, try when there are other dogs at a distance but you know that you can still keep her attention.
Unless you intend to compete at Crufts, there is no law that says that you have to stand still, facing your dog, so make it fun and run away from her, squeaking toys, waving your arms and generally attracting sniggers from passers by. When she arrives back, be really animated and leave her in no doubt about how pleased you are.
No dog will want to return to someone who has punished them for a slow recall, so never lose your temper with her. Smile, take deep breaths and take her training back a few steps the next time. If her recall starts to deteriorate (it almost certainly will do as she reaches adolescence) take prompt action. If you allow her to practice selective deafness, her recall will become worse.
Some Ideas for Improving RecallTake her favourite toy on walks, play with her when you call her back but then put it out of sight. Keep control of this highly prized resource. Always leave her wanting more and only use it for recall.
Only call her once. If you keep shouting, you will teach her to ignore you. Never reprimand, just reduce the criteria next time and set her up for success.
If you have children, hide and seek will help with recall. Teach her to find children hiding behind sofas or in the garden. Childrens’ high pitched voices are good for calling dogs and both dogs and children will love the game. If you are in a wooded area try hiding behind trees if you notice that her attention has wandered. If you are walking with a partner, you can ask them to hold her while you run and hide.
It helps to be able to grab her attention in any situation, even when she is excited, so if she knows a sit or a down, (down is best) then try this game: Put her in a “down” and then release her with an “ok” or similar release word and reward her by playing in an excited way with a ragger or squeaky toy. When she is really wound up, stand still, ignore any jumping or other demands for attention and wait until she is calm enough to obey your request to lie down again. Release her immediately and play with her again. Make sure that the play is really animated and exciting. Before long, the time take to go from excited to calm will be very short and she will throw herself on the floor as soon as you say “down”. Start in the sitting room but then practise outside and in the park. Once you have found the “off switch” it will be much easier to gain her attention in distracting circumstances.
When out lead walking, teach her how to slow down and speed up. Run with her and then slow down to a slow walk. (You will need good loose lead walking for this). Throughout the walk, run or walk fast and then very slowly. As she slows, bring in the word “steady”. Once she is speeding up and slowing down on command, try it off the lead. When she is good at that, get someone else to call her (but not in an excited way). As she runs towards them, shout “steady” to slow her down. The ultimate test will be when you can slow her down as she runs towards another dog.
Another technique that can help to stop her cannonballing off after every dog that she sees, is to teach her to “ask permission” to go and see her friends. Have her on a long line and when she spots a dog, call her back and treat her. She will look again. Attract her attention and treat again. Do this several times and then if it is sage let her play with the dog, release her and let her play.The idea of this exercise is to gradually build up until she spots a dog and instead of rushing over to it, she automatically comes back to you for a treat first. “Asking permission” in this way will stop her from getting into all kinds of trouble. If she comes to you and you are unsure of the other dog, you can slip her lead on and avoid the situation.
Calling Away from Other DogsDoodles tend to be very sociable dogs, so teaching them to come away from playing with other dogs can be difficult. If you have a friend with a playful dog, they will love this exercise.
Release both dogs and allow them to play. Walk away, leaving your friend to supervise the dogs. When you have gone a short distance, signal to your friend, who should then take hold of her dog (stopping the game). Call you dog enthusiastically and treat her when she runs to you. Take the collar of your dog and wait for your friend to run to you with her dog. Release both of the dogs and let them play again. Repeat this same several times. The dog will soon learn that it will be rewarded for leaving the other dog by being given treats AND being allowed to play again. Running with your dog is also a very effective reward.
If your dog is playing with a group of dogs, recall can be easier if you all stand together to call the dogs. If your dog has a particular “friend” in a group of dogs, stand next to his owner when you call your dog and they are likely to run back together.
You can help to reinforce a young dog’s recall by walking with an older, more sensible dog and calling them back together.
