We all know Labradors have some disgusting habits, but one of the worst has to be chowing down on a nice fresh poo. While not all Labs indulge in this filthy habit, it is surprisingly common amongst the breed and dogs in general.
Why Does My Labrador Eat Poo?
There are a whole range of different reasons why your Labrador may have a habit of eating poo (coprophagia), with the main two reasons being behavioural and physiological. We are going to go into a bit more detail about why Labs eat poo later in this article along with ways you can discourage them from doing so.
Is it Common for Labradors to Eat Poo?
We already mentioned that it is quite common for Labs to eat poo, but just how common is the habit? While we do not have specific information for just Labradors, a study was carried out in 2012 led by Dr.Benjamin Hart, from the University of California, that found the following:
24 percent of the dogs in the study were found to be poo eaters
16 percent of dogs were classed as “serious” faeces diners, which means that they partook in the activity five times or more.
Dr. Hart concluded that, “Eating of fresh stools is a reflection of an innate predisposition of ancestral canids living in nature that protects pack members from intestinal parasites present in faeces that could occasionally be dropped in the den/rest area. The only way that wild canids can remove faeces before infective larvae hatch is by consuming them.”
The study carried out by Dr. Hard consisted of a couple of different surveys that were sent to around 3,000 dog owners.
Is Eating Poo Bad for My Labrador’s Health?
While us humans find it completely disgusting to eat poo, it’s really not that bad from a dog’s point of view. They have evolved over millennia as scavengers, eating anything they find on the ground and poo is just one of these survival behaviours that canines have developed to cope with starvation. Labradors have had this behaviour passed onto them from their ancestors.
What this all means is that eating poo doesn’t really have any adverse effects for your Labrador, apart from rather smelly breath. Most vets will also confirm that poo eating is perfectly fine and shouldn’t do any harm to your Lab.
Facts About Labs Who Eat Poo
Coprophagia is generally considered a normal process or habit for Labrador puppies who are starting to explore the world around them. While most will be happy with a sniff, some will Labrador puppies will develop a taste for it. Here are some facts about poo eating Labradors:
A Labrador will usually eat hard poo and not soft, poorly formed poo or diarrhoea.
Poo eating Labs should be no different to train than those who do not conduct in the habit.
Poo eating Labs are usually greedier (although we all know the Labrador breed is greedy in general).
Female Labs are the most likely to eat poo, with healthy males being the least likely.
85 percent of poo eaters will only eat another dogs poo, not their own.
92 percent of dogs will only eat poo that is one to two days old.
Specific Reasons Why Your Labrador Eats Poo
11 Behavioural Reasons Why a Lab Eats Poo
To start with we are going to look at some of the behavioural reasons why a Labrador might eat poo. If your Lab seems healthy, consider the following:
Labs and dogs in general love attention, whether it is good or bad. If your Labrador is feeling like they are being left out or ignored they may try to get themselves into trouble so they can get your attention. Chomping down on a nice poo is a sure-fire way to get your attention, especially if they know it annoys you. If you notice your Labrador eating poo try not to make a big deal out of it.
If your Labrador spends a lot of time alone it may be the reason why they like to eat poo. Several studies have shown that dogs who are kept alone in basements, outside or in kennels are much more likely to develop a taste for faeces than those who spend a lot of time near their owners.
They See Another Dog Doing It
One of the most common reasons why a Labrador eats poo is because they see another dog do it. We experienced this with our two Labs. The older girl Daisy has a habit of eating poo and our younger boy Winston started mimicking her.
This sort of ties in with being kept alone and attention seeking. If your Labrador is bored they will be much more likely to develop a habit to keep themselves entertained. Poo eating is one of these habits, so if you have to leave your dog alone for long periods of time make sure you clean up their faeces before you head out.
We always recommend that you use reward based rather than punishment-based house training methods. Punishing your Labrador to teach them that pooing in the house is bad has a whole load of downsides with one of them being coprophagia. The reason why they start to eat faeces is because they associate the poo with being told off, so they try to hide the evidence by eating it.
Female Labradors will often eat the poo of their puppies to keep the area they are in clean. This cleaning up process can last for weeks and many puppies engage in the behaviour as well. In some cases, the habit will carry on as the puppy ages.
They Are a Puppy
Lab puppies are inquisitive beings that love to explore the world around them. Part of this inquisitive behaviour is to eat and smell everything within reach of them. Lots of Labrador puppies may try a little bit of poo and then decide that they like it. Most puppies will eventually grow out of the habit, but some can continue to do it into adult life.
Association with Real Food
If you feed your Labrador close to where they go to the toilet they may start to associate the smell of food with poo.
Living with an Elderly or Sick Dog
Healthy, younger Labradors may develop poo eating habits when there is a sick or elderly dog in the household. This is especially the case if the dog suffers from faecal incontinence. It is believed that this may be related to the instinct of dogs to protect the pack from predators.
Smelling It on Their Mum
It is possible for a Labrador puppy to get confused if they smell faeces on their mother’s breath after they clean up their mess. Additionally, sometimes a Lab’s mum may regurgitate their dinner which may be mixed with a little bit of puppy poo. These two things can then lead to the puppy developing a taste for poo.
They Are Scavengers
Dogs are naturally scavengers and they are attracted to a whole range of different scents. Unlike you, your Labrador doesn’t find faeces disgusting and if they are hungry or greedy enough they may just take a bite.
Medical Reasons for Why a Lab May Eat Poo
With the behavioural reasons out of the way, lets look at some medical reasons that may lead to coprophagia in a Labrador.
There are a whole range of different forms and types of parasites and eventually they will all start to impact the health of your Labrador. Intestinal parasites can drain all of the important nutrients from your Lab’s food before they properly digest it. This can make your Lab hungry and sick, which may lead to coprophagia.
If your Labrador has been on steroids did the poo eating start around the same time? Steroid use can lead to an increased appetite and poo eating.
Digestive enzymes are an important part of the digestive process for a Labrador. Without the correct enzymes your Lab will have trouble fully absorbing their food. In the wild, dogs tend to get all their essential digestive enzymes from their prey, however, it is slightly different for a domesticated Labrador.
Most household Labradors are fed highly processed kibble diets. In some cases, these processed foods can be lacking in essential digestive enzymes, which can lead to your dog developing a number of health issues. With less nutrients being absorbed, your Labrador may try to find alternative methods and food sources to get what they need. Faeces still contains nutrients, so they see it as a great food source.
Anything from thyroid issues to diabetes and Cushing’s Disease (CD) may cause an increase in appetite in your Labrador. This increased desire for food can cause them to find food in all sorts of world places, including faeces.
This condition is also known as Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI). It is a condition where your Labrador fails to create or creates very little digestive enzymes in the pancreas. Like we mentioned above, these digestive enzymes help to absorb nutrients, so if they are not there your Lab may starve. Common symptoms of this medical condition include diarrhoea, weight loss, and coprophagia.
Any other conditions not on this list that may lead to inadequate nutrient absorption can make your dog develop a poo eating habit. Your dog may even begin to eat other animals faeces, along with their own, to get the nutrients they desire. Different animals have different amounts of nutrients in their faeces, so you may be able to use this to determine which condition your dog has.
In some cases a lack of hydrochloric acid can lead to poor digestion and ultimately poo eating. A Lab may become deficient in hydrochloric acid through a bad diet or even old age. The digestive process uses hydrochloric acid to break down protein. Trace mineral deficiencies are linked to stool eating, as well as consuming of other even more unsuitable substances like plastic.
Lack of Food
Does your Labrador get enough food? Its usually the opposite for most Labs, but in some cases owners do not feed their dogs enough food. It is also important to make sure that your Labrador’s feeding schedule is kept regular. A hungry Lab will look for other sources of food, including poo.
How Do I Stop My Lab from Eating Poo?
Now you know most of the common causes of poo eating for a Labrador, let’s look at some ways to fix the problem.
Make Sure Your Labs is Happy & Mentally Engaged
A bored Labrador is going to get into all sorts of trouble, so make sure you take them out for regular walks, play games with them, and give them lots of attention. You should also make sure your Labrador has plenty of toys to play with and you can even leave the TV or radio on for them. Another great method to really stimulate your Lab’s mind and body is to do agility training with them.
Clean Up Their Area
While its not always possible you should try to pick up your Labrador’s poo as soon as they have done it. Don’t give your Lab the opportunity to taste that delicious chocolate log that has just dropped from their behind. Additionally, if you have another dog or another pet, make sure you clean up their mess as soon as possible as well.
Give Your Lab Some Doggie Vitamins
As a lack of important nutrients may be the cause of your Labrador’s poo eating habit, try to give them some doggie supplements. Vitamin-B deficiency is a common problem for dogs and it has been linked to coprophagia. Consult your vet before you rush out an buy a whole load of supplements as every Lab has different needs.
Enzyme Supplementation for Labs
As we have already talked about earlier in this article, the modern canine diet is a bit different to that of their ancestors. Modern food is higher in carbohydrates and lower in meat-based fats and proteins. Try supplementing papain or some probiotics into your dog’s diet; however, you may need to mix it up with some other food items.
Feed Your Labrador Some Raw Food
Raw food contains the digestive enzymes that are important to a Lab’s heathy digestive system. Try to introduce some raw food and protein into their diet. A great place source of digestive enzymes is green tripe.
Give Them Some Kelp or Apple Cider Vinegar
If your dog is suffering from a lack of trace minerals, you can add some kelp. Additionally, if your Labrador has a hydrochloric acid deficiency, a little bit of apple cider vinegar might do the trick (1 tsp per 11.3kg or 25 pounds in their food). This may help your dog’s digestive system mimic the missing acid and help their body compensate for the deficiency.
Make the Poo Taste Bad
While us humans probably can’t think of anything that would taste worse than poo, dogs are different. A common method for stopping dog coprophagia is to spray, sprinkle or place a certain substance on the faeces that will make it unappealing for your Labrador.
Specific products for this problem tend to have ingredients such as chamomile, pepper derivatives, yucca, garlic, parsley and monosodium glutamate. While this method may work for you, a study at the University of California, Davis found that they typically only work two percent of the time.
Check for Parasites
Make sure you check your dog’s stools for any signs of parasites regularly.
Work On Your Training
A big part of owning a Labrador is being able to train your dog. The “leave it” and “come” commands are especially usually for those with a poo eating problem. Teach your Labrador to come after they have done poo and give them a nice, tasty treat as a reward. Clean up the poo as soon as possible to stop your Labrador from going back to it.
A study that involved 1,500 dog owners that was conducted at the University of California, Davis found that punishment was an entirely ineffective form of training. It is best to just flat out ignore your dog when they are eating poo, rather than punishing them.
Do you find that your Labrador likes to try and jump on tables or counters to snatch food? If they do don’t worry. We all know Labradors love food and anything tantalisingly close to the edge of a table or counter is seem as fair game for them. While this may be entertaining the first time, it gets incredibly annoying and can even be dangerous if they snatch something they shouldn’t eat or is too hot to eat.
In this article we are going to looking at how you can stop a Lab from jumping up on a table or counter.
Why Do Labradors Jump Up?
There are various reasons why a Labrador will jump up on a table or surface. These reasons are often very different than if they were jumping up on a person. A Lab that jumps up on a person is usually doing so because they want to play, want attention, or are simply excited to see them.
On the other hand, when it comes to tables, counters and other high surfaces it is usually to do with food or some other object they want such as a toy.
This jumping up behaviour is sometimes described as ‘counter surfing’. Most Labradors will struggle to get all fours onto a table or counter, and will instead simply place their front two paws on the high up surface to reach any items of interest. Sometimes you may even seem them twist their head to really stretch and get something far away from them.
While most of the time your Lab will be going for food, they could also be going for another item. Anything from paper towels to phones, kitchen utensils and more. This means that if you don’t get your Lab’s jumping under control, one day they may get their paws on something that is dangerous to them.
Another reason why your Labrador may jump up is so that they can see you. Labs love people, so if they don’t have a direct line of sight to you, they may try jump up. Alternatively, if they think something interesting is happening they will jump up to get a better view of what is going on.
Why Is Jumping Up Bad?
If you are reading this article you probably already think that jumping up is bad, however, some people find it funny or cute.
Jumping up on a high up surface is bad because it not only encourages naughty behaviour, but it can also be dangerous. There are loads of different food items that humans commonly consume that can be harmful or possibly even deadly to your Labrador, so it is important to make sure your dog doesn’t get hold of them.
As we wrote above, kitchen counter tops and tables often have potentially dangerous items like scissors, knives and hard plastic items placed on them. There may also be electrical wires for appliances that run along the top of tables or counters, which pose a real risk to a chewing Labrador.
Another reason why jumping up is bad is because it is unhygienic for a Labrador to put their paws all over a surface where food is made and eaten from. While we love Labs, they can carry all sorts of germs and dirt on their paws from the outside world.
How Do You Keep a Labrador Off a Table, Counter or Other High Surface?
Luckily, stopping a Labrador from jumping up is a relatively straight forward and easy process. Your main task will be to manage the situation and environment your Labrador is in, so they don’t feel the need to jump up.
Put Everything Away
The first step is to make sure that your put everything away. Make the counter or table as uninteresting to your Labrador as possible. This means that you need to put any food items, toys, or other interesting items out of your Lab’s reach and line of sight. If your Labrador jumps up and snatches a yummy snack or finds something fun to play with, it is just like reward-training for them.
Do Not Feed Your Lab Off a Counter or Table
Do you give your Labrador treats out of a bag placed on a table or counter? Do you fill up their food bowel from a high up surface? How about scraps off the dining room table or kitchen counter, do you give them those?
If you answered yes to any of those questions you need to stop doing those actions immediately. Your Labrador will learn (or already has learnt) that table and counter tops hold a multitude of delicious treats and snacks and will begin to jump up to find any.
To combat this problem, you need to move where you fill up your Lab’s bowl and where you keep/give them their treats. Additionally, stop giving your dog scraps or small treats off the dining room table or kitchen counter as this makes the problem worse and only encourages begging.
Use Positive Reinforcement
Whenever you and your Lab are in the kitchen or when you are in a place with food on a high surface, you can reward them sporadically for keeping all four paws on the ground. Keep some treats in your pocket and give them to your Lab to encourage good behaviour.
Keep Your Labrador Exercised and Entertained
A bored Labrador is a naughty Labrador and if your dog has not had enough exercise or mental stimulation they will begin to look for things to play with. Making sure your Lab is regularly exercised and entertained is a great way to keep their mind off the interesting things on top of the kitchen counter and dining room table
Purchasing some good fun toys for your Labrador goes hand in hand with the above. Some great options include toys like the classic Kong or other chew toys. These sorts of toys can be left with your Labrador when you leave the house or are busy doing something else and can’t entertain them. You should also invest in some interactive toys you can do together such as a tug toy or ball.
Train Your Labrador
Getting your Labrador trained well is one of the most important things you can do as a responsible dog owner. Teaching your Lab to sit, come and leave will not only help you outside the house, but these commands will also help you to stop your dog from jumping up on high surfaces.
Below you can find a quick guide to training a Labrador to “leave it”. We recommend that you start training in a quiet location with as few distractions as possible.
Place a treat in both hands and hide them behind your back, so that your Labrador can’t see them.
Make a fist with one hand, so that your Lab can smell but can’t see the treat. Place this hand in front of you and let your Labrador sniff it.
Say “leave it” and then wait until your Labrador has finished sniffing your hand. When they finish, say “yes” and then give them the treat from the other hand.
Keep on doing this until your Labrador stops sniffing your hand when you say “leave it”. This may take a few training sessions, so don’t worry if your Lab doesn’t get it right away.
The next step of the training is to put a lead on your Labrador. Throw a treat just outside of their reach and say “leave it”. Wait until your Labrador stops sniffing and give them a treat. Remember to say “yes” when they stop sniffing and pulling.
As your Labrador becomes more successful and learns the command, you can try with more tempting food items. You should also try this in different locations and with other people or dogs around. Eventually, you may even be able to put a treat on your Lab’s paw and tell them to “leave it”.
As we mentioned earlier, training your Labrador to “sit” and “come” are also two very important commands. You can learn more about teaching your dog to “sit” here. If you would like to learn how to train your Labrador to come, make sure you check out our “How to Train a Dog to Come Fast” article.
The final command we recommend teaching your Labrador is to get “Off”. Here is how to do it:
When your Labrador jumps up onto the counter or a table, place a treat in front of their nose. Use the treat as a lure to guide them off the counter, while saying the command “Off”.
When their paws touch the ground, immediately say “yes” and give them the treat.
Practice this around four to five times before removing the lure. Simply say “Off” and when their paws touch the ground say “yes” and give them a treat.
