puppy training tips

3 Critical Things in Puppy Training

3 Critical Things in Puppy Training


Getting a new puppy can be wonderful and exciting.  All that puppy breath and warm kisses are fun and exciting.

Enjoy the cuteness but don’t set yourself up for failure if you’re not prepared and well organized  to begin puppy training.

It can be overwhelming if you don’t prepare.

I’m going to, step-by-step, break down 3 critical areas of puppy training that are important to raising a confident, obedient and trouble-free puppy.

Housetraining Your Puppy is a Top Puppy Training Critical Step

Many new puppy owners just accept pee/poop accidents as part of the house training process.

I’m going to teach you a much easier way to housetrain your puppy, preventing  accidents in your home altogether.

A big critical step to a trouble-free puppy!

Here Are 4 Simple Steps to Housetrain Your Puppy

  • Establish an approved, designated area for outside elimination and take your dog there every time – on leash – Remain with your puppy so that you can praise and treat your puppy the second he pees/poops in the approved designated area.
  • Once you know that he has eliminated, play with your puppy outside for a while. It’s critical for your puppy to know that elimination outside means a fun, playtime with you. If you go in right after your puppy eliminates, then the message changes to “elimination means the fun is over!” This could cause your puppy to hold his business to begin extending time outside.
  • Next, keep your puppy on a leash inside your home to prevent accidents from happening – You must be able to supervise your puppy. This is not forever – just until he is fully house trained! Not having your puppy on a leash in the house allows him to sneak off to his “secret pee/poop place” and go potty.
  • And finally, when you cannot supervise your puppy, simply crate your puppy – but make sure he has a chance to potty outside before you crate him!

Teaching Your Puppy Basic Obedience is a Must

The Sit

The easiest way to get an obedient puppy is to first train him to give you a great “Sit!” on command.

It’s probably one of the easiest and most valuable commands you can teach your puppy because he soon learns that “Sitting” gets him everything.

Here’s what sitting gets him:

His food, going in and out doors and, all the other good things in life he wants and needs!  Knowing what to do and when to do it keeps him stress-free!

The the recall or Come Command

Getting a fast “come to you” eventually outside can be life-saving!  Always associate good things with the come command. Coming to you should never mean the end of having fun or a correction.

Here’s a fast and fun way to do this:

With another family member or friend you can call your puppy back and forth with a sit on arrival to promote no jumping when greeting people – sit to greet! And finally, back yard recalls between family members – especially kids (with parental supervision) – can call your puppy back and forth randomly between each other. This gives kids a safe and fun way to interact with their new puppy. Keeping the treat hand down low keeps the puppy from jumping. Don’t forget to eventually add that sit!

Teaching Your Puppy To Be Confident Alone In His Crate

Crate training your puppy not only helps you to house train your puppy but teaches him – if done properly – that you’re not available 24/7 – even if you are home. This can prevent isolation anxiety (IA) when you’re home and possibly separation anxiety (SA) when you’re gone from the house.

We tend to see the value of crating our puppy when we are gone from the house and when we are sleeping at night – that only seems natural. But what about during the evenings and daytime when you are home?

Has your puppy come to expect he is out of his crate when you’re home? Are your guilty feelings now making you feel like you’re being held hostage?

In the early formative months of a puppy’s life at home, it’s critical to make sure your puppy is okay being in his crate – when you are home. The first step in crate training your puppy is to get him to like his crate – not only for house training but for confidence-building as well. He needs to know that you are not available 24/7 and just as importantly, you always come back and let him out.

Teaching him to be comfortable in his crate (no whining or barking when you are home) frees up more stress-free time for you at home because you are confident that he is happy in his crate. Now you and/or family members can do chores or entertain without him under foot when you don’t have time to supervise his activities.

The more frequently you crate him when you’re home, the more confident he becomes in his crate! Remember, this is early-on training for a lifetime of confidence in your puppy.

Recap of the 3 Critical Things in Puppy Training You Need To Do

Three Great puppy house training principles:

  1. Reward for elimination outside in designated area –
  2. Puppy on leash allows you to catch mistakes before they happen inside –
  3. Crate when you can’t supervise

Two critical puppy commands:

  1. Sit for everything (for good manners)
  2. Come – a potentially life-saving command and safe way for kids to play with puppy

More crate time:

Doing this in  your home even when you’re there,  builds a confident puppy and staves off isolation anxiety and separation anxiety

If you do these things every day consistently it’s a great start to a confident, obedient and a trouble-free puppy!

Puppy Potty Training Mistakes

Please Don’t Make These Mistakes Potty Training Your Puppy!

Puppy Potty Training Mistakes


It is entirely possible to not have a single accident when potty training your puppy.

