Dachshund Breed Information

The number of Dachshunds registered by the Australian National Kennel Club has risen almost 500 percent in recent years, making them one of the fastest growing breeds in the land down under.

The Dachshund’s adorable sausage-shaped body is what draws most people to this breed, but it's their larger-than-life personality that makes their owners fall in love.  

This breed’s profound loyalty, unmatched exuberance, and spunky attitude sets them apart from other dogs and adds excitement to any home.

While the Dachshund is an undoubtedly cute and vivacious pet, they are not for everyone. These small but mighty dogs are known for their very high prey and defence drives and are susceptible to a number of hereditary diseases.

Dachshund History

It is believed Dachshunds originated in early 17th century Germany, where they were bred to aid hunters by chasing badgers (as well as, other small mammals) out of their dens.

Dachshund literally translates to “Badger Dog” in German, and true to their name they were an exceptional fit for the task since their short stature helped them to squeeze into spots other hounds couldn’t while their paddle-shaped paws that allow for quick digging.

Though their ancestry is not entirely clear it is thought wire-haired Doxies were created by crossing the Saint Hubert Hound and the terrier. Later on, long-haired varieties were created by breeding the wire-haired Dachshund with spaniels, to create a long luxurious coat that protected them while hunting in colder climates.

Today, Dachshunds are more likely to be found in their owner’s lap than hunting the fields, though they still enjoy digging and a great game of chase! 

Who are Dachshunds Best for?

  • Elderly people

  • Couples

  • Single people

  • Small homes or apartments

  • Moderately active people

  • Homes without other pets

  • Families with older children

Due to their fragile backs and high prey drives, Dachshunds are NOT recommended for homes with small children or small pets (such as hamsters or bunnies).

Health Concerns

  • Dachshunds are prone to a both of hereditary and lifestyle diseases.

  • Their floppy ears make Doxies susceptible to ear infections, so care must be taken to keep these clean and dry (especially during bath time). Plucking the inner ear hair can also reduce the chances of inflammation and infection.

  • Obesity is very common in this breed, so owners are advised to watch their weight carefully. Overweight Dachshunds are at a much greater risk of diabetes, back pain, joint problems, slipped discs, and heart disease.

  • Their elongated torso makes Dachshunds prone to inter vertebral disc disease (IDD), a severe musculoskeletal disease caused by the spinal cord becoming pinched between the spinal vertebrae. IDD can cause paralysis or even death.

  • Owners can decrease the chances of their dog developing this condition by supporting their back when picking them up by using one hand under the chest and the other hand under the bum. Doggy stairs are a great tool to keep them from jumping to get on the furniture or beds. These can be easily made or bought preassembled.  

  • Dachshunds are notorious for having poor dental health.  Daily brushing and dental chews (like grain-free Greenies) can break off the tarter that causes tooth decay. Doxies should also have professional teeth cleaning performed by their veterinarian every year to remove the plaque buildup under the gums that brushing alone cannot reach.
  • Joint issues such as hip dysplasia and patella luxation are also prevalent in this breed. Many vets recommend glucosamine and chondroitin supplements for both older and very active Doxies.
  • Hereditary eye issues such as cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) can affect older dachshunds.

Life Span

12-16 years

Dachshund Price Range 

The price range for Doxies varies substantially, some can be bought for as low as $300 while “Premium” Doxies can go for upwards of $4000.

Pricing depends on whether or not the dog has, registration paperwork, but their lineage, colouring, gender, age, and breeder preference plays a large role in this as well.

Tips from Dachshund Show Breeders

  1. Never brush your long-haired Dachshund while their coat is wet-- this is when the hair is most fragile and breakage prone.
  2. Pick a gentle shampoo that will not strip their natural oils. Something with soothing botanicals such as aloe or oatmeal is preferred for their sensitive skin. Earthbath Oatmeal & Aloe Dog & Cat Shampoo is a favorite for many breeders.
  3. Use duckbill-style hair clips to section your Dachshund’s hair while brushing and trimming; this will make brushing the undercoat easier and help you to give them a more precise cut.
  4. Bathing a Dachshund more than a couple times a month can create dry, flaky, skin and dull their coats. Use dog-safe wet wipes for minor cleaning and save bath time for when they are really dirty. EarthBath Grooming Wipes are a great choice for regular use since they contain Hawaiian Awapuhi Extract, a natural conditioner that strengthens hair and is common in many high-end salon products for humans. EarthBath’s Vanilla Almond Dog Spray is a great all-natural doggy deodorant to use between baths.

No matter how frequently you brush your long-haired Dachshund they are bound to get a tangle now and then. Combat stubborn mats with detergent-free Tropiclean D-Mat Tangle Remover Spray.

What do owners have to say about their Dachshund? 

Service animals should have a moderate energy level, high enough to give them the desire to work but not so high that they are bouncing around and uncontrollable.

Carmen and El Camino the Dachshunds

Abbie Sharpe, owner of El Camino and Carmen

“The best thing about owning a doxie, besides their sweet, charming demeanour, is their longevity.

I’m NOT an animal person by nature so when I fell in love with this breed, I fell wholeheartedly knowing I have a pal for a very long time.

Be patient and consistent with the potty training. Their devotion and infectious personalities will make it worth the trouble.” 

Squirt the Dachshund

Katie Schirmer, owner of Squirt

“Pros: He's a sweetheart. He just wants to be by me. He doesn't need a lot of exercise, and his coat is so velvety soft it couldn't be more low maintenance if he was bald.

Cons: He's kind of a diva. Coming from beagles in training, I'm not used to dogs who turn their nose up at certain treats. The breed is sort of known for having bad teeth if you don't take care of them. He's supposedly about 6 (years old), and just had eight teeth pulled when he went in for a dental. And of course, the risk of back issues is always a concern. He also barks at everything! Never aggressive, just loud.”

