MJ Stokes

Author Archives: MJ Stokes

MJ Stokes is a freelance writer, editor and dog lover. They have previously written canine content for several sites including Wag!Walking. MJ shares their life with their five-year-old rescue whippet-greyhound cross Joe, master of physical comedy and definitely a sprinter, not a marathon runner.  MJ brings well-researched content to the dog community.

The Best Apartment Dogs for Your Lifestyle

So you live in an apartment, but you’re searching for a furry friend to share your life with. What breed is best for your smaller space? And how are you going to hide your new dog from your landlord?

We can’t help you with the second question (hopefully you’ve found a pup-friendly place), but we can definitely answer the first.

When an apartment dwelling first-time dog owner googles this question, they can be bombarded with hundreds of long lists of breeds, each entry usually consisting of a cute photo and all the important considerations that can fit into a 240 character limit.

But what makes a good apartment dog, really? And can any dog be a great flatmate with the right kind of training?

The answer, of course, is yes and no. A dog is most certainly a product of their owner’s training, and you’d be surprised how many breeds will happily live in a small space when you make a conscious effort to meet their needs.

However, different breeds are going to learn different things at different rates. Because of this, the most important thing to think about when choosing an apartment dog is your lifestyle.

We’ll get to how to choose a puppy based on your own behaviour, but first, let’s get some basics out of the way.

Nature vs nurture: Breeds and their quirks

With careful and consistent training, any dog can become a happy and obedient member of a pack, and many breeds have an undeserved poor reputation.

Just ask any devoted pit bull owner, and you’ll be treated to a (usually quite long and somewhat frustrated) explanation of how a buddy bred for fighting can become a loving family companion.

But humans have been breeding dogs for millennia, and some traits are difficult to dissipate. Jack and Wendy Volard, veteran trainers and authors of Dog Training for Dummies, counsel owners who run into training roadblocks to think about whether a dog was bred for the behaviour you’re trying to instill or remove.

If your pup has been bred for hunting, it’s going to take some time to correct a tendency to chase after squirrels!

In the Volard’s view, there are three types of drives harnessed and developed by dog breeders:

The Prey Drive: This governs different behaviours involved with hunting and eating. Prey-drive behaviours include biting, jumping, pouncing, digging and high-pitched barking. Hounds, retrievers and terriers have all been bred to enhance their prey drive, and it might take some time for them to learn to keep quiet and stay off the couch.

The Defence Drive: This is all to do with guarding behaviours. Defence drive behaviours include touch aversion, growling, hackling, guarding toys and food, or blocking doors and objects. German Shepherds, Rottweilers and Dobermans have all been bred to enhance their defence drive, and it could take a while to get them comfortable with strangers or cool with crowds.

The Pack Drive:  Pack drive behaviours are all to do with socialising, reproducing and following the rules, and these are generally behaviours you want to encourage in your dogs. Play, a desire for physical contact, and submission are all pack drive behaviours.

Sounds wonderful, right? Maybe not!

Dogs bred for high pack drive behaviours are often quite prone to separation anxiety. Toy dogs and breeds such as pugs and King Charles Spaniels were bred for their pack drive -- and it’s going to take quite a bit of training to get them comfortable with being left alone.

Your training is responsible for your pup’s behaviour -- but you’ll need to work harder on certain areas with certain breeds.

Size doesn’t matter (or at least not as much as you think)

Let’s state the obvious: you can’t keep a Newfoundland in a studio (for the sake of your belongings if nothing else -- those wagging tails can clear a coffee table in two seconds flat). But it’s unfortunate that many letting agents and landlords set a breed size restriction, because some larger dogs can do very well in small spaces, and some smaller breeds just aren’t suitable for certain kinds of owners.

The most important thing is to avoid what is commonly known as Small Dog Syndrome. Shi Tzus and Chihuahuas are sometimes slandered as yappy holy horrors, but this is usually due to a misconception among owners that small pups don’t need as much training as their larger brothers and sisters. Make no mistake -- your puppy may be kitten sized, but they are definitely not a cat. A Maltese needs as much training as a Doberman, but you’ll need to focus on removing or enhancing different behaviours.

While some breeds might just be physically too large for a small space, size should not be your sole consideration.

So what should you be taking into account when choosing the perfect pup for you? Here are some of the questions you should be asking yourself.

How much time do you have to train?

Here’s something that almost no-one tells new pet owners -- it will take longer to train a dog if you live in an apartment than it would if you had a backyard.

This is particularly true when it comes to toilet training. Unless you’re prepared to spend hours of your life running up and down stairs, you’re probably going to need to teach your puppy to use pee-pads or grass mats, as well as to let it all go outside. That’s two different commands for your puppy to get down, and that’s a lot to take in when they’re so little!

Toilet training is the most obvious thing you’ll need to spend more time on, but it’s definitely not the only one. It’s likely that leash training will take a while longer if you need to go to the park for lessons, and recall commands can prove a challenge if the apartment is small enough.

If you don’t have a lot of time to train, some companion breeds won’t be suitable for you, as these dogs are not bred for intelligence. King Charles Spaniels are often listed as one of the best apartment pups out there, but they are, to put it very charitably, not the brightest buttons in the box, and they’ll take longer to pick up commands.

Daschunds, another highly recommended apartment breed, are very intelligent, as are terriers and miniature pinschers. However, greater intelligence often comes with a greater need for stimulation. Hunters in general are quite bright, but you’ll need to put more effort into training out unsuitable prey drive behaviours.

Daschunds, greyhounds and terriers are all a good bet for people who don’t have a lot of time to train.

Looking for more toilet training tips? Check out our Toilet Training Guide.

What kind of exercise can you offer?

Almost all apartment dwellers in search of a pup do take exercise time into consideration when choosing their dog, but the quality of exercise is just as important as the quantity.

As the proud owner of a wonderful whippet, I am most certainly biased, but greyhounds, lurchers and whippets do make great apartment dogs for owners who don’t have a lot of time to exercise. I call Joe the Whippet the hundred-mile-an-hour couch potato. When I take Joe’s leash off, he generally proceeds straight to the sofa, which he then flops on to like a Victorian lady swooning on to her fainting couch. He’ll probably stay there for the rest of the evening, perhaps taking it into his head to play with his toy kangaroo in a few hours if he feels like it (yes, I bought Joe a joey, because I am ridiculous).

This is not because Joe is a diva (though during training he did have his moments) but because whippets, greyhounds and lurchers are all bred for speed, not distance. Forty-five minutes to an hour of exercise and all they want to do is cuddle for the rest of the day.

So are whippets the way to go when you’re pressed for time? Not so fast! Joe and his skinny cousins need a small amount of very high-intensity exercise. If I didn’t live close to an area where I could let him lose his leash, Joe would be a very unhappy pup. A short walk around the block just won’t do it -- they need to run.

If you don’t have a nearby place where your furry friend can run free, consider getting a French Bulldog. These adorable lumps are satisfied with a brisk walk around the neighbourhood per day. However, keep in mind that they are a companion breed, and are likely to need a lot of time and attention.

Do you lead a fairly active lifestyle? If you take your buddy on a ten-mile hike every weekend, you might be able to get away with shorter weekday walks.

Whippets, greyhounds and lurchers don’t need a lot of time to exercise, but it needs to be intense. French Bulldogs and daschunds can do with a moderate amount of low intensity exercise.

The quality of exercise is as important as the quantity. Think about what kind of parks and facilities you have in your area before you decide on a breed.

How thick are your walls?

Here’s the thing -- most puppies are going to bark. This is because they’re trying to alert you to danger, and, well, they haven’t learned which things are dangerous yet. The sound of a car door closing could set them off, because it’s loud and new and scary!

When you’re sharing a wall, floor and ceiling with your neighbours, this can quickly become a problem. Fortunately, barking is one of the easier things to train out of your pup! You just need to show them that what they’re barking at is nothing to worry about. Online training expert Doggy Dan has a Three Bark Rule:

  1. For the first bark, simply look at whatever the puppy is looking at, then look away.
  2. For the second bark, walk over to where the puppy is looking, and then move away.
  3. For the third bark, put your pup into a time-out or isolation.

Keep calm all the while to show your pup that the situation is under control. They’ll soon get the message!

But of course, hunters such as terriers and beagles are more likely to bark, and there’s likely only so much your neighbours can take before your puppy stops the behaviour.

I do feel that I need to offer a strong defence on behalf of the much-maligned Yorkshire terrier. Yes, they are terrible barkers, but they’re also very smart and can pick up training quickly.

For more on barking and Doggy Dan’s methods, check out our Puppy Training Guide.

Companion dogs are more likely to bark for attention. Which brings us neatly to...

Are you away for most of the day?

Bichon Frise, French Bulldogs, King Charles Spaniels and Havanese all exhibit strong pack drives. While they’re less prone to destructive behaviour, they are more prone to separation anxiety.

Being alone is not a natural state of being for a pack animal, and this goes double for companion breeds.

You can train separation anxiety out of a dog. Cesar Milan, the Dog Whisperer, suggests doing this by building up to separation slowly, starting with a few minutes at a time. You can also drain your puppy’s energy with intense play before you leave, or use a white noise machine or pheromone dispenser to calm them down.

But on the first few long separations, your puppy may cry or bark, and this can be difficult for your neighbours to deal with. Not only that, but you won’t be there to deal with the behaviour.

Doggy daycare is another option, but apartment dwellers who work long hours should think very carefully before getting a companion breed.

Anxious about separation anxiety? Take a look at our Separation Anxiety Guide.

Are there breeds that should never be kept in an apartment?

Think very carefully before getting a collie or other herding dog. They’re bred to patrol large areas, and often don’t do well in small spaces.

FAQ -Best Apartment Dogs

What breed of dog can be left alone during the day?

Hunters take particularly well to being left alone during the day. Terriers are quite happy to have some alone time -- they were bred to work by themselves catching rats and other small creatures, and have a strong independent streak!

Can labs be apartment dogs?

Labs are very obedient, but they have strong prey and pack drives. This means that they require a lot of exercise and a lot of attention. If you spend a lot of time at home and are prepared for lots of walks, they can do well in apartments.

Do Great Danes make good apartment dogs?

Absolutely! Great Danes require only thirty-to-sixty minutes of relatively brisk exercise a day, otherwise, they are notoriously lazy. They have a low-to-medium pack drive and are happy enough left alone, and they are very quick to train. Truly proof that size doesn’t matter (too much)!

Are bloodhounds good apartment dogs?

