Robert Thomas, founder of Marvelous Dogs, shares his advice on the five essential behaviours you should teach your puppy while they are young.
While it is not entirely true that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, it is significantly harder to retrain a dog who has already learned some bad habits than it is to ingrain good behaviours into a young puppy.
This is why, once you bring your puppy home, it is best to start training them as soon as possible. Not only will this help reduce the number of puppy accidents that happen on your rug, but it will also help you build a positive relationship with your pup and put you well on the way to having a happy, friendly, well-behaved furry friend.
1. To recognize and respond to their name
This is training that can start as soon as your pup comes home. Try to only use their name when talking to them, which will help them differentiate that particular set of syllables as being more relevant to them than the rest of our human babble.
Most importantly, make their name a positive association for them by only using it in praise and as part of a reward system. Yelling at and/or verbally chastising a dog is never a good idea for a variety of reasons, and one of them is that it teaches a dog to associate their name with fear, punishment, and generally negative things.
That dog is then more likely to hide when they hear their name, rather than coming when called. A dog who knows and loves their name will be much easier to train as time goes on.
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2. How to interact with people
Even with breeds who are renowned for their friendliness and sociability, like popular poodle hybrids, training them to interact with people – socialisation – is crucial. This means, first, training them to trust you, their owner, by associating yourself with positive things like cuddles, treats, and games.
Remember that dogs respond best to positive reinforcement – praise and treats immediately following a desired behavior – rather than negative reinforcement, or punishing undesired behaviors.
Additionally, what humans might think of as a punishment, like a stern talking to, the dog might perceive as a positive thing, because they are getting attention from their owners. Applying this mindset to socialisation, having visitors bring treats that they give your dog when he responds calmly to their presence will teach your dog how to be a friendly but not overly enthusiastic welcome committee.
3. Bite inhibition
This is just the fancy wording dog trainers use for everyone’s favorite puppy trick, Not Biting. Puppies have a natural inclination to nip during play, both with humans and other dogs.
For a play nip, one option is to imitate the same dissuasive technique the dog’s mother or littermates would use, which is to let out a loud, high-pitched yelp. For some puppies, though, this just gets them more worked up, and the best option is to end playtime until they calm down – which should be rewarded with treats and praise.
In general, ending playtime and denying attention is one of the best ways to get a puppy to stop biting. It is also a good idea to substitute the thing they should not bite – your fingers and toes – with something that is okay to bit and chew on, like a toy or rope. Eventually your puppy will learn that biting only the toy means playtime can continue – and puppies love playtime.
This is just the first step in leash training a dog, but it is one that people often overlook. Some owners assume that a collar or a harness will not bother their dogs because they are so light or loose, but puppies need practice for all new experiences.
Choosing a collar or harness will depend on the breed of your dog, their general behavior, and also their own comfort and preferences, so feel free to try multiple types on your puppy, and remember you can always switch it up later, but that will probably mean repeating this step. Whatever your puppy’s first set-up, though, it should be adjustable, so they are already used to it as they grow and do not have to constantly re-adjust to a new feel harness feel.
The best way to get a puppy excited to wear their collar is to make collar time playtime and treat time as well. Hopefully this will not take long, but some puppies may be more uncomfortable in the harness than others, and may need more positive reinforcement about collar time before they are ready to introduce a leash into the equation.
Puppies, like humans, struggle with patience, but training them to wait calmly for treats and other rewards will make them much easier to live with and also help them be happier and less frustrated when they do not receive instant gratification.
There are a lot of easy ways to train this skill in the midst of daily routines, like holding their food bowl above your dog’s head and lowering it to them every time they sit down, and raising it back out of reach as soon as they get overexcited and come out of their sit. This can feel mean, like teasing, but learning how to sit patiently and wait for the good things to come will make both your dog and your lives’ much easier and happier in the long run.
Dog training can feel daunting, but it is also a ton of fun, and the best way to build a good relationship with your puppy and set them up for long-term success as a dog that everyone loves to have around. It will take a lot of patience and liver treats, but starting early with these skills will help your dog grow up to be both happy and well-behaved – which is the outcome you both want.
28 indestructible dog toys for aggressive chewers
Great for chewing — Best Indestructible Chew Toys
KONG – Tires – Durable Rubber Chew Toy and Treat Dispenser for Power Chewers – For Medium/Large Dogs
This tyre-shaped chew toy has been made from durable rubber, so it’s perfect for determined chewers. It also gives owners the chance to fill the inside with tasty treats, too. Available in two sizes for you to choose the best for your breed.
Nylabone Power Chew Textured Dog Chew Ring Toy Flavor Medley Flavor X-Large/Souper – 50+ lbs.
US$6.29 (45% off)
Made from durable nylon, this long-lasting chew toy challenges the most aggressive chewers. Your pup is certain to love the tasty flavour, too.
Cuddly toy — Best Indestructible Chew Toys
Dragon with Chew Guard Technology
As well as being cosy to cuddle, this sweet dragon toy features chew guard technology with a durable layer.
Ring toy — Best Indestructible Chew Toys
Kong Ring Dog Toy
pet head petsathome.com
Built for durability, this bright red dog toy will offer your four-legged friend mental and physical stimulation. And at just £8.50, it’s a real steal buy.
Fun bear toy — Best Indestructible Chew Toys
Wild Knots Bear
Soft yet durable, this cute grey bear has minimal stuffing and an internal knotted rope skeleton.
Tough material — Best Indestructible Chew Toys
Planet Dog Orbee-Tuff Planet Ball Blue
Planet Dog amazon.co.uk
One of the toughest dog balls on the market, this sweet ‘planet’ design has been made with award-winning Orbee Tuff material. Certain to provide hours of fun…
Perfect for fetch — Best Indestructible Chew Toys
West Paw Design Zogoflex Jive Dog Toy
Does your pup love to play fetch? Well, this dog toy is one of the most durable styles around — and will aim to stand the test of time, no matter how much it is used.
