Dog Walking & Training Blog

Choosing a responsible breeder- a guide

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  • Always meet the breeder in person and check the environment in which puppies are kept. They should be clean, healthy and the dam should be available to be seen. If you wish to see the sire, ask for it.
  • Prepare relevant questions before meeting the breeder. Reputable breeders should be able to address them but also ask you many questions to check if you can be a suitable dog owner.
  • You should select from the whole litter not one puppy being offered to you.
  • Reputable breeders need to do health tests required for the breed and explain anything you need to understand about them.
  • A responsible breeder should provide you and your potential puppy with life-long support regarding any issues or assist with rehoming if required.
  • Visit more than one breeder to select the most suitable one.
  • Visit your selected breeder preferably when puppies are 4/5 weeks old before taking them home at earliest at 8 weeks old.

Choosing a responsible breeder is the very next step after selecting a breed that is suitable for your house size and lifestyle. According to Kennel Club, doing a thorough research on breed types and breeders will often result in selecting a healthy puppy and this may not only affect its life quality but also life span. There are some essentials steps to be taken to ensure that the breeder we select is reputable and does not produce puppies solely to make profit.

  • Take time to do your research to find a Kennel Club assured or responsible breeder.
  • Responsible breeders only breed from healthy dams and sires and perform health checks before mating takes place.
  • Avoid puppy mills at any cost- irresponsible breeders are cost oriented and this may often lead to ill health in your future puppy and increased veterinary bills.
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Bringing new puppy home

Bringing a puppy home requires some preparatory steps so the environment we create in our household and surroundings is adequately adapted to a new family member. This will help the new puppy to settle well in a new home.

One of the first steps to take is to arrange necessary equipment to accommodate the puppy in the house. These include items such as a lead, a right size collar with the puppy contact details tag and toys which are large

enough, so they do not create a choking hazard. Another type of equipment that we need to consider is purchasing a crate that is adequate to the puppy size. This should not be too large, so the pup feels comfortable sleeping in it. Other important items to arrange are feeding bowls, a bed and puppy pads for toilet training.

Another important aspect to consider when preparing for welcoming the puppy is arranging veterinary health checks and dates for upcoming vaccinations. Also, it is advisable to find a professional and reliable dog trainer that can assist us with any behavioural issues the puppy may experience while learning to adapt to their new lifestyle. For example, we can search for specific dog trainers that specialise in individual puppy training or run puppy schools.

Apart from preparing a quiet and relaxed space for the puppy to settle on arrival at our home, it is essential to acquire puppy food. There is a wide selection of it on the market, so asking a vet for advice in this area can help us to select the right option. Moreover, setting up clear house rules before our puppy arrives is vital so the new pet understands and learns them from the very beginning. Finally, making sure that there is easy access to an outdoor area in case the puppy needs an urgent toilet time is advisable.

In conclusion, preparation stage is important to create a safe and happy environment for our new pet.

The benefits and detriments of feeding a complete raw diet against a complete dry kibble diet

Food given to dogs makes a considerable difference in their health and well-being. Thus, feeding them with either complete raw or dry kibble diet should ensure that all necessary nutritional requirements are met. The following factors should be taken into consideration when selecting either complete raw or dry kibble diet: size and age, activity level, food allergies and taste.

As far as complete raw diet is concerned, it is natural and nutrient denser than kibble diet so it can promote heart health, increased energy level, shiny coat, improved eyesight and impact a dog’s stool.  However, this type of diet may pose some risks in terms of spreading harmful pathogens (E.coli, Salmonella and even Tuberculosis) that would be eliminated in the cooking process. This may affect not only your dogs’ health but also other people in the household. To avoid this issue, it is highly recommended to purchase raw meat-based food from commercial suppliers which are members of Pet Food Manufacturing Association (PFMA).

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These manufactures are required to meet high product hygiene standards and their food contains all nutrients necessary for the dog’s optimal health and wellbeing. Also, feeding complete raw food can be expensive and it needs to be safely stored in the fridge. Finally, choosing Biologically Appropriate Raw Food (BARF) helps to have control over the quality and ingredients choice that work best for our dogs.