When we found Sammy 9 years ago at 8 weeks of age neither Leila or I personally had had a puppy in a long long time. So it was an adjustment to our lifestyle.

So, of course, I took what I teach my clients and we followed the pattern. Sammy never had an accident in the house as a puppy and to this day at 9 years of age, he’s never soiled in the house.

Now most of you won’t believe me when I say that and here’s why.
You don’t understand how to set your puppy up to succeed. Instead you make numerous mistakes and actually are inadvertently teaching your puppy to potty in the house.

In this video I’m going to explain two mistakes you’re making, and how to easily fix those 2 mistakes so you can set your puppy up to succeed at being potty trained.

Now there is a lot more you can learn about successfully potty training your puppy.

I want you to go read this article for lots more help.

If you have more questions, just put them in the comments and be as specific as you can so it not only helps me answer you better, but helps other with the same issues.  See you there!

Thanks for letting me share my puppy training knowledge with you.  Don’t be a stranger. 

Together We Can Raise A Happy and Obedient Dog



Control Puppy Biting in 3 Easy Steps

Control Puppy Biting in 3 Easy Steps

For lots of new puppy owners, the relentless puppy biting and putting razor sharp teeth on skin, comes as a surprise.

Control Puppy Biting in 3 Easy Steps

It can be extremely stressful and a test of your sanity!

It may also spark thoughts like:  “my last puppy didn’t bite like this” or even scarier “is my puppy aggressive?”

Control It Without Stress

Sometimes puppy biting can get out of control. They bite everything from table legs to your legs, fingers and toes. If this is your puppy you need to learn how to control your puppy biting without the stress. Are you prepared?

First What Not to Do

Stop all of the following immediately:

Chase games: These games activate a puppy’s prey drive which includes running, chasing, biting and chewing. Playing fetch is a much better game for all family members to play with your new puppy.

Rough play/wrestling: These interactions teach puppies how to play with humans and puppies use their mouths to grab and hold.

The thing is, puppy biting is normal puppy activity. That’s how they interact with their litter mates and learn a very important lesson: bite inhibition or more simply put, don’t bite human skin.

Tug-of-war games: Until you have control of your puppy’s biting, it’s best not to play tug for now. It’s actually a good way to burn predatory energy BUT tug-of-war must have strict rules.  We talk about that in another article.

Now, Let’s Simplify and Learn to Control Puppy Biting

Don’t you agree that having a plan for your puppy biting lowers your stress already? I certainly do! The rest is simply repetitive work by you and your other family members.

Just Three Areas to Work On

Okay, here are the three areas to focus on when learning how to control puppy biting without stress:

  1. Properly control your puppy to prevent excessive biting until you are ready to train.
  2. Obedience train your puppy to come, sit, down, drop it, and,
  3. Have a good, controlled training exercise to train NO BITE with your puppy every day with all family members until you achieve the goal you desire.

 Proper Control Breaks Down into 3 Areas:

  1. Containment: Use crates, exercise pens or gates to contain your puppy when you can’t train or supervise your puppy. Too many people leave their puppy out for too long of a time and they get into trouble with biting.
  2. Puppy proofing and prevention: Keep things you don’t want chewed on out of reach, and keep your puppy on a leash. When you can’t eyes-on, hands-on supervise or he gets too crazy – crate your puppy.
  3. Redirects: When your puppy is out on leash, ALWAYS have appropriate redirects. What’s a redirect?

These are things like stuffed Kong toys, sterilized beef shank bones, Nylabones, stuffy toys or chew toys.

Be prepared to intercede and give him a toy before he starts to bite on you—praise for accepting an appropriate toy; otherwise you’ll have to say, “Ouch!” and redirect to a toy.

Your timing is light years too late in “dog time” to be effective. Timing is everything. Catch him when he is thinking it – not when he is actually doing it.

Obedience Train Your Puppy

I can’t say enough about starting obedience training sooner than later. We started training our Lab, Sammy, at 8 weeks of age. Now at over 8 years of age, Sammy’s “default behavior” is good manners.

Besides creating mental fatigue, there are too many benefits not to train your puppy to come, sit, down and drop it. You will be glad you did. Above all, obedience commands teach your dog this important rule: You must always give (sit) before you receive anything. That would include food, treats, access to the couch and love and affection, just to mention a few.


A Good Controlled Training Exercise for No Bite!

Here’s what’s going to make the difference in your puppy.

I have a controlled training exercise you must do with your puppy every day. All family members should take this seriously and do your daily practice.

The cool part is that during this exercise, your puppy is under control so he can’t chase you. With parental supervision, this makes it safe for age-appropriate children to do this exercise.