Great for swimmers — Best Indestructible Chew Toys
Ruffwear Dog Toy with Rope Handle
Ideal for dogs who love to swim, this floating fabric toy has a handle and is designed with abrasion-resistant materials for increased durability. Make sure not to forget it on your next beach trip.
Ideal for larger breeds — Best Indestructible Chew Toys
JW Pet Company Megalast Ball Dog Toy, Large
JW Pet amazon.com
US$3.21 (73% off)
Want to treat your pup to a long-lasting toy? This floating ball has been constructed from thermo plastic rubber and is also infused with vanilla extract.
Ideal for the water — Best Indestructible Chew Toys
Planet Dog Orbee-Tuff Squeak
Planet Dog amazon.co.uk
This is no ordinary ball: made with aggressive chewers in mind, it’s perfect for pups who need something firm to hold onto. It is 100% non-toxic, has a fun squeak sound and is infused with a natural mint oil.
Best for snack time — Best Indestructible Chew Toys
Pet-Fun Medium Mango – Safe Fun Durable Rubber Dog Chew Toy for Boredom, Virtually Indestructible Treat Dispenser, Long-Lasting Slow Feeder, Tough Strong Teething Toy for Medium/Small Dogs
This durable rubber mango toy — which can be filled with dog treats — is sure to provide hours of chewing fun. Perfect for small and medium dog breeds.
Tug of war toy — Best Indestructible Chew Toys
Ruffer and Tuffer Tug Of War Rope and Chew Dog Toy
Keep your dog entertained for hours with this colourful chew toy on a durable rope. The makers explain: “Ruffer and Tuffer is specially designed to be stronger than the average, with a unique construction that delivers added durability with superior strength.”
Ideal for aggressive chewers — Best Indestructible Chew Toys
Dog Chew Toys for Aggressive Chewers
Great for training — Best Indestructible Chew Toys
Nero Ball Ultra TM – Dog Training Ball On A Rope – Exercise and Reward Toy for Dogs
The Nero Ball amazon.co.uk
Thanks to the built-in rope, owners can throw this ball further for their pups to chase. It is used by the K-9 police as well as the Military Working Dog Teams, so it’s both tough and durable. Brilliant if you want to train and motivate your dog.
Fun duck toy — Best Indestructible Chew Toys
Go Quackers Duck Dog Toy
Give your pup a reason to have some fun with this adorable duck toy. Hardwearing and well-crafted, it has a hidden squeaker to keep your pet entertained.
Ideal for adding snacks — Best Indestructible Chew Toys
Idepet Dog Toy Ball, Nontoxic Bite Resistant Dog Chew Ball Food Treat Feeder Tooth Cleaning Exercise Game Ball
Perfect for fetch and interaction with your dog, this ball has been made with extra-tough rubber to stand the test of time. Thanks to its soft and unique surface, the ball will also keep your dog’s gums healthy.
Ideal for playing catch — Best Indestructible Chew Toys
Kong Airdog® Squeaker Football Dog Toy
Let the fun commence with this long-lasting squeaker football dog toy. Perfect for keeping your dog entertained in the garden.
Wheel toy — Best Indestructible Chew Toys
Ruffer and Tuffer Mighty Wheel Dog Toy
Ruffer and Tuffer petsathome.com
This strong wheel dog toy is perfect for aggressive pulling and tugging. The specially developed soft rubber design helps to clean their teeth and massage their gums, while its engaging shape will provide hours of fun.
Chewable stick — Best Indestructible Chew Toys
Chewable Stick Coffee Tree Wood Small
This durable wooden stick is great for dogs who love to chew regularly. While keeping your dog occupied for hours, it’s also great for their dental hygiene.
Best squeaking toy — Best Indestructible Chew Toys
Kong Airdog® Squeaker Donut Dog Toy
Built to last, this fun donut dog toy has been made from high-quality material will not wear down dogs’ teeth.
Ideal for playing fetch — Best Indestructible Chew Toys
Interactive Fetch Dog Toy with Tennis Ball
Bone — Best Indestructible Chew Toys
Nylabone Dura Chew Plus, Chicken, Medium
This chew toy encourages healthy, non-destructive chewing habits with dogs.
Great for puppies — Best Indestructible Chew Toys
Nylabone Gentle Puppy Dog Teething Bone
Great for young puppies, this gentle bone will help teething pups who have not yet formed any adult teeth.
Pineapple toy — Best Indestructible Chew Toys
Pet-Fun Large Indestructible Pineapple –
This durable pineapple toy has been built to last, helping to solve destructive chewing, teething, dental health, boredom, separation anxiety, training, and exercise.
Great for heavy chewers — Best Indestructible Chew Toys
KONG Jump n Jack Dog Toy
We love this unique toy, which is great for chew sessions and endless fun. Top tip: fill with peanut butter to extend playtime and satisfy chewing instincts.
Onion toy — Best Indestructible Chew Toys
Petface Latex Onion Large Dog Toy
In a blush pink, this large onion toy is surprisingly durable. Best of all, it’s just over £3.
Perfect for chewers — Best Indestructible Chew Toys
Pet Qwerks REAL BACON Infused BarkBone
Pet Qwerks amazon.co.uk
This durable Bark Bone is infused with real bacon and is perfect for even the toughest chewers. Its non-toxic and non-allergenic materials mean its safe for your pup to enjoy.
Rubber frisbee — Best Indestructible Chew Toys
KONG – Extreme Flyer – Durable Rubber
Looking for a durable rubber frisbee? Well, look no further, as this red style from KONG is perfect for keeping your four-legged friends fit and healthy.
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