On the other hand, complete dry kibble diet is convenient as it is easy to serve and store. Many formulas are designed to meet a dog’s nutritional needs. However, it is important to read labels and chose the kibble that has real meat or meal protein as the first ingredient on their list. Still, the ingredients in the kibble are highly processed and low in moisture which can increase the risk of dehydration during hot or high activity days. Also, there is some risk of mycotoxins and storage mites to occur which may lead to health issues. This type of food also contains a high number of preservatives and some colours which may cause cancer or hypersensitivity. So, when choosing kibble, only high-quality options can ensure a healthy and balanced diet.

Canine heat stroke triggers, symptoms and prevention

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Severe stress signs in canines

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Having heard the shocking statistics on the number of dog attacks on humans on BBC Radio 2 this week made me wonder how many of them could have been prevented. According to the information presented there, there have been nearly 22,000 reported cases of aggressive dogs causing injuries to humans in 2022. This is a rise of 34% as compared to 2018 with over 16,000 incidents. It is critical to understand particular dog's motivation, fears and reactivity but also being able to read canine body language and knowing that stress in one of the major reasons for attacks. Removing these stressors could help some dogs to remain less distressed and react aggressively when they see no other option to escape the situation.

How to bond with your dogs on walks and immediately after them

Why building a healthy and deep connection with your dog?

 The simple answer is so they can trust you and enjoy a fullfilled and good quality life. By providing your dog with a range of simple yet enriching activities, we can help them build their confidence and happiness. Communicating with our dogs regularly during walks is vital for their learning and creating the feeling of security around us.

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1. Sniffing games

One of the most effective enrichment games during walks that are interesting to almost every dog are scent activities as they appeal to their most prominent sense of smell. These could be either hiding a toy in tall grass while asking your dog to stay and wait, then find it, or scattering some treats to sniff out. Also, we could  use some old recycled containers and hide a treat in one of them and then ask our dog to sniff it out and point at the right container to be rewarded with it and praised as a result. 

2. A hide and seek game

It is a very easy game to perform especially in a woodland area. We can ask our dogs to stay while we hide behind a tree or a bush. Then, we release our dogs to find us, which is usually an immense reward but offering a treat, petting or a praise are extra reinforcing, especially for dogs that need to improve their recall. This means that these dogs start associating approaching us with a very positive experience. 

3. Various cues training

This could be either practising new cues or revising the old ones. The activity stimulates dogs by not only engaging their bodies but brains while they learn and perform. Some useful exercises could include hand targeting, practicing recall, staying until released, sitting until released, loose lead walking or heel walking or more advanced ones, such as weaving through legs or changing directions on cues. 

4. Frisbee or ball retrieving

It is critical to warm up before participating in this activity to prevent injuries. Also, checking if the surface is safe to play on is crucial, avoiding any loose, slippery ground or thorny bushes.  As this exercise often poses strain on canine joints and muscles, it is advisable to limit it to only an occasional game and avoid it with puppies or elderly dogs. Additionally, if played too often, it often leads to overly aroused and stressed dogs, which is no fun at all. However, as an occasional enrichment activity in a safe environment for dogs that love chasing and retrieving this may be a real treat. 

5. Exposining to a variety of environments

As much as dogs like their routines when it comes to the time of feeding and walking, it is important to expose them to different walking environments. This may be walking in the woods for some shade on a sunny day or nearby a river if our dogs enjoy swimming, or some grassland for a free run and some happy rolls. As long as the places are safe for our pups and secure from any unwanted exposures, such as traffic or grazing animals, changing walking environment not only introduces new scents to our dogs' world but also creates beneficial mental stimulation.  

6. Positive reinforcement

Its purpose is to establish a behaviour by offering a reward after this behaviour occurs. This means, rewarding the desired behaviour with quality food or a toy so the dog is inclined to perform it repeatedly. It is imperative to select a reward that is motivating and meaningful for a particular dog as not all canines are food or toy oriented.  Play could be offered too but it needs to be appealing to the dog's interest or what the breed is genetically selected for. For instance, a game of fetch would be ideal for most Labradors or Border Collies or a tuggie for any staffie or terriers in general. Also, praise works very well, specifically when there are no treats available. However, to be effective, it needs to be conditioned with food first so it has meaning to a dog. Some studies suggest that this is one of the most effective training approaches as canines are more relaxed during the process and experience an enhanced ability to learn new tasks. Also, it improves canine obedience and creates positive animal welfare while reinforcing the bond between the dog and his owner. 