Toy RecallChoose one of your dog’s favourite toys; ideally it will be a ball on a rope or a ragger. Call your dog and when she arrives, play enthusiastically for about 30 seconds. Take a treat from your pocket, put it under the dog’s nose and as she opens her mouth, say “drop”. Put the toy away, show her your empty hands, say “enough” and walk away. Repeat this exercise several times a day. With very little effort you have taught her several commands: her name, come to me when called, drop an object when I ask and calm down when I tell you to. Playing with her for only a very short time is important; it leave her wanting to play and eager for the next training session.
Firstly, tie back the door of the crate so that the puppy has freedom to come and go as he wishes. A piece of vet bed on the floor, a bolt on water bowl and chew resistant toys placed in the back. Instead of feeding from a bowl (him not you!) put all food into kongs. The action of chewing and licking is relaxing in itself.
Before encouraging the puppy into the crate, he should be exercised and toileted (success is far more likely if he is ready for a nap).
Put the filled kong in the back of the crate and encourage the puppy to walk in and start chewing (no pushing). Next walk round to the rear of the crate and sit down by him. Don't pay him any attention, just keep him company.It may be an idea to have a newspaper or the Beano to read at this time.When he has finished his kong, call him out of the crate.
After a couple of times, he should be quite keen to rush into his crate to enjoy his kong, so then start to carry on your normal business but stay close by. When you are reasonably sure that he will stay chewing his kong for a few minutes, close the door for a short period.
From here it is a case of gradually building up the time and adding short periods af absence but don't rush and push him beyond his comfort zone. Before long he will be at the stage where he will finish his kong and instead of leaving his crate, he will settle down for a nap.
At night time, you can speed up his toilet training and prevent him fom becoming distressed by keeping the crate in the bedroom. Over a period of several days, it can be moved out of the bedroom, along the landing and into the area where you wish him to sleep on a permanent basis.
Other TipsA blanket placed over the crate will make it even more cosy.
Remove his collar before leaving him unattend in the crate.
Place the crate in a place where there is plenty of family activity (it's not a particularly attractive piece of furniture to have in the sitting room but you can always move it to a permanent location once he is reliably crate trained).
Make sure that he is calm and relaxed when you release him from the crate. If he is shouting to be let out, stay in the vicinity so that he does not panic but wait until he has calmed down.
The used washing basket placed near the crate, will provide him with familiar smells.
If you do not want your puppy to wee inside, then don't bother with paper training, (cheap way to train a puppy to urinate in the house) or puppy pads (expensive way to train a puppy to urinate in the house). If you decide to ignore this advice, then don't blame me when you sit down to read the Sunday supplements and puppy wee drips off the culture section and onto your marmalade on toast.
Take the puppy outside to the desired toileting area (on a lead if necessary) and wait for him to perform. Think of a word or phrase that is repeatable in public and use that word as he begins to relieve himself, then praise and treat him (wait until he has finished or you may interupt him).
If he does not perform as expected, take him back inside and if he has a crate, pop him back in for half an hour. If you choose not to crate him, then do not let him out of your sight and take him out every fifteen minutes until successful.
Do not allow him too much freedom until he is successfully house trained, as you need to keep your eyes on him and he needs to know the route outside from each room. Do not expect him to "tell" you that he needs to go out until he is completely trained and make sure that when you take him out, you hurry along, so that he develops a sense of urgency.
Remember that any mistakes are yours and not his. Any scolding (even if you catch him in the act) may make him nervous of weeing in front of you and may mean that he will not "go" outside if you are there. Instead, he may choose to relieve himself in secret.
Puppies are like small children, they will have little warning that they need to wee, so in the early days, you will need to make that decision. He needs to be taken out when he wakes up, after food, after play, after a drink and perhaps as often as every half hour on top of that. Do not leave him unsupervised and be aware of signs that he is about to relieve himself - his tail may go up, he will start to sniff the ground or may circle. If he does, usher him outside.
At about seven or eight weeks of age, the puppy will learn to have a preference for the type of surface that he uses for toileting, so it's up to you to teach concrete, grass, carpet or Sunday supplement.
Equip yourself with the correct materials for clearing up accidents. Use products designed for the job, as ordinary disinfectants will not work, although biological washing solution can be used.