Bernie the Dachshund

Karli Hawthorne, owner of Bernie

“Potty train. Potty train. Potty train. Even if it means putting them in dog obedience classes--and buy indestructible toys!”

Apollo Luna the Dachshunds

Morgan Tolle owner of Luna and Apollo

“They love to be right next to you and truly are great companions. They have the best personalities, and are so funny but also very stubborn! Their worst traits would probably be their barking--a  leaf will blow by, and they will bark at it!

Their barking is uncontrollable sometimes and it’s tough! But we wouldn’t trade them for the world!!’

The Wrap Up

With any dog comes responsibility, but prospective Dachshund owners should know that this breed will need extra care to help them live long and full lives. Potential owners should consider the level of care and training they require before committing to this breed.

This breed is not recommended for homes with small children due to their fragility and predisposition to inter vertebral disc disease. Because of their proclivity for hereditary diseases, prospective owners should only purchase Doxies from reputable breeders.

Those who are up for the challenge of training and caring for these dogs will find that they make excellent family pets who love freely and protect those who care for them.

French Bulldog Breed Information

In just four years the French Bulldog has risen the ranks from Australia's 11th most popular breed in 2013 to their fourth most popular breed in 2017.

Their popularity isn’t limited to the southern hemisphere either, with the Frenchie reigning supreme as the most popular small breed in the US last year.

French Bulldog-inspired designs are even cropping up in prominent apparel and home decor lines, with J Crew, Skechers, and even Wal-Mart slapping their adorable faces on everything from sweaters to mugs!

The popularity of the French Bulldog is not a new fad, in fact; they have been prized companions for much longer than you might think!

French Bull Dog History

The mid-19th century saw a rise in the popularity of smaller Bulldogs, particularly in Nottingham, England, where they were the favourite companion of lace makers since they kept down rats.

Over time the demand for handmade lace lessened due to the rise of the Industrial Revolution. Lacemakers in fear of being replaced by machines, relocated to Northern France where the craft was still in full swing, taking their beloved pets along for the move.

These toy bulldogs became a favourite pet of French prostitutes who nicknamed them “Bouledogues Francais” which translates to “French Bulldog”, needless to say, the moniker stuck, spreading with them on their journey across the ocean to America in the early 1900s where they were readily accepted.

The “rose-ear” feature that was preferred by the French was deemed unacceptable by Americans and were further bred down with pugs and other terriers to achieve the upright “bat ear” appearance of modern-day Frenchies.

Who are French Bulldogs Best for?

  • People who live in apartments or condos

  • Elderly people

  • Couples

  • Single people

  • Less-active owners

  • Families with older children

Health Concerns

Facial Structure

Due to their facial structure, French Bulldogs are very susceptible to Brachiocephalic Airway Syndrome (also known as Congenital Obstructive Upper Airway Disease).

This disorder is caused by one or more anatomical misformations including small nostrils, narrow trachea, everted laryngeal saccules (air sacs), and an elongated soft palate that partially obstructs the airway.

These abnormalities can cause a number of issues that range in severity including noisy breathing, fatigue, gagging/vomiting, fainting, and heart problems.

This disorder often gets worse during hot weather and makes Frenchies much more susceptible to heat stroke.

Reproductive Problems 

Reproductive problems are more common than not in this breed. Breeding after five years of age is severely discouraged.

Genetic Spinal Deformities 

Frenchies are prone to genetic spinal deformities such as hemivertebrae, a painful condition where the spinal cord is constricted by misformed vertebrae. Surgery to correct these deformities is expensive, forcing some owners to euthanize. Untreated hemivertebrae can result in paralysis, incontinence, and excruciating pain for the canine.

Inter-vertebral Disc Disease

Inter-vertebral Disc Disease (IDD) is another common skeletal problem with this breed and is characterised by slipped spinal discs that can constrict the spinal cord causing paralysis and even death.

Pulmonic Stenosis

Pulmonic Stenosis or narrowing of the pulmonary artery is somewhat common with this breed and can lead to fatigue or collapse during vigorous exercise or in severe cases Congestive Heart Failure.

Hip Dysplasia 

Hip Dysplasia is common in active Frenchies and can cause limping, pain, and immobility of the back legs. This disorder can be corrected with periacetabular osteotomy surgery or made more manageable with medication

Retinal Dysplasia

Retinal Dysplasia is a hereditary condition characterised by the malformation of the retina. This disorder causes vision impairment, though it is not progressive or life-threatening.


Hypothyroidism (also known as under-active thyroid) usually presents itself in affected dogs around four years of age. This is usually not life-threatening but it can cause hair loss, weight gain, dull coats, and may require medication.

Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic Dermatitis (also known as eczema) is prevalent in this breed. Using hypoallergenic shampoos and bathing less frequently can help control the symptoms.

Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is extremely common with this breed, because of this French Bulldogs should never be left outside for extended periods during hot or humid weather.

Life Span

9-11 years


This breed sometimes has problems absorbing nutrients from food and may require a special diet or supplements.

French Bulldog Price Range 

The average cost for a French Bulldog in Australia ranges from $3,500 to $4,000 but can be more (or less) depending on colour, lineage, paperwork, and breeder preference.

Male pups (not spaded) from show dog parents go for around $6,000-$7,000.  

The steep prices are due to reproductive difficulties in the breed, causing most breeders to resort to artificial insemination.

Natural birth is extremely dangerous for Frenchies, so C-sections are required, which makes breeding quite costly.

Furthermore, there is a very small window of opportunity for the females, since it is unsafe for them to give birth after five years of age. 

Tips from French Bulldog Show Breeders

  1. French Bulldogs sometimes develop dry, cracked skin on their noses, a soothing balm like Natural Dog Company’s award-winning Snout Soother. This balm uses natural botanicals including organic grapeseed oil, hemp-seed oil, jojoba oil, and Vitamin E to ease the pain and moisturise affected areas.

