Category - Puppy Training

Crate Train That Puppy With a Treat!

Crate training has become one of the major fundamentals in training your dog or puppy. From potty training to trick training, the use of a crate can be a major building block and tool to reach successful and reliable behaviors from your canine companion. The crate can be a useful tool and help manage life with a dog in the home. However, using the crate in a proper manner means teaching your dog or puppy to not only go in on his own, but to love being inside his crate!

Step One, Step In

It is best to use a high value treat, such as real meat or cheese to begin crate training your puppy. A high value treat is something your pup would really love, but should be in very small pieces that are quickly eaten so as not to distract your dog for too long. This will help your pup to develop a positive association with his crate.

Photo by Jim Larrison

Toss a treat into the opening of the crate, just inside the door. Your pup should have to put his head inside to pick it up, but not walk in just yet. When he gets the treat, you can click your clicker or say “Yep!” to let him know he did a good job. Repeat this a few times before moving on.

Next, toss the treat into the middle of the crate. The goal is to encourage your pup to set both front feet into the crate to get the treat. If he only leans in without putting his feet inside, toss the next treat in further. If he hesitates after getting the treat to investigate the crate, even for a moment, click or say “Yep!” and reward him yet again. Hand him the treat while he is still inside, not when he steps out! If he willingly steps all the way in, do it again! He is catching on that being in the crate is a good thing.

The last part to the first step is tossing the treat all the way into the back of the crate. He must place all four feet in the crate to get the treat and turn around to come back out! For every two seconds or so that he remains in the crate on his own, he should be rewarded. He will eventually need to come back out, though, to continue this exercise. You can toss a treat a few feet away from the crate for him to fetch, then continue.

Closing the Door

You don’t want to slam the crate door on your pup or make him feel nervous about being closed up in the crate. This is why it is important to help him become comfortable in the crate and trust that it’s not only a safe place but a comforting place to be.

Toss the treat all the way into the back as done before. When your dog is all the way and eating his treat, gently close the door, but don’t lock it yet! Right after closing it, hand your dog a treat through the crate bars or drop one in so he can easily get it. Then, open the door back up so he can come out if he wishes. If he stays, reward him for every two to three seconds he remains in. As you may have done previously, you can toss a treat out on the floor for him to fetch so you can repeat this practice.

When you think your dog is comfortable with the door closed, you can ask him to stay in for longer periods, periodically giving him a treat and opening the door.  This is so that instead of feeling trapped, he will feel safe!

Remain Patient

Many dogs can become fully crate trained in one to two days, but always go at your dog’s pace. Keep each training session short, under 15 minutes! Short sessions mean your dog won’t get bored and will always look forward to the next sessions!

How You Feed Your Dog Can Affect Training

dog-biscuitsDid you know that how you feed our dog can actually affect their training? A dog’s feeding routine is one of the first questions I’ve always asked my clients about, and so many hadn’t been aware of the impact that food, and how it’s served can have on behavior and the training process. Sometimes, implementing a small change during that first visit makes a big difference very quickly. Most dogs are fed one of two ways. “Free-feeding”, or leaving a bowl of food out at all times or for several hours at a time for the dog to eat whenever they want, is one. The other is serving food at regular mealtimes. Food is offered at somewhat regular times and either eaten right away, or taken up after a certain amount of time if not eaten. For example, you feed your dog in the morning while you get ready for work, but pick it up before you leave, eaten or not. I have always recommended to my clients to feed their dogs meals, if possible, rather than free-feeding. This has several benefits.


Feeding habits should always considered in  the house training strategy. Free feeding can sabotage your new pet. Feeding regular meals will help establish a generally regular poop schedule. For puppies, that means you will have a good idea of when a big potty time is coming, before an accident happens – and setting your puppy up to succeed is the most important part of house training.


Training your dog requires motivation on your dog’s part, and it’s up to you to find out what your dog will work best for. Something your dog really, really wants, AND that you can use to your advantage. It can be anything from a bite of a treat to a tennis ball or tug toy. Whatever gets your dog excited that you can also control. Food, naturally, is a very popular motivator used for training because it’s readily available and goes over very, very well with many dogs.