I’ve made a special video to show you exactly what to do every day with all family members. Watch, learn, teach your puppy and most importantly don’t get stressed.

 Remember:  “Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”

Jim Burwell, is Houston’s most respected dog trainer for 25+ years, serving over 10,000 clients.  Jim takes the science of dog training and shows you how to make it work with your family and puppy.  He gives you the ability to get the same great behavior from your puppy.

Well Trained Puppy in 15 Minutes a Day

Well Trained Puppy in 15 Minutes a Day

Would you jump at the chance to have a well trained puppy in 15 minutes a day?

Do you realize that if you did the training work with your puppy, you’d most likely avoid dog behavior problems associated with a dog that grew up with no structure.

Doing at least 15 minutes a day of puppy training will keep you from wondering, “What could I have done differently with my dog when he was a puppy that could have made him a better dog?”

Well Trained Puppy in 15 Minutes a Day

Just simply take 15 minutes a day

Having a well trained puppy in 15 minutes a day isn’t difficult at all. Most seasoned dog trainers would agree that the earlier you begin your training with a puppy, the stronger the training foundation is that will provide you with that better mannered dog in their adult years.     

This now brings us to the question, “How soon can I start training with my new puppy to avoid potential dog problems?”

Puppies can be trained at any age – even 8 weeks. That’s when we started training Sammy, our black lab mix.

Good manners are his default behaviors.

Using reward-based training methods is a great way to start

It’s best to use a reward-based training method and, if you can condition your puppy to a clicker that’s even better. There are a number of benefits to “clicker training” for your puppy.

  • The clicker provides a consistent sound to your puppy no matter who uses it. Remember, consistency and repetition is needed in good puppy training.
  • Unlike your voice, the clicker is a sharp, crisp non emotional sound that provides your puppy with a special and unique way to identify behaviors he performs (like sits and downs) that produces a food treat. For example, when your puppy sits, click then treat.

Follow these basic rules to keep the fun in training your puppy:

  • Be consistent in your obedience training.  Obedience train on simple commands like:  come, sit and down three times daily for no longer than 2 minutes and do it the same way every single time.  
  • It doesn’t really take much time out of your schedule.  Setting aside 2 minutes three times daily is a great start.  Puppies have a short attention span and will tire and get bored quickly. That’s why we keep it short.
  • Never, ever punish your puppy in any way, shape or form.  If your puppy does not obey a command simply say wrong in a neutral tone of voice and start again. It’s really that simple.
  • Keep your expectations in line with reality. Do not expect a young, 8 week old puppy to be able to hold a sit or a down for more than a few seconds.  
  • Be consistent with your command each time.  Pick one word and stick to it.  Speaking in sentences or multiple words will not be as easy for your new puppy to learn. One behavior – one command word.
  • Begin to train around relevant distractions. For example, if you always have a house full of kids, begin training your puppy around kids once he’s learned to obey his commands only with you.
  • For those of you that do not want to use a clicker, simply use your voice by saying, “Yes!” or “Good!” followed by a food treat when your puppy performs a command.

There is a lot to learn in training a puppy

If done correctly, it can be a process filled with fun – and obedience. This begins to set that strong foundation you will need to rely on when your new puppy becomes an adult dog.

The one message to take away is “consistently” set aside time every single day as described above to work your puppy.

These are just some of the basics that will help you get started on the right foot with your puppy.  Puppies are very smart and learn quickly, especially when they are taught from an early age.

Thanks for letting me share my dog training knowledge with you.   Don’t be a stranger.  Feel free to comment below.  I’d love to hear what you think.   

Remember:  “Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”

If you’re stuck with puppy problems like jumping, biting, nipping, house soiling then head on over to Nose to Tail Puppy Training for easy solutions to getting a well trained puppy.

Jim Burwell, Houston dog trainer for 25+ years, serving over 9000 clients, has a profound understanding of dog behavior and the many things, we as humans, do that influence that behavior – good or bad.  Jim has the ability to not only steer dogs and puppies down the right path but to also train the owners to understand their part in having a great dog.

Puppy Biting

Puppy Behavior: Puppy Problems or Just a Puppy Being a Puppy

Puppy Behavior:  Puppy Problems or Just Being A Puppy

In many cases the cuteness of a puppy simply can’t override bad puppy behavior like jumping and biting. As I sometimes say, ” That cute factor has a short shelf life!”

And for some new puppy owners, simple things like jumping and biting or ” just being a puppy” can cause that puppy to be sent back to the breeder, given away or worse yet taken to a shelter.