Bloodhounds have a very high prey drive and require a lot of exercise. You may be able to keep a bloodhound in your apartment if you have a very active lifestyle. They also require a lot of stimulation. One thing to keep in mind is that bloodhounds have a very… distinctive smell, which could be problematic in close quarters.

The Wrap Up

So now you know -- the best breed for an apartment dog all depends on you, and it’s important to take an honest inventory of your lifestyle before you chose your pet. Want to know more about the breed for you? Check out our detailed Dog Breed Guides.

How to Stop Puppy Biting

Have you ever tried acting like an alpha wolf in the comfort of your own home, growling, showing your teeth and snapping at those annoying you? Some trainers believe that this animalistic behaviour can put your heel-biting puppy into place right smart. Others, like online training sensation Doggy Dan, believe that biting behaviour can be nipped in the bud by encouraging your buddy to chow down on a soft toy or tea-towel instead of your fingers.

But what really is the best way to stop your puppy from biting? Dr. Ian Dunbar, veterinarian, animal behaviourist, dog trainer and author of ‘The Good Little Dog Book’ and ‘After You Get Your Puppy’, takes a different approach -- one that involves a pocket full of kibble, time and patience, and a flair for amateur dramatics.

Dr Dunbar believes that biting behaviour is essential, that learning to bite properly is too important to redirect to a toy, and that growling and snarling is only likely to get your puppy to bite people who are less intimidating, like children.

We’ll run through Dr Dunbar’s methods soon (with a guest appearance from my canine companion, Joe the Whippet), but first, let’s get our teeth into why the good doctor thinks that bite inhibition is the most important part of your new best friend’s entire education.

Toy Bones Can't Teach Bite Inhibition

While those needle-sharp teeth can be a real pain, puppy biting is a completely normal component of socialisation between dogs. And in Dr. Dunbar’s view, biting isn’t just necessary, it’s welcome.

Dunbar claims that when dogs fight, snarl and bite, 99% of the time there’s no puncture wounds on either party. That’s because the dogs have learned bite inhibition -- they know how to use their teeth to defend themselves without doing too much damage. In a more natural situation, puppies learn bite inhibition when they play-fight with their littermates. If their sibling yelps, they know they’ve gone too far, and play is suspended while the injured pup recouperates.

The trainer reminds us that even the calmest, most well behaved dog can bite when they feel truly under threat -- if a car door closes on its tail, for instance, or, in one memorable example from ‘After You Get Your Puppy’, if a small child dressed like Superman jumps from a table and lands their back.

If the startled animal has learned good bite inhibition, the result is most likely going to be a soft-mouthed, warning nip, the doggy-dental equivalent of a strong ‘back off’. If not, the damage can be far, far more serious. So while it might sting a bit when your puppy bites the hand that feeds, each nip is an opportunity to give your pup some important feedback.

It’s important to draw a distinction between play-biting and teething here -- a teething dog is more likely to gnaw than to nip, and your furniture and personal belongings are more likely to suffer from teething behaviour than your hands and feet. Teething behaviour is best redirected to a suitable toy, while biting will need to be endured for a while. 

For more than a morsel on teething, take a look at our Teething Guide (How to Stop a Puppy From Chewing Everything).

The Method to Stop Puppy Biting 

While Dr Dunbar generally contends that it’s easier to get a dog to learn the language and ways of humans than it is the other way around, he makes a notable exception for puppy biting. Some of you might have guessed what’s coming next -- when your puppy sinks their fangs into your skin, you need to yelp like a puppy yourself.

You don’t need to actually yelp or whine, of course, although you can if that’s what you’re comfortable with. But you need to communicate that you are hurt, preferably in an over-the-top and theatrical fashion.

This can be great fun. Joe the Whippet was the first dog I had owned as an adult, and when my more experienced partner shared this training tip with me (before I had ever read Dr Dunbar), I was delighted to think that the ill-fated drama class I stuttered through as a teenager might actually pay dividends.

So should you wail in woe every time that canine chompers find your fingers? Not quite. Like all good training, you need to start small and build your way up. At first, you need to save the waterworks for bites that actually hurt. And, like all good performances, you need to start off understated and save the true emotional weight for the climax.

Or to put it more succinctly, Dr. Dunbar has a three bite rule to start off with.

  1. For the first painful bite, say ‘ouch’ or something similar.

  1. The second bite requires a verbal indication of displeasure. Dr Dunbar suggests ‘that hurt, you bully!’ or ‘I’m injured, you miserable worm!’ I, to the scandal of my Catholic mother, regularly responded to bites with ‘Jesus, why have you forsaken me?’ Fortunately, Joe knew that he was not the Messiah, but a very naughty boy.

  1. The third bite is where your inner drama queen can come out to play. Sob, wail, or launch into Ophelia’s monologue from Hamlet -- whatever you feel gets the point across.

A fourth bite should ideally result in you walking away, perhaps loudly bemoaning how your pup has ruined your play session. If that’s not possible, your dog should be calmly put into isolation. Dr Dunbar’s methods are all based on positive reinforcement, and he particularly cautions against punishing pups for biting -- the puppy will only redirect play-biting to those who can’t or won’t punish them.

Over time, you can step up the action, and voice your deep sadness and pain to eliminate bite-pressure entirely.

Don’t get angry, get sad. Your puppy doesn’t want to hurt you, and letting him know that you’re hurt is the best way to stop painful bites.

How to Deal with Puppy Mouthing

Is it that easy? Unfortunately, no. The melodrama is useful to inhibit the force of the bites, but won’t stop your puppy mouthing at you. Your puppy will be extra gentle with you now that he knows that humans are delicate flowers, but he still wants to play.

So how do you stop your pup latching on? This is where the ‘Off’ and ‘Take It’ commands come in. All of Dr Dunbar’s teachings are based on the ‘lure-reward’ method -- the puppy is shown food to encourage them to complete a task, then they are given the food to reward them.

To teach this, you need to hold a piece of food in your hand to distract your dog. Use the verbal command ‘Off’. If the puppy doesn’t touch the piece of food for one second, say ‘Take it’ and give the food to the puppy. You can build up the number of seconds over time, then start to randomise the food rewards, eventually removing them entirely.

Dr Dunbar also recommends making a habit of hand-feeding your puppy kibble. This will help him learn to be gentle with your hands, build trust, and get him used to getting small pieces of kibble (rather than more expensive and less nutritional treats) as a reward.

How fast can you stop your puppy from biting?

As with toilet training, sleep training, and leaving your puppy alone, there’s no real quick-fix method to stopping a puppy from biting. Believe it or not, you don’t really want to stop the biting too fast, as learning bite inhibition takes time. 

So when do puppies stop biting? Puppy biting will be present as a behaviour by the time you bring your puppy home (usually at eight weeks old) and it’s important to start training bite inhibition quickly. Using the above method, painful bites should stop by twelve weeks, pressure should be gone by sixteen to eighteen weeks, and mouthing should stop entirely by the time your pup reaches five months. 

Training is a marathon, not a sprint. If the method looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Aggressive Puppy Biting

Play biting is one thing, but what do you do if you’re faced with a snarling, snapping pup? First, you’ll need to find out what’s set your puppy off.

According to Dunbar, twenty percent of aggressive puppy bites happen when they’re grabbed by the scruff or collar. Dunbar calls this ‘grabitis’, and theorises that it’s caused by the puppy developing negative associations with being touched in that manner. Perhaps your puppy is always lead into isolation by the collar, or pulled out of places that they shouldn’t be.

There are a couple of ways you can stop this from happening. You could use a long or short line, as recommended by Doggy Dan, in order to catch your pup. This is a piece of rope between two and twenty meters long, which is attached to your puppy’s collar in order to make it easier to grab them from a distance. Or, you could get them to view being caught by the collar as a pleasant experience, randomly grabbing them and showering them with affection throughout the day.

Your puppy may also bite if they are valiantly defending an object that is important to them. To halt this behaviour, make sure that the puppy gets back any toys that you take from them -- they’ll hang on tight if they think they’ll never see that stuffed bear ever again. Dunbar also recommends exchanging toys for treats in the beginning.

If none of this applies, your puppy might be snapping because they feel especially fearful, a common problem with traumatised rescue dogs. In this case, it’s a good idea to consult a professional dog trainer. You may also want to investigate the environment to try and determine a cause -- your neighbours may be using a high sound frequency plug in to deter rodents, for example.

If you can’t figure out what’s making your dog aggressive, it’s best to seek professional advice.

Desperate Times, Desperate Measures - The Story of Rio

A friend, Maria, has a German Shepherd called Rio. In her puppy hood, Rio was known with a mixture of affection and exasperation as ‘the land-shark’. Rio was a latcher, and did not know her own strength -- Maria spend weeks fielding questions from concerned colleagues about the painful, red bite marks all over her hands and arms.

She tried Dr. Dunbar’s methods, along with redirection, all to no avail. Eventually, she began slightly pressing down on Rio’s tongue with her thumb every time she bit too hard. Neither pup nor person was happy about it, but it worked -- over time, the bites decreased in force and then stopped entirely.

Curious about how your dog’s breed affects their training? Take a look at our detailed breed guides.

How to Stop a Puppy from Biting your Feet

The phrase ‘nipping at your heels’ has entered common usage for a reason. Young puppies on their first few walks just love to bite at their owner’s ankles. Theoretically you can stop them with Dr. Dunbar’s methods, but some might balk at going full diva in public. If you don’t, go ahead -- who am I to stop you? Some people even do this with their toddlers.

If throwing a full tantrum in the park isn’t your thing, it may be worth taking a tip from Cesar Milan’s book and going for redirection. The Dog Whisperer recommends scattering kibble on the ground for your pup to snap up.

FAQ - Puppy Crying When Left Alone

My puppy doesn’t bite at all, what do I do?

If your puppy doesn’t go for play biting, they’re probably shy. You’ll need to put extra effort into socialising them with other dogs so that they’ll learn to use their teeth. Your puppy’s reluctance to say hi with their fangs might seem like a blessing now, but it’s essential for them to learn bite inhibition to prevent problems down the line.

Do I still use the method if my puppies’ bites don’t hurt?

Absolutely! Just because your pup can’t or won’t bite hard now, doesn’t mean they’re not going to be capable of using their jaws in the future. Hunting dogs, such as beagles and spaniels, naturally don’t bite down hard because they were bred to retrieve prey, and you might need to act just a little bit harder in order to teach them properly.

What is a soft mouth?

If you’re researching puppy biting, you’ll probably come across the term ‘soft’ mouth sooner or later. A dog is said to have a ‘soft mouth’ if they can hold things between their teeth and gums without biting down with pressure.

