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Raising a Well-Mannered Puppy (Part 2)

Have you recently welcomed home a new furry bundle of joy or maybe you're planning a new addition to your fur family in coming weeks?

Welcoming home a new puppy (or any dog) is all about planning and you also need to be prepared to spend a lot of time training them to reap the rewards of a well-mannered dog capable of coping with most social situations.

Last month 
in our story on "how to raise a well-behaved puppywe spoke to Jess Sandstrom from Howling Success Dog Training & Behaviour about three basic areas you need to start working on with your new puppy: toilet training, nipping & mouthing and early socialisation.

In Part 2, we'll be focusing on teaching your puppy how to handle spending time alone plus some basic manners for everyday life. Ready for some more puppy training tips?

#4. Teaching your puppy how to be home alone

Yet another pressing issue to add to our growing list. One can see why some companies are wisely allowing their staff to go on ‘pawternity’ leave when first bringing a new puppy home! 

Helping your puppy to feel calm and secure while being separated from you and/or when being left home alone is going to be very important for their long-term development and it is recommended that you get started on this type of training right away but, and this is a big BUT...
It is really important that you don’t leave your puppy alone for any longer than they can tolerate.

There is a lot of outdated information online about dog training and regarding home alone I think one of the most pervasive is the ‘cry it out’ method. 

It is not recommended that you ignore your puppy if they are crying to be let out of their pen or other area because their crying it usually a symptom that we have left them for too long.

One of the things we need to do to help our puppy feel calm being left alone is to build up a positive feeling associated with being left in their confinement space.

If we leave them to cry then we are far more likely to associate feelings of frustration and isolation with the area. 

The first step in training confidence when left alone is to promote a feeling of comfort and safety in your home. I think that giving your puppy time to settle in, bond with you and feel like your place is home is a pretty important and often overlooked step. 

Personally, I didn’t leave Odin alone at all for the first two weeks that he was at home with us. Not because he was showing signs of being distressed away from me but simply because I wanted him to feel secure in his environment and to become an avid Kong user before I tried anything else. 

However, from Day 2 at home I did start to work on some separation exercises with Odin where I would be behind a baby gate or other barrier. So, Odin was able to see me and I could toss him a few yummy high value treats to find before returning to him again. 

Just as with your socialisation, training short regular sessions and a keen ability to read your pup's body language will assist you in progressing this training early on. 

Once you start to notice that you can hop over that baby gate or barrier and your puppy doesn’t mind much at all you can move on to the next stage of training. 

Leave your puppy with a long-lasting chew or a treat dispensing toy, hop on over that baby gate and then move out of sight for just a few seconds with the aim of gradually increasing that interval as your puppy continues to show great comfort with the training to minutes and down the track hours. 

Ensuring your puppy gets adequate, age appropriate exercise and mental stimulation will be extremely beneficial.

Without sounding like too much of a fear monger I strongly believe that when building a puppy's or dog's confidence to be alone it is better to hope for the best but plan for the worst. Dogs are social animals and it is not reasonable to expect them to cope with being isolated for full-time working hours without adequate preparation. 

However, this training can be quite involved to do and unfortunately some of us simply cannot take the time off of work in order to conduct gradual separation training. 

If this is the case, fear not! There is always another way: a top-quality pet sitter or doggy day care will be your next best option. 

#5. Learning Basic Manners

Some of you may be scratching your heads by now and wondering why I haven’t mentioned anything much about obedience yet? 
Although I am sure others among you are thinking you have quite enough to be working on already, thank you very much!

I will admit I tend to agree with the latter among you. Teaching your puppy basic manners and obedience related behaviours is of course extremely important because it gives you a means by which to communicate with one another. 

After all your puppy doesn’t speak English and we humans aren’t that great at speaking dog so we need to create a common language in the middle. 

It is an absolute myth that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks

My dearly departed rescue dog Snow was testament to that! When she was 10 years old she assisted me to gain my first dog training qualification which involved training a complex skill for our final exam. Snow learnt scent detection! A green as anything novice trainer and a geriatric rescue dog no less!! 

So, don’t let yourself feel overwhelmed and like you need to have your puppy doing algebra by the time they are 16 weeks old. Just 2 minutes of gentle training each day will make a world of difference and is a great way to burn some energy until your puppy can go on proper walks. 

Fun training sessions are also a great two for one because while you are showing your puppy the basics of how to be a good dog you are also enjoying a wonderful bonding activity. 

But, just remember manners training is not THE most important thing right now. 

Finding a top-quality puppy school that trains using force free methods will be invaluable for you and your new puppy here too. Especially if you are new to dog training! 

Being a good trainer takes excellent observation, timing, planning and consistency which takes practice. Having someone to guide you along the way, particularly during the trying first few weeks is just so valuable. 

Top 4 Manners Skills to Teach and Why 

1) Name Recognition (Orient to me)

Because getting them to pay attention to you is half the battle won!

2) Touch (Touch your nose to my palm)

A great little recall behaviour that can also be turned into a fun game.

3) Go To Bed (Put your body on your bed)

Because if you can ask your puppy to go to their place and stay there, they can’t be under foot or otherwise getting into mischief.

4) Leave It (Please stop what you’re doing by turning away from it)

This one
 probably doesn’t need an explanation! But I will note that Leave It isn’t just for food items on the floor. It can be from anything including nibbling on your shoelaces once you have trained the behaviour effectively.


As you can see there is just so much to do when you welcome your new family member home. Trying to juggle your own needs, work commitments, human family members, the needs of any existing pets in the home, and so on with your new puppy who demands constant attention and management can be a massive undertaking. I really would not recommend winging it! 

Being as proactive as possible will be of most benefit to your family and your new puppy. Make as many plans and preparations as you can well before your puppy arrives home. Engage the support of a reliable force free dog trainer and don’t be afraid to ask for help. I can tell you that even I, a professional dog trainer who should know what’s up, sent countless messages to other trainers in my network to pick their brains and make sure that I was on the right track with Odin.

Just remember that it will all be over before you know it and before long you will be scratching your head wondering where your baby puppy went! It can be hard to see the forest for the trees when you’re amongst it all. 

It takes a village... Savour every moment!

written by Jess Sandstrom, October 2019 for Australian Dog Lover (all rights reserved). 

About the Writer

Jess Sandstrom has been working with dogs professionally since 2012. Beginning in Rescue she then moved on to complete formal qualifications in Dog Training: Diploma of Canine Behaviour Science and Technology (CASI); Statement of Attainment in Dog Training (TAFE); member of Pet Professional Guild AustraliaAssociation of Pet Dog TrainersAssociation of Animal Behaviour Professionals. 

Jess believes that by helping her clients create a deep relationship which goes beyond the basic dog/owner dynamic, this benefits not only the team she's working with, but greatly reduces the risk of dogs being surrendered to shelters or abandoned due to behaviour which may be labelled as ‘antisocial’.

She uses science-based, positive reinforcement techniques, allowing both person and dog the space to learn how to communicate with each other without the use of force, and allowing their relationship to flourish. 


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