Emergency recalls with distractions

If you puppy is really responding to the restrained recalls without distraction we covered previously, it is now time to start to introduce some distractions. Start small, build the difficulty with time.

If your puppy is food orientated you will need a small food bowl (or a Kong or a clam), and some high and medium value treats. If you are training on your own, you will also require something to put over the bowl so you puppy cannot get to it.

  • Place some medium value treats into the bowl (or Kong/clam). Do not make any fuss about the bowl, but let your puppy watch what you are doing
  • Position the bowl, under its cover if necessary, mid-way from where you will start your puppy’s recall from and where you think you will be at the end of the recall. It should be placed slightly to the side of the line your puppy will be taking, so that it only sees the bowl within its peripheral vision
  • Develop the desire to chase you before starting to recall by making your puppy smell the high value food
  • Start the restrained recall game

If your puppy is toy orientated, you will need to start with a toy of high value and a second lower value toy

  • Leave the low value toy on the floor, do not make any fuss about it, but let your puppy see what you are doing.
  • The toy should be positioned mid-way from where you will start your puppy’s recall and where you think you will be near the end of the recall, slightly on the side of the  line your puppy will be taking puppy so your puppy only sees it with his peripheral vision, but it is not too obvious.
  • Develop the desire to chase you before starting to recall your puppy by showing the toy.
  • Start the restrained recall game.

If your puppy is really focussed on you, it should come directly to you. This is exactly the behaviour we want. Make a fuss, play, and reward your puppy with the high value treat or toy.

If your puppy goes to the food bowl or low value treat instead then try continuing to run and calling your puppy to “Heel”. If this does not work, return to your puppy, and allow it to smell the tastier treat or see the high value toy you have (even play the swap game with the toys). As soon as your puppy shows some interest or desire, start running again. If your puppy now chooses to come to you, make a big fuss play with and reward your puppy with the high value treats or toy.

If the game is too easy for your puppy, start to make it harder. This can be done by:

  • Having some food / toys positioned each side of the line your puppy will take to get to you.
  • Increasing the number of food bowls or toys (you can mix both by the way)
  • Positioning one or more distractions directly on what you think will be the path your puppy will take.
  • Introducing a moving distraction. There will obviously need to be two people to do this. The distraction item could simply be a piece of rope that is being shaken.

Let’s wait with Distractions

This game is a continuation of last week’s exercise.

This week you should try to increase the distance between you and the mat or raised bed and test your puppy’s understanding of what you are asking it to do.

The first test is to see how far can you move away without your puppy leaving the mat?

The challenges for this week are done whilst you are at your furthest away from your puppy:

  • Can you move your feet around?
  • Can you move your arms up and down?
  • Can you turn through 360 degrees?
  • And finally, can you move away from your puppy whilst turning your back to it and not maintaining eye contact?

The aim is to achieve all of these without your puppy moving before you return and reward on the mat.

Lead the Fun

Take a moment to visualise what your routine is or will be when letting your puppy off the lead.


  • You start with the puppy on the lead.
  • When you reach a safe location, you unclip the lead and your puppy runs off to go and play.
  • At the end of the walk, you call your puppy to you and clip the lead on again.

For many of you it is likely that you will often use the same route when going for a walk.

The result of this routine is that your puppy will start to:

  • Associate the sound of unclipping the lead with being able to rush away to have fun within the surrounding environment.
  • Anticipate the end of the walk and associate this with being clipped back on the lead and the end of the fun.

Typically, the end result is the development of habits such as pulling on the lead with anticipation and excitement at the start of the walk, rushing away as soon as the lead is unclipped, and running away or avoiding coming back close to you at the end of the walk.

One trick to avoid these behaviours is to develop an association of the lead and grabbing the collar with the start of the fun with you and not the environment.

From now on each time you clip or unclip the lead to your puppy’s collar, I would advise you to engage your puppy in a game. Good games in this situation are playing “Middle”, having a tug of war, playing “Say Hello”, or even just giving a few pieces of treat. Do not stick to the same game each time, mix them up.

The most important aspect is teaching your puppy that you are far more fun to be with than anything else in the surrounding environment. The aim is to condition your puppy to think that having the lead clipped on and off is just a sign that the fun with you is just starting!

When you have unclipped the lead and have finished playing your games and are ready to let your puppy go, do not forget to give your release command so your puppy knows the game is over.

You can start teaching this game anytime. It can be done in the house, in the garden or even when you clip or unclip the long lead on your puppy during a walk.

