Welcome to the Course and thank you for signing up

You have access to the course for the next 8 weeks, so if you miss a week and life gets in the way you have time to catch up. If you have any questions as the course progresses please feel free to ask.

This course looks at Puppy Training although is suitable for any beginner dog of any age. Over the next 6 weeks we will cover the following:

  • How dogs learn

  • Using food and treats

  • Appropriate socialisation

  • Life skills and manners

  • Attention to name

  • Impulse control skills

  • Obedience training such as recall, loose lead wlaking, sit, down, stay, drop, leave, and stay.

Over the next few  weeks the aim is to

  • Improve and strengthen your relationship with your puppy

  • Be a proactive trainer not a reactive trainer

  • Learning basic dog training skills

  • Understanding your dog

  • How to have fun with your dog through training

Remember this is as much about you learning as the dog.

How Dogs Learn


Dogs are particularly intelligent animals, and relish the challenge of learning new skills and obedience behaviours.


A young puppy's brain is like a sponge and will simply absorb all of the information we give them - BUT!!! Give him the wrong information and he'll be confused, or won't do as you ask.


Dogs learn through consistent Repetition, Reward and Association i.e.

We teach the sit - we reward when he sits - he associates the sit with the reward and so will repeat the position to get another reward.

We teach each skill or behaviour to the dog in two stages:


  • Teaching Stage: In this stage, the dog doesn't understand what you're asking of him. You're now teaching the dog, using various aids, to associate a particular word or command with a desired action or behaviour. During this stage, you show the dog what you mean when you say, "Sit." You use food and other aids to help the dog understand what you expect when you give the command. Remember, dogs don't speak English so we have to teach the behaviours first and the the English equivalent.  Do not shout or chastise the dog for not understanding.

Owners get very frustrated, and animated, when their dogs make a mistake. However, few owners are as expressive when it comes to praising their dogs for doing something right. Imagine the affect upon your dog if the only time you verbally communicate with your dog is to tell them off. What impact would it have upon your dog. For example, if your puppy doesn't come when it's called and you shout at them for not coming straight away. A puppy doesn't learn in this way, and instead has learned that when they come to you they are punished. Are they likely to come back next time?


  • Proofing Stage: This stage starts only after the dog consistently performs the behaviour correctly having first been taught it. The proofing stage seeks to ensure that the dog's response is reliable in a range of conditions . During this stage, you gradually introduce distractions while the dog works. If he becomes distracted, you teach him to continue to work. Teaching him to focus despite distractions helps make him a safe and reliable dog in any situation.


The treats we use during training are to increase motivation as well as to reward a behaviour. Regardless of what treats we use, they will be faded out as the training progresses.

The puppy’s perception of the value of the treats will impact their motivation and therefore the quality of the focus and responses that you get.

If you feed kibble (dry food),  then  you  can  use  some  of  your  puppy's  kibble  as  low  value  training treats at home.  This  has  multiple  benefits.  Your  puppy  will  be  keen  to  learn  to  earn  their     food, and consequently this will provide mental stimulation. Hand feeding their food in exchange for behaviours  not  only  re-inforces  the  behaviours  with  positive  associations,   continues   to   develop the bond between you and your puppy but also helps them develop bite inhibition. Each  morning,  measure  out  your  dog's  daily  ration  of  kibble  and  put  it  in   a   handy   container. Throughout each  day,  use  some  kibble  as  lures  and  rewards  for  training,  and  for  use as enrichment for example in Kongs.

The dog’s dried food or kibble is great at home but in more distracting environments you will probably find that you need something more tasty and exciting.

We recommend pet training treats such as dried meat or fish as they are natural, are 100% meat, have an apetizing odour for your dog and do not contain colourants or additives. You can also use ham, chicken, sausage and cheese.

Treats need to be both tiny, finger nail size and tasty for the dog. What I enjoy to eat, may not be what you enjoy, and so the same is for dogs. Variety is also essential; eating the same treat over and over during the course of an hour becomes less of a treat.


If you have a dog that isn’t very food motivated then we can look at this in two ways. Firstly, does your dog eat all of their food? If not, you may want to look at why not. Is it the actual food itself they don't like or it is the actual process of eating is boring. Our dog's diets are very important.

You can make the food more exciting by the way you deliver it.  Often food in a bowl or just putting a piece of food in the puppy’s mouth isn’t very exciting in comparison to all the exciting distractions outside.You can do this by teaching your puppy to catch the treats, you can throw the treats so that they have to chase and catch them, and you can scatter some in grass so they have to sniff them out. This is pairing the treats with all the exciting, natural things that dogs like to do.

Timing is crucial with dog training, and especially when using food as a reward, a Treat bag is a must!


When treats are put into little plastic bags and/or deposited in a pocket, it simply takes too long to get one out to reward your dog and by then the dog has either lost interest, or you have failed to mark and reward the correct behaviour or your dog has learned to follo a little plastic bag.


  Example of Poor Reward Timing


  1. You ask your dog to sit.

  2. You go into your pocket to retrieve the plastic bag with the treats in.

  3. As you fish out a treat your dog stands.

  4. You offer the reward.


Well done - you have rewarded your dog for standing.