7. Settling after walks

Introducing a habit of settling after every walk could help our dogs to unwind, relax and slowly prepare to have a meal if they are scheduled to happen then. To start with, we can relax with our dogs by sitting on the sofa to show them with our body language how to unwind and then introduce the settle cue. This little exercise teaches dogs a healthy habit and helps anxious or hyper dogs to relax. 

Ethical training and  sector standards

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  1. Merits of ethical dog training

When it comes to dog training, there is plentiful information on the topic, especially online. Some of it is contradictory and confusing. Yet, a confused dog owner means a confused and quite likely stressed dog. So where does the truth lie? There has been growing evidence and research that proves that using ethical canine training methods over the outdated aversive approaches is not only considerably more effective but also has a positive impact on animal welfare and strengthening the bond between the dog and the owner (Ziv, 2017; Makowska 2018). Creating a positive learning environment for the dog can increase the pace of the learning process and encourage the canine to perform tasks via positive associations. This also implies having a focused and happy dog that is eager to learn and be trained while being content rather than fearful. Additionally, the use of positive reinforcement seems to be the most effective in dog training evidenced by modern behavioural research as it involves most ethical approaches to canine learning. These methods include marking the desired behaviours with marker words or clickers and motivating by using high value food, toys, praising, play, petting to offer dogs to rethink the results of their actions in a positive environment without causing distress or pain. Also, positive reinforcement improves canine reliable responses as the dog is more likely to repeat a rewarded behaviour (Rooney and Cowan, 2011). Using this approach communicates to the dog that he can trust the handler and makes him perceive the caregiver as a reliable carer that is there to support and instruct constructively.


2. Reasons to avoid aversive methods

Nevertheless, the old unethical training approaches may still be practised by some dog trainers. These would include prong or e-collars, loud noises, citronella sprays, shouting or anything that causes physical pain or emotional distress to the dog. Any of these methods should not be used in dog training as they damage dogs’ confidence in trying and performing new tasks due to the fear of being punished. Also, using positive punishment and negative reinforcement increases cortisol level in dogs’ bloodstream which translates into decreased focus and learning ability and increased frustration (Castro, 2020). Additionally, using aversive methods promotes the problematic behaviour such as aggression, resource guarding or poor recall. It may also lead to avoidant behaviour, anxiety or the fear of new situations and general lack of trust (Hiby et al., 2004; ABTC, 2021)

Even though some dogs may follow the instructions and improve their behaviour as they feel fear, these are not positive and powerful motivators that will guarantee predictable and reliable effects in the training process (Makowska, 2018).

3. My stance

As caring and responsible dog trainers and owners, we should absolutely guarantee that all dogs under our care are treated ethically and respectfully. Training experience should be an enjoyable process when our dogs learn not only new tasks but also build their confidence, trust and bond with owners. To encourage this, ethical dog training and positive animal welfare should be promoted through the education of dog owners.


ABTC (2021) ‘Ethical dog training.’ Available at: ( Accessed: 30 April 2023).

Burch, M.R. and Bailey, J.S. (1999) ‘How Dogs Learn’, Wiley Publishing, New York.

Castro, A. C. et al. (2020) ‘Does training method matter? Evidence for the negative impact of aversive-based methods on companion dog welfare.’ Plos One. Available at: (Accessed: 28 April 2023).

Hiby, E. F., Rooney, N. J. and Bradshaw, J.D.S. (2004) ‘Dog training methods: their use, effectiveness and interaction with behaviour and welfare.’ Animal welfare, 13, pp.63-69. Available at: (Accessed: 30 May 2023).

Horovitz, D. F., Ciribassi, J. and Dale, S. (2015) ‘Decoding your dog’, Mariner Books, Boston.

Makowska, I. J. (2018) ‘Review of dog training methods: welfare, learning ability and current standards.’ British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Available at: (Accessed: 30 May 2023).

McBride, A. (1995) ‘The human-dog relationship. The Waltham book of human–animal interactions: Benefits and responsibilities of pet ownership.’ pp.99-112. Available at: (Accessed: 20 May 2023).

