How to teach your puppy good manners?
Written by Louise Glazebrook

The first thing to remember is that everyone’s ideas on what constitutes ‘manners’ will differ. Although I would say there are some that we can all agree on would be nice to have! For instance these might be:

  • A dog who can respond to their name
  • A dog who can come back to you in the park
  • One who can sit when they would like something e.g. a treat
  • Not lunging and throwing themselves into the road when trying to cross it

There are of course many more such as not begging at the table, not jumping up, not biting and much more. But the need to teach each dog certain manners will differ for each dog because it will depend on their breed, their genetics, the way they were bred and more. Let me give you an example – teaching a Hungarian Vizsla to not jump up is generally trickier than teaching a Miniature Dachshund. Why? Well, because if you have a Mini Daxie you will often want them to jump up on your legs so you can lift them up with their consent. You may also find that they are jumping up to ask for help and we don’t want to discourage that because they are so low to the ground, they can’t nudge our hands etc. So you see your dog’s breeding, shape, size, what they were bred for, will impact how and why you teach the manners you choose to your puppy or dog. 

Can puppies learn manners?

Hell yes! And you can begin from day 1. How?

By not encouraging the things you don’t want! If you don’t want a dog who runs at the front door barking and shouting – then from day 1 you don’t let them go to the front door. You start by teaching them immediately how you want them to respond which could be – standing behind a baby gate, staying in the kitchen behind a door, going into the crate – it’s your choice. 

With the manners you teach more broadly, you need to think outside of the box. Stop worrying about teaching loads of cues, we can do this so easily anytime. Instead focus on manners and patterns of behaviour that set your puppy and you up to succeed in the future. 

Want to give them a chew to help with their teething? One of you hold your puppy on one side of the room, the other one of you show them the chew and let them sniff it. Walk a few steps away and then call your puppy ‘Bobby, come here’ and then the person holding the puppy lets them go. They run over to you because they know you have the chew that they just smelt. And you have begun to teach your puppy that coming to you when you use this phrase means they will received something fun to crack on and do. Setting up ‘associations’ are really important for our puppies.

How do I teach my puppy to have manners around other dogs?

This is a great question, I’m glad you asked!

The first thing to consider is – what do I actually want those manners to look like around dogs?

For example, last week I was working with a client and their dog who was running off into a field behind their home. She would get to the gate and bomb off, like miles off, out of reach off! When we discussed why she was doing this, it stemmed from the fact that from that as a tiny puppy her walks had begun by walking her from the garden into the ‘big field’ and over time the excitement and expectation had grown by being allowed to run through the gate and into other dogs. Now this was a full on run off to search for other dogs as this was the young dog’s expectation of what happens from the gate onwards.

The moral of the story is..if you don’t want your dog to run off into other dog’s then we need to consider how we teach them to do the opposite. Which would be an entire personalised 121 tailored session with you. But for the sake of this blog, you might begin at a distance asking your dog to sit, reward it with treats, then walk forward using treats to keep your dog by your side. 

Or you might look at starting to walk with a friend and their older dog and keeping your dog on their lead to teach them using treat rewards to walk next to you rather than thinking they can just run in and jump on the older dog. 

There are many ways and it depends on the dog I have in front of me to what I offer as help. But the most important thing to consider is what you do and do not want them to do in the future when they are a bigger dog. 

How long does it take for a puppy to learn manners?

Well, that depends on your level of input and how easy you make it for your puppy to learn.

If you rock up to a dog dense park and expect your puppy to magically ignore every dog, you will find it very hard and come away very frustrated. As you have dropped them into an environment that is far too hard for them to learn in. If however you go for a walk with a friend and their super confident, happy dog who leaves your puppy alone and in a very quiet field, you will have great success. 

It’s all about small increments and watching and learning from your puppy. You are building a relationship, making life too hard then being annoyed with them, won’t help anyone. 

If you would like help on figuring out what to focus on and how to build your puppy’s confidence, happiness and wellbeing, then join my Puppy Wonder Club. See you in there!

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