Teaching Pip Not to be Frightened of Thunder

Pip made it to the ripe old age of 6 months before we had a decent thunderstorm (with hail in August).

I was fortunate that we were at home together and I had some training treats to hand.

Pip started to make her nervous half bark to show she was worried about the noises of the storm.

The kitchen door was open (it was August after all) so we could hear the storm well. I left it open to show that the storm was nothing to be afraid of.

I got Pip to come and face me and we both sat on the kitchen floor together. We were a few metres away from the open door and could both see and hear the storm from our relative positions. I reassured her she was a ‘good girl’ (our substitute clicker training reinforcement words) as I gave her treats for being quiet and stopping her half bark as she settled down a bit.

Once she was more settled but still looking a bit anxious I put a treat in my fisted hand so she knew after a short wait the treat was coming. I then waited for the next clap of thunder or increase in the noise of the hailstones and gave her a treat from my fisted hand each time there was a louder noise.

The storm only lasted for a few minutes but by the end of it she was noticeably more relaxed and looking forward to the next treat. We then did a few minutes of usual training practice and she went to sleep it off on the sofa.


Puppy Training – Commands

Teaching your puppy new commands is fun but can also sometimes be frustrating for both of you. Your puppy will be keen to please you and therefore  annoyed if she can’t understand what you want her to do.

Puppies that are food motivated are easier to train.  Pip, our eating machine, will do anything for a tasty treat so we have no problem in that department.

Don’t believe what you read on the internet when someone says a particular command is ‘easy’ or ‘hard’ to teach.  This will depend on you and the puppy and to some extent the luck of her spontaneously displaying the behaviour you want or quickly understanding in the training session.

We found short training sessions of 5 minutes or so worked well.  If it got frustrating this was usually down to human error and Pip was more exasperated than us. In this case we returned to practice commands she was good at to end the session on a positive note.

All of the training is based on rewarding the puppy for the correct behaviour based on the book The Perfect Puppy. We taught Pip to respond to a clicker and target to aid some of the training but only used these from time to time.

This is a list of commands with approximate age Pip started learning and the age she could do them reasonably reliably. We are very grateful that training was started by our breeder before she came home.  Links are included where we have a post about how we did!

Command Training Started Puppy Competent
Sit Breeder 7 weeks
Sit (to be picked up) Breeder In progress (human failure)
Whistle Feeding Breeder 7 weeks
Down 7 weeks 8 weeks
Go Wee 7 weeks In progress
Go Poo 7 weeks In progress
Five (give me five) 7 weeks 8 weeks
Ten (give me ten) 7 weeks 8 weeks
Go Home (Into crate) 7 weeks 9 weeks
Stand 8 weeks In progress (human failure)
Jump (Over a small hurdle) 8 weeks 8 weeks
Roll (over) 8 weeks In progress
Tall (stand on back legs) 8 weeks 8 weeks
Tunnel(run through one) 9 weeks 9 weeks
Spin 9 weeks In progress
No (Don’t do that) 10 weeks In progress

Bathing Your Puppy-First Bath for Pip

When we collected Pip from the breeder we were advised to wait for a couple of weeks before we gave her a bath so she would have time to settle in and learn to trust us.

Having read a few conflicting articles on the subject of puppy bathing this is what we decided to do…..

Over the course of 3 days we did the following:

  • Took Pip into the bathroom, showed her the bath from just inside the door, gave treats.
  • Took Pip closer to the bath, gave treats.
  • Put her in the empty dry bath, gave treats.
  • Fed her in the bath (see whistle feeding) on several non-consecutive occasions

At the start of the 3 days our puppy was unsure, not frightened but a little apprehensive-she had not been in the bathroom before. By the time she had her meal in the dry bath on day 3 her tail was wagging so we decided that she was good to try her first wet bath.

We had bought Pip a towelling dry bag, knowing how likely it is that when she is able to go out for proper walks being a labradoodle she will get wet and dirty.  We have been teaching her ‘in the bag’ command over the last few days to get her to want to spontaneously get into the dry bag – see related post.

Tonight is first bath night……..

We are starting with a very shallow bath to minimise anxiety. We lined the bath with a microfibre towel before filling it to puppy ankle depth with body temperature water. We also had Pips favourite treats and dry doggie bag ready.

