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Teaching your puppy the basics

General information about training:


Before giving any commands always attract his attention first. This is the only way your puppy will ever learn to respond to you. A young pup will generally look at you and prick his ears up when you speak to him. Puppies cannot concentrate for long periods of time, so keep the play/training sessions short, fun, frequent and varied. As you progress, the sound of your voice will be the reward, the occasional treat merely a bonus. 

Puppies respond to almost anything said in a friendly tone. Always be consistent in both training and commanding. Make a list of words you wish to use and make sure everyone dealing with the pup knows them.

Get into the habit of giving only one command.  If you want your dog to obey you, it is better to give distinct commands for example “come” instead of longer phrases “come here boy, come on now, come here”. If you have to keep repeating yourself, you are either not keeping the puppy's attention or he does not understand what you want. If you keep repeating the same command always before the dog obeys, the dog might learn that ‘SitsitsitSIT’ is the right command instead of ‘sit’ and will only obey when on the fourth command. Go back to the beginning, show him again, and reward him every time he gets it right. If you use a command word repeatedly when he is doing something else, for example use ‘sit’ while he is jumping around, he will learn to associate the word with what he was doing when you said it. 'Sit' could come to mean leap around and play, not putting the bottom on the ground! Dogs understand body language far more readily than they understand our verbal form of communication, so do not hesitate to use hand signals with the command words!

As soon as your puppy has caught on to the idea of a new command, it is a good idea to get into the habit of asking him to obey you briefly before he gets anything he wants. In dog language, this is simply good manners.  For example ask the pup to sit and attend to you briefly before you feed him, play a game, groom him, put his lead on, give him a cuddle or proceed with other training. Before a meal or after a nap is the best time for training, because he’ll be hungry and concentrated on the rewards. You do not have to use treats as rewards, you can also only use your voice. If you always use treats when training, one day she might not obey at all if you do not have the treats with you.

Once the puppy knows a command at home, you can start making it more difficult for him by adding distractions. Obeying at a new park where there are other dogs is much more difficult than obeying at home or in a local forest where he has been many times before. Increase the difficulty gradually and the dog will learn quite quickly to associate the words again. If he is not obeying, it just means that he doesn’t know it well enough and you should go a step back in the training.

House Training your Puppy

Learn to read your puppy’s body language and anticipate when the puppy will need to be taken outside. Typical signs to look for are sniffing around in a purposeful manner, circling round on one spot or holding the tail very high.  As soon as you spot these signs, pick the pup up and take him straight out in the garden.

As a general rule, puppies need to go to the loo at the following times :

  • immediately after waking up, after eating or drinking, when excited, after playing and sometimes during a wild game if he did not have a chance to go out before the game started, at least every waking hour!

Take the dog out in a calm, safe and a familiar place. The puppies rely on their instincts and are not confident enough yet to leave their own scent in new places. Therefore it is of no use to take him for a long walk, hoping he won’t do his business in the garden.

You can also link a command with h
im going to the loo. It will be very handy when travelling or when you only have time for a short walk. Just repeat the command word when he is doing it and praise him. Do not play with the dog before he’s gone to the loo. That way he will quickly learn that when he goes out, he gets to play only after he’s gone to the loo.

Do not expect a very young puppy to last all night without needing the toilet.  Some puppies are unable to last all night until they are almost a year old.  

Mistakes will happen; it’s all part of bringing up a puppy.  Clean up any accidents which happen as quickly as possible, with the minimum of fuss.  To our noses an area may smell perfectly fresh when cleaned with a normal cleaner, but to the dog’s nose there will be a residual scent which attract him back to use the same area again. NEVER punish a puppy for having an accident. Punishment will only confuse him and may in fact teach him to be more secretive about toileting.

While you are cleaning up, think why the accident happened:

When was the puppy last outside? When did she last eat? Have you changed his diet? Has there been a change in the household routine? Do accidents happen when he gets excited? Have you relaxed your housetraining a little too early? Have you cleaned any accident areas with a deodoriser?


Teaching your puppy his name

The first thing to teach is its name. Use your treats and toys to attract the pup's attention, call his name, and reward him for looking at you. Use his name when she is already coming towards you, when giving a treat, when petting the puppy and when giving his food to give the name a positive connotation. Always reward your pup when she responds to hiss name and he will come to know that, that specific sound reallv is his own name. If he thinks his name means a reward, he will be more likely to come to you.

If you always attach him to a lead when calling, always forget the reward or if you always use the name when punishing the dog, the name won’t be interesting anymore and the dog won’t react to it.

Teaching your puppy to come when called

Very young puppies tend to follow their people around. Sooner or later you will take your puppy for walks somewhere with many interesting distractions and for the safety and sanity of all concerned it helps if you are confident the puppy will come back to you

Your puppy will be eager to return to you if you make sure that you are the most exciting thing around! Remember that your puppy's line of focus is very low to the ground, so don't be afraid to get down to his level - bend or kneel down and tap the floor, shake a toy or clap your hands.  As with any training exercise, always gain the puppy's attention before issuing any commands. Have his interest focused on you and, once you are sure she is coming towards you call his name and the word 'come'. Lots of praise is needed every time the puppy comes to you. If the puppy becomes distracted before he reaches you, back away from him, making lots of exciting noises to attract his attention.

