Our Approach to Puppy Training
Our approach to puppy training is very unique.
It was always going to be – it needed to be – It actually had to work
We spend so much time helping owners of adult dogs put right the wrongs of other trainers and their owners’ previous mistakes that, as industry leaders, we decided that something had to change.
We realised that if we are having to help so many owners of adult dogs get back on track it inherently means that what they were doing when they raised their puppies was inherently wrong.
In order to develop the Worlds best approach to raising and training a puppy there was only one thing for it.
To raise and train some puppies ourselves with one aim in mind.
To raise and train the most difficult puppies we could find to be the most biddable, well balanced, well behaved young adult dogs that anybody could wish for.
I have to say, we did it extremely well. I want you to achieve the same.
The reason it worked so well was because we held at the forefront of our mind, all of the common reasons that owners struggle and mitigated them flawlessly.
In order for us to be successful we needed to ensure that our approach was easy to apply, simple to follow, required little time investment to get amazing results and avoided, wherever possible, the typical problems that ruin owners lives along the way.
We needed to develop an approach which worked, worked quickly, reduced stress for the owner and got the results that really mattered, in the right order and at the right time.
- A proactive approach that left nothing to chance but anybody could achieve.
- An approach that worked with very little input, required no experience, was cost effective and achievable
- An approach that would work with any puppy, of any breed, with any character.
- An approach that dealt with things in the right order to ensure the owners priorities were met
- An approach that ensured life would remain as normal as possible for the household.
- An approach which would allow us to guarantee our clients results.
What we came up with is nothing short of a genius even if I do say so myself.
There were Three areas of behaviour that we needed to focus on and find foolproof solutions for.
Behaviour in the home
Behaviour Outside the home.
Toilet training speaks for itself but, the other two, whilst they look simple, have hidden within them every single problem that owners face both when raising a puppy, through the juvenile period and for all of adulthood. We wanted to avoid each and every single one of the problems with one simple approach.
Almost all owners enter into their Puppy journey with a couple of main priorities.
They will be things such as;
- Must be good with the children
- Must be happy to be left
- Must be good with the cat
These things are based on the owner’s current life. What are your main priorities?
Some owners, especially those on their second or third dogs tend to be more specific and their priorities are based on past bad experiences. They tend to be wiser than first time owners,
Their priorities are things such as
- Good with other dogs
- Friendly with visitors
- Mustn’t pull on lead
- Have a good recall
- Good around food
The thing that both brand new and previous puppy owners don’t realise is that whilst they have their own priorities, there are actually 150 things that a dog can do wrong, they happen at various stages of development and obviously not all dogs display all of them.
My point is, whilst you have your own requirements and priorities, there are many other things that your dog will end up doing that will equally negatively affect your life. You just don’t know what they are….YET.
Now I’m not going to list them all but here are just a few of the main ones. In order of when owners realise they are struggling with them.
During the initial days/weeks but continuing unless dealt with most owners will struggle with;
Crying/barking/howling when left and overnight
Jumping on the sofa
Being too confident/boisterous
Never settling down to sleep
Chasing other pets
Chasing the children
After the first two weeks, in addition to the above, we can add in
Pulling on lead
Not coming back when called
Jumping up on stranger
Pulling towards other dogs
Chasing wild animals
And by 6 months, as they reach the juvenile period, because they are bigger and weigh more, not only do the above problems get more pronounced but other, adolescence related behaviours emerge
On lead reactivity
Fear of many things
Fighting/disagreements with other dogs
Nervousness of people
Guarding the home
Enhancement of all other problems listed above.
Also, to help you get your head around this, think about all the dogs you know (and have known) and ask yourself, how many of them would you actually own and would fit your life without changing any aspect of them or their behaviour?
Most owners we work with, especially those with adult dogs have been to numerous trainers, spent lots of money and seen little or no results for their time and money invested.
Most trainers will either try to avoid the issues at hand by focussing the owners on training obedience, some will blame the owners, some will take your money and run and those who do get involved will try and get you to distract your dog, reward the good and ignore the bad and various other flawed methods.
For outside of the home problems, most trainers will tell owners to use food, toys or being more exciting in an attempt to stop the problem behaviours.
For inside the home problems they will try to get you to teach your puppy/dog a ‘place command’.
The problem is, if solving puppy training problems was as easy as distracting the puppy by throwing some food at it, nobody would need a dog trainer in the first place.
When a puppy is more motivated to do what it wants than it is motivated by the thing the owners is offering, the problem behaviour will remain.
As we looked deeper into the problems that owners encountered, the typical issues that puppies and young adult dogs displayed and the flawed ways in which trainers would try to help, our new and unique approach to raising and training puppies began to take shape.
The starting point was to ensure that the approach would be proactive in nature.
For example, there is absolutely no way you could know if your puppy was going to be predisposed to separation anxiety, stealing food or guarding your home but, by assuming that the problems would occur with all puppies, we could easily and proactively avoid them occurring in the first place.