You may find that your Lab doesn’t go down when you say “Off”. If this happens return to using a lure and practice some more. Some Labradors will learn this command very quickly, while others will take a bit more time.
Concluding How to Stop a Labrador From Jumping up on Tables & Other High Surfaces
Stopping your Labrador from jumping up or putting their paws on a table or some sort of other high surface is really about keeping any potential rewards out of their reach or vision. It is also about keeping your dog entertained and exercised, so they don’t go looking for things to play with or eat.
The last part is about training your Lab correctly and not rewarding unwanted behaviour. Don’t feed your Labrador scraps off the table and make sure you fill up their bowel from the floor. Fixing this problem is not too difficult and if you follow the advice in this guide you should have no trouble stopping your Lab from jumping up.
So, you’ve just got yourself a new Border Collie puppy, but when do you start training it? There is so much conflicting information on when to start training a Border Collie and in this article, we hope to answer the question definitively.
We are going to be talking about why some trainers recommend starting the training process immediately and why some believe it is better to wait a bit longer. We are also going to give you some tips and tricks that will hopefully make the training process simpler and easier.
Why is Training a Border Collie Important?
Lots of new dog owners often make the mistake of spending way too much time looking at what collars they think will suite their dog best and what toys they should purchase for their pup. While there is no doubt that these things are important, getting your dog correctly trained is arguably more vital.
The reason for this is that a poorly trained Border Collie can be a nightmare to deal with, leading to a bad pet/owner relationship. Additionally, a well-trained Collie can be called back in a dangerous situation, which may save their life.
Why Do Some People Recommend Waiting?
Some trainers and owners recommend that you wait until about 6 months before you start training a Border Collie. This idea comes from a more “old school” training method where heavy handed corrections were used. The dog needed to be old enough to withstand wearing a collar and dealing with harsh physical corrections or punishment during training.
These old school trainers also believed that a Border Collie would reach the same skill level in adulthood, whether they started at six months or eight weeks, so they saw no reason to start them early.
What About Training a Border Collie at Eight Weeks?
Generally, eight to twelve weeks is around the time that Border Collies are taken from their mother and sent to a new home.
Before this, Collie puppies should be spending time with their mother, brothers and sisters to learn about being a dog. During this time they learn what it means to be part of the pack, how to communicate, and how to play. This first eight weeks is an incredibly important time for a Border Collie puppy and starting training too early can be detrimental to their development.
The idea that training should start at around eight weeks is based on this fact that most Border Collie puppies go to their new owners at this time. They have learnt most of what they need to know about being a dog and now it is time to learn from their new family.
Additionally, a puppy’s brain is not properly formed to learn much before eight weeks, so they do not have the ability to learn new commands and tricks properly.
When Should You Start Training a Border Collie?
With all the above in mind, when is actually the best time to start training a Border Collie puppy? We believe that the best time to start training a Collie puppy is as soon as you get them home, whether it is at eight or twelve weeks.
While a young Border Collie’s attention span is fairly limited, you can start the training process with short sessions. You should start the training process by teaching your puppy not to bite, how to take food gently and basic commands such as “sit”. Additionally, socialising your Border Collie as early as possible is incredibly important.
You should only use reward-based methods of training such as luring with food or clicker training. Forceable methods can be used at later points, but we are not fans of this training method and believe that reward-based training is always the best.
What to Expect from a Border Collie Puppy?
When you get your new Border Collie home don’t expect too much of them during training. Young puppies tend to be impulsive and have little self-control. Their attention spans are extremely limited, so keep training sessions as short as possible.
Try to think of your Border Collie puppy as a child. They will play with anything that interests them and do anything they want. They don’t understand what is theirs and what is not, so do not punish them for chewing your shoes. Remember, that a Collie puppy at around eight weeks will not listen to every command (in fact, they will probably ignore most of them).
Below we have created a rough training guide for a Border Collie puppy.
Border Collie Training Schedule
The following training schedule will be slightly different for each individual Border Collie, however, it should give you a basic idea of what you should expect from your puppy.
What to teach a Border Collie at 8 – 10 weeks.
The first things you should focus on when you bring your Border Collie puppy home for the first time is getting them socialised, training them to take food properly and getting them toilet trained. Remember, don’t expect too much at this stage. In fact, we would recommend that you don’t create formal training sessions and instead let it happen naturally.
It is also a good idea to reward your new Collie puppy when they follow you or come to you on their own accord. This will get them mentally prepared for future training sessions when more difficult and advanced commands are introduced.
As soon as you get your Collie puppy home you should also be getting them used to you touching their paws, tummy, inside their mouth and around their ears. This will make trips to the vets much easier and your vet will appreciate it.
Socialisation – Border Collies need to be socialised as soon as possible and you need to introduce them to a range of different people, dogs and other animals. While you may not be able to take them out for walks straight away (due to vaccinations), you can still introduce them to a friend’s dog who has been vaccinated.
Follow – Rewarding your new Collie puppy if they follow you is incredibly important. If your Collie understands that following you is a good thing it makes teaching them commands such as “come” or “heel” much easier.
Recall or come – While you are not teaching your Border Collie to come properly, you are teaching them that coming to you is a good thing. Reward your Collie puppy when they come to you naturally
Not to bite – Do not allow hard biting, however, mouthing is acceptable at this stage for a Collie puppy.
How to take food – Nobody likes a dog that snatches food and if you continue to let your Border Collie do this they may eventually bite somebody by accident. Never let your Border Collie snatch food from your hand and if they do say no and then ignore them.
House Training – One of the most important things you can do at this early stage. Get your Collie house trained, but remember it usually takes a few months before accidents stop.
What to teach a Border Collie at 10 – 12 Weeks
This stage of a Border Collie’s training process is pretty much the same as above. Just continue what you have been doing, however, you can introduce some more basic commands/skills.
Socialisation – Increase the amount you socialise your Border Collie and make sure they are meeting a wide variety of people and dogs.
More recall training – You can start to introduce the ‘come’ command, but only associate it with the action. Only use the word ‘come’ when they are already moving towards you. Continue to reward your Collie when they come to you naturally.
Discourage biting – hard biting should not be allowed, but mouthing is still okay at this stage.
Fetch or retrieve – Encourage your Collie to chase after toys and pick them up. Don’t try and get them to fully retrieve yet, but reward heavily of they do.
Walk by your side – Start to introduce heel training by getting your Collie to walk by your side. You can do this by either using clicker training or food rewards.
What to teach a Border Collie at 3 – 4 Months
At three to four months a Border Collie puppy is much more developed. They should be capable of sleeping through the night and there should be less toilet accidents occurring.
Don’t worry if your Border Collie puppy is even more keen on biting and nipping your hand. Three months is the peak age for biting, so don’t expect the problem to be gone by this time.
Introducing commands such as ‘sit’ or ‘lie down’ is a good idea, but don’t expect them to stay in the position. Remember to keep rewarding your Collie when they come to you naturally and start getting them associated with lead walking.
Even more socialisation –Your Border Collie should be finished their vaccinations at around 14 to 16 weeks, so you can introduce them to more dogs and take them more places.
Come – Once your Collie has associated “come” with the action of moving towards you, you can begin to use it as a command. Try and get your Collie puppy to come to you in a distraction free environment. Remember to reward and praise them heavily if they do so.
Biting – No biting should be allowed, but gentle mouthing is ok.
Fetch and retrieve – Continue to encourage your Collie to retrieve different items and toys.
Introduce some new positions – Start rewarding your Collie when they sit or lie down. We are not training them fully yet, but instead indicating that we like it when they do get into those positions. Read more about teaching your dog to sit here.
Basket – Introduce the idea that sitting in their basket when you are doing the washing or when you are eating dinner is good. Reward them for doing so.
What to teach a Border Collie at 4 – 6 Months
At four to six months old you should be getting your Border Collie’s biting problem under control and mouthing should be discouraged. Your puppy should also be toilet trained, but the odd accident here and there is to be expected, especially if they are left alone for an extended period of time.
From around four months a Border Collie puppy will be quite capable, so you can get much more advanced with their training. You can start to introduce more commands and formal commands for the actions you have been rewarding them so far.
Despite their ability for more advanced training, don’t expect your Collie to walk at heel or stay for long periods of time.
Come – Introduce distractions into your Collie puppy’s ‘come’ training routine.
Sit and lie down – Introduce distractions and get your Collie sitting and lying down at your command
Stay – You are not going to ask your Border Collie to stay, but use commands like sit and lie down to get them to so.
Heel – Continue getting your Collie to walk by your side and introduce more advanced heel training.
Socialisation – Continue to socialise your dog.
No more biting – There should be no biting or mouthing allowed.
What to teach a Border Collie at 5 – 6 months
Command and obedience training – Continue training for commands such as ‘sit’, ‘lie down’, ‘come’ and ‘heel’. Introduce distractions in their training routine.
After 6 Months
From six months onwards, the basics should be fully ingrained into your Border Collie’s mind. They should be able to carry out simple commands such as ‘sit’, ‘come’ and ‘down’. Your Collie puppy should be socialised, toilet trained and there should not be any biting or mouthing.
With that in mind, you can begin to raise your expectations for their training. Train your Collie to sit and stay for longer periods of time and introduce some distractions into their training.
Your puppy should be capable of walking at heel for extended periods of time or close to being able to do so, and they should also come at your command. You can also start to teach your Border Collie some other tricks and commands at this age as well.
Remember that a six-month old Border Collie will be quite strong and powerful. They will be full of energy at this age and you may even find that training them is more difficult. Despite this, if you have set a good basis for their training you should be able to work through the problems.
Are Training Classes Necessary for a Border Collie?
You may be wondering if puppy training school is worth it or even necessary for your Border Collie puppy? Most pet owners can teach their dog everything they need to know. With a bit of patience and consistency, you should be able to train your Collie to respond to commands predictably and reliably.
For those who are struggling with the training process, a puppy school can be really helpful. In puppy training classes the instructor will take you through different training techniques and can answer any of your questions immediately. They will guide you through the training process and can advise you on any problems.
One of the biggest benefits of taking your Border Collie to a puppy training school is that it forces you to train them. So many owners buy a dog and then never train it, so taking them to a puppy school is a good way to motivate yourself.
Another big benefit of a puppy school is that there are usually lots of other dogs there. This means they are great places to socialise your Border Collie, which is incredibly important for their development.
If you have access to other dogs, you may find that a puppy school is less beneficial for socialising. First time dog owners will get the most out of training classes.
Summing Up When to Train a Border Collie
With so many differing opinions out there on when to start training a Border Collie puppy, it can be difficult for new owners. Most modern dog trainers (us as well) believe that training should start as soon as you get your Border Collie home.
If you decide to leave the training process for a bit later it probably won’t make much of a difference, however, we feel that six months is far too late. The only vital things you should do straight away is socialisation, toilet training, and stopping your Collie from biting/mouthing.
Remember to never ask too much of your Collie and that progress can be quite slow. Do not get frustrated and try not to compare your dog’s progress with another.
If you do start training at an early age, you will be surprised by how much your Border Collie can learn. They are an incredibly intelligent breed of dog, so they will soak up anything you teach them.
Are you struggling to stop your dog or puppy from biting and nipping? Do you wonder when your new puppy will stop biting? Or do you have an older dog that has a tendency to bite or nip people? If this sounds like you, read on to learn how to stop it.
Biting is a common problem that dog owners face and you will find that young puppies just love to sink their tiny teeth into you. Today we are going to look at how to stop a dog from biting people, clothes and other items.
Why Do Dogs and Puppies Bite?
Biting is one of the most natural things for a young puppy to do and there are a number of reasons why they do it. Older dogs usually bite for other reasons and the implications can be much greater.
Why Does My Puppy Bite?
Below we have listed some of the reasons a puppy may bite or nip.
It’s Fun and They Want to Play
Puppies love to bite because it gets them a reaction. Your puppy may be bored and wants to play, and all they have to do is sink their teeth into you or their siblings to get the action going. When a puppy bites one of their siblings, a game of chase or play fight will probably ensue. This gets attention focused on the biter, which is what they want.
When puppies bite humans the same thing happens. Your attention will focus back on your dog and they will get a reaction from you. Even if you tell them off your puppy has still go what they want. Remember that negative attention is still attention to a puppy.
They Love to Explore and Investigate
Puppies love to explore and investigate the world around them. The problem is, that unlike humans they do not have hands to grasp and touch the world around them. That means the only real way they can hold things is to use their mouth.
A puppy has the same incredible levels of curiosity as a child. Babies love to grab onto everything they can get their little hands on, and you will often see them use their mouth as well. Puppies have the exact same mindset as a human baby, but with paws instead of feet and hands.
Additionally, puppies can’t talk. They may be able to bark and whimper, but that is about it. A puppy’s mouth strength and biting ability can help them communicate and will determine their rank among the pack.
They Are Teething
While many dog owners associate biting or nipping with teething, it is not usually the main cause of the problem. Most biting is because they want to play, but teething can make the issue worse.
Puppies will usually have their adult teeth by the time they are about seven months old, but biting normally stop before this time. However, if a puppy is not trained to keep their teeth away from humans and redirected to appropriate chew toys, then mouthing and chewing can last well into adulthood.
Why Do Old Dogs Bite?
Elderly dogs will often bite with reasons that are totally different to the above.
They May Be in Pain
Pain is usually the main reason why elderly dogs bite or act aggressively. If your old dog suddenly becomes aggressive or starts to bite, you should take them to a veterinarian immediately. You vet will be able to rule out or treat any medical conditions or issues.
Dogs are pretty stoic about pain and aggressive behaviour is often the first sign of a problem. It is quite hard to know when a dog is hurting and by the time we know there is something wrong with them, the problem may be much worse.
An Older Dog Can Become Intolerant
Older dogs need a nice comfortable place where they know they can be safe. Even if your dog loves to be the centre of attention, they will need a safe place to retreat to. Disturbing and older dog can lead to aggressive behaviour or biting, and as they say “Let sleeping dogs lie”.
Elderly dogs may become impatient, and they can become annoyed if they are poked and prodded all day.
They May Be Confused
Just like some humans, dogs can become confused in their later years. You may see this sporadically, or there may be a steady decline. Dog dementia is a serious problem and you may notice the following symptoms if your dog is suffering from it.
Sleep-wake cycle disturbances
Lower threshold for aggression
Decreased activity levels
Inappropriate vocalization (howling, barking or whining)
Carrying on from above, a dog that can’t see or hear can become confused. Approaching them from behind or surprising them can lead to aggressive behaviour and biting. If your dog’s eyesight or hearing is impaired, be careful about how you approach them.
Do All Dogs Bite?
Almost every single dog will bite or nip when they are a puppy. It is a natural thing for them to do and fortunately it is a temporary phase that they go through. Puppies will eventually grow out of it, but expect some bites along the way.
When it comes to older dogs it is slightly different. The majority of older dogs will not bite, but they can develop the habit as they age or when they become sick or injured.
Do Some Breeds of Dog Bite More Than Others?
If you are wondering if some dog breeds are more likely to bite than others, the answer is yes. Sporting breeds and those that have the drive to chase prey or protect their territory or more likely to bite than others.
The Canine Journal has a fantastic article on the statistics of dog bites in the United States. While this doesn’t really factor in puppy biting and mouthing, it is good information to look at if you are thinking about buying a new puppy or have one of the top biters. The top biters are as follows:
Jack Russell Terrier
Remember that not all dogs are the same and they all have their own individual traits and characteristics. If your dog is on this list, you should not panic. Likewise, if your dog is not featured on the top biters list, you should not become complacent with them.
Play or Aggressive Biting in Puppies?
Sometimes it can be difficult to determine whether a puppy’s biting is due to aggression or play. Dog body language can be difficult to understand so we recommend that you check out this article.
Play Time Can Look Aggressive
It can be quite alarming when puppies play with each other. You’ll probably hear all sorts of yapping and barking, and it can really look like they are trying to hurt each other. Even when your puppy is playing by themselves they can make all sorts of aggressive sounding noises, but it is perfectly normal.
Biting will often accompany this sort of play and you will probably hear your puppy growl and snarl at other puppies or objects in their environment.
It is natural for inexperienced dog owners to worry that their puppy’s behaviour could be a sign that they have a dangerous animal in their house. Snarling, growling, biting and barking can be a shock to new dog owners, but most of the time it is just play.
Growling in Dogs
What If My Puppy Growls at Me?
When your puppy is playing they practice being scary and fierce. They turn themselves into a different animal and want to make as much noise as possible. All puppies tend to carry out this sort of behaviour when they are playing and you may be on the receiving end. Your puppy may try to entice you into a game by growling and yapping at you.
Your puppy’s mum and siblings understand this behaviour and are not bothered by it. Because of this, your puppy will have no idea that he is frightening you or other people in your house. Your puppy doesn’t understand that you think they are turning into a monster.
