Puppy Training FAQs

Training a puppy takes effort, consistency & love!

Get answers to puppy training Frequently Asked Questions here, courtesy of Canine Trainer, Lyssa Noble Dennis.

Remember, always consult a professional trainer for advice.

These tips also correspond with the scenarios in JJ Goes to Puppy Class.

Quick Links:

Potty Training
Jumping Up
Kids Approaching Dogs
Puppy Play Nipping
Barking at Other Dogs
Running Across the Street or Out of the House
Puppy on Sofa
Cat Litter

Potty Training:
Puppies usually have to potty when they wake up, after they’ve eaten and when they are playing. If you can catch them while they are peeing or pooping, scoop them up and bring them outside to show them where they are supposed to go and then praise them in a sweet voice. Puppies can also be paper-trained or crate trained. Lyssa’s general rule is “one month per one hour” so that for example a two-month-old puppy needs to potty every two hours. Overnight is different when they can hold it longer.

Lyssa teaches an ‘Off’ command for things your dog shouldn’t be eating and a ‘Take it’ command for things that are appropriate for your dog to eat and chew. The more words we use, the clearer we are. When we use the word “no” we forget to use a replacement word, so think of what you want them to be doing instead. Dogs often chew things like shoes, socks, books and paper when they are bored. Instead, you can offer an appropriate chew toy but be sure to supervise dogs at all times with chew toys. Take them for long walks and play ball with them in the yard for exercise. An exercised dog is a happy, calm and less mischievous dog.

Trainer Lynn recommends a no-pull harness or head collar for larger dogs. Be sure that if your dog has a regular collar that he isn’t choking himself, and adults should walk dogs until children are big and responsible enough to do so.

To encourage a particular spot you can bury a treat or toy for them to dig up. When they are digging in that spot, you can say ‘Good Dig’. You can make a sandbox for your dog too!

Jumping Up:
Teach dogs to sit when visitors come and give them treats when they keep all four paws on the ground. You should keep a leash by the front door to put on BEFORE you open the door. IT IS ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT TO KEEP YOUR NEW DOG SAFE AROUND OTHER CHILDREN WHO VISIT. CHILDREN AND DOGS SHOULD NEVER BE LEFT ALONE TOGETHER.

Kids Approaching Dogs:
Always ask an owner if it is ok to pet their dog. The dog should be allowed to sniff the back of your hand first. The owner can tell you where the dog likes to be pet. Please see dogbiteprevention.org for more child-friendly information.

Puppy Play Nipping:
Any play biting should be discouraged particularly with children. If a puppy needs some time alone so that children can play safely, you can give your dog an appropriate chew toy so he can have fun too while the child plays. You can also keep your puppy on a “tie-out” (leash) around the house so that children can walk away if he gets too excited. Remember not to leave the dog unattended with chew toys, with children or when tied up.

Barking at Other Dogs:
The barking should neither be excessive nor directed at anyone for a length of time. When out on a walk Lyssa recommends the ‘Watch Me’ command, reinforced with a treat so that the puppy is focused on you instead of another dog or person. At home, he may be barking to get you to play so have a catch or let him fetch a ball.

Running across the street or out of the house:
Lyssa uses the ‘Wait’ command and asks the dog to ‘Sit’ at each corner during training. The dog is then rewarded back away from the curb, and then released from the wait with an “OK to cross” command when there are no cars coming. Dogs are ALWAYS on leash and never released to run across by themselves.

You can also use the teach ‘Wait’ command in the house when someone comes to the door. Before you open it tap your foot in front of the door (once they’ve mastered the ‘Wait’ command) and toss treats or a toy away from the opened door for them to chase. Until they are mature, and you know that a distraction won’t entice them, always keep a dog on a leash or behind a gate when a door is opened.

Puppy on Sofa:
You can try wire hangers or aluminum foil. Crate training is also effective when you can’t be around to watch them. Be sure if you are crate training your dog not to leave them in the crate for more than three hours at a time, and they get plenty of love and exercise when not in the crate.

Cat Litter:
Many families have cats and dogs living harmoniously. One of the greatest challenges is the litter box because cats and dogs have different nutritional requirements and cat food and ultimately cat poop (while delicious to dogs) isn’t best for their diet.   You can install a kitty door that the dog can’t access or put the litter in a room or tub that they cat can access but the dog cannot.

Remember to always consult a professional trainer for advice.