Category Archives for "Puppy Training"

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!

Puppy Training Guide

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

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

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

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

Let's get straight into it!

How to Train Your Puppy

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

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

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

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

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

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

Puppy Training Basics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Doggy Dan's Five Golden Rules

Golden Rule Number One: Control the food.

Golden Rule Number Two: Danger.

Golden Rule Number Three: Ignore your dog after separation.

Golden Rule Number Four: Everything on your terms.

Golden Rule Number Five: The walk.

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

Golden Rule Number One: Control the food.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Golden Rule Number Two: Danger.

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

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

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

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

Golden Rule Number Three: Ignore your dog after separation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Golden Rule Number Four: Everything on your terms.

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

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

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

Golden Rule Number Five: The walk.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Puppy Training Tips

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now -- where to start?

Toilet Training Tips

Setting the scene:

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

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

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

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

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

Getting Down to Business:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Submissive Urination Tips

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

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

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

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

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

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

Barking Tips

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

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

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

The Danger Bark

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

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

Barking for Attention

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

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

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

The Calm Freeze Technique for Barking

Doggy Dan has created a technique called the Calm Freeze.

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

The Calm Freeze Technique

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

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

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

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

The Isolation Calming Technique for Barking 

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

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

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

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

This is how it works...

The Isolation Calming Technique 

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

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

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

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

Crying When Left Tips

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

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

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

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

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

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

Common Puppy Problems

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

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

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

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

Common Problem #1 Mouthing and Biting 

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

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

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

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

Common Problem #2 Jumping

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

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

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

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

Common Problem #3 Stealing

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

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

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

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

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

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

Common Problem #4 Chewing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Method One: Using Treats

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

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

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

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

Method Two: The Long Line Technique 

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

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

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

This is how it works;

The Long Line Technique 

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

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

Method Three: Call My Bluff Technique

This one is best done as a team effort.

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

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

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

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

When Not to Call your Puppy

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

You not is not likely to come to you when

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

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

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

Common Problem #6 Digging

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Toys and distractions

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

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

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

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

Puppy Commands

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

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

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

Training & Commands for 'Sit'

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

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

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

Training & Commands for 'Down'

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

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

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

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

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

The 'Down' Command 

Step 1 Ask you puppy to 'sit'.

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

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

Step 4 Lower the food down to the ground.

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

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

Training & Commands for 'Stay'

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

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

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

If they break the stay, ignore them!

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

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

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

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

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

Training & Commands for 'Wait'

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

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

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

Training & Commands for 'Walk'

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Stop, Start, Change Direction (SSCD) Technique

Step 1 Attach the leash.

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

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

Step 4 Repeat Step 2. 

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

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

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

The Five Golden Rules, Does it Actually Work?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Happens Next? 

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

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

How to Stop a Puppy from Chewing Everything!

A common obstacle for new dog parents is figuring out how to stop their puppy from chewing EVERYTHING. From cushions and blankets to shoes--the mop isn’t even safe from those needle-sharp chompers!

This dark cloud can dampen even the spirits of even the most enthusiastic dog-owners, but there is a silver lining! This bad habit can be nipped in the bud with the right tools, techniques, and some patience.

We have studied the teachings of Dr. Ian Dunbar, a trusted veterinarian, animal behaviourist, and pioneer in the dog training field, to find a foolproof solution to stop your puppy’s destructive habit.

But before we get into HOW to stop your puppy from chewing everything, we must first find out WHY your puppy is chewing.

How to Stop a Puppy from Chewing EVERYTHING. Could it Be Teething?

It is easy to write off a puppy’s constant gnawing as a behaviour problem, but the teething pain is much more likely to be the culprit. To establish which type of chewer you have, first consider the age of your puppy:

Insert timeline 

2-4 weeks: Baby teeth start to emerge. Puppies of this age should still be with their mother.

5-6 weeks: Puppies should have all 28 baby teeth and are likely eating moist or soft puppy food. Just a couple of weeks to go and puppies will be ready for their new homes.