What About Elderly Dogs?
Now we know that puppy growling and aggressive behaviour is often harmless play, but what about older dogs?
Growling in older dogs happens for many of the same reasons as biting. We listed some of those earlier in this article, but in short it could be because they are in pain, afraid, annoyed or they are trying to protect their possessions or territory.
What About Resource Guarding
Alright, so most of the time aggressive behaviour in puppies is actually play, but what about when they are guarding something?
Some dogs can act aggressively if they are protecting something important to them, like a toy or food. We call this resource guarding.
When your dog wants to guard something they will stand over it to protect it from any possible threat. They may act aggressively and even start biting if a potential threat gets too close.
This sort of behaviour needs to be discouraged when they are puppies and it definitely shouldn’t happen when they are adults. If you have an older dog that does this, you need to fix the situation as soon as possible. Adult dogs and even puppies can have a serious bite on them and they may use it if you try to take away something important to them.
More Puppy Biting Information
In this next section of the article, we are going to be focusing on puppy biting. If you would like to learn more about stopping an older dog from biting, scroll down a bit further.
What Makes Puppy Biting Worse?
If you are trying to stop a puppy from biting, it is a good idea to know what encourages them. There are four main things that can make biting worse:
Excitement – An excited puppy is more likely to bite. The more excited a puppy is, the harder they will bite and with more frequency. Rough, physical play, chasing, tummy tickles and more will get your puppy bubbling with excitement that they cannot control. Additionally, noisy behaviour such as screams, shouting or crying will wind your puppy up and make them over excited.
Inappropriate play – This sort of goes with the above. If you let your dog chew on your fingers or if you wave your hands in front of your puppy’s face, expect to get a nasty nip. This sort of behaviour trains your puppy to associate your hands as a toy.
Attention – We all love to give our puppies attention, but giving them attention when they bite us only makes matters worse. You may not think you are rewarding your puppy for biting, but you are if you give them any attention when they do so. Puppies love attention and getting any is a massive reward for them.
Poor bite inhibition – A puppy with poor bite inhibition will bite harder than those with good bite inhibition. We are going to explain a bit more about bite inhibition below and how you can help your puppy improve theirs.
So How Do You Stop a Puppy from Biting?
Prevention Is Key
Avoiding situations where you put yourself in the position to be bitten is a big part of this training. You do not want to let your puppy associate you or somebody else’s body as a toy. The key with this is to redirect and prevent.
Control Your Puppy’s Excitement
An excited puppy is more likely to bite, so you need to control their level of excitement. If your puppy starts getting too excited, let them cool off for a bit. You can stop the game you are playing for a couple of minutes or leave the room. When you return your puppy should have calmed down and you can resume play time.
Redirect Attention with Hands and Toys
When you are training your puppy, make sure you always have toys to offer them. Puppies love to chew and bite anything they can get their paws on. They want to explore the world and do that via their teeth.
You need to use your hands to redirect them to some fun toys. Your job is to make the toys look as attractive as possible and much more interesting than your hands, feet and clothes. When redirecting your puppy’s attention, don’t make fast, jerky movements with your hands. This only makes your hands more interesting.
Stay in Control When Playing
You need to make sure you stay in control when you play games with your puppy. If your puppy attempts to bite you or starts causing trouble, simply walk away and return once they have cooled down.
Supervise Your Kids
Children are often on the receiving end of a bite. They love to play with dogs and they will wind them up until they are almost in a frenzy. You need to supervise any children who are playing with your puppy and show them how to play correctly.
This means that you shouldn’t let children run around a puppy without a toy. If a child is running around, the puppy will begin to focus on them as their main source of entertainment. Teach children to be calm around puppies and use toys to play with them.
Can You Punish a Puppy for Biting?
There are a number of trainers who advocate punishing a puppy if they bite. This may be by intimidating them with an angry, shouty voice or even physical punishment such as a light slap.
These sort of methods can work, but there are a number of problems with them. Negative training techniques can reduce the trust between you and your dog, leading to unwanted behaviour down the line.
In addition to this, puppies need to learn how to control their mouths and bite before they are taught not to bite at all.
What Is Bite Inhibition?
Bite inhibition simply means that the puppy learns not to apply too much force when they are biting. It is similar to how humans learn to not apply too much pressure when they perform a handshake with someone. Applying too much pressure in a handshake can crush the other person’s hand and cut off their blood supply.
Puppies learn to limit the pressure with their mouths by feedback from their siblings and mother. If they are playing with their siblings and one bites a little bit too hard, the other one will yelp loudly. The yelp indicates to the biting puppy that they are applying too much pressure and they need to let go.
Once this has happened, play will stop for a few minutes until they are ready to go again. The next time they play, the offending puppy will bite a little bit less hard than before.
This also happens with their mother. If they bite down on their mom too hard, she will growl at them and get up. This means that they will get no more dinner or attention from her.
So how does this apply to humans? A puppy may have learnt the acceptable force when biting their siblings, but unfortunately, humans do not have a nice fur coat to protect them. The level of force your puppy has learnt to use on their mother and siblings will be too painful for delicate human skin. Your puppy will not know this yet, but you are going to teach them.
Bite Inhibition Training
From the above, it can be seen that fun things stop when a puppy bites their mother or siblings. You need to apply this same theme to your puppy’s bite inhibition training to get the point across to them.
We have listed some steps and training tips below to teach your dog good bite inhibition.
If your puppy bites too hard, make a load yelp or “Ouch!” sound.
Once your puppy releases your hand, don’t pull it away quickly. Jerking your hand away from them quickly will make it look like something fun to chase and bite.
Instead, let your puppy release your hand and then get up and move away. Completely ignore them while you are doing this. The idea is to teach your puppy that the fun stops when they bite you.
Continue to ignore them for a couple of minutes and then return to them. Play with them and make sure you have some toys on hand. Praise your puppy when they interact with the toy.
If your puppy bites you again, repeat the same process of walking away and ignoring them.
You may find that your puppy tries to chase or follow you. If they do this, leave the room so they cannot follow you. Make sure your puppy is in a puppy-proof area, as they may take out their frustration or boredom on household items. Leave them lots of toys, so that they can interact with those.
For those who don’t have a puppy-proof area, we recommend that you put a lead on your puppy. When they bite you, tie them up to something and walk away.
The main goal of this exercise is take away the fun when they bite you. Do not get angry at your dog and do not give them attention when they bite you.
Leaving your puppy for a couple of minutes after they bite you will give them time to cool down and reduce their excitement levels. Make sure you have plenty of toys and encourage them to play with the toys.
Why Don’t We Teach Them to Not Bite at All?
You are probably wondering why we don’t just teach a puppy to not bite at all. The reason for this is that a number of experts believe that a staged bite inhibition training process is important to get complete control over your dog’s biting in the present and future.
The idea of reducing biting gradually was popularised by Ian Dunbar. He believed that a dog that has learnt to control their bite will be less likely to harm a person if they bite in the future. Remember that a dog can always bite and there is no way to train them 100% not to.
As your puppy begins to understand that they need to be gentle, you can start asking more of them. If your puppy bites or mouths you, remember to walk away every time. They will slowly reduce the force of their bite and eventually you can get them to stop biting altogether.
Your whole goal is to help your puppy understand that playtime continues as long as they keep their teeth away from you and on their toys.
How to Train a Puppy Not to Bite in Steps
Now that we know why puppies bite, some of the things that make biting worse and methods to stop biting, let’s put all of that information together in easy to follow stages.
Stage One – Control Your Puppies Environment and Interactions
You need to control your puppy’s environment and have a place where they can calm down. This means that you shouldn’t give them the run of the house and you need to have a room or area where they can feel safe.
In addition to this, you need to control your puppy’s interactions with yourself and other people (especially kids). Make sure that children understand how to play with your puppy and have lots of toys on hand.
Make sure your puppy doesn’t get too excited when they are playing a game or meeting someone for the first time. Control their excitement levels and know when to give them a minute to cool down.
Stage Two – Don’t Make Things Worse
As we have stressed in this article, don’t get your puppy too excited and don’t reward them for biting. A puppy’s favourite reward is your attention, so don’t give it to them when they do something bad.
Make sure your puppy gets no rewards when they bite you or someone else. This is a vital step to stopping a puppy from biting.
In addition to this, don’t encourage biting by waving your hands or fingers in front of your puppy. Many puppies see fingers, hands, toes and feet as something to chase and play with.
Stage Three – Teach Your Puppy Some Mouth Control
This is all the bite inhibition training we talked about earlier in this article. You need to train your puppy to bite with less force and that biting hurts you.
Bite inhibition training takes a while so don’t think you are going to see success in a day. Your puppy needs to learn to reduce the power of their bite gradually and eventually stop biting all together.
As we wrote earlier, if your puppy bites make a load yelp or squeal and then walk away. Leave the room for a period of time and then come back once your puppy has calmed down. Your puppy will soon understand that fun things stop when they bite you.
Step Four – Redirect Their Attention
If your puppy looks like they are about to bite or they are starting to focus on you, introduce some distractions. Redirect your puppy’s attention away from your body and clothes to interesting toys. This way they will bite and chew the toy instead of you. Reward your puppy when they play with the toy.
Step Five – Teach Your Puppy Not to Bite
This is the part where we teach the puppy to let us touch them in any way we like, without them biting or mouthing.
The best way of doing this is to use a clicker and some delicious dog treats. However, for those that don’t have a clicker you can use a cue word such as ‘yes’, but make sure you still have treats to give your puppy.
We have laid out how to conduct the training exercise below:
Move your hand towards your puppy in a slow, controlled manner.
If they do not move their mouth towards your hand say “yes!” or give them a click if you have clicker trained them. Immediately following this, give your puppy a treat.
Repeat the same process but get your hand closer to your puppy’s mouth. Eventually you want to be able to touch your puppy’s mouth without them biting you.
Every time you do it say “yes” or give them a click and then follow with a treat.
Watch This Video for a Full Description of the Technique
What if My Puppy Bites Me?
If your puppy bites you while you are conducting this training session, walk away and ignore them. Remember that we want to show our puppy that biting is not okay and hurts us.
Let your puppy cool down for a couple of minutes and then return to the training exercise. This time, make smaller hand movements further away from your puppy until they ignore them. Gradually close the distance between your hand and your puppy’s mouth after each successful go.
More Options to Control Puppy Biting
While the above method is what we would recommend you do to stop your puppy’s biting, there are a few other things and techniques that can be used to reduce biting. Let’s look at them below:
If walking out of the room and leaving your puppy isn’t enough to stop them biting you, you can try taste deterrents to make your hands and feet less appealing.
The idea with these taste deterrent products is that they make anywhere you apply the product taste terrible. Something like Grannicks Bitter Apple is a product you can use to deter your puppy’s biting.
When your puppy releases their bite, praise them and redirect their attention to a toy.
Keep Your Puppy Exercised
Keeping your puppy exercised and mentally stimulated can go a long way to help the biting problem. If you take your puppy for regular walks and let them work up a sweet, they will be less likely to get too excited.
A well exercised and mentally stimulated puppy will be calmer than one that is kept inside all day. You can read more about dog exercise in our “How Much Exercise Do Dogs Need” article.
What About Dominant Puppies?
Just like humans, dogs and puppies have different personalities and characteristics. Most puppies are not trying to be dominant and just want to be part of the pack. However, as puppies grow older, some may try to use biting as a way to show their dominance.
If you believe that your puppy is trying to be dominant by biting you, do not yelp or shout at all. This can reinforce the bad behaviour and could be a sign that you are backing down. They will then believe they are the leader in the relationship.
For puppies or dogs that are trying to be dominant through biting, simply walk away if they do bite or attempt to. You can also put your puppy in a time-out room or use their lead to tether them in place.
How to Stop an Old Dog from Biting?
Now that we have looked at stopping a puppy from biting, let’s look at stopping elderly dogs from doing the same. Unfortunately, older dogs can be quite stubborn and the reasons for their biting are usually completely different to a puppy.
Help Their Illness or Pain
As we wrote at the start of this article, an older dog may bite because they are sick or in pain. It can be hard to recognise the signs of a sick dog as they are quite stoic about pain. Your dog may have hip or back issues, but you may be none the wiser.
Always keep a look out for any changes in behaviour and take your dog to the vets if you believe there is something wrong with them. Your vet may be able to treat the problem, or it may be a case of managing the condition.
If your dog is suffering from illness or pain, avoid doing things that could make it worse. Make sure they have plenty of rest and a safe place where they can be away from people. Don’t let young children jump all over your dog, as this could result in a nasty bite. Monitor any play with your dog and don’t overstress them.
Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
We all know this quote and it really is true. Older dogs can become intolerant to people, kids and other dogs. Make sure they have a place to rest without being disturbed. Teach any children to leave the dog alone when they are resting and don’t let them have access to the dog when there is no one to supervise.
In addition to this, we recommend that you take your dog to the park and out for walks at none peak times. This means that there will be less dogs to potentially annoy your older dog.
Approach and Touch Them Appropriately
Older dogs may be confused or their hearing and eyesight could be impaired. Always approach your dog appropriately and don’t sneak up on them. If you can, always try to approach your dog from the front and say their name as you get near. This way they will know you are coming and won’t be surprised.
Don’t Put Your Dog in Situations They Don’t Like
This is sort of a combination of the above, but it is important. If your dog doesn’t enjoy doing something (even if they did before) don’t put them in a situation where they have to do it. This may mean that you don’t take them to the dog park or roll them on their back for a tummy tickle.
Walk Away if They Bite You
Just like when a puppy bites, don’t give your older dog attention and walk away from them. Leave them to cool down and do not physically harm them. Any negative training techniques could lead to harder biting in the future.
Train Bite Inhibition
Some dogs never learn to control their bite, but it never too late to start training them to do so. Simply do the same as you would with a puppy. Walk away when they bite and stop any fun things.
Summing Up How to Stop a Dogs and Puppies Biting
As you can see, there are loads of different reasons why a dog might bite. Usually, they are not to do with aggressive behaviour or trying to be dominant. For puppies it is simply a natural occurrence and you need to discourage biting through bite inhibition training and teaching them to stop.
When it comes to older dogs you may not be able to solve the problem completely, but you can control the factors that make it worse.
Remember that stopping your dog’s biting will not happen overnight and you need to be consistent. The alternative to not training your puppy or dog is a large animal putting their mouth on you or other people.
Always be patient with your dog and remember that biting is only natural for dogs, especially puppies. Show your puppy that biting hurts and they need to control their bite when interacting with people.
Most people usually want to find out how to stop their Labrador barking, but for some, they want to do the opposite. Teaching your Lab to speak or bark is a fun trick that can also be useful in some circumstances.
In this article we are going to be explaining how to teach a Labrador to speak on command and why it can be useful. We are also going to be talking about issues you may come across during the training process.
The Benefits of Teaching Your Lab to Speak
Teaching your Lab to speak or bark is a great trick and it lets you get control over their voice. While this trick is not essential, there are some reasons why you should teach it to your Labrador. Let’s look at them below:
Can help to control their barking – If you have a Lab that loves to bark at anything, you may want to teach them how to speak on command. When you train a dog to bark on command, you will find it easier to train them to be quiet.
You can make your Lab bark when people come to the door – For some owners they want their Lab to bark when people come to the tour. Teaching your dog to speak on command is a one of the first steps to do this.
Teach your Labrador to speak when they want something – Another benefit of training your dog to bark on command is that you can then teach them to do it when they want something. For example, you can train your Lab to bark when they want to go to the toilet.
It’s fun – Training your Lab to bark on command is a fun trick. You can use it when you are playing games such as fetch or when you want to show off your dog’s impressive bark.
Helpful Tips for Training Your Lab to Speak
Below have listed some helpful tips that will make the training process easier for you.
Pick a Good Place to Train – It is incredibly important to establish a good training environment. Avoid any areas with lots of distractions as they will make it more difficult to train your canine companion. We recommend that you find a nice quiet room in your house that is reasonably small so you can keep your Lab’s attention fixed on you.
Use High Value Treats – Labradors love food, so get your hands on some high value treats to make the training process easier. Tasty treats such as chicken or pre-made dog treats will get your Lab more excited for training time and they will be more eager to do as you command.
Keep Training sessions Short – Always try to keep your training sessions under five minutes. If you make your sessions too long your Lab will get bored and distracted, which is frustrating for the both of you.
Make it Positive – Always make your training sessions a fun, positive experience and don’t make them into a chore. Try to think of the session as more of a game as this will make it more interesting for the both of you and your dog will look forward to future lessons.
What You Will Need
The only tool that you really need for this command is some high value dog treats. Small bits of chicken or dog treats such as these ones from Old Mother Hubbardare a great way to keep your Labrador’s attention fixed on you.
