Top Puppy Dog Training Tips by Karen England

House Training | Playbiting | Time Out | How to get the best from training | Tips! | Warning!

House Training

Puppies need to relieve themselves little and often and until they have full control over their bladders we need to manage them to be successful!

This usually involves taking them to their toilet and seeing if they need to relieve themselves at frequent intervals. Especially just after they wake up, after eating and after playing and sometimes as often as every half an hour in between.

The best way to teach them is to reward wanted behaviour and to ignore any accidents. It is fine to interrupt your puppy if they start sniffing and circling and take them outside but if they are mid flow don’t say anything, pretend to ignore it and remind yourself to be more vigilant in the future! The reason being is that some puppies will start to avoid relieving themselves front of you anywhere, including the garden and start sneaking off behind sofas to eliminate in peace!!!

Be patient and try to avoid too many accidents indoors that way once your puppy is able to hold on they will either start asking to go out or will wait ( within reason!) to be taken out. The length of time this takes will depend on how successful your timing is and how quickly they physically mature!


Playbiting is normal puppy behaviour. Puppies will use their mouths in play with their litter mates but quickly learn that if they bite too hard play will stop.

We need to teach our new puppies that human skin is much more delicate than another puppy’s and the only way they can learn that is by practicing how gentle they need to be with us.

We want to teach our puppy to be gentle before we teach them not to mouth us. That way they learn what is termed as ‘bite inhibition’ or how to have a soft mouth.

This takes consistency from all the family. Rough play especially involving your hands will give a mixed message. If your puppy is gently holding your hand in their mouth or licking, then acknowledge that with gentle praise. If your puppy starts using your hand as a chew toy, remove yourself by standing up or turning away and only returning to pet your dog a couple of minutes later when they are calmer. This can take lots of repetitions for the message to get through but is worth it in the end.

Some puppies find it hard to deal with frustration and will try harder to get your attention. Try to predict when this is likely to happen and before they get too excited calm then down by giving them something to do such as giving them a stuffed Kong or calming them with some training.

Keep play sessions short and sweet and make sure your puppy isn’t generally over stimulated with rough play.or by being over tired.

If all else fails try a Time Out.

Time Out

A well executed ‘Time Out’ is much more effective than repeatedly saying No and getting frustrated with your Puppy’s lack of understanding.

  • Time Out is based on the principle that your puppy learns through consistency and practice. Only use this if your puppy is proving difficult to manage, won’t be distracted and is winding himself up.
  • Well before you get frustrated, in your calmest voice, clearly give a warning with a clear hand signal. This could be ‘That’s enough” with two flat hands shown to emphasise the point.
  • At this point your puppy is not meant to necessarily know what this means and may not even listen to you.
  • Give them a moment and if they don’t stop what they are doing follow through with a consequence. This could be you walking out the room and shutting the door or putting your Puppy in another room for a couple of minutes.
  • You may need to keep repeating this but if you give one clear warning and then follow through with a consequence to your warning it only takes most puppies two or three goes before they realise what “That’s enough” means
  • Some puppies play up because they are tired, they have been wound up by too much excitement or because they find it difficult to deal with frustration.
  • If your Puppy falls into this category just ignoring them makes them very frustrated, as does constantly telling them off.
  • Much better to keep play sessions short and sweet. Make sure family members aren’t winding your puppy up and give them lots of things to do.
  • Kongs stuffed with food, supervised chews and lots of mental stimulation.
  • Training is a great way to give mental stimulation if done in a positive fun way.
  • Impulse control exercises will teach your puppy to use their brain and will teach them how to be calm.
  • Clicker Training. properly taught is a perfect way to teach your puppy what ‘To Do’ and is fun and mentally stimulating.

Top Tip – use a short house line to move your dog if they get wound up even more when you try to move them. A house line can be as simple as a very fine puppy lead with the handle cut off that is left on your puppy while you are around. ( Don’t leave on unattended.)


Points to remember

  • Your puppy /new dog does not speak English or have a concept of what we consider right or wrong until we teach them.
  • Even then they only learn consequences, they do not have the facility to know right from wrong.
  • This means that when you raise your voice or get cross with them they only know that you are cross. Even if you catch them in the act most puppies still don’t know what they have done to make you cross with them. In that moment you inhibit their response by your tone of voice but be careful to presume that they will realise why.
  • What this means is your puppy learns to read your moods and when you are cross they may stop what they are doing but they may also be learning that you can be very unpredictable!
  • It is much better to teach your puppy what TO DO rather than to try and stop them doing what they consider ok.
  • Puppies that learn to read your moods either become clever at practicing the unwanted behaviour when you are not around or in extreme cases become stressed because they perceive you as being untrustworthy and unpredictable.
  • A confident puppy will see the word NO as a great way of getting attention and will keep doing the very thing you want to stop until you get cross!
  • Observe your puppy’s behaviour. If you don’t like what you see. Pretend to ignore, try distractions and use management techniques to avoid him or her practicing it again.
  • Remember what your puppy practices they get good at. Wanted or unwanted behaviour.
  • If what you are doing doesn’t appear to be working stop and think what you could do differently.
  • You will probably be managing their behaviour for longer than you think. Some dogs don’t reach emotional maturity until they are two or three years old. In the meantime ‘Think Toddler’!!
  • Management can be as simple as removing temptation out their way, stairgates across doorways and at the bottom of stairs, using their crate like a playpen and putting them on a lead before they get into trouble.
  • As training progresses and your dog matures management will naturally fade out


  • Teach by rewarding good behaviour
  • The more you reward a behaviour the stronger it becomes
  • Ignore, distract, and manage behaviour until your dog has fully learnt what you want them to do!
  • Set your dog up for success. Initially practice in situations where you know your dog will succeed.
  • Motivate your dog with treats, toy play or praise, Training should be fun!The earlier you start training your puppy the better. And it is never too late to start with an older dog!


Side effects from training your dog include:

  • A dog that can be allowed more freedom and can be safely let off the lead
  • A dog that will be your companion and best friend for life.
  • A relaxed happy dog that is a joy to have around!


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I have been meaning to email you for ages to say how absolutely fantastic the classes you offer were. I have been scanning your website to see whether you were going to do the Bronze Kennel Club Award but nothing came up so I ended up doing it with a local club.... and shall I tell you something... your classes... your organisation.... the tasks you get the dogs to do.... your manner... not to mention other numerous qualities by far, and I mean by far supersedes what I have recently experienced. I honestly don't think I have learnt anything new in the last 8 weeks. Anyway Karen many thanks for everything you provided Tilly with in those sessions...they were just fab...thank you so much...please keep me informed should you be offering any other courses as I would be very interested.

Owner of Tilly a Chocolate Lab

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