12-16 weeks: Owners will begin to find tiny baby teeth laying around. These deciduous teeth fall out to make room for their adult teeth.

6 months: By or around six months, all baby teeth should have fallen out, and a full set of 48 adult teeth should have replaced them.

This timeline is important to determine if your puppy is undergoing the painful teething process. This happens twice within the first six months of life, OR if he has begun chewing out of stress or pure boredom.

Insert teething remedies infogrpahic:

 Remedies for your teething puppy:

  • Cold carrots make cheap and nutritious chew toys that are jam-packed with vitamin A, potassium, and fiber.

  • A bit of cool raw steak is a delicious source of protein, that is gentle on gums and reduces the inflammation that comes along with teething. The protein will increase energy and make the coat shinier, but limit this treat to once or twice a week.

  • A raw bone stored in the fridge will help to soothe inflamed gums, while the calcium helps him to develop strong teeth.

  • A frozen treat-filled Kong toy is quick to grab and will keep your pup busy (and happy)!

Even if teething is the cause of chewing, this behaviour must be addressed before it becomes routine, otherwise, your canine may transition into a destructive chewer simply out of habit!

Bottom Line
If your dog is under six months old then teething is probably the cause of chewing. Remedy this by getting your puppy hooked on more appropriate chew toys such as a frozen stuffed Kong toy or a cool carrot!

Could it Be Destructive Chewing ?

Destructive chewing is a pain in everyone's tail--pups included! This bad habit can stem from many issues, from anxiety and stress to loneliness and lack of stimulation.

Figuring out what is triggering your dog’s chewing will take some close observation. A puppy cam could prove resourceful in pinpointing what is eliciting this response from your pet.

Time of chewing.

If chewing occurs ONLY when your puppy is left alone, then separation anxiety could be the cause.

Make sure you leave your puppy in a comfortable space like a crate or small puppy-proof room with a comfy bed with lots of stimulating toys. You will need to seek advice from a veterinarian if separation anxiety persists. 

Dogs who mainly chew while your attention is focused on something else may be seeking attention. Combat this with lots of quality go for walks daily and spend plenty of time playing together daily.

Is there an environmental factor tied to chewing (such as a noisy vacuum running or thunderstorm)?

If so, chewing could very well be your pup’s attempt at stress-management. Redirect chewing and place their crate in a quieter area.

Author's Note
Taking your pooch out first thing in the morning and then giving her a good healthy bone to chew on will satisfy her. When she is done with her bone, put it away for the next morning or the afternoon when the chewing starts up again. In my experience, chewing is a sign of the puppy needing play time. Pay close attention to what your puppy needs so you can help meet those needs.

Homeopathic Sprays to Combat Chewing

Homeopathic deterrent sprays are an excellent way to discourage your dog from gnawing their favorite off-limits surface (like chair legs and power cables).

These typically taste bad to a dog and will make destructive chewing a less enjoyable experience. 

You may have to try several types to find one that works for your pooch.

Dog repellent sprays are readily available commercially and can also be easily replicated at home.

  • Ammonia is a common dog repellent that can be used to clean any wooden furniture your pup fancies chewing.
  • A solution of one part apple cider vinegar and two parts water is great for spraying on commonly chewed items
  • Bitter apple sprays are sold in most pet stores and are a convenient solution for chew-happy pups.
  • Arrow Circle Right
    Spraying a VERY diluted solution of cayenne pepper and water will keep your dog from chewing certain items. It can irritate their eyes and noses; so it is suggested that this used sparsely and only in extreme circumstances. 

DO NOT USE LEMON OR LEMON OIL ON SURFACES YOUR DOG MAY CHEW.  Lemons are toxic for canines, even if they have never bothered your dog before, exposure to them can become toxic over time.

Insert info-graphic: Essential Oils that are Toxic to Dogs 

Once you have established the cause of destructive chewing, you can more easily remedy the situation; a chew toy coupled with plenty of stimulation and exercise will usually curb chewing altogether.

Using an all-natural dog repellent spray can make chewing household items less appealing.