Alternatively, you can use a toy as a reward. Some dogs respond better to this, while others aren’t interested at all.
You will also need some kind of barking stimulus such as a doorbell, clicker (if your dog is trained to use one) or even a toy.
Training a Labrador to Speak
Now that you are all set to go, let’s look at how you can make your Labrador bark on command. Teaching a dog to speak is a fairly straightforward process and it shouldn’t take too much time.
In this guide we are going to be looking at a method called “capturing”. Capturing works by waiting for your Lab to do the desired action (in this case speaking), and then rewarding them for that action. You then match a signal word or sound to the action.
Your Labrador will eventually learn that they should do the action when you say the signal word. This is a common training method that is widely used for other tricks and commands.
Choosing a Signal
It is important to pick a simple signal that is short and snappy. This signal word or command should only be used for this specific action, so that your Lab doesn’t start barking when you want them to do something else. We personally use the world ‘speak’ with our dogs and will be using that in this guide. Other good words include ‘bark’ or ‘talk’.
Steps to Train a Lab to Bark on Command
The first thing you are going to want to do is to let your Labrador bark/speak naturally. This can be quite a difficult task for some dogs as they naturally aren’t barkers.
If you are struggling to make your Labrador bark, you may have to get creative. Try to find something that makes your dog bark such as a toy or game. For our boy Winston we used his favourite ball. We held the ball up high and because he wanted it, he barked.
Once you have got your Lab barking, start saying the signal word in a clear, upbeat manner when they do it.
Following this, praise your dog and give them a treat or throw them a toy/play a game with them. Show your Lab that you are really excited by what they did and remember to keep it fun.
Repeat these steps several times until your Labrador begins to match the signal word (“Speak”) to the action of barking/speaking. Most Labs will get this pretty quickly, but some dogs take a few training sessions to get the hang of it.
The next step is to use the word on its own. In a clear voice say “speak” and wait for your Lab to bark. If they do not bark repeat the signal word a few times, maintaining a clear voice.
If your Labrador still doesn’t speak on your command, go back to the earlier steps to reinforce the command.
Once your Lab does speak you have taught them the command! Remember to use it frequently to reinforce the command.
Common Questions When Training a Labrador to Speak
Below we have answered some common questions when teaching a Labrador to speak on command:
My Dog Keeps Barking When I Say the Signal Word
When you train your Labrador to speak on command it is important to only reward them when they do a single bark. If you reward your dog for barking lots, they will think that is what you want. If your Lab is doing this, you may have to retrain them by only giving them rewards when they do a single bark and ignoring them when they do multiple.
My Dog Won’t Bark at All, How Do I Fix This?
This is a tricky one as some dogs simply don’t bark at all. Our girl Daisy has only barked twice in her entire life and no matter what we do we can’t make her bark. If your Labrador is like this there isn’t much you can do.
For those that don’t have dogs like the above, but are still struggling, we recommend teasing them with a toy. Do this while you are playing a game of fetch or tug as your Lab will be focused on getting the toy off you. In one instance, we even put Winston’s ball in a tree to make him bark. While it may seem mean to do this, it is a quick and easy way to get your dog to bark and won’t hurt them.
Summary of How to Train a Labrador to Speak
Training your Labrador to speak/bark on command is a great fun trick and can be useful in some circumstances. If you are new to dog training there are plenty of other commands you should teach your Lab first, but this is a nice, easy one. Remember to keep training sessions fun and if your dog doesn’t want to bark, find a creative solution.
One of the first things you need to do to create a strong relationship with your dog is to become the pack leader. You need to do this from the moment you bring them home, all the way throughout their life.
Dogs need a strong pack leader. They operate on a social structure of rank and if they lead, you follow. If your dog is the pack leader and a time comes when you need to command them, they will not take you seriously. However, if you become the pack leader and set out clear leadership roles, your dog will respond more positively to your commands.
While being the pack leader is beneficial, being overly dominate can actually be detrimental to their behaviour. You need to have them trained correctly and they must trust you.
How Do You Become the Alpha Dog?
Being the pack leader in your household does not give you free reign to become a bully. If your dog fears you, they may become badly behaved or even aggressive.
Let’s look at a number of things you need to do to become the pack leader in your household.
Be Calm Yet Assertive
When it comes to dogs, leadership is more about showing your dominance silently. Pack leaders do not project nervous or emotional energy, so neither should you. You must be calm and confident when dealing with your dog.
A dog’s mother is a great example of a pack leader. They do not take any silly behaviour and if a puppy steps out of line, they are dealt with quickly and calmly.
Set Your Boundaries
Like pack leaders, territory is incredibly important to dogs. Wild dogs claim their territory by asserting themselves calmly and confidently, and then communicate their ownership through eye contact and body language. As a pack leader, you need to show your dog that you are in charge of the area you two live in and train in.
Your dog will probably already realise this however. For example, they know they cannot go through a door without your help.
Make Sure Your Dog Earns Their Rewards
A common problem with many dog owners is they become big softies when they get home and see their puppy. While they are strong at work, the sight of their pooch makes them break down. Your dog needs to learn that rewards are not something they just get, but something that is earnt.
If you give your dog everything they want, when they want it, they will become bossy and uncontrollable. This means that you should not give your dog any rewards such as food, petting or even eye contact when they are demanding attention.
Rewards should be given when your dog does something that you feel is good, not when you just want to treat them. If you want to give your dog a treat, get them to do something like ‘sit’, ‘come’ or ‘lie down’ before you give it to them. This way your dog understands that they need to do something before a reward is given.
However, it is still ok to occasionally treat your dog to show that you love them.
Be in Control of Their Food
You should be in total control of your dog’s feeding arrangements. However, contrary to popular belief, eating your food before your dog eats theirs is not necessary. You can feed your dog before yourself, but remember to not give them the food until you have released them to eat.
Finally, take your dog for a walk before you give them their breakfast or dinner. You will not only show that you are in charge of their food, but your dog will also find that your dog will be more willing to follow your commands. A hungry dog will be more keen for food rewards, so use this to your advantage.
Control Your Dog When it is Time for a Walk
Your dog should not be jumping up or snatching at the lead when you are about to take them for a walk. Ask your dog to sit and wait patiently for you while you get ready. They should stay sitting until the lead is on and you are ready to go. Make sure you walk out the door before your dog.
When walking, make sure you are in front of your dog or have them just to your side. Do not let your dog lead you or pull on the leash and have them stop and sit when you get to traffic lights or crossings.
Use precise words when dealing with your dog and use verbal commands to get them into positionsyou want. Teaching your dog to heel and not pull on their lead will make walking a much more enjoyable experience for the both of you.
Train Them Correctly
One of the biggest problems people face with their dogs is trying to get them to carry out commands. While you need to be the pack leader, it is no use of you have not taught them correctly. Make sure you have trained your dog to instinctively follow commands.
Try to avoid giving specific obedience commands that have not been properly taught or conditioned. Doing so can actually set progress back and make dealing with your dog frustrating.
We believe that training is actually more important than trying to be a pack leader. Poorly trained dogs will not respond to directions well even if they see you as more dominant.
Manage Their Playtime and Toys
We all love to play with our dogs, but you need to set out some rules first. You should always be the first to initiate a game with your dog and you should be the one to make the rules. Start and stop games when you like it, and immediately walk away if they are not listening to you.
You can also rotate their toys or have specific toys that only come out during playtime. Making your dog work for their toys is not only a great way to reward them, but also a great way to show you are the pack leader.
Don’t Let Them Have the Higher Ground
Avoid letting your dog take positions above you. If your dog is on the couch looking down at you on the floor he will feel more dominant. Alpha dogs would never let that happen in the pack, and neither should you. However, you can let your dog have the higher ground if you are playing a game.
You should not let your dog jump up when you or guests enter the house. Simply ignore your dog until you are ready. Giving them attention and rewards when they are jumping up or barking when you get home will only make the problem worse.
Additionally, never let or approve of biting. While you will certainly get some biting or mouthing when your dog is younger, show them that you will not tolerate it. This will help you in the long run and guests to your house will be much happier.
More Information About Dog Behaviour
Why Do Dogs Sit On Your Feet?
You have probably heard that dogs that sit on your feet are trying to be more dominant than you. In reality, this is completely false.
Dogs sit on your feet for a couple of reasons and it has nothing to do with being more dominant than you:
The floor is cold and your feet are warm.
Because they like to be close to you or they sit on you so they know when you move.
If your dog sits on your vet, they may be concerned you are going to leave the room.
Why Does My Dog Try and Lie Down on Me?
Contrary to popular belief, a dog that tries to lie on top of you is not necessarily being dominant. Dogs love body contact and they like to sleep together in a heap rather than individually. Dogs see no reason to exclude you from their sleeping circle.
Additionally, some young dogs and puppies will try to hump people who sit on the floor. This is not typically related to dominance, but more play or hormonal reasons. If this happens, simply stand up and walk away.
Is Aggression Related to Dominance in Dogs
Yes, and no. Aggression in dogs is more likely to be caused by fear and resource or food guarding, rather than dominance issues. Trying to out dominate your dog can actually make things worse. If your dog is aggressive, take a good hard look at how you treat them and make sure they are trained correctly.
How Come Dogs Submit When They Are On Their Back?
Dogs will usually submit when they are placed or forced onto their back. Being on their back is alien to dogs and can be very threatening to them. It is usually nothing to do with dominance and is more to do with the fact that they may feel threatened. Your dog may also simply want to play or want a tummy tickle.
It All Comes Back to Resources
At the end of the day, being the pack leader is less about dominating your dog and is more about being in control of their resources. If you bully and intimidate your dog, they will become even more uncontrollable and may even become aggressive.
Your dog knows that you control their food, bedding and where they go, so use this to your advantage. They cannot go out and buy themselves more food or new toys, only you can do that for them.
This gives you all the power in the relationship, so don’t try and push it too much. Be confident and clear with your dog, and realise that you are already the pack leader. Do not try and out rank or dominate your dog.
Check outthis article from the American Veterinarian Society of Animal Behaviour for their views on dominance training and why it can be bad.
If you really want to change your dog’s behaviour, training will make the biggest difference. There are so many different resources available when it comes to training, so we suggest you check them out (remember to check Dogopedia’s training section).
The question of “how to stop my dog pulling” is always a common one, and there are loads of different methods to achieving this; however, there is one method that is better than the rest.
We have all seen and admired highly-trained dogs that snap to the command heel. It resembles a couple of dancers in perfect harmony, and we only wish we could have our dogs trained like theirs. But how do you train your dog to heel?
In this article we are going to teach you how to get your dog to heel and be the envy of all the other dog owners on the street!
The process is not easy however. It will require patience on both you and your dog’s part, and will require you to devote at least several weeks of your time to mastering it.
Your dog will need to learn where the heel position is and the command that will get them in that position. They will need to do it with all kinds of distractions in different places and situations.
While it is a hard process, teaching your dog to heel is a very rewarding experience and will only make you and your dog form a closer bond together.
What Does Heel Mean
A dog walking ‘at heel’ is walking alongside their owner in a comfortable, controlled manner. They are usually on the left side of their owner; however, it does not matter which side you teach your dog to heel at.
Dogs walking in the heel position usually have their shoulder aligned with their owner’s knee, with their head slightly in front. You will notice that dogs that are trained to heel are often looking at their owner, and in competitions they even do it to music.
Heel positions can vary depending on the role of the dog. For instance, a working gun dog or service dog will look ahead and not at their handler. This is to ensure they can see what is in front of them and is different to the obedience style position that most household dogs are taught.
A working dog may also have a bit more space between them and their handler’s leg. Some dog owners have taught their dogs to heel in a position where they brush alongside them as they work.
While the heel position does vary, the basic principle is the same. Heel means “walking alongside their owner in a position that is not too far in front or behind them.”
Why Teaching Your Dog to Heel is Important?
Walking to heel is considered to be an essential part of dog training for many. There are four main reasons why you should teach your dog to heel:
Control and Safety – When you teach your dog to heel, it allows you to move your dog into the walking position with just one word. This can help when you are crossing the road or moving through a crowded place with plenty of distractions.
Better Bonding – Teaching your dog to heel is not just about getting them walking correctly, it is also about the bond and communication you two form. Your dog will learn to focus on you, rather than other distractions around you.
It cooks cool and is more relaxing – Let’s be honest, we are all jealous of people who can walk their dog in a nice heel position. Walking your dog at heel just looks amazing and it is a more relaxing way to walk your pup.
Helpful in certain situations – Learning to walk without a lead can be incredibly useful in various situations. If you need both your hands or you have multiple dogs to walk, the heel technique can be a lifesaver.
Walking at Heel Vs Loose-Lead Walking
Before we dive into heel training, let’s have a look at some of the other training methods to control your dog while walking.
Heel is essentially a formalised command for telling your dog to walk in a certain position. The dog must do what you do and stop when you stop.
Teaching your dog to walk with a loose-lead is completely different. When you successfully teach your dog to walk with a loose-lead, they will stop pulling you down the road, and will instead walk with some slack in the lead.
When it comes to your dog’s position relative to you, it doesn’t really matter as long as they are not pulling. This will be fine for casual walks with your dog, but if you are looking to take your dog walking to the next level, teaching them to heel is what you need to do.
How to Teach Dog to Heel?
Now that we have told you why you should train your dog to heel, it is now time to teach you how to do it.
Setting Up Training Sessions
Teaching your dog to heel is something that will not happen in an afternoon (unless you have godly dog control or your canine is an absolute genius). What you need to do is set up some regular training sessions.
The training sessions with your dog should be five to ten minutes, two to three times a day to begin with. Making training sessions too long will slow down the learning process, as your dog will become distracted with longer trains.
Try to link your training sessions with some other activity or set aside some time each day, so you do not forget them.
Regular training sessions will lead to rapid progress. Sporadic or infrequent training will be much slower, even if you do longer sessions when you do train.
Get the Basics Down First
Heel training is certainly a bit more involved than other basic commands like “sit” or “come”. This is because it is a multi-step task in your canine’s mind and builds upon previous commands and training.
Your dog will need to learn how to get and stay in the correct position, so you will need some control over your dog already. They need to learn that you are the leader and that they need to follow your movements. A properly trained dog will adjust their own direction and movements to match yours.
Your canine will need to learn to sit when you stop moving forward, and how to stay until you set off again.
All this requires mastery of basic commands, before you can begin heel training. Good communication is essential and will make the training process that much easier.
Sit and Stay Commands
When your dog is in the heel position, they must learn to sit when you stop moving. They will then need to remain in this position until you start moving again. The basics of the sit and stay command are pretty easy, and should be one of the first things you teach your dog.
Along with the sit and stay command, heel training requires your dog to be able to watch and pay attention to you, so they can follow you.
Getting your dog to watch can be easily accomplished by simply associating a cue such as “look” or “watch” with a treat. Your dog will quickly learn to look at you when you use the cue, as they expect a reward. The next stage is for you to give treats randomly when training the look command.
Teaching your dog to watch you or a certain object will help with any training activity, not just heel training. Getting your dog’s attention will speed up the training process and will let them know that you are in charge.
Select a Release Word
Once your dog is in the heel position, they are engaged and active in the training session. To get out of this position your dog will need a release word to let them know they can relax, and move where they want.
The word you use should be connected to the release word you use for the sit and stay commands. For this article we are going to use a release word, such as “okay” or “free”; however, the word can be anything as long as you are consistent and clear.
You need to remember that when your dog is heeling, they are intently focused on you. This means they need a clear and concise release word to understand that they can get out of heel mode, and revert to being a dog.
Getting your dog to heel is a big ask of them, and they should not be heeling for long periods of time, especially at the start. Your dog may get fed up with being in heel all the time, which can lead to bad behaviour.
Try to use a combination of heeling, loose-lead walking and general running about to keep your dog happy. This will keep them focused and mentally sharp.
Should I Use Clicker Training?
While clicker training is not essential, it can help with the training process. If your dog has learned to associate a click sound with the right activity, they will almost certainly pick up heeling very quickly.
If you have not trained your dog to respond to a clicker, then don’t despair. If you want to teach your dog clicker training, you can try and do this before teaching them to heel.
How Do I Train My Dog to Heel?
The heel training process will go through a number of stages. When you get the first stage down, move onto the next one, and so on. By the end of all of the different stages of training, your dog should be capable of walking in the heel position. We have listed the three main stages below:
Establish the heel position and how to enter it
Lean to walk at the heel position and change direction
Introduce distractions and reinforce the heel position
The Heel Command
Historically, dog owners and trainers used a command at the beginning of a training process. This would get them in position and then they would set off on a walk. The dog would then be corrected or punished every time they moved out of the heel position.
At the start of the training process, the dog did not understand the command, but would eventually understand it after a few corrections.