Rooney, J. R. and Cowan, S. (2011) ‘Training methods and owner–dog interactions: Links with dog behaviour and learning ability.’ Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 132 (3-4), pp.169-177. Available at: (Accessed: 20 January 2023).

Ziv, G.  (2017) ‘The effects of using aversive training methods in dogs—A review’. Journal of Veterinary Behavior, 19, pp. 50-60. Available: (Accessed: 30 May 2023).

Managing Dog Anxiety During Fireworks Season: A Guide to Keeping Your Furry Friend Calm

As fireworks season is quickly approaching, I’ve been asked recently by some dog parents about advice on managing anxiety and distress during this period. The loud bangs and bright flashes of fireworks can often trigger fear and anxiety in dogs, leading to various behavioural and health issues. As a responsible pet owner, it's crucial to be prepared and proactive in managing your dog's anxiety during this time. Having a Border Collie myself that displayed anxious behaviours when he heard fireworks, we implemented some practices to help him manage the anxiety through gradual desensitisation, changing his emotions to the trigger, which is a loud bang, and using relaxing music to muffle the scary noise. Here are some effective strategies that may help your canine companion stay calm and comfortable when fireworks are in the air. Still, some dogs may respond differently to various approaches in the firework anxiety and noise sensitivity management.

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  1. Create a Safe Space

One of the most effective ways to support your dog during fireworks season is to create a safe and secure space where they can retreat to when the scary noise begins. This space should be a quiet, familiar area where your dog feels comfortable. It should be indoors and away from windows, as the visual stimulation of fireworks can be as distressing as the noise. Fill the space with your dog's favourite toys, blankets and bedding to make it as inviting as possible. You can ask your dog to settle and reward calmly with some food, cuddles or leaving a Kong there. Consider using white noise machines or calming music to drown out the fireworks noise.

    2. Desensitisation and Counterconditioning

Desensitisation here means that you can start by playing recorded firework sounds at a very low volume and gradually increase the volume over several days or weeks, rewarding 

 your dog with treats and positive reinforcement when they remain calm. Counterconditioning are training techniques that can help reduce your dog's anxiety over time with reversing the emotional response to the stimulus. For example, what worked for my dog was an introduction of a gentle ball game and indoor training exercises when the fireworks started so his attention was on the game. Now, whenever he hears fireworks, he brings me the ball to play. During the not so-scary-anymore noise outside, we focus on an indoor training session to focus his attention on activities that help him create positive and relaxed emotions. This worked for him as he loves any ball involving practice but this may not be effective for other dogs that are not into balls. You can obviously use some other favourite toys or games like tuggy or a squeaky chew. During the fireworks, offer engaging toys, puzzles, or treat-dispensing toys to distract your dog from the noise outside. Puzzle toys that dispense treats as your dog plays with them can be particularly effective in keeping their mind occupied.


   3. Use classical or relaxing music to muffle the bangs outside

A sudden bang of fireworks can be masked by playing some not excessively loud classical or relaxing music. It will help to calm dogs in general and will be ideal for masking bangs when played at a volume that your dog is happy with.

Here are the links to some you tube music videos to ease canine firework anxiety:


   4. Consult with a Veterinarian

If your dog's anxiety during fireworks season is severe, consider consulting with a veterinarian. They may be able to prescribe anti-anxiety medications or suggest other medical interventions to help your dog cope. Medication should only be used under the guidance of a licensed veterinarian and as a last resort.

  5. Thundershirts and Anxiety Wraps

Thundershirts and anxiety wraps are snug-fitting garments that provide gentle, constant pressure to your dog's body, similar to swaddling a baby. Many dog owners find that these products help alleviate anxiety during stressful situations, including fireworks. Be sure to introduce slowly and gently your dog to the garment well before fireworks season to ensure they are comfortable wearing it.


  6. Stay Calm and Provide Reassurance

Dogs are highly attuned to their owner's emotions, so it's important to remain calm and composed during fireworks displays. Avoid coddling or excessively reassuring your dog, as this can inadvertently reinforce their fear. Instead, act as you normally would and offer casual, reassuring pats or treats if they approach you for comfort.