The microfibre towel allows the puppy to get some traction to help them to feel more comfortable.

We woke Pip up from her nap, took her outside for the necessary and then brought her up to the bathroom. She got a treat and then was placed in the pre-prepared bath and rewarded with 2 more treats. We were anxious to see her first reaction……..

Pip’s first reaction was to take a drink of her bath water. We therefore concluded that she wasn’t overly stressed.

We carefully splashed her legs and bottom with the warm water and as dogs can dislike having water splashed in their faces (don’t we all?) we used the microfibre cloth to wipe her face gently.

Next job was to get Pip out and dry. Although she didn’t seem stressed by her bath she was keen to get out. Thanks to the ‘in the bag’ command we had been practising, getting her into the dry doggie bag and zipping it up was relatively easy- although it cost us a few treats!

Drying was accelerated by a cuddle from Dad and Pip was rewarded with dinner in front of the wood burning stove. No loss of appetite here! She definitely has labrador genes.

After dinner Pip the Pup went outside to make her usual evening deposit. She then proceeded to thank us for the bath by running around like a maniac and trying to rub as much debris on herself as possible.

Stay tuned for a slightly deeper bath next time!

Problems with Puppy Poop

Pip joined our family at 7 weeks old.  She was tiny and adorable.

We decided that right from the start we would teach our puppy to go to the toilet on command.

Who would’ve thought that the biggest thing to resolve before we could start was what commands we would use.

We wanted individual commands for liquid and solid deposits. After much debate we chose simply ‘go wee’ and ‘go poo’.

I had read in the book our breeder recommended ‘The Perfect Puppy’ that dogs often learn gestures faster than spoken commands so we added appropriate gestures. Wriggling waterfall fingers for liquid deposits and a rotating fist for solids.

During the night Pip sleeps in her crate with her favourite soft toys and safe chews. The crate is moved to be on the floor next to our bed when we retire for the evening. This has been superb. Pip will not soil her cozy crate and always wakes us up with a soft whimper to go outside. We try to wait for her to be quiet to get her out of her crate so she doesn’t whimper for attention.

At first she was waking up every hour and a half to two hours. This was definitely not fun but we had been advised that if we could be bothered to get up and take Pip outside Toilet training would be quicker (we were keen on this).

We have had Pip for 3 weeks on Saturday and in all this time she has only had one false alarm when she didn’t ‘perform’ when taken outside. She has also only had one night time accident. This was entirely my fault for not picking her up fast enough when she came out of her crate-she peed on a puppy pad on the floor. I learned my lesson and now pick her up immediately and take her outside.

I am also really pleased to report that at the grand old age of 9 and a half weeks she can sleep for seven hours-we have learned to remove her water bowl at 9pm after she has her final meal of the day. This helped a lot.

Toilet Training Update – Not Asking to Go Outside

Pip is now 14 weeks old and she clearly understands her toilet commands and does her business when we take her outside and ask her. We are delighted. She is still very young so distractions remain  an issue for her, for example a plane flew over lower than usual the other day and she completely forgot what she was in the garden for and had to be reminded when the excitement had passed over.

Our puppy does not yet associate getting outside with going to the toilet. We take her outside (getting her to walk to the door herself) and have taught her commands ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ to help her to understand the difference.  Accidents are rare because she is taken outside routinely but if we miss a slot she doesn’t ask to go out (or at least not in a way we understand) and has an ‘accident’-no big deal.  The mistake is ignored and quietly cleaned up.

Having done some research a couple of weeks ago we decided to make a small investment in some ‘jingle’ bells for the door to help her to ask to go outside.  She loved these from the moment the jingly package arrived from amazon, we hung them on the door much to her excitement and she understood within one training session (because she loved the noise) that if she touched them with her nose to make a sound she got a treat and someone would open the door.  We made this command ‘Bell’ and the toilet routine is now:

Walk to the door together

Pip rings bell on command

I open door

We go outside on ‘Outside’ command

Pip goes to the toilet on command (unless distracted or doesn’t need to go)

We go back into house on ‘Inside’ command

This has made toileting more fun for everyone and after a few days we would ask Pip to ring the bells again if her first attempt wasn’t loud enough.  She now knows if she bashes them with her paw she gets a much better result.

We are hopeful that in time Pip will ring the bells herself when she feels the need to go.  Let’s wait and see………