Dr. Ian Dunbar's Strategy for Dealing with a Chew-Happy Dog

If you follow our dog training articles you will be very familiar with the Godfather of dog training, Dr. Ian Dunbar and his amazing methods. 

Here is a strategy he teachers is his Top Dog Academy:

Step 1 Take preventative measures—cover or tact up electrical cords and put away any valuables that Fido might get into. 

Step 2 If you cannot supervise your puppy, keep him confined in a crate filled will several enticing chew toys. 

Step 3 Dr. Dunbar urges owners to “make sure the only objects within reach are chew toys. Thus your puppy develops a serious chew toy habit right from the outset, if only because there is precious little else to chew”. 

Step 4 Prepare several of these toys in advance, so they are readily available. Dr. Dunbar suggests Kong products and sterilised long bones because they are hollow and you can stuff them with delicious goodies.

Step 5 Stuff the toys with three types of treats--a kind that can is easily removed, a type that is more difficult to remove, and finally a treat that can only be removed by the owner. A mixture of kibble, peanut butter, and large hard-to-remove pieces of freeze-dried liver are excellent choices for this purpose.

Step 6 Several stuffed toys will keep Fido preoccupied with something positive rather than finding something negative to chew while you are away.

Step 7 Dr. Dunbar suggests to “Delay greeting your puppy until it fetches a chew toy. Then pull out the treats remaining in the Kong and give them to your pup.” Eventually, your dog will connect your arrival with receiving the remaining treats from the toy.”

Step 8 If your puppy messes up, stay calm and don’t make a fuss.

Step 9 Calmly use the command “out” or “crate” and escort your puppy away (eventually they will learn to go without you accompanying them). Banishment will teach your dog that chewing is not the way to get attention.

Step 10 If your puppy messes up, stay calm and don’t make a fuss.

Step 11 Above all, PRAISE your dog when it chews appropriate toys; this will make the connection between chewing his bone and receiving positive feedback.

Store pre-filled Kong toys or long bones in the freezer for easy access to redirect chewing, and always praise your dog for playing with them.  

When caught in the act, use the command “out” or “crate” and escort your puppy away from you. Banishment will be much more effective than hitting or yelling.

The Bone Debate

Almost every dog owner has heard the saying “Don’t feed your dog chicken bones; they can splinter in their stomach!” at one time.

The great bone debate has had veterinarian community for years now, with some saying they are essential for dental health, and others claiming they are downright dangerous.

The answer is somewhere in between. Some types of bones are incredibly beneficial for a dogs health, while others are detrimental.

Choosing the right bone.

  • Never feed your dog a cooked bone, these (no matter the type!) CAN splinter in their intestines and cause serious health problems and even death.
  • Sanitation is key! Handle raw bones the same way you would handle meats for human consumption. Keep them refrigerated until it is time to eat. Putting the bone in the freezer for a few hours is a great way to kill any bacteria the bone may harbor.
  • Choose human-grade meat/bones. 
  • Arrow Circle Right
    Dr. Dunbar recommends sterilised long bones which you can fill with yummy treats.
  • Arrow Circle Right
    Do not give your dog “bully sticks” or large strips/knots of rawhide, these are easily swallowed and can cause obstructions in the digestive tract.

Insert the “Food Storage Guidelines for Fido” chart I made here...feel free to take the info from it to make it look more aesthetically pleasing 

Choose a sterilised long bone or a human-grade raw bone for your dog. Make sure you keep raw bones refrigerated until right before consumption, this will prevent the growth of bacteria.  

How to Stop a Puppy from Chewing  a Mop

Mop-chewing is a favorite past time for many pooches, but this destructive hobby can have deadly consequences. Mop strings can pose a choking risk to a small puppy, and even if they don’t get lodged in the throat, they can still cause an intestinal obstruction.

Moreover, mops are typically soaked in all sorts of toxic chemicals including bleach and other common cleaning solutions. The easiest way to resolve this would be to keep any mops and cleaning chemicals stored in a closet out of reach of your puppy.

If you don’t have an off-limits closet, try using an unpleasant-tasting dog repellent spray, and redirecting chewing by “trading” the mop for a more appropriate chew toy.