Current day dog training is a bit different however. Dogs are now trained to carry out the desired action before the command is given. The command will then take on the correct meaning right from the start, which will speed up the training process.
Establish The Heel Position
Choose The Position
In reality, there is no correct heel position; however, we recommend that you use your dog’s shoulder as a guideline. Aim to have their shoulder about level with your knee. Your dog’s head will be slightly in front of you. Make sure you are consistent with this position.
If you are wondering what side you should have your dog on, just choose what you are most comfortable with. However, one thing to remember is that obedience competitions will usually require the dog to be on the left side.
Note: For the purpose of this guide we are going to be using the left side.
You will want to start in a quiet room or garden that has no distractions. This means no other dogs, humans, toys, just you the trainer and the dog. At this point we will not be telling the dog to “heel” (as they do not know the command yet). You will not need a lead for this section.
A good tip to getting your dog in the correct position is place yourself in a position near a wall. Have your dog on the side that is closest to the wall, and leave enough space between you and the wall for your dog. This will help to keep your dog close.
How to Get Your Dog in the Heel Position
Now that you have decided upon the heel position and you have a good training location, it is time to train your dog to move into this position.
When you are training your dog, have a handful of treats in your pocket or treat pouch. You should also have a few treats in both hands as well.
With your dog in front of you, put your right hand out in front of their nose and let them sniff it (not eat it). Lure your dog around the back of you until he can see the treat in your left hand. Give your dog praise as he does this and reward them with a treat. The position your dog ends up in should be the heel position.
Carry out this movement around three times, or until your dog gets the hang of it (don’t spend too much time on it though). The next stage is to try carry out this same movement without any treats. Show your dog that your hand is empty, and repeat the exact same movement you did when there was a reward in your hand. Use the same hand to move them around your back and then get them into the heel position.
If your dog is being difficult and won’t move into the heel position without treats, revert back to giving them a reward. Repeat this movement until your dog can move into the heel position without the aid of a tasty reward in your lure hand.
The trick with this technique is to lose the treat you use to lure your dog into the heel position as quickly as possible. Remember to keep giving your dog treats out of your left hand though, as this will reinforce the heel position.
Your dog should eventually recognise that your hand movement is the cue to get into the heel position. Now that they understand this, you can add a verbal cue such as “heel.”
After a while your dog will recognise your hand movement as the command to get into the heel position, you can begin to add a verbal cue like “heel.” After a couple of attempts, try and just say “heel” and don’t use your hand. Your dog should soon learn to move into the heel position when you use the heel command.
If you can successfully move your dog into the heel position with just the command, it is time to move onto the next step.
Walking While Heeling
Once you have taught your dog the heel command and position, it is time to add in a bit of walking. Start with smaller distances and then work your way up. You should also be in an environment where there are not any distractions.
For this exercise, we are going to start with one step and then progress from there.
Give the heel command and take one step forward. Treat your dog as they move to keep up with you. Once they move to your position, immediately progress to two steps and then give them another reward.
Repeat this process, increasing the number of steps you take when your dog successfully moves with you in the correct position. Carry on rewarding your dog.
It may take several training sessions to get to ten or more steps and don’t add any direction changes at this stage of the training.
When teaching your dog to walk in the heel position it is best to use short, frequent sessions as they may become bored or tired.
Now that you and your dog can walk comfortably in the heel position for ten steps or more, it is time to add some direction changes. As before, we are going to limit the distance we travel at this early stage.
When you are ready, take a couple of steps forward and rotate 90 degrees to either the left or the right.
Reward your dog if they successfully turn with you or even attempt to (your dog will improve with practice). The next step is to set off in the new direction. Once your dog turns with you, reward them and then take another couple of steps and repeat. You can try and make shapes or small course to walk around.
Once you and your dog get this down, it is time for the next step, stopping.
Making Them Stop
Stopping is just as important as moving off or changing direction. At some point you are going to have to stop, whether that for a set of traffic lights or to just finish the walk.
When you stop, your dog should not leave the heel position, unless you give them the release word. Your dog should stay in this position and follow you when you take off again.
Staying in the heel position when you are stationary will need some practice and patience; however, it is a very important skill to develop. The majority of people who train their dogs to heel will teach them to sit when they stop. We feel this is a good practice and is what we would recommend you do.
To practice stopping in the heel position, walk forward around 10 steps and then stop. Ask your dog to sit and then reward them for doing so. Eventually, your dog will learn that they need to sit when you command or when you stop when heeling.
While all the information above will help you get your dog heeling, the real test is when you add some distractions. Keeping your dog in the heel position when there are other dogs and new smells about is a whole different ball game. Carry on below to find out how!
Heeling in your garden or in a quiet area is relatively simple. It is a controlled environment and the most interesting thing to your dog is probably you or more likely the treats in your hand. The real world however, has plenty of other interesting things in it to distract your dog.
This part of the training process will require even more patience on your part, as it is only in your dog’s nature to investigate all the things around them. Remember that your dog is not naughty if they get distracted, they are just a normal canine.
So far, your dog has only learned to walk at heel in the garden or place where you have been practicing. You have to teach them what it means to walk at heel in a place with plenty of distractions.
While you could just jump straight in and take your dog out into the big wide world, we recommend a more reserved approach. You need to add distractions and change the training environment you are in slowly.
For instance, you could move from the inside of your house to the outside, or change rooms in which you train in. This is changing the environment, but still keeping it controlled. You should also try move your dog through doorways, as this can be an exciting change of environment for your dog.
When you are training your dog with distractions, have plenty of exciting treats on tap (think chicken or other treats they don’t usually get). This will help keep your dog even more involved in the training process, and they will be less likely to run off to sniff something.
Once you have tried changing the environment a few times, it is time to add in some more exciting distractions. Enlist the help of another person and get your dog to walk with you in the help position past them. If you have another dog, try the same again.
What you want to be doing is increasing the intensity of the training sessions as you and your dog progress. Try to add in distractions they might find when on a typical walk. This will help when you go out for your first proper walk while heeling.
If you don’t have a friend or other dog who can help, you could try and visit a training class where you can work with other dogs. Another idea is to take your dog to a dog park (or just a regular park) and practice in a far corner where there are fewer distractions, moving closer to the other dogs as you progress. For this technique you may want your dog on a lead, so they don’t go running off.
Once you have progressed to adding another dog in your heel training process, it is time to try your training on the street. Keep the walk short, even if it means walking a mere ten metres down the road and back. Every training walk you go on, increase the distance until you can comfortably walk in the heel position.
Making Distractions Easy
As they say, “practice makes perfect” and teaching your dog to walk at heel is no different. You need to keep introducing new distractions to your dog and don’t let bad habits creep in.
Try to avoid walking your dog on a lead too much during the training process and certainly don’t let them pull if you are using a lead. It can be confusing to your dog if you let them pull when they are on a lead and then expect them to heel on other occasions.
If you are walking your dog on a lead, try to keep them in the heel position to reinforce the training you have done. When you get to a park, let them run free and enjoy themselves.
Troubleshooting Heel Problems
We’ve listed a few problems that owners seem to face when training their dog to heel.
Dog Is Unwilling to Follow or Has No Energy
If your dog is lacking a bit of drive to follow your lead when you are heel training, you probably don’t have a reward that excites them enough. You may have to experiment with different treats or toys until you find one that they get excited for.
Dog Has Too Much Energy and Gets Excited Easily
For some, their dog may be the opposite of above. If your dog is so excited that they are almost bouncy off the walls, you might need to opt for a less-enticing reward. You might even want to use the normal biscuits you use for their dinner.
Another problem may be that your dog has too much energy and may need some pre-tiring to slow them down. Try take your dog out for a walk or to the park before you start the training session, this should burn off any excess energy.
Dog Jumps and Lurches for The Treat
A common problem people seem to encounter when training their dog to heel is that the dog will try lurches or jumps to get the reward. In this scenario, you need to remember to only give your dog the treat when they are in the correct position with all four paws firmly planted to the floor.
Never reward unwanted behaviour or actions, as this will only reinforce bad habits.
If you only reward the behaviour you want, your dog will eventually learn that jumping and lurching will not get them the reward any faster.
My Dog Is Easily Distracted
We’ve already talked about adding distractions in this article, but what if your dog gets distracted from the get go?
If you find your dog is getting easily distracted, even when you are simply training them to get into the heel position, there are a few things to remember.
Once again, your dog may simply not be interested in the reward you are offering to them. Try a few different rewards to see what one makes your dog’s eyes light up and their nose twitch.
Another thing to remember is that you may be asking too much of your dog. If your training sessions are too long, or you are making your dog stay in the heel position too long, they may become bored and distracted. Shorten your training sessions and keep them interesting with plenty of progression.
Some dogs need a tough mental challenge or like to walk at a fast pace as well, which can contribute to them becoming distracted. Make sure you are not walking too slow or fast, and try to implement new challenges to keep them interested.
As we have already discussed, environmental changes can distract your dog from training. Try to keep the same training location initially, and change it when you have mastered a step in the training progression.
If you find your dog is becoming distracted from a change in location, try to move back to your original training environment.
Other Tips and Points
Start Them Young
Training a puppy to heel is almost always easier than training an older dog to do it. When your puppy is around four to six months old, they will tend to follow you everywhere and you can use this to your advantage.
At this point you are not teaching your dog to heel, you are teaching them that following you will result in good things happening.
Call your puppy’s name and say something like “come”. As you give them command, walk away and don’t wait for the puppy. Your puppy should naturally follow you and after a short distance, stop or slow down. Wait for your puppy to catch up and reward them with a treat.
Once your puppy masters this, try and add in some more challenges such as walking in different patterns or directions. Try changing your speed as they get more experienced with the exercise.
Keep on rewarding your puppy for walking next to you and catching up. Don’t make the sessions too intense, see it more as a game rather than training.
Tips for Older Dogs
They say “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” but we all know that’s a load of rubbish. Older dogs may take a bit longer to learn new things and they may have developed some bad habits, but they are perfectly trainable.
For older dogs we recommend stocking up on their favourite treats and use them to increase their enthusiasm to learn. You can use the same method we described for puppies above, or you can add toys in as well.
Wrapping Up Dog Heel Training
Teaching your dog to heel is one of the most rewarding experiences and will only make you bond even more with your dog. It is challenging and can be frustrating, but with a bit of patience the benefits will pay off.
You will have more control over your dog and it also looks impressive to watch a dog focus so intently on their owner.
Remember to keep the training fun, short and full of progression. With the tips we have given above, you should get your dog walking to heel in no time.
Wondering how to stop your dog barking when they are left alone? In this guide we are going to be telling you how you can stop your dog barking and what causes them to do it when they are left alone.
Left unsolved you may face complaints from neighbours and it can be distressing to know that your canine companion is upset when you leave the house. The first thing you need to do to solve your dog’s barking problem is to find out the cause.
Why Does My Dog Bark When I Leave the House?
They are Genetically Prone to Bark
Yes, that’s right, your dog may be barking because of their genetics. Virtually all terriers and many other small dogs like miniature Schnauzers and Maltese are pre-programmed to bark at movement or noise within their range.
Many of these small breeds were bred to bark to alert their owners of any potential danger. This means they will often bark at people who come to the door, other animals around the property and even the neighbours when they come home. They will continue to bark even when you are not home, because it is in their nature to do so.
To combat this, you need to train them to limit their barking. You need to train your dog to bark on command. This will give you control and effectively gives you an “on/off” switch on their barking. It’s not that you do not want them to bark ever; you just want them to bark when the time is right.
They are Bored
Active and sporting breeds such as retrievers, setters, collies and pointers are more likely to get bored than other breeds. Dogs need regular exercise and a study in Australia found that 40% of canines do not get enough walks.
Lack of exercise is not only detrimental to your dog’s physical health, but it can also be bad for their mental health as well. Boredom can lead to barking and other unwanted behaviours such as chewing, pacing and digging.
Most healthy dogs need between one to two hours of exercise a day. Simply leaving your dog in the garden for a couple of hours is not good enough; you need to take them for walks and play interactive games with them. Older dogs, puppies and those that are sick may not require the same amount of exercise as a healthy dog in the prime of their life. However, they still need to be exercised.
Additionally, when you leave your house, give your dog a KONG filled with treats or another interactive toy to keep them entertained.
They Want to Order You Around
Does your dog bark at you when you attempt to leave the house? If this is the case it may be because your dog doesn’t want you to go. Your dog doesn’t want the fun to stop and they command you to return by barking. The problem with this is that your dog may continue to bark even after you have gone.
They are Alpha or Territorial
Un-neutered male dogs and guarding breed types are more likely to bark at something that is coming into their territory or space. They believe they are protecting their area from intruders when they bark. In reality, the intruder is probably just the mailman or a friendly neighbourhood cat.
Neutering and good training can keep their protective behaviour in check. Additionally, blocking the dog’s view of passers-by and anyone who comes to the door can help to reduce barking. You should also try to keep them from patrolling the property as this can lead to unwanted barking.
When you are home, you should always monitor a territorial or alpha dog closely. If you can’t get their barking under control when you are home, then there is no way you are going to stop them from barking when you are out.
They are Scared or Anxious
Every dog is scared of something, whether it is a trip to the vets or something as simple as the vacuum cleaner. A dogs past experiences can have a major effect on how they respond to things around them.
Dogs such as those that have been passed around from home to home, rescue dogs and those that have not been socialised correctly can suffer from anxiety. Canines that have always been kept inside or are constantly with their owners are candidates for anxiety behaviour problems if they are placed in a new environment.
If left alone, dogs with anxiety problems can begin to bark, chew, dig and even soil themselves. These dogs need to be socialised correctly with the world outside. Separation anxiety is one of the most common problems dog owners have. We will be discussing separation anxiety in more detail below.
Why It Is Important to Stop Your Dog Barking When You Go Out
There are a number of reasons you need to stop your dog barking when they are left alone:
Your neighbours can become annoyed if your dog barks.
It can be stressful for your dog when they are trying to communicate but get no response.
Separation anxiety can lead to other unwanted behaviours such as chewing and digging.
Fixing your dog’s barking problem can improve the bond between you and your dog.
Barking can be alarming to visitors coming to the door.
Once your dog learns not to bark, they can be more relaxed and spend their time sleeping or playing.
What Causes Separation Anxiety in Dogs?
Dog separation anxiety is often unknowingly encouraged by owners. We often make a big fuss of our dogs when we leave the house or come back home. Doing this rewards our dogs for their concern and makes them anxious when we are not around. Anxiety can also be caused by a number of other situations or events as well. We have listed these below:
Change in Schedule
An abrupt change in schedule can trigger separation anxiety in dogs. If you suddenly increase the length of time your dog is left alone for they can become anxious. For instance, you may get a new job and your dog has to be left alone for six or more hours at a time. If they are used to you being at home all the time, leaving them for six or seven hours can cause them to become anxious.
Change in Owner
Dogs that change owners, whether that is because they have been abandoned, rescued or even sold, can develop separation anxiety. They may need time to get used to their new owners and they will need to get used to being left alone.
Change in Residence
Moving to a new house or apartment can lead to a dog developing separation anxiety. They may be comfortable in their old residence and moving them to a new, unknown location can cause them to be anxious.
Change in Family/Pack
Dogs are pack animals and the sudden absence of a family member or member of the pack can trigger separation anxiety.
First Steps to Stop Your Dog Barking When They Are Left Alone
The hardest part about stopping your dog barking when they are left alone is finding out the reason for them doing so. You need to find the cause of your dog’s barking before you can cure it, but how do you do this when you are not at home?
We recommend that you ask your neighbours if possible. They may be able to tell you when your dog is barking, so you can pinpoint the cause. Additionally, if your dog barks when you are walking out the door you know they don’t want you to leave. Think about your dog’s behaviour, breed type and how you treat them, as these can lead to barking.
Re-read the causes of barking we have outlined above and see which one matches your dog the closest.
How to Stop a Dog Barking When Home Alone?
There are a number of steps you need to take when dealing with your dog’s barking problem. We have outlined what you need to do to fix your dog’s barking below.
Set-up Their Environment
Dogs with behavioural problems should not be given “the run of the house”. You need to keep your dog in the quietist part of the house where they can sleep undisturbed.
Limit your dog’s visibility. We don’t mean put a blindfold over your dog’s eyes, we mean that you need to close any curtains and/or shades to prevent them from being able to see outside. If you don’t have any windows or blinds, place a sheet or blanket across the window. Removing any visual stimuli will reduce the likelihood of barking from territorial/alpha dogs.
Make the environment dark. This sort of ties in with the above. A dark environment has a calming effect on most dogs.
Make some noise. You should leave a TV or radio on when you leave the house to create some noise. This will not only help to make it feel like somebody is home, but will also drown out any outside noises. Just think how quiet your house is when there is nobody in it and your dog has to deal with that all day.