 7. Adequate physical and mental stimulation during daytime

Before the fireworks begin, provide your dog with ample mental and physical exercise to offer them a healthy output of the energy. Engage in their favourite activities or take them for a long walk earlier in the day. A mentally and physically stimulated dog is less likely to be anxious. At any cost, avoid walking outside during the displays as this will further trigger your dog and most likely intensify the firework anxiety and fear-based behaviours. It may even lead your dog to panic and just bolt off, which may lead to serious accidents.


According to recent scientific research on fireworks induced anxiety in dogs, counterconditioning, relaxation training, and anxiolytic medication appear to be the most effective strategies in the treatment of firework fears in dogs.

Fireworks season can be a trying time for dogs, but with proper preparation and proactive measures, you can help your canine companion manage their anxiety. Remember, patience and understanding are key when helping your dog overcome their fireworks-related anxiety, and with your support, they can enjoy a calmer and more relaxed firework season.


My sources:

Bjorklund, A. (2022) Relaxing dog: creating and testing non-vocal music in dog environments

Calm Dogs, (2023) Navigating the 4th of July: Helping Dogs Overcome Fear of Fireworks

Horowitz, D. (2015) Decoding your dog: I know it’s going to rain, and I hate the fourth of July

Riemer, S. (2020) Effectiveness of treatments for firework fears in dogs

Scientific reasons why dogs are enamored with balls, and some even develop an intense obsession.

  1. Instinctive Prey Drive

Dogs are renowned for possessing a robust prey drive, although research indicates that the intensity of this drive varies among different breeds. Prey drive is essentially the inherent instinct for dogs (and carnivores in general) to pursue and capture prey. While dogs share their ancestry with wolves, they have undergone modifications in their predatory sequence due to domestication. Initial studies on wolves outlined general behavior during hunting (Murie 1944; Banfield 1954; Tener 1954; Crisler 1956; Kelsall 1957, 1960), but a more comprehensive understanding emerged in subsequent studies, which identified behaviors occurring in a logical sequence (Mech 1966, 1970; Gray 1983).

David Mech, in 1970, specifically broke down wolf hunting behavior into 

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The key question is: what triggers this heightened enthusiasm in dogs for balls, and how can it be addressed when our furry companions incessantly present us with slobbery balls, eagerly anticipating a game of fetch? To gain insight into this phenomenon, it's valuable to view the world from a dog's perspective and delve into the scientific perspective on the matter. Let's explore the factors that make balls so irresistible to dogs and examine the findings that scientific research has brought to light on this intriguing subject.

        five distinct "stages": Travel → Stalk → Encounter → Rush → Chase. In 1983, Gray expanded on the understanding of wolf hunting behavior by detailing a sequence of six stages: Approach → Circle Herd → Attack Herd → Cut off single individual → Contact individual → Kill. A more recent and comprehensive breakdown of predatory sequences comes from Coppinger and Raymond (2001), who identified the following stages: Search (orient, nose/ear/eye) → Stalk → Chase → Bite (grab-bite, kill-bite) → Dissect → Consume.

        2. Bringing Prey to Life: The Significance of Balls

        Returning to the topic of balls, it's crucial to understand that a dog's inclination to chase is closely linked to their prey drive. From the dog's viewpoint, a ball embodies prey as it moves unpredictably, triggering the instinct to pursue.

        When a dog seizes the ball and shakes it vigorously, this action is akin to the predatory behavior of "killing" prey, replicating the way they would break the neck of smaller creatures in a natural hunting scenario.

        3. Activating Brain Reward Systems

        The concept of contrafreeloading, introduced by Jensen (1963), describes the tendency of animals to prefer food that involves effort to obtain over freely available food. In the context of dogs residing in human environments, contrafreeloading proves beneficial as it enables them to engage in species-specific behaviors. This behavior serves to address the void created by the absence of natural stimuli in their non-native surroundings. While a ball itself doesn't provide sustenance, it serves as a reward by symbolizing prey. Researchers have identified two primary motives driving animals when they engage in activities to earn a reward, such as chasing a ball. The first is extrinsic motivation, which involves the desire to gain access to the ball. The second is intrinsic motivation, reflecting the sense of fulfillment and accomplishment that dogs experience when actively working to attain the reward, represented by the ball. Sapolsky (2003) explains that dopamine is associated with the anticipation of pleasure and the pursuit of happiness rather than the actual experience of happiness itself. Consequently, the act of chasing a ball for dogs is predominantly driven by the "thrill of the hunt," emphasising the excitement and anticipation rather than the final achievement.

