Here are some helpful tips from our partners in pet
nutrition - Eukanuba on how to train your
Your authority will be questioned
A four - to six-month-old puppy wants to cut the apron strings
from mum. In the wild he'd be out of the den and exploring the
surrounding countryside, learning how to hunt small animals. He'd
be growing in strength and skill every day, becoming increasingly
In a domestic setting puppy will be experiencing similar natural
urges. His instincts will compel him to test your leadership and
he'll try and to dominate those around him - you, the children,
cats, everyone. But especially you. He might also choose this
moment to ignore recently learned commands or misbehave for the
attention it earns.
Show him who's boss
In the face of this behaviour you need to be firm and patient,
then firm and patient some more. Reinforce commands and give him
some puppy-style tough love by ignoring his need for attention
(albeit only for a short period immediately after an incident).
Continuously reassert your role as pack leader. If you don't
want him getting comfortable on the sofa, don't let him. He won't
get it later if you suddenly start changing the rules. So move him,
every time, until he doesn't even bother trying. And to prove that
you love him really, reward good behaviour with praise and perhaps
healthy treat. Positive reinforcement does help learned
behaviour become habitual, after all.
Teach him to play nicely
It's possible that puppy may test the boundaries by giving you a
little nip, so any game which encourages him to bite is obviously a
bad idea (bites hurt, irrespective of the biter's cuteness). The
rule of thumb is no wiggling fingers in front of puppy in a
There may also be times when he tries to get physical. He wants
you to tug on a toy he's picked up, so you tug. He pulls harder,
egging you on. Should you respond? Afraid not… rough and tumble at
this age will probably end in tears and is, therefore, a bad idea.
When it comes to physical play, if you're in control and everything
is reasonably calm, then okay. But if rough begins to outweigh
tumble it's time to stop. Aggression is only a growl away.
Take the lead
It's so easy for a puppy to dash out into the road when not on a
lead. We've seen it happen and although (thank goodness) the puppy
wasn't hurt and no one was injured, the dog, his owner and the
driver of the car that had to stamp on the brakes were all pretty
shaken by the fact they were inches from disaster.
So it's essential that your basic puppy training includes
walking on a lead. Start indoors where he is comfortable and you
can control the surroundings. Place a few healthy treats in a bowl
on one side of the room, and from the other, let him walk next to
you on his lead, towards the bowl. Next, try walking with a treat
in your hand and your puppy alongside you on a loose lead, using
the treat as a lure.
Gradually build up this process; avoid pulling on the lead as he
may resist and you'll quickly end up playing tug of war with him.
Once comfortable indoors, begin training him to walk on a lead in
the garden, if you have one. Remember to be patient and to praise
him when he gets it right. You know that walking on a lead is
nothing to worry about, but he won't, until he's shown
Leaving him home alone
Imagine the day when your puppy is left home alone for the first
time. The big sad eyes, the whining, the lonely staring out of the
window - and that's just you. But it doesn't have to be that way,
for puppy at least. With some careful preparation you can alleviate
the symptoms of separation anxiety (which can be anything from
whining to chewing the leg off your favourite chair) such that it's
really not a problem at all.
The key is to gradually build up puppy's experience of being
away from you. Start by leaving the room for a few minutes at a
time. Extend the periods of time you are gone. Then (deep breath)
step outside on your own for a couple of minutes. As long as he's
not distressed to begin with he should be quite happy pottering
around, happy in the knowledge that you'll be back soon.
When, after a week or two of trial separations, you decide the
moment has come to leave puppy for an extended period, make sure
that he's been out for a wee, he's got water to drink and a bed to
lie in. Leave him and try not to worry - he'll be a lot happier
about the experience than you will!
And so to sleep
While all this boundary testing is going on your puppy will need
sleep - and lots of it. You'll already know how much time he loves
to spend with his eyes closed, of course, but this extended play
will tire him out even more, so let him sleep.
If you do need to encourage him to nod off, try the
- Calmly put him in his bed and stay with him for a couple of
minutes while he settles
- Leave the room and close the door. If he whines or makes a
fuss, steel yourself and leave him be. He should drop off soon
enough if he's tired