Every single issue outlined above can be avoided completely by raising a puppy which has just Three skills.
The Perfect Puppy Approach
We developed the following concept;
If we could help people raise a puppy to be calm, clean and attentive, they would not only have a great experience raising their puppy but by default, they would have no issues whatsoever.
You see, a calm puppy doesn’t display behaviours that are borne of over-exciement in the home
A clean puppy is well toilet trained wherever it goes
An attentive puppy never gets distracted and therefore it will never pull, become reactive or fail to recall.
Once we had worked this out, the next thing we needed to do was overcome the differences between what owners can and will do and what we would do. Most training fails because it isn’t practical for the owner to do what the trainer is recommending. Here’s what we focussed on.
Getting Priorities right
Short on time? Got other priorities? Busy with work or the children? Don’t want to be a dog trainer?
You won’t have considered this but, when welcoming a puppy into your home, if you don’t train things in a particular order… YOU WILL END UP IN A MESS!
You can’t put the roof on a house before you have built the walls and the same is true of puppy training.
What you should do, and what you will actually do are very different things and, if you get it wrong, you’ll never be able to put it right!
Here’s the order in which you should be doing things..
Priority 1 – Get the puppy comfortable to spend time alone otherwise you will endure sleepless nights, complaining neighbours and separation anxiety problems.
If you’re anything like me you’re busy, need to rest and don’t like the sound of constant crying, howling and barking, especially all night long.
Priority 2 – Teach your puppy where to go to the toilet, develop a routine which fits your lifestyle and create a situation where your puppy will not have accidents in your home
Priority 3 – Teach your puppy to be more attentive to you than everything else to avoid all outdoor behaviour problems.
By getting the priorities right, our approach mitigates the major barriers to success that stand in your way.
The problem is, YOU DON’T HAVE TIME to follow the typical approach
I know that you don’t want to be a dog traine.
You simply want to enjoy owning a dog. You’re busy, have other interests in life and other commitments that take your time. You need an approach that, unlike most, is achievable in just 10-15 Minutes twice a day.
Modern approaches to raising a puppy require commitment from an owner over a 12-18 Month period. This is why you see dog trainers running classes for puppies, juveniles and then adults. Until you have finished the adult classes, your dog won’t be trained – IF EVER!
Across this period of time you would teach your dog around 15 commands. All based around conventional obedience.
Sit, down, stay, wait, come back, heel, leave, fetch, go to bed…..
Almost all of these commands are then used in an attempt to control a dogs undesirable behaviour.
To achieve all of these commands though, even if you just focussed on the most important ones, requires a huge amount of time, patience and effort to achieve any level of proficiency.
None of these commands are any use if you don’t first have your puppies attention – if it isn’t listening, it can’t respond.
I also quickly realised that I use very few of these commands with my own dogs – they are a waste of time, don’t work and actually stop you from getting success!
If I put a lead on they walk nicely without being asked. If I throw a toy they bring it back and give it to me without being asked. If I take them for a walk I very rarely have to call them back, if we encounter distractions they pay them no attention because they are already focussed on me without any commands whatsoever. The list goes on and on.
The more I thought about it, for all I’ve taught my dogs, I rarely use any of it, I don’t have to, they are just well behaved.
I realised that rather than focussing on a long list of commands and exercises, the reason my dogs were well behaved outside of the home was simply because they were attentive to me regardless of distractions..
When most owners struggle outside of the home it is because their dog is more interested in what is going on around them rather than paying attention to their owner. Even owners who have trained the list of commands to a high level complain that;
‘he/she does it really well until there is a distraction’
Instead of asking owners who didn’t have the time, inclination or money to spend hours every week focussing on training obedience commands that would fail anyway in high distraction environments, we gave them one thing to train that they could easily achieve with little input and it would mean that wherever they went, whatever they did, their dog was always so focussed on them that it didn’t even notice distractions in the first place?
Would that solve almost all problems that owners experienced outside of their homes?
Well, the answer was yes.
By simplifying the approach, focussing you on one aim and giving your puppy one sole focus when outside we found that we could get even the most inexperienced owner the same results that I get after 20 Years of training dogs.
It turns out, if you can teach your puppy to be more attentive to you than everything else you will never encounter the typical problems that most owners who’ve invested lots of time, money and effort are still struggling with on a daily basis.
Once you’ve got an attentive puppy, you can easily train all the commands you want and they’ll actually work rather than shouting them at your dog across the park whilst he/she is blatantly too distracted to hear you and comply.
Training the habit of being attentive is really really easy when you know how. It takes no more time than you would already spend with your puppy anyway and it removes almost all the issues that could occur outside of the home.
By training a heel command for example, by the very nature of it, it means if you haven’t given the command then it’s fine for your dog to drag you down the road.
We too made this mistake for Years on end, we now realise that it makes no sense at all. It means your dog or puppy is fine to pull unless you say otherwise.
Nowadays we simply teach our puppies and dogs that when the lead is on, don’t pull and be attentive.