        4. The Allure of Color

        Dog toy manufacturers are adept at creating products that capture human attention, but what about the appeal for dogs? A study led by the University of California has revealed that dogs do perceive colors, and it all comes down to their cone cells. Dogs possess only two types of cones—one sensitive to blue and the other to yellow. Unlike humans, who are trichromats with the ability to see three colors, dogs are dichromats, allowing them to perceive only two colors.

        5. Fulfilling the Instinct to Chew

        As noted earlier, dogs tend to adhere to a modified but resilient predatory sequence.

        In the wild, the dietary habits of wolves and free-ranging dogs consist of nearly 50 percent from sources like carcasses (Butler and du Toit, 2002). Research indicates that consuming this kind of food necessitates extensive chewing, averaging around 26 minutes (Forsyth et al., 2014).

        6. Influence of Human Interaction

        Dog owners often turn to playing fetch as an effective means of exercising and engaging with their dogs. However, over time, this activity can become the default mode of interaction, potentially overshadowing other, more enriching bonding opportunities.

        7. A Potential Trigger for Compulsive Behavior

        In certain instances, dogs exhibit a profound fondness for balls, bordering on an "obsession." This behavior may manifest in a dog that persistently seeks to play fetch and shows reluctance to engage in other activities. Compulsive tendencies in dogs can arise from various factors, including chemical imbalances, anxiety or stress, or the dog finding pleasure in the self-reinforcing sensation linked to the release of endogenous opioids (endorphins).


        Arhant, C., Winkelmann, R. and Troxler, J. Chewing behaviour in dogs – A survey-based exploratory study, Applied Animal Behaviour Science, Available:

        (Accessed: 10 Jan 2024)
        Coppinger, R. (2001) Dogs, A New Understanding of Canine Origin, Behavior, and Evolution. University of Chicago

        Siniscalchi M., D'Ingeo S., Fornelli S. and Quaranta A. (2017) Are dogs red-green colour blind? R Soc Open Sci. 4(11). Available: (Accessed: 10 Jan 2024)

        Sapolsky, R. (2003) Taming Stress. Scientific American, vol. 289, no. 3, 2003, pp. 86–95, (Accessed: 12 Jan 2024)

        Where is it advisable to train a new puppy?

         Everywhere that is possible. In these circumstances, the puppy is exposed to different environments and early conditioning can occur to help the puppy adapt to surrounding environments gradually. Teaching new skills should always start in a quiet environment and gradually progress to more distractive surroundings being adapted to our dog's treshold of tolerance. Also, this means that not only dog trainers but especially dog owners can participate in puppy training.

        In other words, this could guarantee some consistent repetition in terms of using certain cues or being exposed to certain animals so the puppy can create a habit and learn more effortlessly.

        Limiting puppy training to puppy classes is insufficient as there is not enough input and consistency for the puppy to learn quickly. Even if the individual training takes place with a qualified dog trainer, the dog owner is responsible for following up with the teaching and practising with the new puppy.

        Moreover, it is important to train a puppy to learn new skills in a quiet, calm and not distractive environment at first, so the puppy pays attention to training itself. Puppies should be trained both outdoors and indoors at home as they are exposed to different stimuli there.

        Consequently, to be socially acceptable, they need to behave respectfully in both areas. Desensitising puppies to other animals is also essential so they do not chase sheep or cats.

        Crates or pens can also be useful in teaching puppies how we wish them to behave as they can facilitate toilet training and provide areas for them to relax. Finally, socialising puppies with other dogs in the parks is very important so they are confident yet respectful towards other canines.

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        What happens if the puppy is only trained within a class environment?

        There is no consistency in training- to train puppies effectively, the practice should preferably occur in short bursts but many times a day. This is because puppies have  short attention spans so providing them with brief, yet frequent training seems most effective. Training only in puppy classes only offers less regular training which means insufficient and infrequent input. 


        Loses interest- being only trained in puppy classes may mean that the puppy loses interest in training as his/her attention span may not be long enough to last throughout the class. Thus, some puppy classes may be ineffective. 