  2. Often French Bulldogs will develop tear stains; a gentle sodium hydroxide-based stain remover product will work to diminish discoloration, while not agitating the skin. We like the Petpost Tear-Stain Remover products, just make sure you rinse any remaining product with water after cleansing.

  3. Breeders of brachiocephalic breeds swear Natural Dog Company’s “Organic Wrinkle Balm”  which helps to eliminate odour and prevent skin infections and chafing caused by moisture trapped in the facial wrinkles.

  4. Frenchies require shampoos with a super-gentle formula to so as to not trigger skin issues, Earthbath Ultra Mild Puppy Shampoo is a top pick for breeders (plus it smells like cherries)!

  5. Vets and breeders alike recommend adding omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E supplements to keep French Bulldog’s skin moisturised and itch-free.

What do owners have to say about their Cavapoo? 

Service animals should have a moderate energy level, high enough to give them the desire to work but not so high that they are bouncing around and uncontrollable.

Darla the French Bulldog

Lisa Eger owner of  Darla

“Advice I would give is don't take the cheap way out. This breed can be pricey.

Do not look for the cheapest Frenchie to buy. It will more than likely be poorly bred with the many issues listed above.

Also, you cannot go cheap on their dog food.”

Teagan the French Bulldog

Roxie Covell owner of Teagan

“Tegan is everyone's best friend, and she has so much heart to go around for all, but she is not one for camping, hiking or even walking an art festival. She grows tired super quick when out and about, sadly.

Tegan loves coming across other dogs, but other dogs look at her sideways since she makes some weird dog noises.

We have a tortoise, Goldie, that she likes to follow and protect (too closely) with her giant paws”

The Wrap Up

Although they are quite expensive in comparison to other popular purebreds, French Bulldogs make extraordinary companions with a fun personality and cheerful disposition.

Those thinking of buying or adopting a Frenchie should make sure they can accommodate their physical limitations and are prepared to deal with the health risks associated with this breed.

You won’t find a high-impact adventurer in this breed, but you will find a loyal companion who will love you until the end.

Cavoodle (Cavapoo) Breed Information

Cavoodles (also known as Cavapoos or Kavoodles) are thought to have been first bred in the 1950s, but over the last 10 years, the popularity of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel/Poodle mix has skyrocketed.

This lovable hybrid tops the charts as the most popular small breed in Australia; in fact, the demand is so high there that Australian breeders have doubled their population in the last four years to meet the need. 

Besides being downright adorable, these curly mutts are well-suited for almost any lifestyle. The Cavapoo’s energetic and loving temperament keeps single owners entertained, while their small stature and gentle nature makes them great for apartment living or families with children.

Cavoodle History

The modern-day Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a descendant of the Toy Spaniel, a popular companion of affluent women during the Elizabethian era. The Cavalier earned it’s regal title because it was the favourite breed of King Charles II, who thought so highly of this breed that he included their acceptance into law.

History tells us that King Charles II was seldom seen without two or three spaniels at his heels. So fond was King Charles II of his little dogs, he wrote a decree that the King Charles Spaniel should be accepted in any public place, even in the Houses of Parliament where animals were not usually allowed. This decree is still in existence today in England." -- The Cavalier King Spaniel Club Website 

The Poodle though commonly thought to be a French creation is believed to have originated in Germany in the late 16th century. Contrary to their modern portrayal as a “frou-frou” dog, the Standard Poodle was traditionally used for retrieving waterfowl due to their obedient nature and thick coat which protected their skin from frigid water and underbrush.

Over the years the Standard Poodle was bred down in size to be used as both a companion animal and a truffle-sniffing dog since their smaller size made them less likely to damage the valuable fungi.

Who are Cavoodles best for?

The small stature and gentle nature of Cavoodles make them an excellent choice for a variety of owners including:

  • Families with small children

  • Single people

  • Elderly people

  • Moderately active people

  • Homes with multiple pets

  • Those who live in apartments or small homes

  • People with allergies

Health Concerns

  • Since Cavoodles are a crossbreed, they are generally healthier than their purebred parents, though they can still genetically disposed to certain breed-specific illnesses.

  • One common issue with Cavapoo is ear infections caused by trapped moisture due to their floppy. Plucking their inner ear hairs and drying their inner ear after bathtime can help to prevent this condition.

  • Overeating and lack of exercise can cause the Cavapoo to pack on pounds and possibly even become obese.

  • Like the poodle, this breed is prone to gingivitis and tooth decay, be sure you brush their teeth daily. Dental chews can be given in addition to brushing (Grain-free Greenies are our top pick!), these help to break off tarter naturally. Don’t forget to schedule a yearly dental cleaning at the vet to take care of the plaque build up under the gums that you cannot reach with a toothbrush alone.

  • Eye defects (including cherry eye and cataracts) are common in Spaniels and can sometimes be seen in the Cavapoo, though it is much less likely.

  • Heart Disease and Dilated Cardiomyopathy are leading causes of death for toy poodles. This illness can trickle down to the Toy Cavoodles, though statistically speaking the odds are much lower due to mixed breeds having a wider gene pool.

  • Life Span on average is 10-14 years.

Price Range 

Prices can range from $1500 to over $3000 depending on gender, age, appearance, lineage, and breeder preference.

Tips from Show Breeders

  1. Use only stainless steel or ceramic bowls to feed and water your Cavapoo. Plastic dishes, even BPA-free ones can cause unsightly nose discoloration.Furthermore, plastic bowls are prone to microscopic scratches which can harbor bacteria (even after repeated washing), and causing allergic reactions.

  1. Giving your Cavoodle filtered water can decrease and even completely eliminate tear-staining. Persistent stains will require a professional strength stain remover like Tropiclean SPA Tear Stain Remover.

  1. A high-quality and balanced dog food will keep your pup looking and feeling their best. We recommend Orijen 6 Fish Grain-Free Formula Dry Dog Food because it consists entirely of lean meat and antioxidant-filled fruits and veggies. Unlike other popular dog foods, Orijen contains no fillers or chemical preservatives! The fatty acids in the fish will make your Cavapoo’s coat shiny and luxurious!

