Puppy Training. From Chaos to Calm

When I do puppy training I don’t expect to find a family in total chaos. But this puppy family was different. The proud but frustrated owners of Maddie, the French Bull Dog puppy were stressed beyond belief in their puppy training efforts.

Their troubles, on our lesson day, started right before I arrived. As I walked down the 4th floor hallway of the condo making my way to their unit, I could hear screaming, “Help me clean up this mess, the trainer is almost here!”

By that time it was too late. I was knocking on the door. As I entered, the all too familiar “puppy poop” stink hit me. I sat down looking at their small condo littered with pee-pads and exclaimed, “At least I don’t have to wonder where we start our lesson!”

Puppy Training

John and Mary, a young couple in their late 20’s had both grown up with family pets in their respective homes. But their recollection was of older, laid back dogs that just sat around the family room and fireplace. The dogs were just there. They were great dogs – in fact – perfect dogs.

As kids, they had not given much thought to how the dogs got that way. Was it puppy training by their parents, or did they just come that way. I assured them, “Most likely not the latter. It probably took as much work for your moms and dads as you two are going to learn here with Maddie but I’m here to help you along the way. “

I find that many new puppy owners think, “It wasn’t a problem for mom and dad when I grew up so, how much trouble can it be?” For some it’s a rude awakening – trouble from day one with their puppy training and there are those that really luck out and get a problem-free puppy right from the get-go. John and Mary were just getting through the rude awakening part.

By the time we got through the first lesson, John and Mary had a plan for everything: puppy potty training, nutrition, how best to prepare her food to maximize nutrition and to help with potty training success, obedience training that was age appropriate, the importance of sticking to schedules and routines and – we replaced all the pee pads with ONE”grass potty pad with a tray.”

Our first lesson was on a Friday and by Monday morning Maddie was hitting the grass 90% of the time. They gated her in the kitchen during the work day – grass potty at one end, bed, bone and Kong at the other and just a little water in her bowl.  

What also helped them to help Maddie succeed were the following potty guidelines:

Develop a reward history for going on her grass potty: Praise and treat on the spot.
Catch mistakes before they happen: Keeping her on a leash when out of her space and with them in the house.
Secure Maddie: Put her in her space when you cannot supervise her.


Once potty training was under control, Maddie learned her obedience commands and John and Mary learned how to use the commands to teach her “give before she receives” (sit for food, toys, affection, etc.) so that they always stayed in control of the relationship which we call the Ground Rules for Great Dogs.  I also recommended that John and Mary keep up Maddie’s obedience  training by doing 3 short training sessions daily but only for two minutes. This gave Maddie a sense of working for them instead of John and Mary following Maddie’s lead by giving in to her nudging for affection or anything else she wanted.

I told them, “Puppies have a lot of love to give – and maybe you get a lot of frustration and hard work along the way. It winds up being very rewarding in the end with many years of good times and memories. Good dogs just don’t come that way. You have to earn it to enjoy it. Just ask your mom and dad!

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

Jim Burwell, professional dog trainer for 25+ years, 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.