But what if your dog is hard to train because she doesn’t seem to care about anything you can offer? She ignores treats and is not ball-obsessed. It seems that if you don’t leave food out, she’ll starve.  But actually, not having constant access to food should improve and encourage the development of a healthy appetite. This can really help with “only dogs”, who don’t have another dog around to “compete” with over food or toys.

When your dog looks forward to their dinner (and breakfast or lunch), mealtime becomes a fun and highly anticipated event, and you are the focus for what your dog needs and wants. Instead of the always-full “magic food bowl”, it’s YOU who brings the deliciousness. You have control of that resource and that gives you your dog’s attention. And that means more respect – and better learning!


Controlling meals also lets you easily keep an eye on how much is being consumed. If you’re trying to manage weight, portions are easier to control. If there is any change in appetite, you’ll pick up on it right away, and that can give you an early warning that your dog may be sick. And administering medication may be easier because it’s more likely to be eaten with a relished meal.

Depending on your dog’s age and specific needs, you may serve your dog as often as several times a day (puppies need more frequent meals) or as little as just once a day. Almost all dogs can benefit from meals rather than free feeding; but there are exceptions. Some dogs with medical issues and certain breeds are much more likely to experience conditions like hypoglycemia. If there is any question, ask your vet! But if your dog is okay to do so, consider feeding meals instead of free-feeding for awhile, and see what a difference it can make for you and your dog. Let me know what changes you notice!

How You Feed Your Dog Can Affect Your Training

Q&A: How can I potty train my puppy when she can’t go outside yet?

How can I potty train my puppy when she can't go outside yet?I’ve adopted an 11wk old puppy from shelter, but she hasn’t had her shots and is unable to go outside for 2 months (in hindsight, I probably took in too much as u live in an apt on 3rd floor and it’s summertime) have had little Sally 12 days and she’s doing good using pee pads, How can I potty train her for outside or command if she’s unable to eliminate outside? I carry her out for fresh air and change of scenery twice a day but, in 2mts time she’ll be nearly 4 months and will she have to be retrained?

Thanks, I’m a bit confused and just want to start her off on right notes!!

Appreciate it,

Hi Frances,
Congratulations on your new family member! Housetraining a puppy can be tricky in an apartment, but with some time and effort, most puppies tend to pick up the basics fairly quickly, and it sounds like you’re off to a great start with Sally.

First of all, I would make sure that you get Sally up to date on her vaccinations as soon as possible – not only for the purpose of potty training her outdoors, but because exposure to new people and environments is very important for a puppy’s social development in the first few months.

In the meantime, there are a few ways that you can make the transition from puppy pads to outdoor potty time easier on both of you. Many dog owners don’t realize that puppies develop what we call a ‘substrate preference’ for elimination very early in life. That means that a puppy who initially learns to pee on grass will tend to prefer pottying on grass in the future, whereas a puppy who’s been taught to ‘go’ on pads learns that eliminating indoors on soft surfaces is acceptable. You can probably see how this could end up making Sally’s potty training confusing for her in the long run, right?

My suggestions are:

• If possible, take Sally out the same area outdoors every time you want her to eliminate, even if that means onto a balcony. This teaches her that elimination is an act that’s always done outside, no matter what.

• Remember to reward her each time she goes in the ‘right’ place

• Instead of teaching her to use puppy pads, bring her to a litter box filled with gravel, or a patch of artificial ‘potty training’ turf to do her business. These substrates are much more similar to what would naturally be found on the ground outside, making for a far less confused pup when you actually start taking her out of the apartment to eliminate.

• Teach Sally to go pee on command – it will help her with the transition to new and different potty areas as she gets older. You can use ‘go pee’ or a ‘hurry up’ cue to teach this behavior, but make sure to use the same phrase each time! When she starts to urinate, say your cue word or phrase, wait until she’s completely finished, and then reward her immediately with praise and a tasty treat. For the first few weeks, ONLY say the phrase if she’s actually in the process of going potty. Once she’s eliminating regularly with this routine, start saying the cue earlier (when she’s showing signs of having to go, like circling or sniffing the ground, for example), only rewarding her if she actually urinates. She’ll soon connect the command with the act of going potty, and you’ll be able to use the cue with her anywhere you go. Dogs aren’t typically able to poop on command, however, but it’s always good to assume that they’ll need to have a bowel movement after a meal or playtime.