  1. Nature's Specialties Almond Crisp Shampoo is a cult favorite among Cavoodle breeders and groomers! This gentle shampoo brightens any color coat, and since it is concentrated it lasts for ages! Keep in mind you will need to dilute this shampoo 32:1.

  1. Shampoos strip hair of their natural oils, leaving the coat frizzy and unmanageable. Combat the frizz with a good quality leave-in conditioner like Chris Christensen Ice on Ice Conditioner with Sunscreen, which will detangle and protect their coat from sun bleaching.

What do owners have to say about their Cavapoo? 

Service animals should have a moderate energy level, high enough to give them the desire to work but not so high that they are bouncing around and uncontrollable.

Cleo the Cavoodle

Mollie Linton, owner of  Cleo

“Choosing a Cavoodle was the best thing we ever did, at first we were a bit concerned that they were too expensive and as we are young, we had to do quite a bit of saving up. But she is honestly the best dog.

She’s so cuddly and supportive. She knows when you’re upset and she comforts you. She is such low maintenance and doesn’t shed hair which is perfect for us living in an apartment.

She has such a kind and gentle soul and provides plenty of entertainment to our family.”  

Sundae the Cavoodle

Nola Cipri, owner of  Sundae

“You don't begin to know how much love you have for them until you bring them home.

They are high maintenance, but who cares, they really are your baby.”

Holly Coco Cavoodles

Maria Manley, owner of
Holly & Coco

“I am both an owner and a breeder of Cavoodles.

Pros are they are beautiful, loving, intelligent and peaceful, non-aggressive dogs. Low to non-shedding and usually don't have the funky dog smell.

Cons are they have to be groomed every 6 to 8 weeks. As for the price - worth every dollar.

They are the most beautiful dogs I have ever owned. Our family is besotted with our two.”

Remy the Cavoodle

Amber Sharrock, owner of Remy

“Cons - terrible recall. Very much like a cat. Pros - far too many to list here, she is my baby even though she picks and chooses to come to her name when it suits her.”

The Wrap Up

If you are looking for a low-maintenance couch dog, then the Cavoodle probably isn’t for you.

Those willing to put in the work to keep them healthy and groomed, the Cavoodle makes a devoted companion with teddy bear looks who will never want to leave your side.

The Easiest Dogs to Train to Suit Your Needs

The World Canine Organization recognizes 339 breeds of dogs, and since you have clicked on this article, it is probably safe to assume that you are looking for which of these breeds are the easiest dogs to train.

The answer isn’t as simple as you may think, the easiest dogs to train aren’t always the smartest, prettiest, or ones with perfect pedigrees, it is the ones who are most suitable for their intended purpose.

Every dog has a job, even if it is a simple one like being a faithful companion. Some dogs take to their roles more easily than others, in this article we will explore the attributes of various breeds and which are best suited for certain purposes.

Finding the Easiest Dogs to Train for Your Task

Any dog can be trained with the proper amount of time, commitment, and patience from the owner. An owner must be committed to training practices willing to go through a process of trial and error, find out what works for their dog.

Some dog breeds are predisposed to certain behaviors and job types which can make the training process easier OR more difficult for the owner.

Take for example the Australian Shepherd. These dogs, who are thought to have descended from the Border Collie, were bred to be superior herders and imported to the US  for this very purpose; although very good at their job, sometimes their temperament and energy level is too much for an inexperienced owner.

The AKC website explains, “Aussies exhibit an irresistible impulse to herd, anything: birds, dogs, kids. This strong work drive can make Aussies too much dog for a sedentary pet owner. Aussies are remarkably intelligent, quite capable of hoodwinking an unsuspecting novice owner. In short, this isn’t the pet for everyone.”  

Before you can find the easiest dogs to train for your particular task, we must first establish WHAT your dog’s job will be.

Finding the Right Personality and Size

The three most important factors for selecting a dog is temperament, energy level, and size, take these personality traits into account when browsing for your new companion, these are vital for making sure the dog will be a good fit for your household.


Family Dogs

First and foremost you want a friendly, mild-mannered dog, who will get along well with all members of the household. Some dogs simply do not like children or certain genders of humans, while these dogs may be great for a single person, they just will not do as a family pet. Labradors, bulldog breeds, and the Hungarian Vizsla all make fantastic pets for families with kids.  

Service Animals 

A service animal should be even-tempered and not overly excitable.

Working Dogs 

Working dogs should be focused and have a desire for obedience and pleasing their owner; a hunting or herding dog that is disobedient can stray off and be injured by cars or other animals. You may think a high prey drive would be essential for dogs with these types of jobs but often it can be counterproductive,making them  liable to injuring the animals they should be herding or retrieving. Golden Retrievers and Basset Hounds are great examples of hunting dogs with lower prey drives.

Trick Dogs 

A dog with the potential to learn elaborate tricks will be eager to please, energetic, and very intuitive toward their owners. Jack Russells and German Shepherds are typically great at learning fun tricks, and most importantly they enjoy learning them!

Energy Level

Family Dogs 

Your dog needs to match your family’s energy level.  A couch potato breed like brachycephalic (flat-faced) English Bulldogs will not be a good fit for an active family who enjoys hiking several times a week. The same is true for a sedentary family who is looking into a very active breed like a Jack Russell who’s needs can go unfulfilled by more laid-back owners.

Service Animals 

Service animals should have a moderate energy level, high enough to give them the desire to work but not so high that they are bouncing around and uncontrollable.

Working Dogs 

Working dogs should have a high energy level; however, their owner will need to keep their energy levels in check with lots of stimulation and exercise.This will cut down on negative behaviours like being destructive, chasing pets, and herding children.

Trick Dogs 

Trick dogs should be high energy but not so highly-strung that they lose focus and refuse to follow your commands. Keep in mind that a high energy pup can become a very well-behaved dog with the right training regime.


