How Do I Train A New Pup?

A few months ago, we lost our dog Zelda to an aggressive cancer of the blood.

On the day I put her down, my stepson Karl and stepdaughter Deena came over to help us out. Deena also came with news that Karl’s wife’s sister’s dog had had a litter of ten pups who were going to need homes. She showed us some photos, and Vickie immediately fixed on one, saying, “She is suck a sooky little thing!”

Two weeks later, we adopted a tiny, curious pup whom we called Sookie. Vickie was originally going for Sooky-with-a-Y, but I kind of nabbed the naming when filling out the microchipping form – I reckoned we already had one dog with a Y at the end of his name, and Sooky seemed more like an adjective than a name (and we’ve discovered that she’s not much of a sook at all).

But now I’m in a position that I’ve never really been in before: Having to train a dog.

And I’m a bit at sea.

The Objective

Our hairy pair: Ziggy and Sookie.

One thing we want to make sure we do is get Sookie the right amount of exercise, i.e. daily walks. We have a big yard, sure, but that’s not really enough for a dog (even though poor Ziggy’s pretty much been stuck in it for the last little while), and we could use being back in a regular walking routine ourselves.

So I need to train Sookie so that Vickie can control her on a leash while I take the heavier and just-as-excitable Ziggy.

I can’t walk them both myself, thanks to a dangerous dog ordnance the Council placed on Ziggy. Besides, those two monsters would probably be too much for me to safely control.

Walking one dog at a time isn’t really much of an option, because no matter which order I walk them in, the dog left behind always goes spare, which, given that Sookie is a pocket dynamo, bodes ill for the contents of our house.

Where do I start?

Me and my second-biggest fan.

We’ve got a couple of books on training. The one I tend to go to is The New Complete Dog Training Manual, by Dr. Bruce Fogle and Patricia Holden White. It’s well laid out and breaks every training routine down into simple steps.

The problem is that every step has a precursor technique or two that we should have in theory already implemented. Some of them require gear we don’t have, like a long line that we can clip to Sookie’s collar (most of it is cheap, it’s just a trick of remembering it when we’re out shopping).

And some of it seems a bit tricky to pull off with another dog in the house, like the basic “come to” training that requires we divvy up Sookie’s daily food intake into reward lots so that we can giver her something when she obeys the “come to” command.

How do we do that whilst still giving Ziggy his regular meals?

On top of all that, given that we’re both working throughout the day (me at the office, Vickie keeping the house and cooking), how do we do stuff with her in the evenings when we’re both a bit buggered?

The greatest problem, it seems is that training isn’t one way – you have to train yourself, too.

Are You Stressing?

What troubles have you had when learning how to train a dog?


The New Complete Dog Training Manual, by Dr. Bruce Fogle and Patricia Holden White, on


4 thoughts on “How Do I Train A New Pup?

  1. Jacqui

    Hi Rob,
    We started Pi out on a “gentle leader” harness, which fit over the muzzle and behind the ears. When you need to control the forward movement of the dog it turns their head towards you and really reduces pulling and tugging. If you like we can send it up to you as Pi has moved on to the correction collar (which is preferred by her obedience club).
    One other aspect of being a well-behaved dog and a responsible owner is ensuring the dog is sociable (can behave politely) with other people and dogs. Maybe you could enrol her in a dog school? This would give you hands-on experience and feedback, and guidance from someone with an objective view of the two of you as a team. A lot of the time the problems with a dog are problems caused by the handler.
    We start dog school with Pi in 3 weeks! Wish us luck!
    Good luck with your journey!

    • Rob F. Post author

      Is it the same as a Halti collar? We have one we used on Zellie, although it was a bit big.

      There is a puppy course; we’re waiting to hear back fromthe people who run it about their Saturday courses. We just want to get Sookie used to her lead first.

      Thanks, Jacqui, and good luck with Pi!

  2. Jacqui

    It works on a similar principle. Ours is for a medium sized dog, so it may be a better fit. If you want it, it’s yours.

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