        Diminished bond with the owner- being trained consistently through the day, the puppy starts bonding with the owner and see him/her as fun to be around. This also allows the owner to tune in with the puppy and understand his/her body language better. 


        Bad habits can develop-if the training only happens in puppy classes, some undesirable habits may develop as the puppy lacks in consistent training. If some unacceptable behaviour occurs and is not addressed quickly enough, it may turn into bad habitual behaviour that might be challenging to unlearn.


        No exposure to outside environment- some puppy classes run only indoors. This means that puppies are not getting used to the outside world. As a result, when puppies are taken outside, they may exhibit some anxious reactions to traffic, noise or strangers. This should not happen if we wish our puppies to be socially acceptable dogs.


        Inadequate response to cues outside classroom- when puppies are only trained in the classes, they may be less or even not responsive to cues outside the classroom environment. Thus, it is essential to drill the training cues and behaviours frequently enough in different places, where puppies are exposed to distractions.

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        How jumping up can be prevented to stop it developing into a problem behaviour?

        This behaviour signals puppies are excited or want to draw attention. They tend to jump on their owners to welcome them. This usually occurs when the puppy owner returns home or during morning greetings.  Also, puppies often jump on strangers when approached by them to show their excitement. However, if left unmanaged, this behaviour is very likely to turn into a habit, which can be frustrating for both dog owners and strangers. Thus, it is advisable to react early and address jumping up in early puppyhood.

        One way to manage it is to ignore the puppy when he starts jumping up and turn back to him. We can ignore the puppy by not maintaining any eye contact, stopping talking and walking away till he calms down. Then we can calmly and casually greet him without causing any excitement. The puppy is likely to feel ignored in this situation and not feel rewarded at first for the behaviour. This action should be also performed by all family members to reinforce the new behaviour of not jumping.  Regular repetition and consistency are the key here (The Kennel Club, 2021).

        Another way to train the puppy not to jump up is to train him sit or down cue first. Then whenever the puppy is approaching us , we need to ask him to sit or stay down and reward this behaviour by calm praising or occasional treat. It is important to practice this with visitors to our home.

        Also, to train the puppy not to jump on strangers during walks, we can ask a friend or another dog owner to do this exercise outside. To gain more control, it could be started with a puppy on the lead at first and when he becomes responsive to training, off lead to reinforce the desired behaviour. The puppy needs to be rewarded for good behaviour to understand what is expected as appropriate (VCA, 2021).

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        How to deal with puppy mouthing? 

        Most puppy mouthing occurs due to playfulness and excitement. However, some mouthing may be an early sign of aggressive, fear based or anxious behaviour. Additionally, puppy mouthing is a manifestation of natural way of exploration and social interaction. This is still very undesirable in growing and mature dogs that if not trained early may continue with biting, which consequently, often results in hurting people or other dogs. 

        To satisfy the puppy’s instinct of exploration while biting, it is important to provide him with some toys to chew on. The non-contact games such as tug-of-war can be used to redirect puppy’s attention to biting on toys rather than human hands.

        Also, whenever the puppy starts mouthing on clothes or hands, this should be immediately addressed. It can be done by redirecting puppy's attentio to toys to bite on or instant cessation of the play time and walking away to another room if the puppy continues biting. The message here should be clear that as soon as mouthing occurs, the play time is over, and attention is withdrawn. This attitude should be consistent with all family members, so the puppy starts understanding that mouthing is not acceptable with anyone.

        Additionally, it is a good idea to begin playing sessions with some exercises practice and reward the puppy for these. This should reinforce positive behaviour as opposed to withdrawing attention when mouthing starts, which is not rewarded. This sends signals to the puppy that mouthing is not acceptable.

        Sometimes, grooming or handling may provoke mouthing behaviour. In this case, it is advisable to perform it when the puppy is tired and relaxed. Also, making grooming sessions short while the puppy has a Kong to concentrate on may help with slow adaption to handling and grooming procedures.

        Finally, it is vital to regularly touch the puppy all over his body as soon as it arrives to a new home, so he gets used to human touch without getting anxious and trying to mouth. Any form of shouting or physical punishment should be avoided at all costs as it may only make the issue worse and increase aggressive reactions.