Sally sounds like a delightful little puppy, and you must be excited to watch her grow and learn! With time, patience, and a consistent routine set by you, she’ll be learning an outdoor potty routine in no time.

Q&A: Making a rescue dog feel at home


I am adopting my first shelter dog tomorrow. She is 8-10 weeks old. They found her and 3 other puppies when they were maybe 4 weeks old. She isn’t very timid or anything like that but she is VERY shy. Is this because she hasn’t had much human interaction and she doesn’t know how to react? Also, are there any tricks to get her to warm up to me and be her puppy self?

Hi Bri.

Some puppies are naturally very shy. Your new puppy may be more so in that she has had little contact with humans in the first few weeks of her life. Regardless though, you really will just need to give her time to warm up to you.

The bonding process takes time, and she will ‘come out of her shell’ the more she gets to know you and feel comfortable in her new environment.

Many 8 week old puppies are calm and sleepy, but typically by the time they have been in their new homes a few weeks they become much more lively!

If you give her love and affection, a good routine, and start doing some basic obedience with her right from the start, I am confident she will be fine. The transition from a kennel environment with her litter mates to a new home can take a bit longer for some pups, just be patient.


Q&A: When should I reward my dog?

When starting reward training for recall if your dog doesn’t come on the first call but does come after a couple of calls, should you reward this? I understand that we shouldn’t growl for not coming straight away but to reward him/her for coming after a couple of calls to me. I’d be very grateful for any tips. Thanks, Lana

Hi Lana.

It is great that you have started to work on off lead recall with your dog, and treats for coming to you is certainly the best way to start.

The biggest thing is that you do not call her more then once. If you are going to use the ‘come’ command, you say it one time only, and if she does not come to you, you need to go and get her. You would then praise her when you get hold of her, so that it is a positive experience for her. If you have to go get her though, I would not give her the treat, just verbal praise.

If you are finding that she is not coming the first time, you need to return to practicing recalls on a long lead. You can buy a long training lead, or simply get a long piece of rope to attach to her collar. You can begin with having her sit and stay and then back away from her. Then in a clear and excited voice, call her name and say ‘come’. You can also crouch down to encourage her to come to you. If she is running toward you, you can encourage her to continue by praising her as she is coming in.

If she does not respond though, or even if she comes part way but get distracted, tell her no and give her a jerk and release collar correction. Do not reel her in like a fish, just indicate to her through the lead and collar to make the motion herself. When she gets to you, have her sit at your feet and give her a treat and calm praise. Call her to you frequently, and then release her with an ‘ok’ command. If it is fun, and she gets praised/rewarded, she should like the game!

Remember, though you do not want to be repeating yourself on this command, or else she will learn to ignore you. Like many aspects of training, if you are finding she is not reliably coming to you the first time, you have probably progressed too quickly and need to go back to working on a lead and/or at shorter distances.


The Key to a Healthy Puppy

The key to a happy life with your puppy is laying a solid foundation – this starts with one simple thing –

No matter where your puppy comes from, it’s advisable to have him checked out by a veterinarian within 48-72 hours of bringing him home.

For more puppy tips, browse through our Puppy Guide.

Do you have a  secret tip that worked for you? Let us know here.

You can also submit your dog and puppy questions over here.


21 Things Every Puppy Should Learn

We often get the question, “What do I need to teach my puppy?”. To try answer this, we’ve created the below list of what every puppy should learn. It’s by no means comprehensive, but covers the necessities.