Family Dogs

Contrary to popular belief, smaller dogs are not always the right fit for families with small children. Children are often quite rough with animals, though it is probably unintentional, small dogs are more prone to injuries from being mishandled or dropped. Small dogs are often more quick to bite than larger breeds since they are more easily intimidated, although this isn’t always the case. Large dogs are sturdier and generally have a more gentle and laid-back persona, which can be a good thing with an excitable toddler.

Service Animals

Consider the task your dog will be performing, a teacup Yorkie will have a hard time leading his owner as a seeing-eye dog. Whereas someone who requires an emotional support animal may prefer a smaller dog that they can keep close by in a handbag or a sling.

Working Dogs

Herding dogs typically should be midsize to large breeds. Hunting dogs can be any size depending on what animal they are trained to hunt. The small and mighty Dachshund was bred to flush out badgers and beagles are a favourite choice for rabbit dogs. Whereas Golden Retrievers are a popular choice for retrieving ducks since they have a “gentle mouth” that doesn’t damage the meat.

Trick Dogs 

Trick dogs can be any size.

No matter what the breed or background of the dog, remember that training takes time and effort on the part of the owner. A breed’s predisposition to certain behaviours or tasks can either help or hinder the training process.

Family-Oriented Breeds

Choosing the right dog for your family is paramount for many reasons, mainly because this animal will be sharing your living space for many years! Secondly, a very destructive or high-strung dog can add more stress and work for parents. Remember that children become attached, even if you decide it isn’t working out.

Don’t just adopt or buy a dog on a whim, make sure you know the dog’s background and personality before you bring him home. Set your family up for success by taking the time to get to know the dog before inviting him into your life.

Don’t Rely on Breed Stereotypes

American Staffordshire Terriers, also known as Pit Bulls, have gotten a terrible reputation in recent years being targeted by breed-specific legislation that labels them as an “aggressive” breed. This is simply not the case, although often used for the disturbing practice of dog fighting, “pit bulls” were the family dog of choice in the 19th century, earning them the nickname “Nanny Dogs”.

Bull dog breeds rank on Cesar Millan’s top 10 best breeds for family dogs list.

Cesar Millan's Take

The great advantage of bulldogs? They’re sturdy, so they can take anything that rambunctious kids throw at them, while they’re not very energetic. End result? A dog that will put up with a lot.

They’re also not picky about where they live, so both small apartments and large houses are fine.

Remember that just because a dog is great with children, does not mean that it will be easily trained to obey house rules.

Take the beagle, for example, a friendly loving breed with a high prey drive and is often distracted by their sense of smell. Beagles are just as likely to snuggle you on the couch as to ignore your commands in lieu of chasing squirrels and digging through the trash.

It is important that you do not to judge a book by its cover, just because a dog is a Labrador doesn’t mean it is going to be great with children.

You must realise that dogs, like humans, are individuals and should be treated as such. Consider the dog's personality taking into account their temperament, energy level, and size.

Service Dogs

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines service dogs as canines who are trained to aid and carry out tasks for individuals who have physical, medical, and mental limitations.

Service dogs come in many shapes and sizes; there is no limitation on breeds who can perform service work however some can be more easily trained and better suited for specific tasks.

Guide Dogs

Guide dogs are often used by the visually impaired to help them navigate the world around them, dogs performing this task should be larger breed who is very focused. Labrador Retrievers are a great choice for this type of work since they are eager to please and very owner-focused. 

Medical Alert Dogs

Medical Alert dogs can perform functions from alerting that a seizure is about to take place to identifying allergens in an environment.

The AKC website explains that “Their training is similar to that of a police dog learning to track scents or drugs. Breeds that most commonly work as allergy alert dogs are the Poodle, the Golden Retriever, and the Portuguese Water Dog.”

Larger breeds such as the Golden Retriever and Labrador are great for seizure and diabetic alert dogs since they forge strong bonds with their owners, are innately caring, and learn quickly. Their size plays a vital role in this as well, since a seizure dog will need to lay on their owner during an episode to reduce chances of self-injury.

Psychiatric Support Dog

Psychiatric Support Dogs are often prescribed to people suffering from debilitating mental illnesses that hinder their ability to perform daily tasks, the most common diagnoses for people who require these support animals are PTSD, agoraphobia, and severe anxiety.

Borzois are well-suited and are very receptive to training for this type of task. The AKC website recommends this breed because of their, “ intelligence, independence, and keen sense of awareness.”

There is no clear-cut answer about which breed best performs the functions of a service dog. Size, task requirements, and temperament must all be considered when choosing a service animal.

Working Dogs

Herding Dogs

The herding instinct is ingrained into certain breeds, but training them to control this instinct is another matter. Cesar Millan explains, “the innate herding instinct of breeds in this group will develop into problem behavior if not satisfied. Owners must provide regular exercise and mental stimulation to keep their dog happy and healthy.”

The ease of training a herding dog depends entirely on the owner’s dedication and persistence--these are much trickier breeds to train and require a lot of work.

Hunting and Tracking Dogs

Dogs can be used for all manners of hunting and tracking, from retrieving kills to locating bodies. The hound group and retriever breeds top picks for these types of jobs.

Though typically stubborn in other types of training, beagles excel in hunting small animals and tracking; the AKC praises this breed’s flexibility stating, “Beagles have great tracking ability and originally worked as rabbit hunters.  From the field they went to the airport where they work for U.S. Customs & Border Patrol as narcotics and agriculture detector dogs. You can also see the Beagle out and about as a bed bug detector due to his strong nose.”

Retriever breeds are also an excellent choice for hunting small animals since as their name suggests, they were bred to retrieve things, and are known for their gentle mouth and desire to please.