When your recall is solid enough and you start going for walks without a long lead, I advise you to call your puppy back to you multiple times during the walk. Each time, during the walk, do the game of clipping and unclipping the lead and playing so there is no association of this behaviour with simply either the start/end of the walk or when you come cross other dog walkers and need to restrain your own puppy.


The “Middle” game is where you ask for your puppy to come and stand or sit between your legs whilst you are in a standing position.

“Middle” promotes a strong connection with your puppy, makes your puppy love being in your proximity and if needed gets your puppy into a “protected position”. It also helps lower its arousal.

In the future you will be able to ask for this position when you wish to keep your puppy secure, for example if another over boisterous dog is coming toward you.  In the “Middle” position you can fully protect and control your puppy from any danger around the puppy and you.

It is also advantageous to teach your puppy to come into this position when your puppy is scared. It gives them a more rewarding alternative to simply running away.

To achieve the objective of teaching your puppy to come and position itself in between your legs use the following steps:

  • Lure your puppy to the middle position, i.e., standing between your legs and facing forwards.
  • Reward your puppy whilst it is in the middle position to encourage your puppy to stay there.
  • Release your puppy by using your release command.
  • Throw a treat behind you to lure your puppy to position itself behind you.
  • Recall your puppy into the middle position again.

When your puppy is consistently coming to the middle position, start asking it to sit or lie down.

I love my Crate

Some people believe it is cruel to leave a puppy (or a dog) in a crate. To be honest I used to be one of those people. The reality is that most puppies and adult dogs, if not forced, like a remote and calm place. The crate can be the safe and quiet place where the puppy can relax, away from noise and other member of the household be it children or dogs. When you are away from home, taking a crate also provides a safe familiar environment.

Teaching a puppy to love its crate can also reduce separation anxiety in the future as you are gradually teaching your puppy to be in its own safe environment.

To achieve this, your puppy must create a positive relationship with the crate. Under no circumstances should it be used as a punishment zone. Really, I should introduce this module during the first week of the Puppy School, but I have learnt from experience to give my students time to learn positive reinforcement with the mat before introducing the crate. It is easy to change a mat if necessary, but not that easy to change a crate.

There are 2 aspects in teaching your puppy to love its crate, the first is a game, and the second is everyday life.

For everyday life, if you have not followed ditch the bowl concept and still feed your puppy at regular hours, take the opportunity to feed your puppy in the crate. You can also play “scatter feeding” by dropping some treats or kibble in the crate, so your puppy must search for them. Alternatively give your puppy a Kong or a chewy so your puppy learns to be calm in the crate. For all these activities it is not necessary to close the gate of the crate although is a good game for you to vary this; sometimes closing it, sometimes not.

When familiarising your puppy with the crate sometimes you should stay near to your puppy during these activities and at other times move away into another room. I would advise to do this randomly, sometimes staying with them, sometimes leaving for a few seconds or minutes, and even sometimes not returning. Let your puppy find you. Avoid a routine.

When it comes to playing a game, you can easily kill two birds with one stone:  making the crate environment fun for your puppy and training your “Wait”.

  1. Teach your puppy to move quickly to the crate:
    1. Position yourself so that the entry to the crate is facing your puppy and easy to find.
    2. Let your puppy smell a very tasty treat or piece of food.
    3. Tease your puppy so your puppy really wants this piece of food.
    4. Drop or throw the treat inside the crate. The treat needs to be very visible, so it is no effort to find.
    5. Let the puppy go in the crate to get the treat.
    6. Keep repeating this game until your puppy is thoroughly comfortable with going fully into the crate.
    7. When your puppy is proficient, start to make the entry of the crate more difficult to find. This is simply done by rotating the crate by 90 degrees so that the entry of the crate is no longer facing your puppy.

It is a great game that teaches your puppy to think about the position of the entry to the crate.

  • Teach your puppy to wait in the crate until it is released (and yes, I do consider this as a game). The way to play this game is like “On your mat”, so you can transfer what you have learnt with the mat to the crate:
  • Let your pup go in the crate and reward your puppy at the back of the crate.  I prefer rewarding at the back to give value for being fully inside the crate and less value to the gate of the crate.
  • Close the gate and continue rewarding at the back of the crate.
  • Open the gate slightly. If your puppy shows an intention to leave the crate, close the gate. Timing is important, you do not want to be hitting or pushing your puppy with the door or slamming it shut. Open the gate slightly again and repeat until your puppy shows no more intention of leaving the crate.
  • If your puppy is not coming forward and shows no intention to leave the crate, reward it again at the back of the crate.
  • Close the door again and keep on rewarding.
  • Open the door again and try to make the opening slightly bigger each time.
  • Finally invite your puppy out of the crate with the release word.