You don’t have to let your relationship with your puppy get to a decision-making point” like this owner who recently said, “My adorable Golden Retriever puppy had hit a point where she was really hard to handle, and I felt overwhelmed– like a failure as a dog owner! I just can’t keep my puppy, but…”


Puppy Biting

Puppy owners want to know, no they need to know: Is the behavior they are experiencing with their puppy (usually between 8 – 16 weeks of age – and sometimes older) really bad behavior, or is it just a puppy being a puppy?

Before I answer that question, maybe it would be good to help you understand what makes your puppy tick.

So Let’s Break Puppy Behavior Down This Way.

Puppy behavior, to a large extent, is determined by three things: instinct, personality and “owner input.” Let me explain.

Instinct is a puppy’s natural predisposed way of exploring his environment to determine what’s good, what’s not, what’s harmful and what works for him.

If you have a new puppy you will observe and experience your puppy using his instinct, i.e. exploring with his nose and mouth. He may jump on you and play bite you or other family members. Nothing and no one is sacred. Everything is a chew toy to a puppy unless of course you put it up so your puppy can’t get to it.

With no opposing thumbs for picking things up – puppies just use their mouth. It’s instinctive for a puppy to use his mouth to grab your hand or arm to say, “Let’s play!” or to bite and chew as they explore this vast new world into which they have just been dropped.

Personality is a puppy’s temperament or character. We’ve had a few real “characters” around the house in our day! Puppies are born with a certain temperament or personality. You could say puppy temperament or personality determines just how vigorous or energetically they “instinctively” explore their environment and test their relationships with all family members – just like they would do with their litter mates. Some puppies that are “strong-willed” cannot be played with in the same manner you would play with a softer puppy.

Strong willed puppies have a hightened degree of intensity at which they use their nose and mouth to explore their environment and test their relationships with all family members, just like they would do with their litter mates.


Here’s Where Puppy Behavior GetsTricky

The bossier the puppy, that puppy usually bites more. This is where owners of strong-willed puppies get very frustrated and make mistakes. What are the mistakes these new puppy owners make?

New puppy owners always compare their new puppy with the previous dog they raised as a puppy. The previous dog was usually a much softer dog so the expectation is that all puppies are easy going. Not so true.

  • New puppy owners forget that the last time they raised a puppy they were single or married with no kids and now they have kids that bring a whole new element to puppy training. Now it becomes critical to manage/supervise all interactions between your kids and your new puppy for safety’s sake.
  • Plus, if you are married you probably had spousal support with the first dog. And now in many cases it is the “stay at home mom” that bears the responsibility to raise and train the new puppy along with the kids.
  • On a recent lesson one new puppy owner suddenly acknowledged to me, “I realized that I am 15 years older than last time I had a puppy and my new puppy is just getting started!”

There’s a lot to be said about raising a puppy when you are older because it speaks to our thinner patience and in some cases our skin is thinner too! Thin patience and thin skin don’t bode well with a bossy puppy that bites hard.

Here’s Where The  Puppy Owner’s Behavior Comes Into Place

Finally we get down to owner input. Owner input is the behavior a new puppy learns by interacting with its owner. For example, allowing the puppy to jump reinforces jumping. Your puppy may want attention and jumps to get attention. If you look at, talk to or touch your puppy – even to correct him, that’s attention and it reinforces jumping.

Beware of your owner input. It is critical to shape or reward behavior you want and ignore the behavior you dislike. If you don’t like jumping, teach your puppy to keep all four feet on the floor. Rapidly rewarding “four on the floor” BEFORE his has a chance to jump is how you do that. Working him on leash for better control in the house is excellent puppy control. When you can’t supervise him, crate him. It’s that simple.

Before you get frustrated to the point of making a decision, call a trainer that uses positive reinforcement methods. Your puppy is relying on you to make all the right decisions to teach him and keep him safe and in his forever home with you.

Thanks for letting me share my puppy training experience and  knowledge with you. I truly hope you found answers and hope for helping your new puppy.  Don’t be a stranger.  I’d love to hear what you think.  Please come over to my Facebook page to let me know how this article impacted you and the way you think about puppy training.  Are you looking at it a little differently?   

“Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”

Jim Burwell, professional dog trainer for 25+ years, serving 8700+ clients, has a profound understanding of dog behavior and the many things, we as humans, do that influence that behavior – good or bad.  Jim has the ability to not only steer dogs and puppies down the right path but to also train the owners to understand their part in having a great dog.

His Nose to Tail Puppy Training is the culmination of these years of training into an easy, step-by-step process so that your puppy understands what you expect of him because you know how to teach him.  You empower him to be able to give you the behavior you want and you empower him to be successful at living in a human home.  The result – one awesome puppy and one happy family.