Other great choices are:

  • Irish Setters
  • Plott Hounds
  • Basset Hounds
  • Coonhounds

Herding breeds require little training to execute their task; however they can be quite challenging in other aspects of life--these dogs will need lots of exercise to perform to their fullest ability. Hounds make excellent hunting dogs, though their nose tends to get the best of them, pay close attention to obedience training since hunting can be a dangerous sport for untrained dogs.

FAQ - Easiest Dogs to Train

What dog breed is the smartest?  Which breed is the dumbest?

There are no “smart” or “dumb” breeds, only those who are predisposed to certain behaviors and tasks. The perceived intelligence level means nothing for a dog with no training. Untrained dogs will behave like untrained dogs. Which is the most obedient dog breed?

This is a tough question to answer, though some breeds like retrievers and German Shepherds are more prone to obeying simply because of their keen desire to please, the simple answer is a well-trained dog IS the most obedient dog.

The Wrap Up

There is no perfect breed; each has it’s own attributes and predispositions; it is up to the owner to hone these skills and curb unwanted tendencies.

In the words of Cesar Millan, “a smart dog is just potential without a human willing to put in the time and effort to train and channel the dog’s intelligence. While all dogs are trainable, it’s important to understand your dog’s inherent abilities in order to know how to motivate him and bring out his natural intelligence.”

With pets come lots of responsibility, make sure you are up for this challenge before bringing a new dog into your home.

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.

Puppy Separation Anxiety

Type “Puppy Separation Anxiety Solutions” into any search engine and you will find hundreds of articles claiming their training course and products can cure your dog of his separation anxiety; while these strategies may be somewhat effective, they typically do not target the root of the problem--that is your dog has a need that is not being met.

There are lots of products and strategies that can help soothe an already anxious pup, but the bottom line is these only treat the symptoms. A dog’s physical and emotional needs must be met before it can ever overcome separation anxiety.

We rely on the expertise of professional dog trainer Cesar Millan, as well as various case studies and veterinary manuals to find a practical solution to your canine’s separation woes.

Could My Dog Have Separation Anxiety?

The Merck Veterinary Manual states that “It is estimated that ~14% of dogs have separation anxiety, or an inability of the pet to find comfort when separated from family members.”

Distinguishing between separation anxiety and destructive behaviour in a young puppy can be difficult.

House-soiling and chewing happens with every untrained pup, as does whining for their litter mates before they adjust to their new home.

The difference in anxiety-induced and destructive behaviours is that anxiety-induced behaviours are triggered by being left by their owners, not by lack of understanding the house rules (although the symptoms can look very similar to the untrained eye.)

Separation Anxiety Symptoms 

  • Destructive behavior (particularly at exits or toward owner possessions)
  • Distress vocalization
  • House soiling
  • Salivation
  • Pacing
  • Restlessness
  • Inability to settle
  • Anorexia
  • Repetitive/compulsive behaviors

According to the Merck Veterinary Manual “The behaviors are exhibited when the dog is left alone and generally arise within the first 15–30 min after departure.”  

A video-recording device can be very helpful in ruling out typical canine destructive behaviors and diagnosing the cause.  

Several case studies have shown that there are certain factors that can predispose a dog to separation anxiety.

Dogs that are more likely to be affected:

  • Shelter dogs
  • Dogs who have lost an owner
  • Young puppies
  • Small dogs 

Bottom line: Untrained dog behaviours can look very similar to separation anxiety, consider the context surrounding these behaviours. A webcam or other recording device can be a great diagnostic tool to help pinpoint the cause of the behaviour.

Fundamental Training: Building a Foundation

When you think of a dog’s needs what comes to your mind is probably the same as a human--food, water, shelter, and warmth. But if you had only those essentials you would be a pretty miserable person, right?

Dogs feel the same way.

You cannot expect a puppy to be content when left alone when his emotional and physical needs are not being met. Even the most independent and well-mannered dog is going to suffer extreme emotional distress if left alone in a crate for hours every day and is shown little to no affection from his pack leaders.

Long periods of confinement and lack of interaction will create separation anxiety in a perfectly balanced dog, and severely exacerbate problems in a dog with dysfunctional attachment issues (or a history of anxiety.)

We know what our pets need to survive, but we also need to fulfill those deeper needs, the ones that allow a dog to THRIVE.

Needs of a Well-adjusted Puppy

  • Emotional Connection
  • Human Interaction
  • Exercise
  • Mental Stimulation

A dog’s mental health has a profound effect on its physical well-being. Meeting your dog’s needs is vital and must take place before any training or rehabilitation can be successful.

Making sure your dog is in the right mental space before you leave is crucial to them being at ease while you are away.

How to Make Sure Your Dog is in the Proper Head space

Cesar Millan's Take

How to Raise the Perfect Dog

"Dogs are not programmed to live by themselves. In nature, the constant presence of the pack is what shapes their identities. 

The only time they have to learn to be alone is when they live among humans. We shouldn’t be surprised that they are distressed by it. But even though we are asking them to do something unnatural, we can’t feel bad about it or stress out about it, because this is the reality of how we live Today."

Behavioural Conditioning

Cesar Millan's Take

How to Raise the Perfect Dog

“Our modern lives make it next to impossible that our dogs are with us 24/7. But there’s a reason dogs as a species have survived millions of years of evolution in just about every environment imaginable, in every corner of the globe. They are among the most adaptable mammals nature ever created.

A dog, and especially a puppy, can adjust to this new style of life with very little difficulty, if we help her to do it in stages, and if we stay calm and unemotional about it. That’s what we want to communicate to her—to relax.”

Millan’s Method for Puppy Separation Anxiety

Desensitising Your Dog to Departure Cues

The Reunion

Bottom line: Keeping goodbyes and homecomings short and sweet will make your time away less emotionally-charged for your pup. Be consistent! Practising departure cues and being “away” without leaving the home will condition your dog to not have an anxious reaction when you actually leave. 