There are even plush dog toys on the market that have a fringe-like appearance with a similar texture to a mop. Just make sure you supervise Fido with soft toys, these could be easily destroyed and swallowed by a heavy chewer in a matter of minutes.

How to stop a Puppy from Chewing Shoes 

Dogs have roughly 294 MILLION more olfactory (scent) receptors in their noses than humans. With this keen sense of smell, your dogs are going to find a way to get to your sneakers, no matter how well you try to hide them--especially since the scent of their beloved owner is likely one of their favourites.

A hanging shoe organiser will keep footwear out of the reach of shorter dogs, but you may have to get a little more creative with taller breeds. Playing the “exchange game” may be a better approach for these dogs.

Offer your dog a stuffed Kong or bone in exchange for your favourite ballet flats, and praise them enthusiastically. Over time your pup will learn that bringing you a chew toy of their own will get them rewarded with affection.

How to Stop a Puppy from Chewing a Blanket

A puppy who is exclusively chewing soft surfaces like blankets may be in need of a soft plush toy to gnaw on. A frozen wet washcloth can be a beneficial item for a teething puppy as it is gentle on their inflamed gums. Many times a what looks like chewing is actually a puppy suckling, typically caused by being weaned too early.

How to Punish a Dog for Chewing

How to punish a dog for ANYTHING can be a tricky question to answer, even more since punishment techniques are easily misinterpreted and misused.

Let’s begin by discussing what NOT to do.

What NOT to do.

Never hit, loom over, scream at, forcefully grab, throw, purposefully scare, muzzle, or leave a dog in a crate for hours and hours to punish it for chewing. 

Some outdated training manuals suggest trying the “alpha dog” maneuver (forcefully flipping a dog on it’s back and growling) on particularly difficult dogs, but most qualified trainers, Dr. Dunbar, and Patricia McConnell included, seriously discourage this technique.

The often misused practice can create a fear of humans which makes training more difficult and can even cause a dog to become aggressive.  


Dr. Dunbar praises the banishment technique (also called “time out”), as the most effective form of punishment. It is simply stopping all playtime immediately when the undesired chewing is exhibited, and (softly but sternly) telling your dog to “exit” or “go to the crate.” 

The first few times you will likely need to escort your dog away, but over time he will (reluctantly) leave on his own. Over time your dog will learn that the behaviour is not tolerated and will result in them being sent away from their owner.

Breed Specific.

Certain breeds may be more receptive to one particular method of discipline than others. Beagles are very nose-driven dogs, and can frequently be found scavenging through trash cans looking for discarded food morsels. 

Though stubborn, Beagles are very food-oriented. Dr. Dunbar’s suggests shaking a treat bag while the dog is in timeout to show them just what they are missing out on.

“People-pleaser” breeds like Golden Retrievers may catch on to the house rules with banishment alone; whereas, high energy breeds like Jack Russell terriers will likely need to expend their energy before training can even begin!

When do puppies stop chewing everything? 

Teething- induced chewing typically ends around the time a dog turns six months old, but that doesn’t mean the behaviour will stop entirely.

Gnawing on sticks and bones is instinctive for both wild and domesticated canines. It is ingrained in their brains, and for good reason, it is their way of strengthening their jaws and cleaning their teeth.

It will take an owners patience and consistent efforts to stop destructive chewing entirely, but it is possible.

If you cannot get your pet’s chewing under control, then seek veterinary advice and the counsel of a professional dog trainer. 

It will take some trial and error to learn what works best for your dog. Never physically punish or yell at your dog to get them to behave. The banishment technique will usually work, but may require some minor “tweaks.” If all else fails, seek professional help.

The Takeaway

Countless dogs are surrendered to over-crowded pounds every day for chewing, making this natural behaviour death sentence for many--but it doesn’t have to be that way.

With effort, understanding, and a whole lot of love, your chew-happy puppy can grow into a trustworthy companion.

That's All for Puppy's Chewing

I hope you have been able to take away some new chewing solutions. If you have, please drop us a comment below, we would love to reply to you!