Give your dog a toy to play with. When you leave the house give your dog a toy to keep them busy. Something like a KONG filled with treats is an excellent way to keep them entertained while you duck out the door. The toy you give your dog should only be used for this purpose and the treats should be special.
Leave the house quietly. Don’t make a fuss of your dog when you leave. Dragging out a goodbye can make your dog anxious for your return. Give them a quick goodbye and then leave the house.
Other Things You Can Do to Reduce Barking
Exercise Your Dog!
We can’t stress this enough. A dog that hasn’t been exercised is like a coiled spring. They are ready to pop and barking is a way to relieve the pressure. For healthy adult dogs, make sure they get at least one hour of dedicated exercise per day. You should also play games with them at other times to keep them mentally stimulated and exercised.
Those with older dogs, sick dogs, and puppies can get away with a bit less. However, they should still be exercised, but a 20-minute walk around the block may be enough for an older dog. Puppies tend to have lots of energy in short bursts, so it is quite easy to wear them out with a game or short walk.
Bring Them Inside
If you leave your dog outside while you are at work, it may be a good idea to bring them inside if possible. A dog that is out in the garden alone all day is much more likely to bark than if they are inside. This is because they can see and hear a lot more than if they are inside the house. It is also much more difficult to control a dog’s environment outside than it is inside.
Hire a Dog Walker
If you are gone for long periods of time during the day, it may be beneficial to hire a dog walker. A dog walker can take your dog out during the day, breaking up the time they are alone. They will get some exercise, which will stop them from getting bored.
Teach Them to Speak
Some breeds just love to bark. If your dog loves to talk, don’t stifle all the conversation. Train your dog to “speak” on command, as well as the “quiet” command. That way you can control your dog’s barking and still give them a chance to speak.
Help! My Dog Is Still Barking When I Leave the House
If you have done all of the above and your dog is still barking when left at home alone, they are probably suffering from separation anxiety. You need to desensitise your dog to your departure and get them used to you not being there.
To do this, the first thing you need to do is imitate your daily routine. Make your dog think that you are going out for the day. Do all the things we listed above and then leave the house quietly. Don’t beg or plead for your dog to be quiet, just give them a pat and then leave.
Leave the house for a short period of time. Just a couple of minutes to start with. If you get in your car to go to work, do that. If you take an elevator, go one floor down and wait a couple of minutes. Only return to your dog if they have not barked. Reward them for their good behaviour and try again for a longer period of time.
If your dog did bark in those 2 minutes, knock on the door (load enough that your dog stops barking) and try again. Do not enter the house if your dog is barking and when you knock on the door, do not let your dog see you. Repeat the process until you can get one to two minutes of silence. Once your dog gets to this point, you can go back into the house and reward them for their good behaviour.
Try this process again, but increase the time you are gone. Set goals for your dog; when they get to 5 minutes move onto 10 minutes, then 15 and so on. Always return after the set amount of time and reward your dog if they have not barked. Do not wait until your dog barks and then return to the house.
The first hour is the hardest. Most dogs can remain silent for around two hours and they can usually be quiet for an 8 to 10-hour work day. You will not solve your dog’s barking problem in a day. It will require patience and time.
Dealing with Separation Anxiety in Dogs
How to Prevent Separation Anxiety in Dogs
Some veterinarians may prescribe drugs for separation anxiety, however, this will not fix the problem, only cover it up. Medication should only be used to assist the owner in rehabilitating the dog and is only a temporary fix.
The root cause of separation anxiety usually starts when the dog is a puppy. When puppies are removed from their mother and siblings, they will usually cry. To calm them down, dog owners will pick them up, talk to them and give them lots of attention. This can continue in later life as well. If your dog is in a crate and they cry, letting them out only rewards them for their behaviour.
You need to reward your dog for being quiet and settled. Teaching your dog patience and rewarding them for that will help to prevent separation anxiety. When you are with your dog, you should not always be interacting with them. They need to learn to entertain themselves.
Should I Crate Train My Dog?
Crate training can be helpful for some dogs if they learn that the crate is a safe place to go when you are out. However, the crate is not a tool that can be used for all dogs. This is because a crate can cause more stress and anxiety in some canines.
In order to determine whether or not you should use a crate, monitor your dog’s behaviour when you are crate training them. If your dog show signs of distress or anxiety, confining them in a crate may not be the best option. Instead of using a create, you can confine your dog to a room behind a baby gate.
How to Treat Separation Anxiety in Dogs
Curing separation anxiety is really about getting your dog used to you not being there and rewarding them for behaviour we like. Early in this article we explained the process of simulating a working day to stop barking. This same process can be used to cure separation anxiety.
Teach your dog to sit, lie down, and stay while you go out of sight for increasing periods of time. When you come back, reward your dog if they do not bark or cry. You should also train your dog to sit and wait to be greeted by guests, rather than jumping all over them.
We recommend that you spend time obedience training your dog. This shouldn’t be a once a week type-of-thing, it should be a regular part of their day. This approach lets your dog know what is expected of them, helping their good behaviour become a habit.
The last thing to do is get your dog active. Let them play with other dogs and give them puzzles to do throughout the day. Try different walking routes or take them to new, interesting parks. You may even want to enroll your dog in a reward-based training class to keep their body and mind active.
What Not to Do When Your Dog Barks?
While there are lots of things you can do to reduce or stop your dog from barking, there are also some things you shouldn’t do. Never scold or punish your dog. Anxious behaviour is not the result of disobedience, so you should never punish them for it. If you punish your dog for barking or anxious behaviour, it may only make them more upset.
If your dog does bark, do not reward them with your attention or treats. This will only encourage them to repeat the same behaviour in the future.
Additionally, never shout or ‘bark’ back at your dog. This makes your dog think you are talking to them and joining in on the fun, which will make barking even more attractive.
Some dogs get a kick out of barking, so do not allow them to continue doing so. Barking is not a problem that will usually resolve itself. In fact, if you simply ignore your dog’s barking they may turn to other more destructive or aggressive behaviours to get attention.
The first step to stop your dog barking when they are home alone, is to recognise the cause. You need to find the reason for their barking. Is it because they are anxious or are they territorial?
Once you have found the cause, you can begin to treat the problem. Control your dog’s environment and leave them in a nice, quiet place where they can rest. Make sure your dog is getting enough exercise and keep them mentally stimulated through obedience training and the use of toys.
Train your dog to become used to your absence. Slowly increase the time you are out of the house and never reward barking. Reward good behaviour and never punish your dog for anxious behaviour.
Solving your dog’s barking problem overnight is not going to happen. It will require patience and time on both you and your dog’s part.
Most modern dog training techniques involve giving a dog a reward when they carry out an action that we want. The reason this works so well is that dogs tend to do pretty much anything for a reward they want or need.
The desire for rewards or treats is what makes modern positive training methods better than old-school negative training methods. We can give a reward for behaviours we want and withhold a reward if they do not carry out the correct action.
The main problem is that it can be difficult to instantly reward a dog for the behaviour we want, and that’s where clicker training comes in.
Below, we have created a complete guide to clicker training for dogs and the pros and cons of clicker training. By the end of this article you should have all the information you need on how to clicker train a dog.
What Is Clicker Training for Dogs?
You have probably heard about clicker training, but what exactly is it? Clicker training is a positive reinforcement training method that was developed by marine mammal trainers (although, they use whistles instead of clickers because they can be heard underwater).
Marine mammal trainers had to use positive reinforcement methods to train their animals, as negative training techniques do not work with an animal that can simply swim away. The clicker or whistle tells the animal that the behaviour they are performing at that exact moment is correct and will earn them a reward.
In dog training circles the click sound is often referred to as an event marker. An event marker is a signal used to precisely indicate to a dog that they are carrying out the correct action at that very moment.
Without an event marker it is incredibly difficult to communicate this positivity at the right time. For example, rewarding your dog with a food treat after they have performed an action is almost certainly too late.
What Does an Event Marker Sound Like?
Well, apart from the obvious clicker sound that we have already discussed, an event market can be pretty much anything as long as it is clear and definite. Your dog needs to recognise the sound and match that to the behaviour they are currently conducting.
Event markers need to be incredibly clear and precise, and they shouldn’t be used at any other time. Long or complicated event markers can make your dog confused and they may even have the opposite effect.
If you are using your voice, something like “Yes” or “Good” are probably the best options for an event marker. The problem with these are that we often use them in other situations as well, which can be confusing to your dog.
You can select another word that is less commonly used, but we feel the best option is to use a clicker. The clicking sound is clear and your dog should not get it confused with other sounds or words.
While clicking sounds and words are most commonly used as event markers, other tools such as vibration collars or laser lights may be used for deaf dogs.
What Is a Clicker?
A clicker is a small mechanical device that fits into the palm of your hand. A clicking sound is produced from a small metal tongue that is located inside the device that can be initiated via a button.
Clickers are incredibly useful as they are small and portable, which means they can go everywhere with you. The clicking sound is also very distinctive and consistently the same, which is important for training purposes.
The reason why clicker training works so well is that dogs learn through consequences and rewards. When a dog completes an action there are three possible outcomes for them.
Things get better for them
Things get worse
Things stay the same
Everything your dog does will land in one of these three categories, whether you are training them or not. This is important because these categories will change the way your dog will behave in the future. If they do an action and things get better for them, they are more likely to do that same action in the future.
There is No Punishment
All dog trainers rely on some sort of consequence or reward to training a dog, and clicker training is no different in that regard. However, clicker training includes an active choice that avoids punishment.
Negative punishment is known to reduce bad behaviour, but there are a large number of downsides that make it a poor form of training. Training that involves negative punishment can lead to unwanted behaviour down the line and will make your dog less trusting of you.
We also know that dogs that receive no form of negative punishment learn faster and are less aggressive than those that do. You can read more about negative reinforcement dog training here.
How Clicker Training Can Reduce Bad Behaviour
As we wrote just above, training involves three different outcome categories. We know that clicker training is a great way to let dogs know that something good will happen to them, but what about the other two categories.
Negative reinforcement techniques often utilise the “things get worse” part, which is the one we want to avoid. Clicker training on the other hand makes use of the third of the three consequences “things stay the same and are unchanged”.
The benefit of this is that if things stay the same for your dog after they perform an action, they will be less likely to repeat the same behaviour in the future.
Making sure a dog does not get any rewards after bad behaviour is an important part of clicker training. It helps to train a dog quicker and will prevent bad habits from developing further.
In addition to this, clicker training gets the trainer to focus on good behaviours rather than trying to stop bad ones. This is important because dogs crave attention and any attention, whether it is good or bad, can be seen as a reward.
Focus on the Good, Not the Bad
When we train a dog we want to focus on the good things they do rather than the bad. For example, instead of trying to stop a dog from jumping up on people, you should reward them for keeping all four paws on the ground. Clicker training is excellent for this as it provides instant feedback.
So, How Do You Clicker Train a Dog?
Now that you know why clicker training is so effective and widely used, it is time to teach you how to implement it. But how do you do this? How will your dog associate the clicker with good things?
Before you can start using a clicker in regular training sessions, you need to prepare your dog for the clicker training experience. We do this through a process called ‘charging the clicker’.
What Is Charging the Clicker?
If you have decided that clicker training is for you and your dog, the first thing you need to do is make the clicking sound have a meaning. This means that you have to condition your dog to make them associate the clicker with a reward, which is usually but not exclusively a tasty treat.
Below we are going to show you how to charge the clicker in easy to follow steps. Once you successfully train your dog to use a clicker, the clicking sound alone is rewarding for your dog.
Training Your Dog to Respond to a Clicker
The first thing you need to do is find a nice quiet room or place where you can train together. The environment you are in needs to be free of distractions, so that your dog keeps their attention focused on you.
For the next step you need to have a container of treats with you and the clicker in your hand. Press the click and immediately throw your dog a treat. Once your dog has lost interest, repeat the same action.
Keep this up for several minutes, but make sure your dog is doing something different every time you click and throw them a treat. This is because you do not want your dog to associate the click with any other behaviour. You are focusing on the link between the clicking sound and the food reward.
Repeat this clicking and rewarding action about twenty times and then stop. Your dog will quickly learn that they will receive a treat after hearing a click. We recommend that you repeat this training process two or three times a day for a couple of days to really get the association ingrained into their mind.
How Is Clicker Training Used?
Once your dog associates the click with rewards you can begin to use it in other training sessions. For example, if you are training your dog to sit, click the clicker when they sit and give them a treat.
The great thing is that you don’t necessary have to reward your dog straight away. As the clicker is being charged through classical conditioning, your dog knows that they are going to be rewarded for their behaviour simply because the click was heard. All of the confusion is eliminated and your dog will learn quicker.
Clicker training can be used for almost anything. For example, you can click the exact moment your dog drops a ball, or when they fetch an item, or even when they go to the toilet. Clicker training can be used to stop your dog from pulling on their lead by rewarding them with a click when they are not pulling.
The great thing is that it doesn’t matter if the reward comes seconds after. Your dog will know that they are being rewarded as you marked the exact moment precisely. You can allow for a couple of seconds to pass between using the clicker to rewarding your dog, without worrying about whether they understand the reason for the reward.
When Is the Best Time to Use Clicker Training?
Clicker training is best used when you are teaching your dog a new command or behaviour. Once your dog has learnt the command or you are happy with their behaviour, you can begin to phase out the clicker completely. If you do not remove the clicker once your dog has completely learned a command, there is a danger they will only perform for the click and reward that follows.
Use the clicker to train a behaviour or command, and then start to use a cue word when the behaviour is performed. You can then take away the clicker and your dog should respond to the cue word.
Clicker training will not be used in everyday situations. It is a means to an end and that end is to train a behaviour.
Clicker Training Puppies
You may be wondering if you can clicker train a puppy and the answer is undoubtedly a yes! Puppies are ideal candidates for clicker training and you can start implementing it as soon as you get your puppy home. If you train your puppy to use a clicker at a young age, you can then use it for all the important commands later on down the track.
Clicker training is great for house training your dog as you can teach them to go to the toilet on command. You can also use clicker training when you are crate training your dog as well.
Does Clicker Training Work at a Distance?
One question you may be wondering is “does clicker training work at a distance?”. Can you use clicker training in a park or in a noisy environment? Does it work around other dogs? Surely it isn’t much use outside?
There are two factors that come into play here and they include:
The role of the clicker
The volume of the clicker (whether it is audible)
Your dog can almost certainly hear the clicker at a reasonable distance and they can be used outside. However, the role of the clicker is to mark good behaviour or events, not to get the dog to act. It is usually used in the initial stages of training, rather than at more advanced stages.
For example, once you have taught your dog to “come”, you should not need to use a clicker. Simply reward your dog when they return to you and leave it at that. Clicker training is used to teach the “come” command and the behaviour associated with it.
Clicker Training Pros and Cons
To wrap this article up we will finish off with the pros and cons of clicker training a dog. The benefits of clicker training are as follows:
You can do multiple repetitions of the same behaviour without your dog losing interest or motivation.
Your dog is working in a highly rewarding environment which encourages them to do better and try and please you.
Training sessions can last longer with positive reward based training methods.
Your dog will learn quicker because of the clicker. The clicker provides perfect timing which explains to your dog what was expected and what the perfect behaviour is.
It helps build a great relationship between a dog and their owner/handler.
Better than using a word as an event marker as the click is clear and concise, and won’t get confused with other things.
The most common negatives of clicker training are as follows:
Clicker training uses a reward based concept, so those with dogs that have low drive for rewards may have trouble. Some dogs aren’t driven by food rewards or games, so can be much harder to train with clicker training.
Clicker training requires are large amount of practice and precision. You need to time your clicks perfectly to match the action your dog is doing. If you do not, your dog may become confused and think that you are rewarding them for a different action.
Clicker training cannot be continuously used as a reward. Once your dog has learned a behaviour or command, clicker training needs to be faded out.
Concluding How to Clicker Train a Dog
Clicker training is often talked about and recommended in dog owner circles. Taking advantage of your dog’s desire for rewards is the fastest and best way of training a dog. You can start clicker training as soon as you get your puppy home and it can even be used for older dogs as well. This guide should give you all the answers you need to know about clicker training dogs. If you have any questions, leave a comment below.
Once you have brought your new puppy home you will want to start toilet training immediately. Puppies need to go to the toilet lots and successfully house training them depends on anticipating their needs. For many new dog owners, successfully toilet training a puppy can be a frustrating and lengthy process, especially if they have not received the right advice.
In this article we are going to give you all the information and guidance to toilet train a puppy quickly. We are going to look at when to start potty training a puppy, how to it, and how to deal with any of the inevitable problems you will face along the way.
