There is a lot of information available on the internet regarding puppy training, but we have developed this section of our website based upon our knowledge and experience. Australian Labradoodles are incredibly intelligent animals, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t need to be trained! Training your puppy properly at an early age will pay dividends in the long run. A well trained dog is a happy dog.
The very first step doesn’t actually involve your puppy at all, but it does involve everyone else who lives in your household. Agree upon some basic rules, routines, commands, praise and ‘punishment’. For example, you may decide that your puppy is going to be restricted to the lower floor of your two-storey house, that he is or isn’t allowed to jump on the sofa and that he is or isn’t allowed to lick your face. It is important that every member of the household follows these consistently. If he licks one person’s face and is not reprimanded, he won’t understand why another person tells him off for licking their face. Consistency trains dogs.
Training must start the very second that your puppy arrives in his new home. The younger he is, the faster he will learn. It can be very difficult to see past the ‘puppy cuteness’ but you should start as you mean to go on. Don’t put up with something now that you don’t want to put up with later.
Be firm but kind. When he does something naughty, for example – nibbling your fingers (the vast majority of young puppies do this) make sure that he knows that he has done wrong. Start off by saying ‘no’ in a very deep and loud voice. Persevere with this for a little while, but if it continues, give him a sharp tap on the nose with your two fingers, whilst saying ‘no’ at the same time, in that deep and loud voice. He now associates that phrase with the sharp tap which he doesn’t like, and it won’t take long before he understands that nibbling fingers is not allowed. It is worth repeating here that every member of the family must do the same thing. It’s no good you telling him off for it whilst your other half is allowing it…you’ll just end up with a confused puppy!
Make sure that he understands his place in the ‘pecking order’, and that should be right at the very bottom. That means that humans should walk through doors before he should and humans should eat their meal before he eats his. Australian Labradoodles don’t tend to display any dominant traits, but even a few of these simple little things can make all the difference.
House Training Your Puppy
The traditional method that many people seem to employ involves covering the entire floor with sheets of newspaper – DON’T DO IT! This will only encourage your puppy to go to the toilet inside your house on your floor, which is exactly the opposite of what you’re looking to achieve. Instead, what we have found works best (quickest and most efficient) is to take your puppy outside into your garden at specific times.
First thing in the morning, straight after meals, as soon as he wakes up from a nap, if you see him snooping around with his nose to the floor and his tail in the air or even if he just hasn’t been outside within the last hour or so. The final time of the day that you should take him out to the toilet is last thing before bed. Stay with him and watch what he is doing. Don’t pay him too much attention initially – he is there for a purpose – to go to the toilet – and if you try to play with him, that will only delay proceedings.
Use a phrase when you go outside, such as “be clean” or “busy busy” – eventually he will associate that with going to the toilet and you will find it very useful. As soon as he has done the toilet, go over to him and make a big fuss of him, praise him to the hilt. Then take five minutes or so just to play with him before returning inside. Providing you follow this procedure religiously, there is little reason why it should take you any longer than two weeks to have him house trained.
Overnight is a completely different kettle of fish. Whatever you do – don’t wake up to let him outside during the middle of the night. He would learn to expect it and would develop a reliance upon it. You won’t want to get up in the middle of the night, every night, for the next 12 – 15 years! Instead, he must learn to ‘hold it in’ till the morning. We feel that the best way to achieve ‘clean and dry’ overnight is to crate train your puppy.
The best way to introduce your puppy to his crate is to feed him in it. Pop his bowl of food in the crate, guide him towards it and if necessary, pick him up and put him inside. He will notice the food straight away and start eating. Whilst he is busy eating, gently close the door so that he gets used to the feeling of being enclosed. It is important that the crate is a very positive place for your puppy to be, and the food really helps to fix the association. The crate should never be used as a place of punishment…ever! Now we’re getting to the important bit about the use of the crate overnight. Cover half of the floor area with a nice thick blanket, cover the other half with newspaper or a puppy toilet training pad and put a small (but heavy so that it doesn’t spill) bowl of water in the corner. Just before you go to bed, pop him inside his crate and close the door whilst speaking to him in a positive, but calm and soothing voice.