Can I use a nasty tasting cream on my hands to stop my puppy biting them?

Can you? Yes. Should you? Definitely not. Your puppy needs to bite, they’re going to bite someone, and it’s best that it’s you.

The Wrap Up

So there you have it -- a thorough (and fun!) way to stop puppy bites in the present and prevent trouble in the future. Need help in other areas of training? Chances are, we have a guide for you! Our Puppy Training Guide is a great place to start.

Puppy Crying When Left Alone

How long do you think it will take from getting your puppy in the door to first hearing them cry? Quite possibly, the tears will start as soon as they’re left alone. How on earth are you ever going to resume your day-to-day life if your puppy turns on the waterworks as soon as you head to the kitchen?

A puppy’s cries are not the most pleasant thing for a person to hear. In fact, the plaintive wailing of a puppy crying when left alone is right up there with car alarms, police sirens and the announcement that tells you that your flight has been delayed for six hours on the list of sounds guaranteed to stress you out.

This is because humans are evolutionarily primed to respond to the sound of a baby crying, and though a dog’s cries aren’t quite the same, they’re close enough to those of our own offspring to get our adrenaline running.

But puppies are definitely not human babies, and that’s the most important thing you’ll need to keep in mind when you’re dealing with the problem of your pup tearing up as soon as you’re out of sight. We’ve taken tips from Dog Whisperer Cesar Milan and acclaimed dog behaviourist Dr Patricia McConnell, and used them to create a comprehensive guide on how thinking like a dog can help you get your canine comfortable with being left in their own company.

With these methods, as with almost all other training, you’ll need to start by looking at things from your pup’s perspective. So without further ado --

Why does my puppy cry when I leave?

To understand why your buddy is so upset, you’ll need to consider two things. Firstly, your dog is very young, and would not yet be independent were he in the wild. Like most mammalian younglings, they are entirely dependent on others for survival. Being alone is scary -- you know that no apex predator is likely to emerge from behind the couch to prey on your pup while you make a cup of coffee, but they don’t know that yet!

Not only that, but most owners bring their pups home at eight weeks old, and that’s when your puppy is entering the ‘fearful’ stage of their development. They’re excited to see new things -- but also more cautious than they would be at six or ten weeks.

Secondly, your pup is primed to run in a pack. McConnell and Milan both note that being alone is not a natural state of being for a pack animal. In the wild, your puppy would have brothers and sisters crawling all over them! Your pup is howling because they’re looking for their packmates to come back and protect them from the big bad world.

If it isn’t natural for your dog, does that mean you shouldn’t leave your pup by themselves? Not quite. Humans certainly never evolved to drive cars, compose music, or use smartphones to read dog training blogs, but we can all agree that these things enrich our lives. As Milan says, with our modern lives it’s impossible to have a pup with us 24/7. Unless you have a very dog friendly office or work from home -- as I write this, Joe the Whippet is watching me from his bed in the corner while meditatively mauling his toy octopus. Even so, if I’d listened to every whine and howl in the beginning, I’d never be able to make it to the supermarket without facing a noise complaint from my neighbours on my return!

Most, if not all, puppies cry when left alone. This is a normal stage of your puppy’s development, and one you can soon pass through with careful training.

Why is my puppy crying at night?

If your puppy hasn’t shed tears on their first day in your home, they almost certainly will on the first night. Depending on where you got your dog from, this may be the very first time they sleep without their littermates, and thus their first real experience with separation.

Although most trainers advise that your pup should sleep in your space for at least the first night, this still counts as ‘alone’ to your puppy, and this will also probably be your first experience dealing with extended puppy sobbing. Stay strong, remain calm, and don’t react. Don’t tell your pup that ‘it’s okay’ -- they’ll apply the sentiment to the behaviour (the crying) and not the situation (the new, scary space)!

Ignoring your dog may sound cruel, but according to Milan, this is one of a host of tricks dogs use to correct each other in the wild.

For more in-depth puppy sleep solutions, check out our guide on How to Get a Puppy to Sleep at Night.

When to worry - normal crying vs separation anxiety

Although the trigger might be the same, there’s a big difference between a puppy crying when left on their lonesome and a full blown case of separation anxiety. Symptoms of separation anxiety usually don’t stop at tears.

Separation anxiety often involves a fair amount of property damage. A dog that’s truly terrified at your absence will often try to escape, to the point of attempting to dig through the walls if all else fails. Unlike other forms of destructive behaviour, you’ll find that the damage is mostly focused on doors, gates and other entry points -- scratch and bite marks around the doorway but nowhere else is a dead giveaway that the problem is anxiety rather than misdirected play or a lack of stimulation.

The best cure for separation anxiety is prevention. By reacting appropriately when your puppy cries in the beginning, you can avoid destructive patterns of behaviour in the future. So let’s take a look at how to nip the behaviour in the bud.

For more on separation anxiety, take a look at our Separation Anxiety Guide.

So how do we stop the sobbing? Here’s a step-by-step breakdown.

Cesar Milan tells us that dogs can read us like a book, and they respond to our energy cues. If you get worked up, so will your dog! And there’s no use getting angry at your pup -- this is a natural behaviour for them. These cries are a real assault on the senses, so you might want to practice finding your chill before you even bring your puppy home. Consider meditation, or practising mindfulness techniques.

When a baby cries, our first impulse is to rush in with cuddles and comfort. This is the absolute worst thing you can do with a dog. In her canine communication guide, For the Love of a Dog, Patricia McConnell calls this ‘the dark side of empathy’ -- projecting our own desires on to those who do not share them. A dog in distress doesn’t need you to smother them with affection. They need you to show strong leadership, and project calm, assertive energy. Prepare yourself now, and avoid panic later!

Your puppy is still a baby, and one of the biggest training mistakes you can make is asking them to run before they can walk. This applies to all training, including separation! Besides, an eight-week old puppy should be either constantly supervised or in an enclosed area at all times.

In his book ‘How to Raise the Perfect Dog’, Milan tells the story of Angel, a [breed of puppy] who had been reassured and cuddled by his owner every time she left, and was thus prone to howls of misery every time his pup parent disappeared for more than five minutes. Occasionally, Angel would get a treat to keep him quiet -- a great incentive for misbehaviour!

Since leaving Angel alone for more than ten minutes turned cries of distress in to shrieks of despair, Milan was forced to take baby steps. He left the mournful mutt alone for five minutes, returned, and calmly stood as far away from Angel as possible for as long as it took for him to calm down, before calling him over to say hello.

Milan also recommends employing a sound to register displeasure -- a simple ‘tsk’ or tut can replace the low growl dog mothers use to tell the kids to knock it off.

After a while, you can slowly increase the time spent away. Even after a few rounds of ten minutes each, your puppy will begin to gain faith in the idea that you will always return!

Simply put, a den is a safe space where a mother dog can care for her young. A den is a home, a sleeping area, a place to feel calm and comfortable. While there is some controversy over whether or not wild dogs make dens, research suggests free-roaming or stray domestic dogs do!

You can create a den inside your own home by using a crate or creating an indoor pen with baby gates. Even countries that consider crating cruel, like Sweden and Finland, understand the need for a larger enclosed area.

Both Milan and McConnell advise that you make the crate or makeshift den a joy -- fill it with toys, treats and blankets that carry your scent. If your puppy enjoys their time in this enclosed area, sending them to their den before you leave is a great way to keep the crying to a minimum.

As an added bonus, pups are unlikely to toilet where they sleep -- a den decreases the likelihood of accidents while you’re away!

Your puppy picks things up quickly -- it’s only a matter of time before they realise that you putting on your jacket or grabbing your keys means impending separation. Randomly doing these things when you have no intention of leaving is a great way to throw them off.

Milan laments the fact that we don’t put anxiety in the same class as aggression or excitement. They’re all high-energy conditions, after all! Draining your pup’s physical energy with exercise or play, tiring out their brain with training, and stimulating their senses by introducing them to new things will help keep them calm as you head out the door.

Remember -- as with all training, it’s important to apply all five steps consistently.

Looking for a little extra help? Try these training tips!

Embracing technology can help speed up the training process. White noise machines, puppy sleep music playlists, and plug in pheromone dispensers can all aid in keeping your pup calm while you’re away.

Consider leaving soft items that carry your scent in the den area -- a pillowcase or blanket that you’ve slept with, for example, or an old sweater.

If every member of your household works or studies full time, taking the time to build up to separation step-by-step can be difficult. If you’re lucky enough to have some holiday time left, consider taking a few days after you bring your new best friend home -- your pup will thank you for it.

FAQ - Puppy Crying When Left Alone

How do I know whether my pup is crying or not if I’m not there?

Cesar Milan is a big fan of webcams, and with current streaming and recording technology, you can set up video surveillance at a reasonable price. There are even a couple of apps that will record from a webcam directly to your phone! If your pup does cry or bark when you’re gone, you can review the footage to see if there’s anything in particular that sets your buddy off.

Are there any dogs or breeds of dogs that should never be left alone?

Dogs that were bred to spend lots of time with or work side by side with humans, such as pugs, toy poodles and King Charles Spaniels, often don’t do too well by themselves. Careful training may be able to get them up to eight or nine hours or so, but if you own one of these breeds, you may want to consider doggy day care.

Can I use headphones on the way out?

If you follow the five steps religiously and build up to separation slowly, your pup shouldn’t cry too much the first time you leave the house. Even so, it’s generally a bad idea -- you want to be alert in case your buddy tries to escape his den.

The Wrap Up

So there you have it -- five steps to sob-free separation! For more easy-to-implement techniques, take a look at our comprehensive Puppy Training Guide.

How to Toilet Train a Puppy

Stuck on where to start with training your pup? Don’t worry -- your new puppy (and their bladder) has decided for you! Toilet training is the very first thing that new pup parents have to get to grips with, and since all your general training techniques have to be consistent, it’s hard to understate the importance of teaching your puppy where to go!

But when they search for information on how to toilet train their new best friend, puppy owners are bombarded with conflicting advice, a bewildering array of methods and dubious quick-fix techniques. What’s the deal with all these sprays? Do they really need to buy pee pads? And will their rugs ever be safe from accidents?

Don’t worry -- we’ve got you covered. We’ve assembled a ton of tips from experts Cesar Milan, Rebecca Settler, and Ian Dunbar, and created a simple-to-follow toilet training scheme based on Dr Dunbar’s tried and tested lure-reward method. We’ll also bring you through toilet training at night, and some evidence-based advice for apartment dwellers.

But before we tell you what works, let’s take a look at what definitely doesn’t.