Training a puppy to go to the toilet outside can be broken up into three different stages; learning where to go, learning self-control and independent toileting. We will be looking at each stage of the training process, so read on below.
This is a large guide to toilet training for dogs and puppies, so make sure you use the table of contents section below to find the sections you need.
What Is Involved with Toilet Training a Puppy?
Toilet training, potty training and house training are all pretty much the same thing. All of these terms are about teaching your puppy or dog to go to the toilet in the correct place, and be clean around the house. You want to train your puppy to go to the toilet outside as nobody likes to wake up to a nasty mess on their kitchen floor.
Why Is Toilet Training So Important?
This seems like a bit of a non-question, but there is a bit more to it than meets the eye. Some question the idea that it is necessary to have a structured toilet training process. They believe that dogs will potty train themselves naturally given the time.
While it is true that dogs will empty themselves as far away from their sleeping area as possible, it is best not to really on it. Many houses are too big and puppies will simply go to the toilet in a corner somewhere. Additionally, it is almost impossible to give your dog access to the outside at all times, so they need to be trained to keep it in until they can move into an appropriate area.
Puppies have little control over their small bladders, and they do not understand that there is a right and a wrong place to go to the toilet. They will simply move away from their bed and go, whether this is inside or outside.
If you do not toilet train your dog, you will probably find that they develop a habit of emptying themselves around the house. This means that you need to teach them where to go as soon as possible.
When Is The Best Time To Start Potty Training a Dog?
You should start toilet training your dog the moment you get them home. This will get them trained quicker and it is actually very important that you make an effort to avoid ‘accidents’ as well. Toilet training a puppy quickly will limit the number of times you have to clean up after them, which is a major bonus.
The Two Essential Keys To Toilet Training a Puppy
As we said above, young puppies have no idea where is the right or wrong place to go to the toilet. It is up to you to decide on an appropriate bathroom spot and train them to use it. You also need to teach them that it is not acceptable to go to the toilet anywhere inside your house.
To successfully train a puppy to go to the toilet in the right place there are two keys to success. You will find that these two pieces of advice are the same for any method or technique you will find:
Always praise your puppy for going to the toilet in the right place. Do it as often as possible and as many times as need be.
Try to prevent accidents from happening inside your home.
Taking your dog out to their designated toilet spot regularly throughout the day is a massive part of successfully house training a dog. This will give you lots of opportunities to praise them and they will be less likely to make mistakes in the house.
The second rule is just as important as the first. This is because puppies will naturally go to the toilet where they have gone before. It is better to prevent them from building up any history of going to the toilet in your house if possible.
Of course, sometimes you will not be able to take your new puppy out during the day. You may be at work that day and have to leave them for more than an hour or so. In this scenario you will need to let your puppy go to the toilet in your house, which is essentially breaking rule two. Don’t worry about this. We will be discussing ways to let your dog go to the bathroom indoors, while still ending up toilet trained.
How Long Does It Take to Toilet Train a Dog?
Toilet training can be both a quick and slow process. For some dogs it may take them a couple of months to get the hang of their bowels, while other puppies can be successfully trained in a couple of weeks.
We are going to show you three methods to toilet train a dog and we suggest you pick the one that will suit your lifestyle the best. The first method is to crate train your puppy, the second one is to train your dog to go to the toilet on newspaper or special pads and the third is constant supervision.
Why You Shouldn’t Give Your Puppy Access to The Whole House
Restricting your puppy’s access to your home until they are correctly trained is very important. It will speed up the training process and will limit where accidents may occur.
Before you let your dog have the full run of the house you need to convince them that your entire home is their den. Remember how we said dogs don’t like to go to the toilet near where they sleep or eat, well, you need to use this to your advantage when toilet training a puppy.
Doing this is so much easier if you initially restrict your puppy to a single room. Train them to keep that area clean before slowly expanding the areas they can go into. Dogs don’t see your home as one big place, but as a bunch of different places.
How You Should Approach the Toilet Training Process
Due to the fact that your puppy has absolutely no idea what you are asking them to do initially, you are an incredibly important part of the training process. It is up to you to teach them what is acceptable or not in an understandable, stress-free fashion.
The way you approach training can have a dramatic effect on how smoothly the process will go, and this is the same for all training. You need to be patient and understanding, yet firm and consistent with your puppy.
Equipment You May Need
We have created a list of items you may need for toilet training. Some of these items are specific to the method you are using while some are essential for both methods.
By the end of this toilet training guide for puppies you will be able to determine what equipment you need and what method you should use.
A suitable crate
Pet barriers, baby gates or a play pen
Old newspapers or puppy pads
Poo bags and something to pick up the poo
Plenty of cleaning products
Food for rewards
Tarpaulin or plastic sheets
Decide Upon an Appropriate Toilet Area
The first thing you are going to want to do is choose an appropriate area for your puppy to go to the toilet. You can even think about this before you get your new puppy home. Additionally, you want to prevent your puppy from going to the bathroom in the wrong place if possible.
At this early stage you want to restrict your puppy to a small area of your house. Try and choose a place that has washable floor as you are bound to end up with some accidents. We always choose the kitchen in our house as it has direct access to the outdoors (the toilet area) and has easily cleanable floors.
The first thing you want to do is develop a habit of taking your dog out to the designated toilet area as often as possible. Additionally, always make sure you take your puppy to the toilet after they have eaten, woken up, played or drunk.
Take note of how often your puppy goes to the toilet. You may notice that they have to pee every hour or so. Keep an eye on the clock and when you notice it is getting to about 50 minutes take your dog out to the toilet. Remember that your dog may be different so they might need to go to the toilet sooner or later than every hour.
Toilet training a puppy requires a bit of guess work and you are bound to make a few mistakes at the start. Don’t worry about these as you will soon get to know your dog’s natural toilet routine.
We recommend that you use an alarm to remind you when to take your dog out. Set it about ten minutes before they usually have to go to the toilet, as it is easy to forget to take them out.
Outside vs Inside Toilet Spots
We always recommend that you choose an outside toilet spot rather than an inside one unless you have a good reason not to. Outside toilet spots are easier for your puppy to understand and you will not have to worry about the smell as much.
However, some dogs suffer from mobility problems or live in high-rise buildings, where it is difficult to get outside quickly. In these circumstances you may have to settle for a bathroom spot inside rather than outside. Once your puppy has learnt some bladder control, you may be able to move training outdoors.
If you are using an indoor toilet spot you will need to use toilet pads or paper, otherwise there will be a nasty mess.
What Makes a Good Toilet Spot?
Many dog owners will let their dogs use the entire garden as a toilet, just as long as it’s outside. However, you may want to consider training your puppy to use one specific area every time.
If you let your dog use any old area in the yard it will be difficult to locate and pick up all of their excrement. Your dog’s urine may also cause ‘lawn burn’, which is where the grass turns brown and dies. Additionally, if your dog urinates or defecates close to a door or window it can cause quite a nasty smell to come wafting through your house.
Training your dog to use one specific area every time will be cleaner and more hygienic. Additionally, you will not have the problem of Nitrogen burned grass from your dog’s urine and it will be easier to keep the garden clean. However, if you plan to use a single spot make sure you regularly pick up what you can and keep the area as clean as possible.
How to Toilet Train a Puppy – Crate Training
This first method of using a crate to toilet train your puppy is excellent for those with a bit more time on their hands. If you can be with your dog for the first couple of weeks we suggest that you use this method.
Using a crate is the best way to prevent accidents from happing from the start and will make the training process faster. This method is laid out in two different sections:
As we wrote above, the first method we are going to look at is using a crate to toilet train a puppy. You need to learn to use a crate correctly before using one to toilet train your dog. We recommend that you check out this article from pet.co.nz to find out more about crate training.
It is important that you get your puppy familiar with a crate as soon as possible. Put it in an area of your house where people spend lots of time and let your dog explore it at their leisure. Some dogs will naturally start sleeping in a crate while others will require a bit more work.
Reward your dog with food for entering the crate and continue to give them treats when they stay inside. Once your dog shows no signs of fear or anxiety while in the crate, you can begin to confine them in there for short periods of time. Start out at one or two minutes and increase the time from there. Periodically reward your dog as they are confined in the crate and try and leave the room a few times.
Once your dog can stay in the crate for around 30 minutes you can leave them in there for short periods of time when you go out. If you are feeling confident, you can also try and let your dog sleep in their crate at night.
Make sure you do not appear too excited when you return to your puppy. Excitement can cause your dog to become more anxious over when you will return. Additionally, continue to crate your dog when you are around to prevent them from associating crating with being left alone.
Remember to Reward Your Dog
If you take your puppy to the toilet often, they will soon begin to learn where the designated toilet area is. They will happily empty themselves there when they are taken. To reinforce this, make sure you reward your dog with a treat after they have gone to the toilet.
Learn Self Control
As your dog gets older and more familiar with the toilet routine, they will begin to develop some self-control. Initially, they may be able to hang on for a few minutes before going to the toilet and with time this will increase.
However, always remember to regularly take your dog to the toilet as you do not want them to have an accident inside your house. Many new dog owners become less consistent with taking their puppies out once they start to develop a bit of self-control. If this happens, simply return to shorter periods between toilet trips and then slowly increase the time from there.
Try to supervise your dog as their bladder starts to full or when it is getting close to toilet time. You can use a crate to increase the amount of time between toilet trips as your puppy will try not to wee in their own bed. However, remember to not make them wait too long as accidents can still happen.
Increase The Time Between Toilet Tips and Open Up Your House
Now that your dog has begun to learn a bit of self-control you can continue to increase the time between toilet trips. Additionally, try and introduce your dog to other parts of your house, but try to keep them off carpeted areas. Do this one room at a time and continue to take your dog to the toilet regularly.
If accidents occur, go back to shorter gaps between toilet trips. Don’t worry if your dog has one or two accidents, but don’t let it grow into a habit. If your dog does wee on the carpet, make sure you clean it up immediately and remove any smell.
How Effective Is Toilet Training with a Crate?
Using a crate to house train your puppy is probably the most effective out of all three methods we are looking at today. Puppies will learn the correct behaviour quicker than the other techniques we will discuss below and you will probably find there will be less accidents along the way.
The crate training technique requires a little bit more work than paper training, but we still recommend it for most dog owners. However, if are at work all day we do not recommend this method as you should not leave your puppy in a crate all day.
How to House Train a Puppy – Paper Training
We’ve talked about using a create to toilet train your puppy above, now it is time to look at the second method. Puppies can’t be left in crates for too long as they need to regularly go to the toilet and they need company.
Paper or pad training a puppy is arguably the most common method for house training a dog. It is a great method if you can’t be at home all day to look after your new puppy.
Paper training involves teaching your puppy to go to the toilet on a wide area of pre-treated puppy pads or newspaper. You will want to place the pads or paper in a smallish room with washable floors (hint, your dog will miss the pads at the start). If you do not have an area like this in your home, you should purchase a play pen such as this one to contain them.
Equipment You Will Need
You can purchase puppy pads or we suggest you simply use an old stack of newspapers if you have some lying about.
How to Paper Train a Puppy?
Paper training is a simple process. Cover an area of the floor with pads or paper to begin with and encourage your dog to go to the toilet there.
Once your dog becomes more used to emptying their bladder on the paper, slowly cut the covered area down until they reliably use just a couple of sheets. You should find that your dog makes an effort to go to the toilet on the covered area, but it needs to start off large to get this behaviour started.
The next step is to slowly move the covered area towards the outside. You should find that your puppy begins to develop some self-control over their bladder. Encourage them to go to the toilet outside and move the paper outside as well.
If you are leaving your puppy inside for an extended period of time you should still use a pad, even when they start to get a bit more control over their bladder. Once they begin to get full control over their bladder and they have been taught to go to the toilet outside, you can eliminate the pads or paper from the equation.
One tip with this technique is that when you clean away the paper, keep one piece and place it in the middle of the new pile of papers. This will keep a slight scent of your puppy’s urine, which will attract them to the area. If you are using puppy pads you shouldn’t need to worry about this as most of them come pre-scented.
How Effective is Paper Training?
While paper training isn’t going to be fast as using a crate to house train your dog, it is still a very effective method. Paper training takes longer because you essentially train your puppy to go to the toilet inside and then re-train them to go outside.
You are also more likely to experience accidents with this method and you may come home to shredded paper or pads (like our Daisy liked to do when she was a puppy).
Still, if you are somebody who is out of the house for extended periods of time, this will be the best method for you to use. Paper training your dog is still helpful for those who want to use the crate method as you never know when you may have to leave your puppy for extended periods of time.
It is also a more passive method of toilet training, which is a plus for many dog owners. It requires less effort than any of the other methods in this article, but you will need to spend a bit of time cleaning up accidents along the way.
Why You Should Paper Tran Your Dog Just in Case
We feel it is always a good idea to paper train your puppy, even if you plan to use one of the other two methods in this guide. This is because depending on your dog’s age, it may be physically impossible for them to hold on for more than a few hours.
Even if you plan to never leave your dog for more than an hour or so, there is bound to be times when you have to leave your dog alone for much longer. You should plan for this not to happen, but you should be prepared if it does.
This means that you should paper train your dog as a backup solution. If you are crate training your dog you cannot leave them inside the crate all day, so it may be best to leave them in a smallish room with paper for them to go to the toilet on.
While we still feel that crate training is still the most efficient solution, paper training is useful for the odd occasion you are not home. Many dog owners use a combination of the two methods to get the best results with the least amount of mess.
How to Toilet Train Your Puppy – Constant Supervision
If you are home all the time you can try and constantly supervise your dog. You will need to work out your puppy’s toilet schedule and take them outside when they show signs that they need to go. We recommend that you set an alarm like we described in the crate training method.
What Equipment Do I Need?
Absolutely nothing. You are simply taking your dog outside when they need to go to the toilet and that’s it.
How Effective is this Method?
This really depends on how committed you are and how much time you can spend with your puppy. It is obviously not going to work if you have to go out for extended periods of time, but it is ok for those who are always home.
The problem is that no matter how good your intentions are, you will almost certainly let your guard down. It also doesn’t take advantage of your puppy’s natural instinct to not go to the toilet where they sleep, like crate training.
For this reason, it is not as effective as crate training and paper training will probably be better for the majority of dog owners. Constantly supervising your puppy can be quite tiring and you need to always be ready to take action, which is why we do not recommend this method for most dog owners.
How About a Combination of All Three?
In reality, combining all the three methods above is the best way to house train a dog. This will give you the best outcome and will get your puppy toilet trained quickly.
Crate Training is the most effective and quickest method, so we recommend using it if you can. Teaching your dog to use a crate also has a raft of other benefits which will help future training. It also uses your dog’s own natural instinct to quickly teach your dog where not to go to the toilet.
Paper training is helpful because you can’t always be there for your puppy and young dogs have almost no control over their bladder. While paper training isn’t nearly as effective as crate training, it is a great back up plan if you have to leave the house for extended periods of time. This why we recommend using it in addition to crate training.
You should be constantly supervising your dog when possible to prevent accidents from occurring. We don’t recommend contestant supervision on its own, but we do feel it is an important part of house training your dog. You should always be watchful and ready to prevent accidents from occurring in the first place.
Can You Toilet Train a Puppy in One Week?
Owning a puppy is great, however, cleaning up their accidents is not. Toilet training can be a frustrating, messy process, so naturally there are plenty of people out there who want to get their dogs trained as quickly as possible.
There are plenty of articles and guides out there that say they can get your puppy toilet trained in a week or even a couple of days, but are they telling the truth. Is house training your puppy in less than a week even possible?
In one-word no, toilet training your dog in seven days or less is not possible, but there is a bit more to it than that. A dog is not completely house trained until they can wait at least a couple of hours between toilet trips, understand where the toilet area is and try not to wee in your house if you are late home.
Many people tend to think that they have successfully toilet trained their puppy when they have not had an accident for a few days. However, a dog is usually completely house trained at around five to six months.
Quick success with toilet training is usually a case of good management and a puppy that has some control over their bladder. It takes much longer for a puppy to develop complete control over their bladder and learn where they can and cannot go to the toilet.
Help! My Dog is Pooping and Peeing in the House!
Accidents can and will occur, however, repeated accidents can set your training back. As we have already stated, dogs like to pee where they have peed before so you need to keep accidents to a minimum.
If you do find that your dog is weeing or pooing in the house, you need to take action straight away. This isn’t because your dog is being naughty, they simply haven’t learnt to control their bladder yet.
If you find that your dog is going to the toilet inside, you need to do a couple of things:
Always clean up mistakes thoroughly and remove any odour.
Increase the amount of times you take your dog out to the toilet throughout the day.
Your dog’s bladder is small and they do not have much control over it so you need to take them out regularly. Additionally, a puppy has a short memory, so they need to be reminded frequently where their designated toilet area is.