Remember timing is vital for you to anchor the correct behaviour / position - so have your rewards ready.

Keep the dog interested in learning

Don't make the dog repeat an exercise over and over again. This is no incentive for the dog to do it correctly. He will quickly lose motivation and get bored. it's better to practise an exercise quickly two or three times and then go back to it later in the training session or later in the day if more  practice  is needed. A dog with a good attitude towards the work will be a quick, willing learner. to promote a good attitude to learning, the training sessions should be interesting, upbeat and playful. End the lesson with t  he dog wanting more and end with an exercise the dog can do well. This allows the dog to leave the session feeling he has been successful in spite of problems that may have occurred during the session.


If he just doesn't understand. Go back to the beginning

Nothing is more frustrating than having your dog continually fail at an exercise. Remember that if your dog is having trouble with an exercise, most likely he does not understand what you want. This often comes from too little practice time at each stage. Essentially, the dog has been moved through the various stages of the exercise without having fully mastered the early stages. It's not unlike expecting yourself to do algebra without first knowing basic maths.


The best strategy to deal with this is to go back to the very beginning of the exercise in question. Take each stage in turn. Don't go on until the dog  has  consistently demonstrated that he understands that stage completely.

Equipment you will Need


  • Soft Collar

    • This needs to be a nylon web soft collar. Remember puppies don't come pre-programmed to wear collars any more than we are. It is a lot easier (and nicer) to get puppies used to a collar if its soft.

  • A lead of approximately 2 metres.

    • I find that most of the leads sold on the market are far too short. The average is 1 metre long when it should be at least 2 metres long, and be of a material that is easily washed and is kind to the hands and to the dog. The reason why a longer lead is better is because the lead should only act as an umbillical chord keeping your dog and you connected whist they are learning - much the same reason as to why we hold young children's hands. It shouldn't be punitive. 

    • Secondly, one of the most important things we want to teach our dogs to do, it to walk nicely on the lead. This means they must recognise the difference between a tight lead and a loose lead. If the lead is too short, (and remember some of that lead length is taken up going from the puppy's collar to your hand), then the minute the puppy takes a step forwards the lead goes tight. If the lead is always tight whilst the puppy is walking then how can they be expected to ever understand?
















  • Flexi Leads are not good. Firstly you get a dog that pulls on the lead because the extendable lead teaches them that very quickly. 

  • Secondly, you get a lead that is potentially dangerous to dogs, yourself and other people., and thirdly you get a dog that is effectively out of control.

  • The dog runs around you and the cord on the lead wraps around your leg.

  • The dog keeps running and you can get a very serious friction burn that can go down to the bone.

  • This can happen to you or to other people if your dog runs around them. 

  • I have known dogs that have had a leg amputated because the lead wrapped around their own leg and when the friction started then ran faster to try and get away from it. causing deep burns.

  • People with injuries like broken legs and arms from tripping over them. 


  • We prefer puppies to be clipped to harnesses rather than their collar for a few reasons. Contrary to urban myth, harnesses do not teach dogs to pull. As discussed above, puppies do not come pre-programmed understanding how to walk on a lead. In fact, it actually is so hard because it is the opposite of what they instinctively want to do. Therefore, when a puppy pulls, we have two options: stop and this puts extensive pressure upon their neck but prevents the pulling being reinforced; release the pressure upon their neck by moving forwards but then reinforce the pulling which teaches the puppy they can pull. By having a puppy on a harness as they are learning (a bit like L-plates), it means that no damage is being done to their neck whilst they learn how to walk on a lead, and that there is no reinforcement for pulling.

When looking for a harness, there are several things to consider. The first thing to consider is that so many harnesses restrict a dog's shoulder movement due to straps positioned right behind a dog's front legs. This strap placement coupled with a strap wrapped around the front part of a dog's chest makes it difficult for a dog to fully extend his forelimbs when walking or running - thus reducing pulling on the lead.


We prefer and recommend the Perfect Fit Harnesses as they do not restrict the shoulder movement. 

Additional benefits include:

  • Modular design allows and secure and snug fit for almost any size & shape of dog

  • Easy to clip around dog’s neck and NOT put over head

  • Adjustable in up to 5 different places

  • Each piece can be replaced as or when needed

  • Front piece comes with an additional D-ring as standard

  • Safe for amputee dogs (Tripawed!)

  • Difficult for escapologist dogs to get out of

  • Calming for excitable dogs

Further information on the Perfect Fit Harness, it's design, and helpful videos can be found on our "More Info". You can book a free harness fitting by contact us here.

A Bed

  • We want to teach puppies to settle down especially when there are other dogs and people present. Having a bed, or a towel, or a piece of vet bed helps this. This is an important life skill. When you want to take your puppy to the vets, or dog friendly places we want them to settle down. 

An Edible Chew

  • Whilst we want puppies to settle down, expecting this is the equivalent of taking a 2 year old ro a one hour talk and asking them to sit still whilst the grown ups talk - how unlikely would that be? No instead, we would bring an activity for them to do, a colouring book - or in this day and age - a tablet. Bringing a puppy a super tasty chew, 

©2018 by M.A.D Dog Club.

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