Toilet Training Myths Busted 

MYTH 1 - I can toilet train my dog in three days/five days/one week.

It’s impossible to google ‘puppy toilet training’ without running across a listicle that makes this claim. Some self-proclaimed experts would have you believe that your home will be safe from accidents in no time at all, and doesn’t that sound wonderful?

There’s an old joke about a physicist who finds a cast iron method for curing sick barn fowl, but the catch is that it only works for spherical chickens in a vacuum. Like the cure, these methods, don’t work in the real world. They call for constant, vigilant supervision of your dog. And while puppies should be constantly supervised or in a confined space for the first few weeks, it’s impossible to keep your eye on them at all times, particularly if you have children or other pets.

If your pup is the Einstein of dog-kind, it may be possible for them to be toilet trained in such a short span of time, but most puppies will take a little longer than that to form a habit. And if you need to teach them to do their business in more than one place (almost essential for apartment dwellers), even the brightest of buddies are going to struggle. These methods are like winning the lottery -- technically possible, but not very likely.

It can take anywhere from four weeks to four months to toilet train your puppy, and different dogs learn at different rates. Joe the Whippet, my canine companion, had the routine down in three weeks, but a friend’s dog, Maya the Basset Hound, took nearly five months.

MYTH 2 - When my puppy has an accident, I should hold his nose in it.

The nose rubbing myth has been around for a very long time -- but so has the old wives tale that eating crusts makes your hair curl, and my straight mop calls malarky. Dr Dunbar, author of the Good Little Dog Book notes that dogs don’t have the same disgusted reaction to urine and faeces that humans do. Some of them are fans of the smell! Pushing your dog’s nose in it only encourages them to keep rubbing their mess on the carpet.

Doggy Dan, creator of The Online Dog Trainer tells his students that this technique causes more confusion for the canine. He goes on to say to puppies want to please their own and follow instructions but nose rubbing is not instruction you dog where to go to the toilet. The puppy will continue peeing randomly around the house until it knows where to toilet.

MYTH 3: My puppy just needs to learn to hold it.

This is one of the most toxic myths out there. Your puppy can’t learn to ‘hold it’ while you’re out at work yet -- it’s physically impossible. To understand how often your puppy needs to go, use the bladder formula -- take your puppy’s age in months, and add an hour. So if your pup is three months old, they’ll need to go every four hours.

FINAL THOUGHT: If the method looks too good to be true, then it probably is.

Getting Down to (Toilet Training) Business

So now you know how not to toilet train your dog -- how do you get them to go where you want them to go? Before we rush in, let’s go through some preparation.

Setting The Scene: Toilet Training Preparation

The first thing you’ll want to do is to remove any shag pile or sheepskin rugs from the area where your puppy spends the most time. It feels like grass to them, and that’s an ideal place for them to answer the call of nature!

At this stage, your pup should be confined with a pen or baby gates to one specific area of the house. If possible, make sure that this area is not carpeted. It’s not a matter of if an accident is going to happen, it’s a matter of when.  You may want to consider lining the floor of their sleeping area with lino, cardboard or a plastic tarp.

Pee Pads and Grass-mats

There are a ton of different types of pee pads out there, from simple absorbent strips to grassmats featuring real grass and potty-inducing pheromones. While Dr. Dunbar pooh-poohs pee-pads slightly, they can be a godsend, and essential for those of us who live in apartments.

You may have some trouble getting your pup to use pee pads at first. As your puppy matures, they’ll begin to see the whole house as a den -- and puppies don’t like to go where they sleep. One way to get around this is to keep the pads in a room that your puppy doesn’t usually enter -- the bathroom is an obvious choice.

If all else fails, Cesar Milan recommends taking a piece of grass that has been in contact with dog urine or faeces and smearing it over the pad. Disgusting, but effective!

The Routine - Daytime Toilet Training

All of Dr. Dunbar’s training methods are based around his lure-reward technique -- use a piece of food as a lure to get your puppy to do what you want, and then reward them once they’ve completed the task. This has all sorts of applications, but it’s particularly useful when it comes to toilet training, as young pups will often need to be lured out of the house to do their business in the backyard, or may need encouragement to use the potty pads.

Dr. Dunbar also encourages dog owners to keep their puppies inside if possible. If the backyard is your pup’s playground, they’ll be able to go wherever they like, and when you bring them inside they’ll… well, go wherever they like.

Like most trainers, Dunbar recommends keeping your pup confined to a small area at first. Not only does this keep them out of trouble, but they’ll see it as their home or den, and be reluctant to go where they sleep. He notes that your puppy can hold it up to ninety minutes extra in this area (but it’s still best to be conservative and rely on the bladder formula).

You’ll need to anticipate when your pup needs to go. You can do this using the bladder formula and the alarm on your phone. Cesar Milan also notes that your buddy will need to poop anywhere from five to thirty-five minutes after eating.

Take your puppy outside and use a verbal command -- go potty or similar. Reward them handsomely with the food for doing your business!

Over time, you can begin randomizing the rewards, and eventually do away with them entirely.

If you take your puppy out and he doesn’t want to go, Dr Dunbar advises waiting for three minutes, putting the dog back into confinement for another fifteen, and trying again.

In case of accidents

The moment you’ve been dreading since minute one -- your puppy has left you a damp yellow present on the carpet. All accidents should be cleaned up immediately using an enzyme spray -- otherwise, your puppy, misguided by the smell, will return to the scene of the crime and do their dastardly deeds again!

Many trainers, such as Doggy Dan, subscribe to the theory that any attention reinforces behaviour, and would suggest not interacting with the dog at all. Dr Dunbar disagrees -- he recommends calmly telling the pup ‘outside’ and pointing at the toilet area. Don’t do this if the mess has been there for more than fifteen minutes or so, as by that point it’s too late for the puppy to make the connection between the mess and your words.

Final Thoughts 

You should also have an idea of the signs that your puppy needs to go. These include -- they just woke up, abandoned a toy or other task, are sniffing the floor, are circling or are looking at the door they usually go out. Puppies also often need to go after lots of excitement, so be sure to let them out if they’ve been playing hard!

Puppy Toilet Training At Night

Rebecca Settler, author of How to Get Your Puppy to Sleep at night, also recommends anticipating when your puppy needs to go. But how do you do that while you’re sleeping?

First of all, you should abandon the expectation that you’ll be getting a full eight hours for the next while -- your puppy’s baby bladder just can’t hold it for that long. The obvious thing to do in this situation is to set an alarm. When your puppy is seven to nine weeks old, the alarm should go off every two hours, then move to four hours from nine to fourteen weeks.

This is largely in line with the bladder formula outlined above, but Settler counsels us to remember that puppies, like humans, can hold it for longer at night, and it would be a mistake to assume they can hold it just as long during the day.

Of course, if you’re a light sleeper, you can just wake up when your puppy starts crying, barking or scratching at their sleeping area -- but this can be a little distressing for everyone involved, including your neighbours!

Final Thoughts

Settler’s methods form an integral part of our One Step Ahead technique for puppy sleep training. To find out more, click here.

Advice for Apartment Dwellers

Backyards, backyards, backyards -- all these methods are all very well and good, but how on earth do you toilet train your puppy if you live in an apartment?

The first thing to keep in mind is that you’ll need to be conservative with toilet timings, especially if you have lots of stairs to get down. Make sure that you have plenty to of time to get to the toilet area, and make sure that the toilet area is readily accessible. You’ll need to be extra vigilant in watching for potty-signals, too!

Pee pads are an absolute godsend for apartment dwellers, particularly for night-time evacuations. But if you’re training your puppy to use two different areas -- pee pads at night and outside during the daytime, for example -- it might take longer for your dog to get the commands down than it would if they were using just one area.

Apartment dwellers often rely on their puppy relieving itself when they take them for a walk. Dr Dunbar would urge owners to think about this carefully -- a walk is a wonderful reward for a dog, and ending the walk after the puppy has done their business can decrease its value as a reward. Instead, he advises using the potty command at the beginning of the walk. That way, the rest of the walk is a reward for a job well done! 

Final Thoughts

While you can certainly toilet train a dog in an apartment, it may take longer than if you were to train them with the benefit of a backyard at your disposal. Be patient!

Toilet Training Tips

In need of a little something extra? We’ve put together a couple of tips

Remember your energy: Don’t get mad when your puppy has an accident. It’s not their fault, and they’ll be looking to you for emotional cues. If you get worked up, they’ll get worked up!

Out of enzyme spray: Baking soda is a good substitute in a pinch.

Preventative measures - homemade sprays: When DogPeer owner Jamie was toilet training her dog Moxie, she used a spray made from apple cider vinegar, eucalyptus oil, and water to treat her carpets. This proved stunningly effective!

FAQ - Puppy Toilet Training 

Why is my puppy going to the toilet in their sleeping area?

If your puppy is soiling their sleeping space, this could be a sign that they were raised in a puppy mill. You may need to consult a professional trainer for help.

When should I worry?

Every dog is different, and some very young puppies need to go up to every fifteen minutes! But if your puppy needs to go a lot more frequently than the bladder formula suggests, they may have a urinary tract infection. Consult a vet if you’re concerned.

You should see a vet immediately if your puppy has diarrhoea.

I left my puppy at home for the first time and came home to a great steaming puddle, why?

Your puppy probably thought you were lost, and was trying to help you navigate by scent! This behaviour should stop as your puppy grows older and gets used to you leaving.

So there you have it -- everything you need to know about toilet training! For more puppy training tips, check out our Puppy Training Guide!

How to Get a Puppy to Sleep – An Easy to Follow Guide

Many first-time puppy owners find themselves at their wit’s end trying to get their new puppy to sleep at night. 

Never fear -- our One Step Ahead Method is based on evidence from some of the world’s top trainers, and it’s guaranteed to have you and your pup snoozing peacefully through the night in no time!

How to Get Your Puppy to Sleep 

Many of us don’t realise exactly how important our sleeping pattern is until it’s disrupted. We find ourselves snapping at co-workers, zoning out on our morning commute, and on the verge of tears or explosion at inconveniences we’d usually dismiss with a shrug of our shoulders.

Just ask any new parent -- and pet parents are no exception! So how can you get your puppy to sleep through the night so that you can get some rest?

How to Get a Puppy to Sleep

Not getting enough sleep is certainly bad for owners, and it’s not great for puppies, either. All the best training programmes require you to start your training early and face your dog with calm, assertive energy, and it’s difficult to find your chill when you’re so tired that you could cry.