If you do not clean up accidents quickly and thoroughly, your dog will probably learn to go in the same place again. This is because dogs love to go to the toilet where they have been before, especially if the scent is still around.
How to Extend the Time Between Toilet Breaks
We have already talked about how dogs need regular toilet breaks, but how do you go about extending the time between them. While all puppies are different a rough rule of thumb is that an eight week old puppy needs to go every 30 minutes, at 10 weeks every 45 minutes and so on from there.
We talked about setting an alarm to let you know when to take your dog to the toilet earlier in this article, and that will be helpful when you want to increase the time between breaks. Increase the time between toilet breaks by five minutes every four or five days.
If you find that your dog starts having accidents, dial back the time a bit and repeat the process again.
Slowly increasing the time between toilet breaks will teach your puppy the necessary bladder control to get them successfully house trained. Additionally, as your puppy gets older their bladder size increases and they will naturally gain more control over their bladder.
Below we have listed a guide to how often you should take your puppy to the toilet up:
8 weeks old – every 30 minutes
10 weeks old – every 45 minutes
12 weeks old – every 1 to 1.5 hours
16 weeks old – every 2 hours
20 weeks old – every 3 hours.
By the time your dog is five to six months old they should be capable of holding on for around four hours.
How to Tell If Your Dog Is About to Go to The Toilet
While we recommend you set an alarm to remind you to take your dog to the toilet, you should also be observant of your puppy’s behaviour. There are a number of signs you should be on the lookout for:
Pacing or circling around an area
Barking and/or whining
Moving towards or scratching the door to the outside
Leaving the room or heading to a hidden spot away from their bedding
Biting or naughty behaviour
Any time you notice these signs you should take your dog to the toilet. While many of them can signal something totally different, you don’t want to risk a nasty mess on your floor.
Puppies will tend to display one or more of these behaviours before going to the toilet. However, remember that all dogs are different so it is important to learn your puppy’s particular behaviour patterns.
Predicting When Your Puppy Needs to Go
There is no sure-fire way to predict exactly when a puppy needs to go to the toilet, but you should expect about three to six poops a day and many more pees. Additionally, you can use your puppy’s activity schedule to work out when they might need to go to the toilet.
Puppies will tend to go to the toilet after the following:
Soon after eating or drinking
Immediately after playtime
Immediately after they get any excitement
When they wake up in the morning or after a nap
Before going to bed
How to Train a Dog to Go to The Toilet On Command
While this is not an essential part of house training a dog it can be an incredibly useful command to teach your dog. It can be helpful in situations where you do not have much time or right before bed time.
Each time your puppy goes to the toilet in the designated toilet area, you can use a cue or special word. It doesn’t really matter what you use as long as it is quick to say. For example, we say “be quick” to our dogs in an upbeat sort of way.
However, remember to be consistent with this word. There is no point in training your dog to use this command if you are constantly switching words around. If you have multiple people in your house make sure they all use the same word.
After a couple of weeks, you will find that your dog begins to associate the word with the action of going to the toilet. When you say the word your dog will get the urge to go to the bathroom. Always praise and reward your dog for doing this as it will further reinforce the command.
In a couple of months, most puppies will have learnt to go to the toilet on command with this simple training technique.
Note: Do not use a word for your toilet command that gets used at other times. For example, if you use something like ‘hurry up’, you may accidentally use it when leaving the house and things could get messy. We like to use be quick because we don’t usually say it to our dogs.
Why You Should Train Your Dog to Use a Collar and Lead Early
Toilet training can be made much easier if you train your dog to use a lead and collar at an early age. Some dog owners like to pick up their puppy to take them out or just let them walk by themselves, but this can become a problem later on.
When you first get your puppy home they will probably go to the toilet as soon as you take them outside for the first couple of weeks. However, as your dog gains more control over their bladder they will want to play when you take them to the toilet.
Training your dog to use a collar and lead will mean you can keep them close until they have finished. If you don’t do this you could be waiting while your dog plays and investigates all the interesting smells, sights and sounds.
You should start training your dog to use a collar and lead as soon as you get them home. Delaying lead and collar training will just put them back and make other training more difficult. Cesarsway has a good introduction to puppy lead training which we recommend you check out.
How to Take Your Puppy to The Toilet Spot
In a perfect world you would open the back door and your puppy would quickly go to the toilet in the right spot and return to you. However, we are not in a perfect world and your puppy will probably want to play and investigate the environment when they get outside.
As we recommend above, you should train your dog to use a lead and collar as early as possible, so that you can keep them close when you take them to the toilet. This will stop them wandering off and as soon as they have emptied themselves you can take them back inside.
You should also use your toilet command or cue word when you take them outside. Remember to say this word before you take them to the toilet and when they are in the act. They will soon learn what this word means and what they need to do. Saying the word every time will lead to faster results and less waiting around outside.
Stay with your puppy when you get to the toilet spot. If you are using a lead then you will obviously be close to your puppy, so this is for those who choose not to use one. Failing to stay near your puppy while they are going to the toilet will only make them more anxious to return to you. Their anxiety may make your puppy take longer or they may not go to the toilet at all.
Do not distract your puppy. Once you get to the toilet spot, don’t do or say anything that may distract your dog. Be as uninteresting as you can possibly be until they start to do their business, then you can praise and reward your dog.
Rewarding and praising your puppy will show them that you are happy with what they are doing, and that they are doing the right thing. A reward can be anything from playtime, to food to cuddles, so remember to mix it up.
What If My Puppy Just Doesn’t Want to Go?
You are probably going to come across and the first thing we recommend is making sure you are spending enough time outside with them.
Many dog owners will take their puppies outside for a minute or two and then come back inside. This is simply not enough time, as a dog will not go until they are ready to do so.
Some people recommend that you stay outside for as long as it takes whether it is 5, 10 or 15 minutes, and then reward them once they have relieved themselves.
We feel that waiting more than five minutes is probably a waste of time. If your dog hasn’t gone in five minutes, they probably aren’t ready to empty themselves yet.
While you are outside, say the toilet command every 30 seconds or so and don’t do anything else. Just stand there holding their lead, so they cannot move away.
If your puppy doesn’t relieve themselves within five minutes, bring them back indoors and then closely supervise them. Keep a look out for any signs (like we discussed earlier) that they may want to go to the toilet. Take them to the toilet spot again 10 minutes later to see if they want to go.
For those using crate training: Put your puppy back in their crate and leave them for around 10 minutes. Once ten minutes is up or they start to show signs of needing to go to the toilet, take them outside again. Do not leave them in the crate for too long as they may be forced to soil themselves in it. Avoid this at all costs if possible.
For those using paper training: Bring your puppy back in and confine them to an area that has paper or puppy pads. Then take your dog outside again after ten minutes or when they start to show signs of needing to go.
Remember to not take your eyes off your puppy as you may have just brought them back in with a full bladder.
How to Toilet Train a Puppy at Night
Young puppies will usually not be capable of lasting all night without going to the toilet. However, some lucky owners may find that their puppies can last six or seven hours before needing to go to the toilet at night. For most puppies around eight to ten weeks old you should expect them to last around four hours before needing to empty themselves during the night.
The reason for this is that a dog’s body slows down during the night and they do not need to go to the toilet as often.
Remember to take your puppy to the toilet right before they go to bed so they can empty their bladder. We then recommend that you set an alarm for about four hours after their bed time and then take them to the toilet.
If your puppy has made a mess in this time, you should set your alarm slightly earlier for the next night. Increase this time by 15 minutes every successful night where your puppy has not had an accident.
While it is a pain to wake up in the middle of the night to let your puppy go to the toilet, it is necessary for house training purposes. Luckily, the time that your puppy can hold on for overnight will increase rapidly. By around 10 weeks you will probably find that your puppy can last around seven hours without needing to go to the bathroom. However, not all puppies are the same, so yours may be capable of lasting longer or shorter.
Puppies that are 16 weeks and older should be capable of lasting a full night, especially if you do not feed them for 3 hours prior to bed time. Always remember to let your dog go to the toilet before bed time as well.
Using this method of gradually increasing the time between toilet breaks at night will limit the number of accidents that occur. There will be a couple of inevitable accidents along the way, but don’t worry about these.
What to Do When You Take Your Puppy to The Toilet at Night
As hard as it may seem, night-time toilet trips are not a time to play with your new puppy. You need to teach your puppy that night-time is for sleepy and not cuddles or playtime.
When your alarm goes off, quickly take your dog outside and say the toilet command. When your dog goes to the toilet, praise them and say the command again to reinforce it. Following this, simply take your puppy back inside and put them to bed. Do not make a fuss of them and avoid any games.
If you start playing or cuddling your puppy at night you will soon come to regret it!
For Those Using Crate Training
Letting your puppy go potty in their crate is a big no-no. If your puppy is forced to go to the toilet in their crate it can ruin their natural instinct to keep it clean. Your puppy’s natural instinct of keeping their crate clean is the single biggest advantage of that method.
The odd accident is fine, but if it starts to happen more than once in a given week you need to progress slower. If your puppy does make a mess in their crate, set your alarm back 30 or 45 minutes and move from there.
Try and add 15 minutes every two days instead of every one. Additionally, you may want to forgo the crate at night and simply use an exercise pen or a small room. You can then place paper or puppy pads down on the floor, so that your dog can empty themselves there if they really have to. Keeping your dog’s natural instinct to keep their crate clean is incredibly important.
Puppy Toilet Training While Working Full Time
The reality for most of us is that we have to work full time or be out of the house for extended periods of time. This means that we have to leave our puppies for quite a while between toilet breaks.
If this is you, you need not worry. We have touched on this earlier in the article but we thought it deserved its own section.
For those that want to use or are using crate training, you cannot leave your dog in the crate for an extended period during the day. Your dog will be forced to empty their bowels in the crate, which will be upsetting for them and will ruin the crates power as a toilet training tool.
Some families or people may be able to enlist the help of other people or work out a schedule so somebody can be home at all times of the day. However, this isn’t possible for everyone but we recommend that you give it your best shot.
With that in mind, what if you simply can’t get anyone to help or everyone is out for the day?
Confine Your Puppy
We don’t mean confine your puppy in their crate, but in a much larger space. We recommend somewhere like a kitchen with hard, easily cleanable floors. If you don’t have a room like this, we recommend using an exercise pen or a baby gate to lock off an area of your house.
For those who plan to use an exercise pen, make sure you place their bedding, toys and a water bowl in there.
Additionally, confining your puppy to an area of the house will keep them safer. Puppies and adult dogs can get themselves into all sorts of trouble if they are left alone in the house. Keeping them in one area means that you have control over everything they have access to.
Use Paper Training
In the confined area or exercise pen you should place some paper or puppy pads, so that your dog can go to the toilet on them. This is why we recommend you train your dog to use paper or pads, as it should stop them from going to the toilet in places you do not want them to. Additionally, it will be much easier to clean up when you get home.
What If I Find an Accident but Didn’t Catch My Puppy in The Act?
If you find a wee or poo, but didn’t see your dog doing it, there is nothing you can do about it. Do not try and punish your dog or get angry at them. Your puppy will not be able to connect your displeasure with going to the toilet in the wrong place.
Getting angry at your puppy may encourage them to start eating their own poo as a means to hide it. Additionally, they may try to go to the toilet in a secret place to keep it hidden from you.
If you do stumble across an accident on the floor, simply clean it up and move on. Remember to also check your schedule to see why the accident may have occurred. Are you leaving your dog too long? Or are you not taking them out to the toilet after they have had dinner? If so, correct these mistakes or reduce the time between toilet breaks to prevent any accidents from occurring.
Food and Water Are an Important Part of House Training
While you may not think it at first, food and water has an incredibly important role when it comes to toilet training a dog. After all, what goes in must come out!
You need to select a food product that suits the breed and age of your dog. Food is something you shouldn’t cheap out on and higher quality dog food products have their benefits.
High quality food can result in less bowel movements. Interestingly, higher quality food products will almost certainly result in fewer number 2s. This is because lower quality food is harder to digest and is full of cheap fillers that pass through your dog’s digestive system quicker. Higher quality food is more easily digested and more nutrients get absorbed from the food, which will result in fewer stools throughout the day.
High quality food has a higher nutritional value. A higher nutritional value food product is better for growing puppies and adult dogs alike. It will lead to less health complications down the track and your dog will thank you for it.
High quality food can help your dog last longer. As it takes longer for high quality food to be digestive, your dog’s stools will be firmer, which can help teach your dog bowel control. Firmer stools will also be easier to clean up than soft or liquid ones.
Don’t Change Dog Food Brands
Well, within reason. If you really have to change the food you feed your dog then go ahead, but there is a good reason why we suggest you keep the same one.
Dramatic or constant changes in a dog’s diet can often cause diarrhea or loose stools. Your puppy may simply not be capable of holding it in, which is obviously a bad thing when it comes to house training.
Pick a good, high quality dog food that is nutritionally complete for your dog. You may want to select the same one that your puppy’s breeder is using or you may want use one that is recommended by your vet. Changing once is usually fine, but if you are selecting a new dog food every week or two than problems will begin to appear.
Feed Your Puppy to a Schedule
If you feed your puppy at the same time every day they will begin to develop a toilet pattern. They will go to the toilet at roughly the same time every day, which makes house training a lot easier.
Base your schedule around the times you feed your puppy. Your puppy will soon learn your schedule and will try and hold on until a toilet break.
Additionally, you should not free feed your dog. This is where you leave food out for your puppy all day and they can come and pick it up at any time during the day.
If your puppy eats at random times they will need to poop at random times as well, making it impossible to create a solid schedule. With no predictable pattern it will be much harder to toilet train your dog.
Remember to always stick to a feeding schedule. Whether that be twice or three times a day at set times. It is often recommend to feed a young puppy three times a day until they get older and then you can move to twice a day.
What About Water?
Unlike food, you should certainly not limit your dog’s water to two or three times a day. Your puppy should have water freely available to them throughout the day. Remember to monitor their intake of water to see if they are drinking too much or too little.
The only time you may want to restrict water is for a couple of hours before bedtime. If your dog drinks too much before they go to bed, you are probably going to wake up to lots of little puddles all around the place. However, when we have house trained our dogs we have never worried about restricting water and we have never run into a problem.
A Toilet Training Checklist
Before you get your puppy home, you should make a checklist to make sure you have everything you need to toilet train your dog. If your already have your puppy don’t worry, it’s never too late to make one.
We’ve created an example checklist that you can use if you want. This is just a simple guide so chop and change it as you see fit:
Decided upon an appropriate bathroom spot
Decided when you will feed your dog and the food product you will be giving them
Purchased a collar and lead
Trained your dog to use a collar or lead, or are in the process of training
Selected the appropriate training method. We recommend using a combination of all three, but sometimes this is not possible
Purchased a crate and bedding
Purchased an exercise pen or chosen a place of confinement
Decided on any commands or cues if you will be using them
Purchased puppy pads or have old newspapers on hand
Bought a tarpaulin or protective sheet to use under the crate or exercise pen
Purchased some dog treats
Worked out a plan with your family and friends, or those in your house
Purchased cleaning products and stain removers
How to Know When to Stop Toilet Training?
The simple answer is when your dog stops having accidents in the house. However, as we discussed earlier there is a bit more to it than that.
While your puppy may not have had any accidents recently, it does not mean they are house trained. Most dogs can be house trained by about five to six months, but some may take longer than that.
A toilet training dog should be capable of lasting at least four hours without needing to go to the bathroom. You need to watch your dog’s behaviour and only stop when you know you can trust them.
Mistakes can set you back, so avoid them at all costs.
The odd accident is bound to happen but you should avoid them at all costs. Many dog owners become complacent too early and give their puppies too much freedom. This leads to accidents which can set you back a couple of weeks.
Stick to your plan and slowly increase the time between toilet breaks, always reverting back to a shorter time if an accident does occur. Don’t every punish your dog or rush them at any point.
We recommend that you keep on house training your dog as normal until they haven’t made a mistake for around six to eight weeks. This will ensure they are trained and you can trust them.
Summing Up How to House Train a Puppy
As you can see there is quite a lot of information to take in about toilet training a puppy. You need to keep accidents to a minimum and make sure you heavily reward your dog for doing the right thing. The more you do this, the quicker they will learn.
Always keep an eye out for your dog’s behaviour and if you notice any changes take them to the bathroom spot as soon as possible.
Remember to keep a schedule and make sure you feed your dog at the same time of the day every day. Take them out to the toilet regularly and take into account your puppy’s capabilities, age and natural instinct.
Toilet training is probably one of the lest enjoyable parts about owning a dog, but it is incredibly important. This guide should cover everything you need to know about house training a puppy, so make sure you share it with anyone who may need it if you get the chance.