Comforting Your Puppy While You Are Away

Audio Books


Leave your Dog with your Scent

Make the Crate a Happy Place

Bottom Line: We have entire guide dedicated to crate training full of thoroughly researched safe practises and effective strategies.

Television - DogTV

​Author’s note: My pitbull Jaina LOVED the DogTV channel. Any time I needed to get work done I would put on a stimulation video for her and it would keep her entertained for over an hour! I still watch old recordings of her absolutely TRANSFIXED by these videos. Very special memories indeed.

Bottom Line: While these suggestions will not cure your dog’s separation anxiety, they will help comfort him while you are away.

Treating the symptoms of Separation Anxiety

Acupressure Wraps

Calming Chews

Author’s Note: I have had success treating both myself and my dogs with CBD products. My sweet Jaina would go into a frenzy trying to escape (even tearing holes in the floor!) when we would go out. Giving her a treat with a couple drops of diluted CBD oil on it (and some interesting toys) helped her tremendously!

Essential Oils

Pheromone Sprays and Diffuses

Bottom LineCalming products (such as wraps, pheromone products, and essential oils) can drastically reduce the symptoms of your dog’s anxiety symptoms. Talk to your vet about which of these is right for your dog.

Using Medication to Treat Puppy Separation Anxiety

Common Medications Used to Treat Canine Separation Anxiety

Why Medications are Not a Solution

Bottom Line: Putting your dog on medication should be a last resort. Never give your dogs medications that are intended for humans without the advice of a veterinarian. Weigh the pros and cons of these medications before you decided to go through with this course of treatment.

If All Else Fails...

Bottom Line: Don’t give up on your dog! Seek professional help from trainers and vets if you feel like the separation anxiety has gotten out of control.


Separation anxiety is a troubling disorder for both pets and their owners; thankfully, this disorder can usually be controlled or completely eliminated with the right amount of care, exercise, and affection. Patience and consistency is key to overcoming your dog’s fears.

Ask your vet about homeopathic remedies and medications before you administer them, and seek the counsel of professionals if you get to your wit's end. Never give up on your dog, odds are a breakthrough is right around the corner.

Puppy Lead Training

Leash training a puppy can pose quite a challenge for new owners, especially when the puppy refuses to budge or makes a habit of pulling and biting on the leash. Many exasperated owners declare “He just won’t walk on a leash!” and just stop walking their dog altogether.

Dr. Ian Dunbar, Author of Doctor Dunbar’s Good Little Dog Book and Godfather of modern dog training, ensures us that these common problems can be addressed and corrected with the right method.

Before training can begin your pup will need to meet some basic requirements and master a few commands, let's first make sure your puppy is ready for the task!

What age to start leash training a puppy?

Dr. Dunbar states that “It is not safe to walk your puppy on public property until it is at least three months old”. Before this time your dog will not have had its vaccinations and is at risk of catching parvo, which is a leading cause of death in young puppies.

You can, however, practice training a puppy to walk on a lead at home or in your yard before three months--just make sure Fido is not in contact with faeces from other unvaccinated dogs.

But don’t wait too long either, Dr. Dunbar warns owners that “by the time the puppy is 18 weeks old the following exercises start to lose effectiveness.”

Bottom line: Start lead training early, but take precautions.

Acclimate your dog for leash training

The wearing of a leash and collar is not a natural concept for a dog since these simply do not exist in the wild. Wearing a collar or leash can be a very scary notion for a timid puppy.

Getting your puppy accustomed to these newfound devices is essential to success in on-leash walking later on.

  1. Start by letting your dog sniff the collar and leash you plan to use. Give him lots of treats and gentle praise for exploring his new equipment.

  2. After a while, put the collar (or harness) on and let your dog adjust to the idea of wearing it, combine this with lots of gentle praise and treats.

  3. Once your dog has realised the collar and harness are not enemies, attach the lead and let him explore with the leash dragging behind him.

  4. Eventually, you can begin to hold the leash and while your dog explores.

Make sure the leash cannot get caught on any items and create tension on the leash--this could be a major setback for a young dog.

Bottom line: Gradually introduce walking equipment you plan to use, this will decrease the likelihood of a fear response. Make wearing leashes and collars an enjoyable experience with lots of treats and praise.

Commands to Master Before Lead Training Can Begin

1.  Settle Down

The settle down technique is exactly what it sounds like--giving your dog a simple command such as “settle down” to halt any activity immediately.

This command is important to get your dog in the right mindset to walk nicely (on OR off leash).

2. Sit

A puppy must grasp the concept of sitting on command before polite on-leash walking can be achieved. The good news is, most owners find this is the easiest concept for their dog to learn.

3.  Heel (off-leash)

Heeling off-leash is a simple (and fun!) training exercise for dogs and owners and is, in essence, an exciting game of chase!

Bottom line: The key to successfully leash training a puppy is for them to first learn to calmly interact with you off-leash--this will require them to know how to sit and settle down on cue, as well as mastering heeling off-leash. As with anything, practice makes perfect...but lots of treats and affection will help too! 

Commands to Master Before Lead Training Can Begin

All the options for puppy lead training equipment can be perplexing for a new owner. However, these devices are not created equal; you must discover which type will work best for your canine.

1. Basic Collars

Best for: Easy-going, well-trained dogs who never pull

Pros: Easy to use, affordable, pet ID tags can be attached

Cons: Comes off easily, can cause injury to a strong puller

2. Choke Collars

Best for: We DO NOT recommend this type for any dog.

Pros: Some outdated training manuals suggest this style collar for difficult dogs, but they are much too dangerous and easy to misuse to ever be a valuable training device

Cons: Can cause serious injury, distress, fear, and even death when used improperly

3. Harnesses

Best for: strong pullers, brachiocephalic (flat-faced) breeds like pugs and french bulldogs.