Let’s set some reasonable expectations here -- when you first bring your puppy home, they’re entering a new, strange space that they can find quite scary, and their tiny baby bladder just can’t do the job for a full eight hours. You’re not going to have a good night’s sleep for a while!

However, a good sleep training routine can make the difference between weeks and months of lost shut-eye.

That’s why we’ve taken tips from experts Cesar Milan, Doggy Dan, Patricia McConnel and Rebecca Settler and used them to formulate our very own One Step Ahead technique.

This simple method should see you and your new best friend sleeping on the same schedule as soon as possible!

The One Step Ahead Method is easy to follow, designed to anticipate your pup’s needs, and based on the best evidence available.It covers everything from food to toilet breaks to how to burn off your puppy’s energy! We’ll give you all the details later on, as well as some true stories from the frontline of sleep training, but let’s get some basics out of the way first

Where should my puppy sleep?

While the experts are divided on the ideal permanent sleeping spot for your new best friend, almost all agree that your puppy should spend the first night (if not the first few nights) sleeping in the same room as you. Depending on where you got your dog from, this may be their first night sleeping away from their littermates!

Right now, what your pup needs is to feel safe, and having them as close to you as possible is the best way to calm them down. Having your puppy sleep in your room is also a great way for them to begin learning your sleeping pattern -- and they’ll have to sync with your schedule eventually.

Where should my puppy sleep

Some trainers, like online training guru Doggy Dan, believe that giving your dog a permanent basecamp in your bedroom decreases their likelihood of seeing you as the ‘pack leader’, and that this can make them anxious and more likely to challenge your authority.

But Rebecca Settler, author of ‘Puppy Sleep Training- The Exhausted Puppy Owner’s Nighttime Survival Guide’, makes the case that since dogs are pack animals, sleeping with members of the pack is likely to make them calmer, and that bedding down in your room is great training for a guard dog.

Wherever your pup ends up resting their head long-term, the first thing you’ll need to do is construct a comfortable, welcoming sleeping area.

Setting the scene: Essential Puppy Props

So how do you create the perfect puppy snooze zone?

Cesar Milan, the Dog Whisperer himself, advises leaving no hard surfaces uncovered.

Cesar Millan's Take

Everything in the area should be padded, or covered with towels, blankets or newspaper.

If you’ve got your dog from a breeder, ask them if you can have something soft (a blanket, towel or toy) that smells like their litter-mates. 

You may even be able to give your breeder something that you own in advance!

It might also be a good idea to add something with your scent on it to the area -- it should get your puppy used to seeing you as part of the family!

It’s also a good idea to add a toy, for comfort, entertainment, and night-time chewing!

 A particularly nervous pup might get benefit out of something warm, like a hot water bottle, and something that simulates a mother’s heartbeat. You can use an old-school alarm clock covered in blankets, or buy a toy specifically designed for that purpose.

Rebecca Setler believes that a crate or pen is absolutely essential, and that even if your puppy is sleeping in a bed, that they’ll need to be confined.

Puppy Sleep Training Book

Rebecca Setler's Take

Setting up an exercise pen around any beds is advisable.  New puppies usually feel more secure in small areas, and an enclosed space will stop your puppy wandering off and having an accident in other parts of the house.

On the topic of beds -- Setler advises against buying anything too destructible at this point. Your puppy will soon start exploring things with their teeth!

Both, Millan and Setler are big proponents of having wee-wee pads in your puppy’s sleeping space, as is Doggy Dan.

Doggy Dan also hammers home the importance of having a bowl of water in the dog’s sleeping area, and seconds the importance of soft materials and toys. 

Doggy Dan Profile Pic

Doggy Dan's Take

Stocking the dog's sleeping area with a couple of options and waiting to see where they bed down -- if the dog wants to sleep in a cardboard box, then that's where the bed should be!

Here's a simple checklist to get you started. 

Puppy Sleep Training Checklist

If you have a puppy that is more on the nervous side then add these supplies to your checklist;

Puppy Sleep Training - Soothing a Nervous Puppy

After you’re all set up, you should make sure that your dog doesn’t associate the area with intense activity. Naps and casual hang-outs are fine, playtime and training are not!

Final Thought:  For more puppy preparation, click here to check out our New Puppy Checklist!

Be Prepared

Hearing your little bundle of fur cry can be heartbreaking, and on the first night, your puppy is most definitely going to cry. This is a new and scary experience for them!

Humans are evolutionarily programmed to rush to the assistance to crying babies, and while a dog’s cries aren’t quite the same, they’re close enough that we immediately want to respond with cuddles and soothing noises.

This is what Dr Patricia McConnell, author of ‘The Other End of The Leash - Why We Do What We Do Around Dogs’ calls ‘the dark side of empathy’ --

Dr Patricia McConnell Profile Picture

Dr Patricia McConnell's Take

Projecting our own desires onto those who do not share them. Cuddling your dog will do more harm than good, and verbal reassurance will make your dog feel like this behaviour is acceptable. If you tell your dog that ‘it’s okay’ when they cry, they’ll apply those words their behaviour (the crying) and not the situation (the scary space)!

You can’t soothe a puppy like you would a baby, but you can give them some reassurance.

Cesar Milan suggests knocking gently on the side of their crate to let them know you hear them. For the most part, though, you’ll have to tough it out.

You might want to bring your puppy home on a Friday evening or some other evening before your day off. The first night is going to be tough, and you don’t want to head into an important meeting having been kept up all night by puppy tears! If you can do it, taking some time off is a very good idea.

Final ThoughtSome dog owners have had some success calming their crying puppies by simply laying a hand on their pup and transferring some of their ‘calm energy’ -- similar to Doggy Dan’s Calm Freeze technique. To learn more about the Calm Freeze, check out our Puppy Training Guide.  

The One Step Ahead Technique 

So you’ve set up a lovely sleeping area, steeled yourself for the coming tears, and you’re ready to get down to the business of sleep training.

The goal? To have your puppy sleep on your schedule, of course!

You want them to sleep when you sleep, wake up when you wake up, and to avoid nasty accidents during the night.

With this in mind, it might seem a little odd to think that the best way to get your puppy to work around you is to anticipate their needs. But that’s exactly what the One Step Ahead technique does -- it encourages you to think like a dog, counter any problems before they arise, and set the foundations for a peaceful sleep routine.

The best part? After just a few days, you won’t have to deal with any heart-wrenching crying, pitiful whining, or attention grabbing barking from your furry family member at night!

The One Step Ahead Technique has five steps.

Note: When describing this technique, we’re assuming that you brought your pup home when they were about eight weeks old, but these steps should work just as well for older puppies with some minor adjustments.

1. Keep an Eye on Their Feeding Schedule

It should be clear by now that by far and away the biggest reason your puppy wakes you up at night is for a toilet break.  

At eight weeks, your puppy should be eating three to four meals a day, and the last one should be no less than four hours before their bedtime. What goes in, must come out! 

There’s more to this than just making sure you’re not greeted with a smelly present in the morning, though -- digestion keeps your pup’s body and mind active, and can make them restless.

If your own schedule requires you to dish up dinner just a couple of hours before you turn in, consider giving your pup a larger portion in the morning and a smaller one in the evening.

There are some puppies that seem to wake up in the middle of the night out of hunger. If your pup is one of these peckish few, consider leaving a dog biscuit or other snack in their sleeping area.

Cesar Milan suggests a bully stick, or dried bull’s penis -- the smell will also entice your pup into his sleeping area!

Rebecca Setler also recommends that you don’t give your pup any water less than three hours before they hit the hay.

But it’s important to remember that dogs can overheat and dehydrate very quickly -- while this might be good advice for those in colder climes, you shouldn’t take the risk if it’s hot out.

Bottom Line: Your pup's last meal should be less than four hours before bedtime and water intake should be less than three hours. 

2. Monitor Napping Times Carefully

How much sleep does an eight week old puppy need?

It might surprise you to know just how much shut-eye your little bundle of energy requires -- a whopping fourteen-to-twenty hours! Daytime naps are essential for your buddy. 

It almost goes without saying that too much sleep in the day equals not enough sleep at night. So here, too, you’ll need to be vigilant!

It might feel cruel to wake your sleeping pup (they look so adorable, after all) but nap-time should stop at least four hours before bed.

If you notice your pup dropping off, wake them up with pats and play. Which brings us neatly to the next step…

Bottom Line: Day time naps should be avoided at least four hours before bedtime. 

3. Stimulate the Senses! 

This is the most important part. You’ll need to tire your puppy out! But how do you burn off all that new puppy energy?

The answer lies in stimulating your puppy’s senses.

Everything is new to your puppy -- new smells, new people, new sights, new sounds everywhere! Finding out about the world can exciting - and pretty tiring too.

This can fit in nicely with your dog’s socialisation training - introduce them to their new pack members, and let them get to know them! 

Your puppy needs exercise, of course, but you’ll also need to wear out their brain. Fortunately, playing with your puppy accomplishes both!  

Patricia Mc Connell is a huge advocate for using games to teach manners. Your pup might be a little young to master ‘Fetch’, at this point, but a good game of ‘Take It and Drop It’ might just work. 

If you’re looking to do a bit more brain work, you might also consider practising some commands!

Of course, you’ll need to keep an eye on your puppy’s energy -- there’s a fine line between ‘engaging and having fun’ and ‘overstimulated and unable to respond’.

Doggy Dan Profile Pic

Doggy Dan's Take

Doggy Dan notes that your dog looks to you for cues, and they’ll be responding to your energy levels. So keep it chill!

Bottom Line: Taking the time to train your dog goes a long way. It not helps them to feel fulfilled but most of all it wears them out for a good night's sleep. 

4. Anticipate Toilet Breaks by Setting an Alarm

If you’ve followed the previous steps, come bedtime you should be looking at one sleepy puppy!

But of course, when nature calls, your pup must answer, and the good news is that they don’t want to let loose in their bed. The bad news is, of course, that you’ll have to let them out.

You could just tuck yourself in and wait with dread for your buddy to cry out. But there’s another option - get there before they wake up!

At eight weeks old, a puppy can hold their bladder for a max of four hours -- and that’s pushing it.

Before you go to bed, set an alarm for two-to-three hours time… and then another, and then another. Once your puppy gets to nine weeks, you can push it the alarm back to four.

Bottom Line: For a more accurate estimation you can use the Bladder Formula in the Crate Training guide.

5. Keep Pushing it Back

By fourteen to sixteen weeks, your puppy should be able to sleep the whole night through!

Final Thought: What is the beauty of this method? By staying one step ahead of your pup, you should be able to step in before he starts crying. Less distress for you, for your pup and for your neighbours!