Do not go after her - this will turn into a chasing game and he will win! Always praise the puppy when he comes to you, no matter how long it takes. It is of no use if you punish h
im for being slow when he comes to you, he will only learn that coming back to you isn’t fun anymore. Always have the pup come close enough for you to touch his collar. This way he will learn to always come close enough for you to take him on the lead.

Especially while your puppy is young, he will probably stay fairly close to you on walks and will return to you regularly for reassurance.  Take advantage of this, and encourage
him to turn this into a habit for life.  Whenever you see your pup coming towards you of his own free will, call his name and 'come' and reward him with praise, and a game or food treat when he reaches you.  Let him go away again, saying 'good boy, go play'. If you take her on lead every time after you call him, he won’t come to you anymore. It is a useful exercise to have him come to you at least ten times during the walk and only once be taken on the lead for a short time and then let go again. This way he will not associate coming to you to the negative of being taken on a lead every time.

To make your bond with the puppy stronger, you can always hide behind trees and bushes, turn around when he’s too far in front etc.. Always let him keep an eye on you, instead of you looking out after where he is going. This way he will learn to stay close to you.



Teaching your puppy to be left alone

You should start to teach leaving him alone slowly. Starting with seconds, then minutes at a time when the puppy has other things on its mind. You can leave the puppy alone when he is sleeping already, as long as you make sure the puppy does not start panicking when he cannot find you when he wakes up. Teaching being alone is usually very straight forward, just never make a fuss about it.

Play with the puppy, calm h
im down and then leave the room. Leave him eating a bone and then leave the room. Always come back when the puppy is still quiet. If he starts whining or barking, wait until he is quiet again. Do not punish him for this behavior, as it will only further encourage it. Just next time leave him for shorter periods and try to anticipate and come back before he starts whining.

Teaching your puppy to “No”

"NO" is an important command every dog should know. You can enforce the command by sometimes slamming a newspaper on a tabletop (NOT the dog!) or taking the puppy from its neck fur when he is behaving badly. When the puppy comes home he has no clue of what is right and what is wrong, so he will try everything.

When you spot your puppy doing something that’s not allowed, first say “no”, then give him something else to think about. For example changing your shoe to a bone to bite on. It is important for the puppy to have his own toys to play with and chew at. All small things (pens, childrens toys) should be removed from ground-level. If you see that he has eaten your shoe, it’s no use punishing him after he has already done it. He will only get confused.

Teaching your puppy to walk on a lead

Walking on a lead is an important part of training. You should use a smooth normal collar for a puppy. When he gets older, you can start using different collars depending on the type of use and what feels best for him. There are also training collars and Halti-collars, but we only recommend these for training adult dogs, not puppies. You will be able to train a puppy using normal methods.

The most common way to teach your puppy to behave well on a walk and not
to pull is to forbid when he is pulling and to praise when he is walking well. Another way is to stop always when he pulls and only continue after he stops pulling. Walking well on a lead is very important and should be taught properly as a puppy, because you will not be able to control an adult Newfoundland by force. It is also a pleasure to walk with a well behaved dog.

When walking past other dogs or people, use a treat and a command word and get his attention before the puppy spots the other dog. Say the command word, show him the treat (let her bite it from your hand) and start walking and talking happily to the puppy, keeping his attention at you all the time. You should walk between your puppy and the other dog. When you have successfully gone past the other dog, praise the puppy a lot and give her the treat! Make it as fun as possible!

When your dog has learnt that it does not need to go and smell every dog that walks by, your walks will be much calmer and nicer.

Teaching your puppy to sit 

Attract his attention with a toy or treat and slowly raise the reward above his head. The pup's head should follow the treat and, as the head comes up, the bottom must go down, placing the puppy naturally into a sitting position. At the exact instant that the puppy sits, give him praise. 

Once you are sure that the pup will sit as you raise the hand with the treat, start saying 'SIT' as you give him the treat at the exact moment he assumes the sit position. Do not be tempted to use the command before you are confident that the pup understands what you want from him.  Remember, at this stage, the pup does not yet know what 'sit' means - it is just a noise.  


Teaching your puppy to lie down

Start with the puppy paying attention to you in the sit position. Using his favourite treat, hold it level with the puppy's nose and slowly lower the reward down in front of the puppy. On reaching the floor, drag the treat towards you in front of the puppy. 

The puppy's head should follow the reward and he will slide into the down position.

Praise the pup and give h
im the reward at the moment he is in the correct position. It may take a few attempts before the pup catches on and understands what is required of him before he earns the reward. 

Teaching the puppy to lie down is very important, because it is a submissive position. You should continue training this and asking her to lie down especially throughout h
is youth to enforce your leader position. You can ask the dog to lie down before getting his meal, going out, putting the leash on..



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