Nine Puppy Tips

Nine Puppy Tips

Getting a new puppy is one of the most exciting experiences for a family or individual. Those sweet morning kisses and wiggly bums sure steal our hearts! Often by the time a puppy is 10 weeks, professional training support is required to curve the onset of mouthing/nipping, potty training concerns, or simply just preventative advice! 


Here are 9 simple tips to keep your puppy engaged and on the right track! 


  1. Once your puppy has their shots and is safe to explore, change up exercise routine by walking different areas, directions and  for different periods of time. Intermix fetch in a safe place, off leash time (where applicable) and leashed urban walks so that he/she is adaptable & experiences a variety of social opportunities.
  2. Avoid feeding your puppy from the bowl in order to provide ample mental stimulation/problem solving opportunities daily. Feed your dog in different locations throughout the house to keep  him/her thinking and interested in “finding it” (hide kibble to encourage the use of his/her nose to locate), or use interactive feeding toys such as a kong! 
  3. Meal time can also be training time! Rather than giving them a whole bunch of rewards for free out of a bowl, utilize those rewards and use them as reinforcement for new behaviors they are learning. Use that food as a reward for behaviours such as: sit, leave it, watch me, down, heel & tricks! 
  4. Rules/boundaries should be consistent and clear so that they are clear on expectations & what is allowed/not. Ensure everyone is practicing the same rules/boundaries/training on walks and in your home. Without consistency, you are unlikely to see results.
  5. Ignore attention-seeking behaviors such as whining at you, barking at you, jumping at you for attention. Be self-aware. Acknowledging consistent check-ins & requests can actually encourage unwanted behaviors. Ignoring attention seeking (jumping, barking, etc) includes looking away, standing up, crossing your legs, walking away, going through a doorway/closing door.
  6. If you play fetch or tug with your dog, keep games brief. Ask for obedience cues between every single throw – be unpredictable so that he/she cannot anticipate what you have cued. Games should be 3-5 minutes followed by a break by putting the ball away and walking around. Ignore any fixation or pushiness for the ball. Begin the game again once your dog is calmer and less obsessive. For tug games, try to always use the same tug toy and put it on a verbal cue, such as, “get it”. When you decide the game is over, give them a “drop it” cue. Create a rule that if your puppy puts his/her teeth on anything but the toy – the game is over. Drop the toy, stand up and walk away.
  7. Recognize what your dog’s “life rewards” are and control them! For example, ask him/her to do one of his/her tricks or obedience cues before: going out front door, receiving breakfast/dinner, getting the leash put on or taken off, getting out of the car, greeting a friend/stranger, sniffing on the walk, going through doorways, etc. This is an easy way of incorporating training without feeling like you have made a lot of time for it!  This ensures your dog practices manners daily.  
  8. Control your puppy's access to toys by keeping them off of the floor. Rotate toys every few days to ensure your puppy is excited by the toys you already have. The toys are easier to become a successful redirecting tool if they are novel and unfamiliar! 
  9. If your puppy is practicing nipping and is over excited, try interrupting with a firm clap or word like "eh!" and then redirect them onto an appropriate toy. Try this three times with consistency. If they are unable to make the right choice (the toys you have offered them), then give them a "time out" warning cue and put them in a neutral space to calm down for a few minutes. Sometimes puppies need a quiet place to calm down and settle if they are over excited. When you calmly release them from the time out, avoid over the top greetings to help the puppy remain calm. 

Above all else, have fun! Happy training! 


By Annika Mcdade at


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