  1. to be comfortable in a crate, both when owners are home as well as when owners are gone
  2. to potty outside (on command would be nice!)
  3. to respect human hands and skin (no nipping or mouthing!)
  4. to not jump up on humans or countertops
  5. to respect their owners as the leader of the pack
  6. to release or relinquish food, toys or inappropriate objects when told
  7. to come when called
  8. to be tolerant of handling (nail trims, cleaning ears, kids grabbing fur, taking things out of mouth, drops in eyes, giving pills, bathing, brushing/grooming…)
  9. to “leave it” when told
  10. no chasing bicycles, children, squirrels, rabbits, cars, balls…
  11. to walk without pulling
  12. to sit, down, stay, wait on command
  13. to be comfortable and under control in new or uncomfortable places such as: the veterinary hospital, groomer, boarding kennel, training class, pet store, other people’s homes (perhaps even over night!)
  14. to be comfortable if and when separated from other dogs, pets or people in their family – able to be left alone without destruction, barking or nervousness
  15. to play, chew or relax without constant contact or interaction from owner
  16. to be tolerant of and possibly sociable with other dogs
  17. to not be protective of food, bowl, crate, toys or bed
  18. to quiet barking when told
  19. to greet friends & strangers without jumping or shying away
  20. to not rush through doorways or down stairs ahead of owner
  21. to move location (even if on furniture or bed) when directed without complaint

Puppy Training Essentials

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How To Manage A Frightened Puppy

We often get asked how best to manage a frightened puppy. If your dog or puppy becomes frightened, keep the following in mind:

  • Never hug or softly stroke your dog and softly tell him “it’s OK”… You are praising his fear!
  • Avoid coddling your puppy. You can be praising his uncertainty without knowing.
  • If you talk softly and with a tentative tone to your voice, your dog will get the idea there is, in fact, something to be afraid or unsure of.
  • Use a silly tone of voice and & “Jolly” him up. Use an ultra-delicious treat to distract him, and even engage him in a game.

Never “make” your dog endure a frightening experience. If the predicament is overwhelming to your pup, then remove yourself to a point where you can work to get your pup to relax. End your session on a positive, happy note, but return “to the scene of the crime”, and work to build up the dog’s confidence a little at a time.

how to manage a frightened puppy

This is an excellent time to work with SIT, to help “stuff your dog’s brains back into his head”!

It is up to you to help your pup become comfortable and confident in any situation.

Examples of situations that can create fear in dogs, and where it is up to you to help your dog be confident and unafraid:

  • Thunderstorms, gunshot, fireworks
  • Veterinary, groomer, kennel visits
  • New exposures to people, dogs, kids
  • Objects that appear “strange” to the dog: garbage cans, umbrellas, wheelbarrows, windsocks/flags, hammering, and MUCH more!
  • People that “look funny”: sunglasses, beards, flapping coats, wheelchairs, strollers, walkers, crutches, and MORE!

To help your dog to not be reactive and afraid when encountering new situations, you need to be able to see each situation from your dog’s point of view. What is “no big deal” to you could be a VERY big deal for your dog! Also, you need to have a Plan of Action in place, so you quickly know what to do when your dog encounters a new “scary” situation.

Ask Your Dog Training QuestionsStill Have Questions?

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How To Get Your Dog To Settle Down

PLACE! An effective way to deal with a dog that paces and does not relax is to interrupt that undesirable behavior. This is also an effective alternative to constant pestering.


Using The Place Command:

  1. Use the umbilical leash to stop the pacing
    1. Step on leash and pick it up
    2. Hold leash
    3. Take dog to desired “relax” spot
  2. Teach dog a word for the desired spot, like “in your bed”, “go to your place”, or just “place”…
  3. “Relax” spot should be a comfy bed, a throw rug, or an old blanket or towel. “Relax” spots can be placed in several or many areas of the home!
  4. Take dog to “relax” spot, and enforce “relax” or “settle” with a foot on the leash (which means you need to get comfortable, too, so you can be there with your foot on the leash!).
    1. Dog should relax for at least 5 to 15 minutes, up to 30 minutes with foot on leash to keep him in place.
    2. Release ONLY when he is nicely settled (not settled and revving up for another struggle!).
  5. Praise quietly when he is “relaxed”. Give him a tiny soft-moist treat brought down to his level, firm stroke from head to tail, quiet voice praise.
  6. Give him a special chew (if you choose rawhide, it should be a more durable type like what is called “pressed” or “compressed” rawhide) or a treat-stuffed toy to keep him busy in his place. Offer this only when he starts relaxing with the enforced down.
  7. When he starts to understand the command “go to your place”, he won’t need to be reminded as much with you taking him there with the umbilical leash, and eventually should be able to have it removed.

Ask Your Dog Training QuestionsHave A Question?

Don’t be shy to ask! Simply click here to get in touch with us – we’ll do our best to help!