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        Puppy toilet training methods

        When toilet training a puppy, consistency in feeding and taking the pup out especially after each meal, sleep or any stimulation plays an important role. As puppies’ bladders are of small size, taking him out every 30 min to one hour at first will help to prevent any toilet issues inside the house. This practice not only prevents the puppy from urinating at home but also helps to condition him to urinate outside in familiar places.

        It is important to give the puppy some time without distracting him so he/she can find a convenient toilet place outside and then praise him/her after it is all done. It is a good idea to restrict the puppy to a small area in the house, which is equipped with a puppy training matt in case some accidents happen. A crate or a pen of an adequate size where the puppy can relax is very helpful in toilet training. The puppy can be taught to call for toilet when in the pen, but it is our responsibility to be responsive and facilitate creating the habit of toileting outside. 

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        Some more useful tips when toilet training:

        • Walking around the designated area to encourage sniffing and stimulate activity if the puppy seems confused as to what they are meant to do.
        • Staying outside for a minute longer once the puppy has performed to teach the puppy that they don’t have to go back inside straight away, which could lead the puppy to become reluctant to go out or come back in.
        • Never picking up the puppy to take it outside. By letting the puppy follow you, they can build a clearer understanding of going out to toilet.
        • Having the puppy on a lead when it is being taken out to go to the toilet allows for more control over where the puppy can go.
        • Not having the puppy on a lead, and if it needs to be on the lead, walk around with your dog and allow sniffing, as it allows the puppy to investigate an area with more freedom, and therefore more likely to go to the toilet.
        • If using a puppy pad inside, move it slowly towards the door, then take the pad outside and eventually remove it all together.
        • If the puppy is going to go to the toilet inside, distract it quickly and take it outside.
        • During the night, sleep in the same room as the puppy to go out every 4 hours.
        • Wake the puppy up during the night before it wakes you up and quietly wait.
        • If toilet training the puppy to go to the toilet on a walk, before the puppy’s first wee, take it straight outside for a walk and he should go after waiting for a few hours to empty the bladder .

        The importance of puppy socialisation and habituation

        Puppy socialisation is the process in which a puppy experiences and learns how to interact with the living beings he or she is going to live around including other dogs, animals and people. It is crucial to start socialising the puppy in the period of approximately 5-13 weeks, some studies claim it continues till week 16. This is when the pup slowly gets used to other animals different from the mother and siblings.

        Even unvaccinated puppies can be carried by their owners to be slowly exposed to the environment outside. Vaccinated puppies need to be gradually exposed to other vaccinated dogs, animals and people of different ages and genders. This means reducing anxiety and the feeling of being overstimulated when exposed to new stimuli. It is imperative to use positive enforcement, rewarding with verbal praise and small treats to condition dogs to have positive attitude towards these factors and enjoy socially acceptable pets.

        Some breeds like German Shepperd (GS) should be socialised more regularly than Labrador Retriever (LR). This is because GS tend to be suspicious of strangers, protective of their owners and are likely to bark when sensing a threat. In this case, GS requires more exposure to strangers than LR to understand that the guests visiting us are not a threat. This will help them reduce anxiety when whether a friend or a postman is visiting our house and reduce barking or aggressive behaviour to minimum.

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        Ongoing socialisation should be consistent for young dogs as this helps them maintain and learn skills that are necessary to behave in a relaxed yet confident manner. It also enables to minimise avoidance behaviour when meeting other, often new, dogs or people. This can have a life-long effect on the dog, which might become excessively shy and nervous. Moreover, it is important to give puppies the choice of engaging with other dogs or people. It is never a good idea to force puppies to play with other dogs or people they seem to fear, as this may result in fear-based reactions or even trauma.

        However, habituation is gradually exposing the puppy to places and their environment such as, traffic noise, parks, and various locations to help them understand what is safe and what can be potentially not. Positive association is paramount during habituation. For example, it is a good idea to give a puppy a Kong while being driven in the car or play with a puppy while visiting a new park so he or she can feel less anxious during the process and consequently, ignore intimidating stimulus.

        To sum up, an effective habituation and socialisation leads to resilience to the dog’s surroundings and different stimuli, so they feel confident and relaxed.

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