When you wake up in the morning, go back to his crate, open up the door and take him outside to the toilet. You will find that he will have done the toilet on the paper in his crate overnight. This is absolutely normal and to be fully expected. Don’t tell him off – his bladder is physically too small to hold on till the morning. The frequency of this occurring will decrease as time goes on and as his bladder grows and is able to “hold more in”. On each occasion that he has a clean and dry night, give him lots of praise first thing in the morning before taking him outside. Eventually, he will be clean and dry overnight, every night, and it is at this stage that you can remove the newspaper and cover the entire floor area with a nice soft blanket or bed.
Lead Training Your Puppy
Best way to start off – train your puppy to walk by your side, without a lead! Introducing the lead before he is trained to walk by your side can be disastrous as he will try to resist the lead, pull against you and try to slip out of it – a negative experience for everyone.
So, start off in your back garden, just you, your puppy and some tasty treats. Hold a treat between your fingers, show your puppy the treat and as soon as he has ‘locked onto it’, put it down by your side and start to walk forwards. He will follow the treat and after a few paces, stop and let him have it and give him lots of praise. Then take out another treat and repeat the process. Each time you repeat, try to walk a few extra steps before letting him have his treat. Only spend about 5 minutes doing this at a time, as puppies have quite a short attention span! It is a good idea to do this about 3 – 4 times per day though, especially when you are starting out. This way he will remember the previous time and will know exactly what he has to do in order to get the treat. It won’t take long before you can walk for quite a distance with him following closely by your side.
Once you have reached this stage, it is time to introduce the lead. Start off by using a very lightweight collar and lead – the little canvas puppy collar and lead sets are great. Put the collar around his neck, tight enough that it won’t fall off, but loose enough that you can get a couple of fingers between his neck and the collar. Clip on his lead, and then repeat the process of walking a few steps and giving a treat, just as you have done previously, but with the lead on. He won’t even notice it is there! Build up the number of steps that you can take before giving the treat, just as before, and it won’t take long before you have a puppy that will walk alongside you, as happy as can be, without even pulling on his lead!
Training to Sit
Again, this element of training should be started from the very moment you bring your puppy home. The best time to conduct this training is at meal times! Prepare the bowl of food as you usually would and approach your puppy holding the bowl in one hand. Bend over (keeping the bowl high enough that your puppy cannot get his nose into it!) and use your free hand to plant his bottom on the floor, whilst using the vocal command “sit”. Keep your hand firmly on his bottom just above the base of the tail and place the bowl of food in front of him on the floor. Then remove your hand and give him lots of praise.
Complete this exercise at every meal time and it won’t take long before he will almost have his bottom on the floor before you even touch him. Continue to use the verbal command “sit” and instead of using your hand to place his bottom on the floor, use it to signal the command by holding up your index finger. As you make progress, start to carry out the exercise at non-meal times as well, perhaps using a treat initially as a reward. It won’t take long before you’ll have him sitting on command, at any time and for any reason that you want.
Training to Stay and Achieving the Recall
This should only be started after “sit” has been well established. The best place to practise this is in the back garden so that you have enough space, but are in a safe and enclosed area. Firstly, ask him to sit, using the verbal command and hand signal as described above. Then, use the verbal command “stay” and raise the palm of your hand as if you are signalling for traffic to stop. Continually repeat the word “stay” and keep your arm out in front of you with the palm of your hand facing your puppy and start to take backward steps. (If he starts to follow, you need to start again by asking him to sit.)
Initially, just take three or four steps back before stopping, bending down and calling him by his name in an encouraging tone, e.g. “Bouncer, come!” When he arrives at your feet, ask him to sit again and then give him lots of praise and a treat which you should have in your pocket. Repeat the process several times; increasing the number of backward steps you take each time. Just as with the lead training, little and often is the key to achieving this. When you are out walking, you should not let your puppy off his lead until you are very confident that the recall is well established and don’t doubt that he will come straight back to you when called. To make the transition from on lead to off lead, it is a good idea to practise the recall in a wide open space, but using an extension lead. This allows you to ask him to stay and walk quite a distance away before calling for him to come to you.
Once this is well established, the next step is to let him off the lead but it is very important that you call him back to you nice and often to make sure that he is listening to you and paying attention! It is worth carrying some treats initially to reward him every time he comes back to you when asked. This can be gradually phased out. If for whatever reason, you struggle to get him back to you, do not lose patience and get angry with him as this will only make matters worse. He won’t want to come back to you if he knows that he is going to get a row.