When your puppy really likes the crate, you can bundle the two games of sending your puppy to the crate and then asking your puppy to wait in the crate before releasing. As with other games start increasing your distance from the crate. And remember it will take time!

Bring a Trick

Week 8 is a fun challenge week. For this week I will be giving you some challenges based on the games that you have learnt during the school.

I would also like to invite you all to prepare a trick with your puppy and share it with the other members of the group by posting a short video.

The trick does not need to be difficult. The most important thing is that you have a fun experience with your puppy preparing the trick.

If you are not feeling inspired and need help to choose a trick, there are loads of examples on the internet. You can also contact me, and I can suggest one for you to prepare.

If you find you are struggling to teach your chosen trick to your puppy and need some advice, I may be able to help.

It is time to introduce yourself and your puppy

I would really appreciate if you were all to introduce yourself, so we all get to know each other. Please post a little bit about yourself and your puppy in the Facebook group.

As you all know me by now, I do not need to introduce myself again, however it is time to introduce the stars you will see in the videos in this course.

Firstly, I will introduce my Personal Assistant, teammate and best friend, Manouk.
Manouk is now 13.5 years old and has been loving coming out of retirement to act as a movie star. It reminds him of his competition days at Crufts and Olympia.

The youngest member of our cast is Nola.

We also have special guest appearances by Mehwi

And last, but not least, Mozzie.

Advice and information for the face to face group classes

  1. Training a puppy is a family affair and we welcome you to come along to the class with other members of the family. Children are of course welcome, however they must be under the supervision of their parents at all times.
  2. Don’t forget to bring your vaccination book to the first session so I can check your pup is up to date! Kennel Cough vaccination is also advised for the class.
  3. Bags to pick up if your puppy needs to go to the toilet – remember that you have to pick up after your puppy!
  4. Before coming to the class make sure your pup has had ample time to go to the toilet. Do not forget they are puppies and sometimes they won’t go to the toilet if they are excited, so please be patient with them.
  5. I would also recommend avoiding giving an evening meal to your puppy before the class (or at least a big part of it), and if you are feeding your puppy kibble bring your puppy’s meal with you. We will use the meal as treats.
  6. If your pup is not very food orientated the above is even more important. You can also bring higher value rewards such as pieces of chicken / turkey / ham / hot dog sausages – They need to be cut in tiny pieces.
  7. Bring your puppies lead, collar and mat to the class. If you decided to purchase a raised bed, I would advise you to bring it to the group classes.
  8. Don’t forget that your puppy must be fully vaccinated to attend the class. Kennel cough vaccination is also advised although not mandatory.
  9. If your puppy’s course of injection has not been completed before for the first session, I invite you to come to the class without your puppy. You will still learn a lot and you will be able to practice your homework at home
  10. If your puppy is sick with diarrhoea or vomiting please contact your vet to ensure that your puppy is fit to come to the class. Sometimes it may just be a bad tummy, but it could be something more serious and potentially contagious so better to be safe than sorry. Please let me know before taking the decision to come to the class.
  11. If your puppy has been in contact with a dog with Kennel Cough you will need to wait 10 days before coming back to classes. Kennel Cough is extremely contagious and has a 7 to 10 days incubation period.

Sexier than a squirrel challenge

  1. Go to the following link to claim your spot on the challenge – this will create a challenge log in for you and will send you an email with login details. Simply hit the “claim my spot button” under the video
  1. I have prepared UNIT 10 specifically for the challenge so feel free to post your videos there. I have created a module per 5 days to make it easier to watch similar videos under each module. As this is an add on to the puppy class I might not have time to answer or help, but there are people in this group with different levels entering the challenge, so feel free to help each other and make it fun!

About toys. Yes, we will be playing during the class!

We will be using toys and leads during the puppy class so for those of you who are interested please find below links to a couple of manufacturers and suppliers whose toys & leads I really like:


This is a global company which has some very good tuggies (and other toys too). If you use the code K9PAWS you should get a discount on all the toys from their own brand (So if you browse through their site, make sure to choose to browse through the brand option).

The discount should also be applicable after the puppy school is finished so I advise you to keep the details.