The Importance of Toilet Training

Toilet training is the first thing you’ll have to get to grips with when you bring home your new pup, so you’ll want to have a solid routine in place during the day.

Learn to anticipate when your puppy needs to go, tempt them outside with a treat if you have to, and decide on a verbal command -- go toilet, go potty, or something in that ballpark. Reward them handsomely after each successful evacuation!

The main difference between toilet training at night and during the day is that toilet training at night shouldn’t hold any rewards at all.

You don’t want to praise your puppy for waking you up!

Of course, no matter how closely you follow the One Step Ahead Method, your puppy can still surprise you.

Apartment dwellers might also find it impractical to take their pup out at night. This is where pee pads can be a godsend.

Set them up in your bathroom, and follow the One Step Ahead technique.

Looking for a little more encouragement? 

Moxie Profile Picture

Jamie's Take

Dog Peer’s owner Jamie taught her dog, Moxie, to avoid accidents on the floor by spraying a mix of eucalyptus oil, apple cider vinegar and water on the carpets. It worked instantly! 

 For a more detailed look at accidents and how to avoid them, see our Toilet Training Guide.

Final Thought: While it may seem like you’re in thrall to your puppy’s baby bladder, this won’t last forever. By 16 weeks, your buddy should be able to hold it all through the night.

Puppy Sleep Training Tips 

Need some extra help? We’ve put together a few tips for you, just in case. 

Tip 1. Know where your dog is coming from

So you’ve put your dog to bed in a sleeping area that they love, you’re close by, you’ve played with them all day and they still won’t stop crying. What’s going on?

If your puppy is a rescue, they could be having nightmares. Joe the Whippet came into my life from an abusive owner, and seemed to be re-living his trauma as he slept. The best thing you can do here is contact the rescue organisation and ask how best to soothe them.

In Joe’s case, this meant having him sleep with a water bottle and wrapped up alarm clock for a full four months. Every dog is different, and some need a little more TLC than others!

If your puppy has no problem evacuating their bowels in their sleeping area, they may have been born in a puppy mill. If you suspect this, you might want to contact a professional trainer for assistance.

Tip 2. Embrace Technology

In the times we live in, there seems to be a hack for everything, and puppy sleep training is no exception!

Patricia McConnell is a fan of pheromone plug-ins -- devices that look like a plug-in air freshener, which are inserted into a wall socket and release calming scents.

You can also invest in a white noise machine, or simply put on a Youtube playlist -- Joe is a particular fan of smoothed brown noise! 

You’ll also find puppy sleep music available, so why not take a search and experiment! Here's one I found;

Final Thought I’ve never used puppy sleep music myself, but this seems less cloying than a lot of others out there. Joe is indifferent.

Tip 3. Get ahead of the Game

If you’ve purchased your dog from a breeder, you may be able to get one step ahead of the One Step Ahead technique and ask them to do some sleep training with your pup!


So there you have it -- a five part, easy to follow technique that takes a whole lot of stress out of sleep training!

If you’ve enjoyed learning about the One Step Technique, consider taking a look at the rest of our Puppy Training Articles.

So there you have it -- a five part, easy to follow technique that takes a whole lot of stress out of sleep training!

If you’ve enjoyed learning about the One Step Technique, consider taking a look at the rest of our Puppy Training Articles.

FAQ - Sleep Training Problems 

I have a medical condition that’s aggravated by lack of sleep, what can I do?

Unfortunately, broken sleep is unavoidable with a new puppy. The best thing you can do in that situation is get an older dog.

I can’t take it anymore, can I use earplugs or music to drown my puppy out?

You have my sympathies, but no. You don’t want to risk missing cries that have nothing to do with toilet training or anxiety -- like your pup escaping from his sleeping area to wreak havoc on your home!

My puppy was quiet as a mouse the first night and now they’re screaming like a banshee. What gives?

Some puppies are so knocked out by the over-stimulation of being in a new environment that they’ll conk right out on the first night, and they’ll become aware of the strangeness of their situation the next day. This is relatively normal, and one of the reasons that the fourth part of the One Step Ahead Method is so important!

When should I worry?

You should worry if your puppy is crying during the day as well as at night -- that’s a sure sign that they’re in pain. A puppy in pain may also flinch away from you in the morning. Contact your vet if you’re unsure, and especially if your pup is experiencing vomiting and diarrhoea.

This afternoon I burst into tears because someone cut me off in traffic, will I ever feel human again?

Give it time. And maybe have another cup of coffee.

Puppy Training Guide

When you first bring your fur-baby home, it can be difficult to decide when and how to begin training them, particularly if you’ve never owned a puppy before.

One online trainer, Doggy Dan, thinks he’s cracked the code and created the perfect Puppy Training Guide -- and the work begins as soon as your puppy crosses the threshold.

In this guide we will cover the following important topics when it comes to puppy training;

  1. How to Train Your Puppy
  2. Puppy Training Basics
  3. Puppy Training Tips
  4. Common Puppy Problems
  5. Puppy Commands
  6. Puppy Training Techniques

Let's get straight into it!

How to Train Your Puppy

When you think about training your puppy, you probably think about teaching commands and tricks, but Doggy Dan doesn’t think you should start there. The trainer’s proven-to-work online courses blend practical tips with an overall philosophy based on positive reinforcement, leadership, and an overview of what Doggy Dan sees as an essential ‘dog psychology’.

The secret to success is calm. Just as humans find it difficult to learn under stressful conditions (try studying for a test while a car alarm is blaring), puppies find it hard to take in new information when they’re worked up.

Doggy Dan talks a lot about ‘energy meters’ -- a measurement of your puppy’s level of agitation, whether that agitation is a symptom of excitement, aggression or fear.

Your puppy should be relaxed before receiving any new training or lessons, before feeding, and even before you give them any ‘pats, cuddles or affection’.

Your puppy looks to you for cues on how to behave. If you become aggressive or frustrated when they’re naughty, your dog’s ‘energy meter’ rockets ever higher, and once they reach a certain level, instruction becomes impossible.

It’s hard to be  Zen when your adorable bundle of joy becomes a holy horror hell-bent on destroying your couch cushions -- but in this method, keeping cool is key.

Puppy Training Basics

All of Doggy Dan’s training methods are an extension of what he calls ‘The Dog Calming Code’.

The foundation of this code is based on a sort of canine evolutionary psychology.

The idea is that dogs are descended from wolves, and that like their wild ancestors, they are pack animals, looking to an ‘alpha’ male or female for leadership.

If their owner does not display alpha-like qualities, the dog will take on the role themselves, and with it, the worry and responsibility of looking after a confusing pack of humans that behave in ways that they think are irrational.

Imagine trying to project manage a team of recently arrived space aliens. They don’t speak any human tongue, and not only do they not understand your body language, but they don’t even have the same type of body as you do. Not exactly a relaxing prospect!

While the theory that domestic dogs socialise in the same way as their wild ancestors is a topic of some debate among veterinary scientists (link to article), Doggy Dan claims that his methods have helped over 25,000 dogs to date.

In Doggy Dan’s view, becoming the alpha or pack leader is crucial. The pack leader is not a tyrant, but a protector.

By asserting your dominance, you are telling your dog that they will be taken care of and that there’s nothing for them to worry about.

A submissive dog is one that’s relatively free from stress, and thus open to learning.

Doggy Dan recommends establishing your newfound alpha-status by following his Five Golden Rules, as follows;

Doggy Dan's Five Golden Rules

Golden Rule Number One: Control the food.

Golden Rule Number Two: Danger.

Golden Rule Number Three: Ignore your dog after separation.

Golden Rule Number Four: Everything on your terms.

Golden Rule Number Five: The walk.

Let's now look at each rule in more detail...

Golden Rule Number One: Control the food.

Food is an important status symbol in wolf packs. Alphas eat first, then portion the food out to other pack members.

Doggy Dan recommends feeding your dog only after you’ve eaten. It’s also a good idea to get the whole family to feed the dog at least once or twice - it makes it clear that all human members of the household are above your dog in the social pecking order.

Of course, your puppy will challenge your alpha-status, and trying to assert control over their food is a common way for them to do so.

They may attempt this by leaving some of their food in the bowl to come back to later. If this happens, Doggy Dan advises that you take the bowl away and do not give them more until the next scheduled feeding time (of course, there are medical conditions that can cause a puppy to lose their appetite -- contact a vet if you’re concerned).

Don’t make a fuss. Keep your cool, and your puppy should follow your lead.

Bones, rawhide and other treats count as food, and any attempts by your dog to hide them may be an attempt to assert control.

You should only feed your dog once they are calm and relaxed, in order to encourage this sort of behaviour in the future.

When you’re starting out with a puppy, you can also practice ‘gesture eating.’ Hold your dog’s food bowl out with one hand, and get them to watch you eat a cracker or a piece of bread.

This should help cement the idea that you are in charge of the food.

Golden Rule Number Two: Danger.

Being the pack leader comes with a great responsibility -- your dog will trust you to protect them from danger.

They’ll still try and alert you to anything they think of as dangerous, of course, and a young puppy can see anything as scary, be it a bird, a bike or a changing breeze.

Doggy Dan recommends looking towards whatever the puppy is focusing on (even if they’re just staring into space -- they may be smelling or hearing something that you can’t), and then calmly turning away.

This will show your pup that whatever’s got them worked up is nothing to be afraid of. The most common way that your puppy will try to make you aware of danger is by barking. We’ll get to what to do when your dog barks later on, but first --

Golden Rule Number Three: Ignore your dog after separation.

One of the best parts of owning a puppy is seeing them greet you on arrival like they’ve just learned of an open day at the treat factory, and it’s tempting to pat and cuddle your bouncing buddy as soon as you get in the door.

But Doggy Dan cautions against immediately showering your dog with affection.

Wolf packs usually only separate when members go hunting. Sometimes an alpha may get injured and other pack members will immediately investigate to make sure that their leader is still up to the job.

Strong wolves will protect their personal space, so if you greet your buddy with open arms, they might think that you’re not such a great protector after all!

Ignore your dog entirely until they’re calm -- no talking, no touching, and no eye contact. Tell friends, family and anyone else who might visit to do the same thing.  Once they’ve calmed down, you can show them how much you’ve missed them!

This rule should be followed after every separation, long or short, no matter if you’ve just returned from the grocery store or just come back from a trip to the bathroom.

Golden Rule Number Four: Everything on your terms.

As we’ve just discussed, invading your space is a sign that your pup is questioning your dominance. 

