right from the start

Image by Ulrike Mai | via Pixabay

Getting it Right from the Start by Kelly Murrell

Have you just welcomed home a puppy, or rescue dog? This week we’ll be sharing some amazing tips on getting it right from the start!


mantras, and to be honest, its not just exclusive to puppies! All dogs are included in this!


Grow Optimism First

We all know what an optimist and a pessimist is, well we see the same in dogs. Some dogs are naturally more of the glass half full types, while others naturally sway to thinking that any new or novel situation is bad. Optimism is one of the key concepts that we need to grow in all of our dogs. An optimistic dog will embrace novelty and overcome it, while a pessimist will likely react badly to it. Novelty is happening around us all of the time, so you can see why it is key that we grow optimism. At the end of the day, an optimistic dog finds the world they live in less stressful to deal with.

So, before you take your puppy out into the big wide world to introduce them to lots of new things and experiences, enhance their optimism at home first to prepare them for those future interactions. Here are some of our favourite games:

  1. One Object, Many Games: With one object and using food to lure or scatter, can puppy; Get on it, go under it, go around it, go through it, get in it. Use lots of different items to play this puppy led game!
  2. Novelty Item Game: Place lots of novel items (boxes, metal tins, paper, bubble wrap, plastic, wobble cushions, children’s toy, bags…gosh the list is endless!!) out on the ground and introduce your puppy to them. Allow your puppy to lead the exploration and scatter some food in amongst the novel items so that your puppy can calmly explore and associate the weird and wonderful things with positivity.
  3. Human Climbing Frame Game: Sit on the floor, and with some food ready to feed your puppy, allow them to climb up onto your lap, wiggle your legs a little to create a bit of movement, raise your knees slightly and lure your puppy around and lead them underneath your legs then back around to your lap again.
  4. Homemade Assault Course Game: Using lots of item around the house, line them up in a row and lead your puppy across them using food to lure, or place food out on each item and allow your puppy to walk along and hoover up the food.

For more great games ideas, here’s a super cool free eBook you can download: https://nbn.absolute-dogs.com/optimismrocksbook

Out and About Adventures

  1. Socialisation is an hot topic when it comes to puppies, but it must be done right. When taking your puppy out and about, look at each and every experience as a learning and training opportunity, so take some food out on the road with you so that you can reward good choices and pair interactions your puppy is having with something positive.
  2. Don’t view socialisation as a frantic time where you have to get your puppy out to meet as many things, people and dogs as possible. Ditch that socialisation list! There isn’t the need to go over-board with what your puppy meets at their young age!
  3. It’s not about how many different things your puppy gets to see, it’s all about the experience your puppy is having and the key thing is that your puppy is having positive exposure, and is well balanced and level headed.
  4. View out and about adventures as un-forced, organic experiences your puppy is having. With the concept of optimism (view tip 1) built up to form a foundation layer of skills, your puppy will be better prepared to cope with new experiences.
  5. However, always advocate for your puppy, if you know an experience will be too much for them right at that moment, leave it for now, always think of these new experiences as QUALITY OVER QUANTITY.

The Biting Bonanza!

  1. Ok, so first things first, ALL puppies play bite and nip! Your puppy isn’t a monster, they aren’t being aggressive, this is what ALL puppies do! So, what do you do when this happens?
  2. If you’re in the moment of a frenzied puppy biting episode, either redirect your puppy on to a toy, a chew, or a stuffed kong, essentially give your puppy a calming activity. Another option is to gently and slowly stroke your puppy’s side as this can help to calm a mouthy puppy!
  3. If you are getting repeated frenzied biting episodes, chances are your puppy is tired. Puppies need LOTS of rest, so ensure that your puppy has a quiet place to settle and sleep away from the action; a pen or a crate for example.

Blips in Confidence

  1. As your puppy develops there will be times where their confidence dips. Lots of trainers refer to these times as fear periods. We like to call them blips! This happens to all puppies, and potentially into adulthood and beyond.
  2. So what do you do when your puppy is experiencing a confidence blip? Observe it, notice it, but don’t fret!
  3. Don’t ask too much from your puppy during this time. Keep new and novel situations and experiences to a minimum and work through lots of optimism and calmness building games (see tip one, there’s a cool eBook to download which gives you lots of ideas for this!).
  4. How long will it last? Just like when these blips take place, every puppy is different. The key thing is; know your puppy, know what is normal for them in terms of confidence, notice any changes and don’t panic! Gently help your puppy through their blip!

Training is an Ongoing Conversation

We simply adore our training sessions with our dogs! However, these training sessions are more often than not unplanned events, simply happening and taking place, ebbing and flowing throughout the day.

Training your dog isn’t something you can switch on and off. You can absolutely schedule in sessions and attend classes, but every minute your puppy is awake, they are making choices, they are learning things, those pathways in their brain are getting reinforced! Training your dog is a lifestyle – it is 24/7.  You need to embrace training opportunities as they happen, as well as enjoying those planned training sessions and classes!

Read more of our Thursday Training Tips HERE.

Do you have a training issue you want to tackle? Come and stay with us in our cottage style apartments, right in the heart of Dartmoor, and make the most of our fantastic training facilities onsite.

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