Pros: Gives more control over dogs, much more gentle on the dog, several options such front clip styles that prevents pulling and styles that use calming acupressure to soothe the dog--Cesar Millan suggests this style

Cons: Can cause chafing, more expensive than a traditional collar and leash

4. Basic Leashes

Best for: easy going dogs, hiking or situations where you need to keep your dog close by

Pros: Compatible with most collars and harnesses, inexpensive, comes in reflective options for on-road walking, good to keep on hand, 6ft (or shorter) leashes are commonly required by law

Cons: Little to none if you purchase a high-quality leash, too much lead-way can cause the dog to wrap the leash around you

5. Gentle leaders

Best for: Cesar Milan highly recommends this style for training dogs (and even has his own brand of gentle leaders)

Pros: Does not require a collar, can be worn in several ways including over the snout like a muzzle, much more gentle than a standard collar and leash, harder to slip off than a collar

Cons: Usually doesn’t have a place to put ID tags, improper usage can cause injury

6. Retractable Leashes

Best for: small, well-behaved dogs, who no longer need training

Pros: Gives the dog the freedom to sniff and do their business at a distance

Cons: Detrimental to training, teaches the dog that they are in control, can be dangerous if used around busy roads or unpredictable animals

Bottom line: ​​Front clip and acupressure harnesses are fantastic tools for leash-pullers and excitable puppies who are still learning. Once your dog is trained, a collar and retractable leash may give him more freedom. Any training tool can be misused; it is up to the owner to use the products responsibly.

How to Teach a Puppy to Walk on a Lead

Once your dog has met the prerequisites, you can put Dr. Dunbar’s puppy lead training strategies into practice.

Before you begin, make sure all you have taken care of all your dog’s needs. A hungry, under-stimulated dog with a full bladder is going to have a hard time concentrating on leash training!

Prior to training, make sure your puppy:

  • Is feeling well

  • Has been fed

  • Doesn’t have to potty

  • Has had plenty of time to play and socialise beforehand

  • Isn’t tired

Dr. Dunbar’s Steps for Training a Dog to “Heel” On-leash 

  1. Command your dog to sit by luring it with a treat in your right hand.

  2. Move treat to your left hand

  3. Say “heel” while holding the treat in front of the dog’s snout and take three steps forward.

  4. Move the treat back to your right hand to lure him to sit.

  5. Offer treats and praise when your dog successfully completes the sit-heel-sit sequence.

  6. Practice in your home first and then move to practice in more distractive environments like the park or your yard.

“Before walking your puppy on-leash, teach it to heel on-leash. You will pay much more attention to the tension in the leash when heeling rather than walking.” - Dr. Dunbar

The most common lead-training issue is when the puppy won’t stop pulling on the leash. This makes walks a literal drag for everyone involved! Using this method, leash-pulling should never be an issue--because you never allowed it to become one!

  1. Teach your puppy that pulling is never okay, not even when standing still! Dr. Dunbar teaches us to “Hold (the) leash firmly with both hands and refuse to budge until your dog slackens the leash. Not a single step!”

  2. It may take a while, but eventually, your dog will stop pulling and sit. This is your cue to praise and treat. Then take ONE large step forward.

  3. Your dog will most likely start tugging again, DO NOT MOVE. It won’t take as long this time for him to realize you will not move until the tugging stops and he sits.

  4. Once you have taken several successful single steps, practice this with three consecutive steps, then five steps, and so on.

“Your dog quickly learns that he has the power to make you stop and to make you go. If he tightens the leash, you stop. But if he slackens the leash and sits, you take a step.” -Dr. Dunbar

Dr. Dunbar’s Tips for On-leash Walking:
  • Practice in and around the home with few distractions before taking training to the sidewalks.

  • Frequently change speed, use the command “Quickly” when quickening the pace and “Steady” when you slow the pace.

  • Speed up when making right turns, this will prevent your dog from making a shortcut.

  • Slow down and use the “Steady” command when making left turns, this will prevent your pup from bumping into you.

Some outdated training methods used by Cesar Milian (and even previously by Dr. Dunbar), suggest forcefully jerking a dogs leash to get him to walk properly. This will only startle the dog (and could injure it). The practice is no longer supported by Dr. Dunbar or his training courses.

NEVER hit, jerk, scream at, or otherwise purposely intimidate your puppy. These practices can be detrimental to the human-canine relationship as well as create major physical and emotional problems for the dog.

“You must become the centre of your dog’s universe. You need to stimulate and strengthen your dog’s gravitational attraction towards you by moving away enticingly and heartily praising your dog all the time he follows.”- Dr. Dunbar

Bottom Line: The keys to successful leash training is practising on-leash heeling first, not allowing pulling to ever become an issue, patience, and keeping a positive disposition!

FAQ - Puppy Lead Training

Help! I am leash training a puppy who bites the leash constantly, how do I stop this?

Biting and chewing is a natural way for puppies to explore the world around them. It is also a way of displaying excitement and expending energy--just like a small child clapping or jumping up and down.

Leash-biting Solutions:

  1. A modified version of Dr. Dunbar’s red-light/green-light method (we discussed this in the section regarding on-leash heeling) can be very effective to halt leash chewing. If  your puppy bites the leash, then stand completely still--do not take a single step! This will teach Fido that biting will not result in the walk progressing. Eventually, your dog will connect these two behaviors and likely stop this behavior.

  2. Making sure your dog is not overly excited before a walk will also decrease mouthing. A dog who is tired from vigorous play before the walk will be less likely to bite, jump, and pull.

  3. Alternatively, bringing a toy along for your dog to carry can keep his mouth busy, thereby eliminating the opportunity to mouth the leash.

When I put the lead on my dog, he struggles to escape the collar by bending his neck and pulling away from the leash, how do I deal with this?

The standard collar and leash setup may be intimidating your dog, try switching to an acupressure harness to reduce stress as well as the tension on the dog's neck. Introduce training equipment gradually and in a positive manner (lots of treats and praise), so your dog will associate good feelings with these tools.

We would love to hear your experiences with leash training! Tell us your success stories and lead-training troubles in the comments below!

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!