Your puppy should not be rewarded for this behaviour, so if they’re seeking your attention by weaving around your legs, jumping up on you, or otherwise getting in your way, don’t pat or cuddle them.

As with the last rule, make sure everyone in your household is doing the same.

Golden Rule Number Five: The walk.

So you’ve decided to take your puppy out for a little exercise. You pick up your keys, grab their leash -- and your dog goes absolutely nuts.

It’s imperative that you do not take your dog outside the door until their energy levels are down.

Don’t attach the leash until they’re calm. If they start to get excited after that, walk them around the house. Once they’re relaxed, then you can leave.

You may need to postpone the walk for a bit, especially at the beginning, so make sure to set aside enough time (more than you think you’ll need). Some breeds are very high energy, so you might need to burn some off with a game of tug-of-war or fetch before you head out.

In this view, your puppy sees a walk in the same way as a wolf would see a hunt, and  any stress on your part as a signal that danger is near. Stay calm, even if your dog is trying to walk you!

If they pull at the leash, walk around them and block them with your body rather than pulling the leash back.

You also can desensitise your puppy to ‘walkies’ signifiers - put on their leash at random times, pick up your keys every now and then even if you’re not going anywhere.

All of these rules are designed to show your dog that you are in control, and that there’s nothing for them to worry about -- that you are a strong leader and capable of keeping them safe.

As with all training, it’s important to be consistent and to start as you mean to go on.

Puppy Training Tips

Before you begin training your puppy, make sure they feel secure.

Doggy Dan recommends leaving a blanket (preferably with your scent) in every room of the house, so your puppy has somewhere safe to go if it all gets too much. Remove distractions and make sure that the place is quiet.

Remember -- your puppy is just a baby! Don’t push things too far too fast.

At eight weeks old, your pup has the maturity level of a two-year-old child. Attention-seeking behaviour is often just your puppy trying to figure out what the boundaries are.

In Doggy Dan’s view, you can’t soothe a puppy the same way you’d soothe a baby. Your puppy may cry, or get nervous, but cuddling them and talking to them may do more harm than good.

You’ll need to keep a calm, constant and but disengaged presence.

This method is based on positive reinforcement, so be sure to have plenty of treats or toys on hand as rewards for good behaviour!

Now -- where to start?

Toilet Training Tips

Setting the scene:

The first thing you’ll need to tackle is toilet training. This will happen whether you’ve planned to tackle it or not, so it’s best to be prepared.

Remove any shag pile or sheepskin rugs -- the texture feels like grass to your puppy, and they’ll happily do their business there!

At this stage, your puppy shouldn’t have access to the whole house. Create an enclosed space, using baby gates if necessary, to keep your puppy from accessing bedrooms or dangerous areas.

You’ll also need to set up a pen, crate or sleeping area. Consider lining the floor of the area with plastic sheeting or cardboard. If you have a linoleum floor anywhere in your house, this is an ideal spot for your puppy’s sleeping space! For more on puppy preparation, check out our New Puppy Checklist.

If your puppy does let it all go on the carpet, clean it up with an enzyme remover. Otherwise, the smell will linger, and the puppy will return to that spot to do their business the next time.

Getting Down to Business:

Make sure you set a routine early - ideally, take your puppy out the first thing in the morning. 

That being said, your puppy’s baby bladder will almost certainly throw a spanner in the works -- some pups will need to go as often as every fifteen minutes!

You may have trouble getting your pup to go outside at first. After all, they’re new to your house, as well as to the world in general!

Tempt them out with a treat, and be sure to reward them with affection after they get the job done. You should use a verbal command when you take them out -- ‘go toilet’ or similar.

If your new best friend doesn’t do their duty in fifteen minutes or so, bring them back in, but be prepared to let them outside again very, very soon.

Your puppy may urinate inside the house the first time that you leave them alone -- they assume that you’ve gotten lost out in the big bad world, and they’re expecting you to navigate back by scent.

To get to grips with this, as well as some other toilet-training hiccups, consult our Toilet Training Guide.

Submissive Urination Tips

So you’ve followed the Five Golden Rules, and you’re now the alpha in your puppy’s eyes. Your pup is grateful to have a such a strong, nurturing leader, and decides to show their appreciation by… urinating all over the carpet.

Believe it or not, this is a sign of submission, and it generally happens when a puppy is over-excited or fearful.

The absolute worst thing you can do at this point is to get angry, because your puppy will assume that they haven’t done this correctly, and resolve to try better next time. 

Instead, you should stop and think. What’s happening to get your puppy so worked up? Try and reduce exposure to whatever’s caused the anxiety.

When you call your pup, use a calm and gentle tone -- try not to startle them. 

Like bed-wetting in children, this behaviour fades with age, and usually stops entirely by the time your puppy is a year old.

Barking Tips

There’s nothing like incessant barking to drive you (and your neighbours) up the wall. It’s enough to make you want to scream -- which is the worst thing you can do.  

So how do you respond when your tiny terror is blowing the eardrums of everyone in a five-mile radius?

First, take a deep breath, count to ten, and figure out what’s causing the uproar. Why is your puppy barking?

The Danger Bark

Your puppy may be barking to alert you to what it sees as danger. Doggy Dan recommends that you implement a Three Bark Rule:

  • For the first bark, turn your attention to where the dog is looking, use a verbal response such as ‘Okay, thank you’, and turn away.
  • If your puppy keeps barking, physically walk over to them, let them know you’ve seen what’s scared them, and calmly walk away.
  • Put them in time-out if they continue to bark. We’ll cover more on using isolation as a training tool later on.

Barking for Attention

If your puppy is barking to get your attention, follow Golden Rule Number Four (everything on your terms) and don’t give them any. 

Of course, you should still be aware of things like whether they’re desperate for the loo or out of water -- these needs have to be met.

But otherwise, remember that any attention, positive or negative, can reinforce this behaviour, and ignore your puppy. Use a time-out if you need to. 

The Calm Freeze Technique for Barking

Doggy Dan has created a technique called the Calm Freeze.

He demonstrates the power of this technique in his paid course. He shows a video of a bull mastiff who is relentlessly barking. Incredibly, after Doggy Dan applies the Calm Freeze, the dog settles down. Here is how it works:

The Calm Freeze Technique

This very simple trick is one of the best ways to re-introduce some chill into your dog’s life. This technique happens in two simple steps

Step 1,​​ take hold of your dog’s collar. It’s best that you hold them under the chin -- this is far more relaxing than holding them above the neck.

Step 2, do not look at, pat or talk to the dog, simply stay there until they relax. Upon receiving your calm energy, the dog calms down too. 

It is amazingly effective and can be used in any situation where your dog is showing high energy.

The Isolation Calming Technique for Barking 

Another favourite technique of Doggy Dan’s is isolation. When used correctly, this can be a very powerful tool. 

For a pack animal, being shut out from contact is a form of punishment. Isolation can be used when your dog ignores your calming rules and refuses to lower their energy.

This technique comes with a warning. For this technique to be effective and not harmful, the period of isolation must be carefully watched.

Your dog must be let out of isolation as soon as they settle down. This is paramount.

This is how it works...

The Isolation Calming Technique 

After applying the Three Bark Rule, and you have tried the Calm Freeze Technique, and your dog continues to bark, you can calming do the following:

Step 1, calmly take hold of your dog’s collar, and relocate your dog into a safe room away from you, like a laundry. Make sure you can still hear your dog.

Step 2, your dog must be let out of isolation as soon as they settle down. This is paramount. The time of isolation must not be any longer than 5 minutes. 

Step 3, as soon as the barking has stopped, open the door calmly and apply Golden Rule Number Three (ignore your dog after separation).

Crying When Left Tips

If your puppy is crying when they’re left alone, this is likely a sign of separation anxiety. Doggy Dan recommends not giving your pup too large an area to play in. 

They will see it as a place that they have to patrol and take responsibility for, and that can be scary when they’re so little!

Otherwise, don’t reward the behaviour by trying to soothe your dog.

Doggy Dan believes that when the Five Golden Rules are strictly in place, the behaviour of crying when left alone will naturally fade. This is because your dog will have absolute faith in you as a pack leader and will have no reason to be anxious.

If it doesn’t fade after around six months, then revisit the Golden Rules and make sure all steps are being followed properly.

After that, if you believe that you have tried everything, read up on our separation anxiety guide for in-depth solutions.

Common Puppy Problems

When you get a new puppy, it can be very hard to implement so many new rules to follow. Especially when they are so darn cute!

Until their cute behaviours turn into annoying problems like never ending mouthing and biting, jumping, stealing, chewing, not coming to their name and digging.

These are the most most common problems owners are faced with when getting a puppy. According to Doggy Dan, these problems can be easily fixed.

First of course, you must stick to the Golden Rules, always, and then slowly work on implementing strategies to make co-existing with an animal much easier.  

Common Problem #1 Mouthing and Biting 

When your new best friend sinks their needle-sharp teeth right in to the hand that feeds them, it can be difficult to keep your cool. But in order to combat this behaviour, it’s crucial to step back and try and understand where your puppy is coming from. 

Learning how to bite and use their teeth is an important step in their development!

Doggy Dan recommends that you keep a soft chew toy on hand when you pick up your pat your pup, so they can practise on something more suitable than you. This is called the redirection technique which is commonly recommended by dog trainers. 

We’ve gone further into how to stop biting here (link to guide). In this guide we show you many recommendations from other leading dog trainers in their field.  

Common Problem #2 Jumping

Think of a cute puppy literally jumping for joy. It’s an adorable sight, but like with biting, this behaviour needs to stop before they get too big.

According to Doggy Dan, pups jump in the wild in order to get attention from their mothers -- so don’t give them any attention!

Calmly turn away from your buddy, and don’t acknowledge them until your pup has calmed themselves down. Ask visitors to do the same.

If your puppy jumps in excitement outside or at the first sign that they’re going for a walk, use some of the calming methods described earlier - Calm Freeze or Isolation.

Common Problem #3 Stealing

When you’re dealing with a very young puppy, it’s best to prevent stealing by removing temptation.

Keep anything easily portable out of your pups reach. Make sure that your puppy isn’t just taking things out of boredom -- ensue that they’re getting enough exercise, and that they have plenty of toys to play with.

But stealing can also be a bid for attention, or a desire to play a game. As always, remember Golden Rule Number Four (everything on your terms), and don’t react. 

Calmly take the object from your puppy -- swap it for a toy if you need to. You might even chose to ignore the situation entirely if the item isn’t important -- your puppy may just drop it and wander off after a moment.

Your puppy might also be stealing because the toys they have are unsuitable for them to chew on. New puppies need very soft chew toys, as their teeth are quite sensitive. Again, this is in the biting guide. 

A tea-towel with a knot tied in it can make a great chew toy for young pups!

Common Problem #4 Chewing

Almost every dog owner has a piece of furniture changed forever by doggy dental exploration.

As we’ve mentioned before, learning to use their teeth is important for a pup, so the goal here shouldn’t be to stop chewing -- it should be to redirect the behaviour, as calmly and as gently as you possibly can.

Once your furry friend starts gnawing on the table leg, gently take them by the collar, and replace the item in question with a suitable chew toy.

Remember that a very young puppy needs softer toys to chew than an older dog.

Your pup may be devouring the throw cushions because their rubber bone is too hard, or they might be turning to the banisters because a wet tea-towel isn’t cutting it any more.

If you can’t reach your dog, consider throwing a toy in their direction as a distraction. And of course, if they just don’t stop, consider a quick time-out (isolation).

They’ll soon pick up on what is and isn’t suitable for chewing!

Be aware that puppy chewing can turn into destructive chewing if not managed in puppy-hood.

This is explained in our chewing guide, which also features some great homemade sprays and other techniques recommended by different trainers. 

Common Problem #5 Recall (teaching a puppy to come to their name)

How do you calm your puppy down when they won’t come when called? Recall is one of the first things you should be teaching your dog, after toilet training. So how do you make sure that your buddy comes running every time?

According to Doggy Dan, there are three methods that you can use:

Method One: Using Treats

Without giving your pooch a good grasp of recall, you won’t be able to put Golden Rule Number Four (everything on your terms) in place. 

To get this command down, you’ll need a whole lot of time and a whole lot of treats.

Use a verbal command - ‘come and your dog’s name', and entice your pup towards you with a delicious doggy biscuit or piece of food. If your puppy doesn’t come first time, walk away and try again later. 

Be careful not to over-do it; you don’t want your puppy to become desensitised to their own name!

Method Two: The Long Line Technique 

Doggy Dan also has another trick up his sleeve - The Long Line Technique.

It can be used in many training scenarios but it works particularly well for teaching a puppy to come to you.

Doggy Dan recommends attaching a ‘long line’ -- a piece of clothesline up to twenty meters in length -- to your dogs collar. 

This is how it works;

The Long Line Technique 

Step 1, tie a long line to your dogs collar, drop the line and allow your dog to play and explore. This is very different to teaching your dog how to leash train, so please don't confuse your dog. 

Step 2, call you dog, by using a consistent command like "come + dog name". If your dog is ignoring you then you can give a gentle tug and encourage them to come as you call their name. Once they do (with the help of the line) you can reward them.

Method Three: Call My Bluff Technique

This one is best done as a team effort.

The idea is that a dog will always follow its pack -- if your pup sees her pack-mates running off, she’s bound to follow!

For this, you’ll need a couple of friends or family members and a really good poker face.

If your puppy is off investigating and won’t respond when you call them, form a pack with your friends. Bunch in close together, turn your backs, and walk off.

You’ll need to keep calm -- of course you’d be worried if your pup took off into the wilderness -- but relax, stay together, and your pup is sure to follow.

When Not to Call your Puppy

Doggy Dan recommends not calling your dog when you know that there’s no chance that they’ll come.

You not is not likely to come to you when

  • When they’re totally absorbed
  • When their energy is too high for them to respond
  • When there are obstacles in their way

 Trying to call your puppy while distracted decreases the likelihood that your puppy will see you as dominant or as an alpha.

In the beginning, you shouldn’t call them when you don’t have any rewards to hand; you want to make recall a positive experience for your pup.

Common Problem #6 Digging

Dogs simply love to dig, and your puppy is no exception!

The trick to dealing with digging is to first understand the behaviour, and then to direct those impulses elsewhere.

There are times when digging behaviour can be of some concern. Your pup might be suffering from separation anxiety and looking to escape. Consult our separation anxiety guide for more information.

They may also be too hot and looking for shade, so make sure that they’re comfortable and have enough water, particularly in the summer. Or it could be that your pup is isn’t getting enough exercise!

Most likely though, your dog is simply following digging for fun. Building a digging pit in the garden is a good idea.

You can make a small hole yourself, drop a favourite toy in, and let them have at it!

Repeat the technique until your pup gets it. If you don’t have the space, you may need to distract your pup with a toy. 

Toys and distractions

Doggy Dan teaches his students that there is no limit to the number of distractions that you can use to keep your dog’s mind off digging. 

From food to toys here are just a couple of recommended and dog training approved methods you can use:

  • A paddling pool is a great way to waste time for many dogs, jumping in and out and cooling off! 
  • Simple foods such as ice-cubes with peas or dog biscuits in the middle can waste a lot of time.
  • Letting your dog have frozen chicken necks to cool down and waste time.  

There can be a fine line between playful digging and the forming of a destructive behavioural habit. To learn more about this click here. 

Puppy Commands

Teaching your pup to respond to commands is the easy part!

Keep in mind that while training a puppy to do things in the house might be simple enough, getting them to follow them outside can be tricky.

You’ll need to repeat the training in all sorts of environments.

Training & Commands for 'Sit'

Hold a piece of food above your puppy’s nose and say the word ‘sit’. At the same time, move the food back over their head until their bottom hits the floor.

Then give them the treat! Repeat this several times, until you feel confident enough to remove the treat.

Once they are able to do this when you are at close range, increase the distance, using a leash or long line if necessary (more on this later).

Training & Commands for 'Down'

Ask your puppy to 'sit'. Holding a piece of food in front of your puppy’s nose, move it slowly down the front of your puppies chest.

At the same time, say the word ‘down’.

Move the food down to the ground and then hold it so that your puppy has to almost move backwards to sniff it.

When your puppy is almost down, stay still and let your puppy work it out.

Do not release the food until your puppy’s tummy hits the ground.

The 'Down' Command 

Step 1 Ask you puppy to 'sit'.

Step 2 Move the food down in front of the chest.

Step 3 Say 'down' as your puppy starts to move down.

Step 4 Lower the food down to the ground.

Step 5 Hold it there, wait until she moves back and lowers down.

Step 4 Release the food ONLY when your puppy's tummy hits the ground.

Training & Commands for 'Stay'

‘Stay’ is one of the most important weapons in any puppy trainer’s arsenal. Your puppy needs to know how to stop and think! 

It’s even more important here that you’re in an area with no distractions, as your puppy’s attention will wander when they’re standing still.

You’ll want to start off in a sit position. Use a hand gesture and the word ‘stay’, and move slowly away from your dog.

If they break the stay, ignore them!

If they stay still, move back and reward them with a treat.

You can increase the distance and time as the puppy gets older and more confident. As with ‘Sit’, you’ll have to try this in several different environments.

It’s very important that you break the ‘stay’ with an ‘OK’ or similar command, otherwise the puppy gets the message that they can wander off whenever they’re bored!

Training & Commands for 'OK' and 'Good boy/girl'

OK as a command should mean ‘as you were’, while ‘good boy/girl’ should be about rewarding good behaviour.

Training & Commands for 'Wait'

The ‘wait’ command is slightly different than ‘stay’. ‘Stay’ should be used when you plan to physically return to your dog, while ‘wait’ can be used at any time, anywhere.

Get your puppy to sit, use the ‘wait’ command (and possibly a visual cue, like raising one finger) and once you’re ready, call your dog to you.

Like with ‘Stay’, you can expand the distance over time. Don’t forget to reward good behaviour!

Training & Commands for 'Walk'

Puppies are boundless bundles of energy, and exhausted pup parents often find getting their dog to walk calmly at their side an impossible task.

Though it might seem counterintuitive, Doggy Dan advocates training your dog to walk off-leash first, by showing them a treat, holding it at your side, and getting them to follow.

Start off slow -- ten or fifteen paces -- and gradually build up the distance before you even attach the leash!

If your dog panics when they realise they’re on the leash, calm them down by changing direction.  

Doggy Dan has created yet another very simple yet powerful calming technique called Stop, Start, Change Direction (SSCD).

This is an excellent way to show your dog that you’re in control. This is how it works;

The Stop, Start, Change Direction (SSCD) Technique

Step 1 Attach the leash.

Step 2 Stand still, then walk until your dog starts to pull.

Step 3 Calmly, stop and change direction by turning around. 

Step 4 Repeat Step 2. 

Not only will this make clear that you’re in charge, it works wonders as a distraction.

Then resume what you were doing and then repeat the SSCD technique if your dog starts pulling, darting, or panicking.

For more off leash training techniques, check out our lead training guide.

The Five Golden Rules, Does it Actually Work?

As you can see, Doggy Dan's puppy training teachings are very simple.

But is it too simple? Is it a little too good to be true?

Well, that's what we were thinking so we put it to the test with DogPeer's Cavoodle, Moxie.

Moxie started the training program at 3 months, now she is 6 months old. Jamie and Zack documented their experience with Doggy Dan's 'Five Golden Rules' technique.

When we first got Moxie, our hearts melted. She is now almost six months old and our hearts continues to melt in every moment we look at her, even when she is destroying my clothes!

So as you can imagine, adopting Doggy Dan's rules at the start was impossible.

She was just too cute to calmly push away when jumping up, she was too cute to apply the Three Bark Rule when she was learning how to bark at a piece of carrot, and she was just too cute to ignore when returning home. So in all honestly we gave up. Well, we loosely continues to used the rules, sparingly. 

At about five months old, we noticed her separation anxiety was getting bad, her chewing was out of control and she was starting to bark more. It felt like Moxie was running the house. A lot of these behaviours were no longer cute, they were worrying. 

So we went back and adopted the Five Golden Rules again, this time it was much easier because we had the motivation. It was too stressful for Moxie to be ruling the house. 

After stickily using the rules for a month, we saw huge improvements. However, we have noticed that she is always trying to test us to get back up on top!

I believe, the Five Golden Rules is all you really need to follow to get a basic understanding of how to form a healthy relationship between you and your dog and to set boundaries.

I do prefer other trainers for certain things. Like Ian Dunbar for lead training, Cesar Millan for puppy anxiety, Patricia McConnell for learning how to have an energetic relationship with your dog. 

All in all we believe the Five Golden Rules to be very effective!

What Happens Next? 

So there you have it -- a comprehensive guide on how to train your dog with the power of calm!

If you’re looking for a handy way to remember these and other tips, enter your email address and we’ll send you a FREE puppy command cheat sheet and a list of all the Calming Techniques described today.