SDOS Episode 41 – How To House Train Your Puppy With Sue McCabe

SHDOS Episode 41 Is there such a thing a perfect puppy? Probably not, but you can come pretty darn close by following the expert advice given by this week’s guest trainer, Sue McCabe. I know personally how good Sue is because I attended her puppy class with my Cocker Spaniel Sid. In this episode Sue shares some awesome house training tips that every new puppy owner really should know. How to settle in your new puppy, how to use his food to train him and how to socialise your new puppy are just some of the cool puppy pointers you will learn in today’s show. P.S. Don’t forget to leave a review for the show on ITunes!


[.30] The sun is shining so Dom and Alex are happy [1.50] Meet today’s guest Sue McCabe [2.59] How old should your puppy be when you bring him home [3.26] How getting your puppy from a great breeder can set you up for success [4.17] Why housetraining starts the moment you bring your puppy home [4.51]Why you shouldn’t use puppy pads! [6.33] Why you need a puppy ‘pee’ chart [7.00] Why your puppy’s crate shouldn’t be too big [8.49] How to make your puppy’s crate a happy place [9.55] Sue’s puppy socialisation tips [10.50] Why your puppy shouldn’t have a food bowl! [11.51] Why you need to feed your puppy ALL the time [13.14] How to find out more about Sue [14.34] Where to find out more puppy information [15.16] Coming up next week is…

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Full Transcript

Dom:     Hello me Bonnie Bairns, and welcome to the Superhero Dog Owners Show, episode 41. I’m joined my very good friend and technical wizard, and slightly bearded chap, Alex the video guy.

Alex:      Hello, yes, it’s time for a trim, I think. It’s too hot.

Dom:     It is too hot. Yeah, it’s really warm. So, we’re here, Alex. Obviously we’re here. The sun is shining, it’s beautiful, I’m enjoying this.

Alex:      Yeah, long overdue, isn’t it?

Dom:     I think we’ve got about another couple of days before the sun starts going down again and things start getting colder.

Alex:      Probably.

Dom:     But it’s been nice while it lasts. And funny enough, today’s guest who we’re talking to, when we visited her last year it was a similar kind of day, wasn’t it?

Alex:      It was.

Dom:     It was a beautiful day, the corn was high in the fields, and we went skipping through the fields talking about puppies for an hour and half. Didn’t we?

Alex:      Yeah, we did, yeah.

Dom:     And I’m talking about Sue McCabe, who’s the guest on today’s show. And Sue recorded a puppy master class with us for the inner circle and for Sue’s clients, as well. And what we did was we got the best bits from the master class, haven’t we, to share with everyone. So if you’ve got a puppy, or you’re getting a puppy, or you know someone who’s getting a puppy, then you need to be giving the link for this show. Because this is gonna help you out with some dog training gold in here for puppy-owners. Alex, would you please press the button.

Hi everybody, we’re back with our good friend Sue McCabe, who we met a little while back. And today we’re gonna go deep on a little subject that we always get a lot of questions about. And it’s puppies. And Sue’s gonna help us help everybody at home to … If there’s people at home and they’re just gonna get a puppy soon, maybe it’s this weekend, I know something that’s gonna happen to you very soon, as well. And they’re a bit worried about the do’s and don’ts. How can we simplify that for them in the next ten minutes to give them a little bit of basics for going forward to put their mind at rest a little bit?

Sue:       Well, I think people read so much, which is great, and they do so much research, which is also great. But sometimes their brains can be melting a little bit as to what they need to focus on and what can wait. So I thought it might be a nice idea to let people know what’s important, what they should prioritise, and really what they don’t need to worry about right now.

Dom:     Brilliant. And we’re gonna have a nice little walk while we chat to you guys. So where do we start then, Sue? Somebody’s gonna get a puppy that’s gonna be, what, seven, eight weeks old.

Sue:       Yep, hopefully will be eight weeks old because good breeders won’t let puppy leave the litter until they’re seven, eight weeks. Always a good sign. Hopefully people have done their research on the breed their getting and that it’s suitable for them. And you and I were talking earlier, Dom, I think it’s really important to remember that if you go to a good breeder, and you choose a breed that suits your family, then you’re already on to a winner, aren’t you? Because the breeder’s done all the research on what are good genes and what are bad genes and you come with a blueprint of your pup. And if the breed suits your lifestyle and the dog is from a bitch who’s got a nice temperament, and a male who’s got a nice temperament, and granny and grandad have a nice temperament, then you really are [crosstalk 00:03:42]

Dom:     You’re stacking the deck in your favour already, aren’t you?

Sue:       Absolutely.

Dom:     Hopefully the breeder will have, I guess, he’ll put you far on with the house training, maybe. Should be quite an enrichment, an enriched environment won’t it, hopefully.

Sue:       Absolutely. Absolutely. So that can’t be said enough times. I think that is incredibly important and can’t be said enough times. Right, so you’ve got your little puppy home and you’re stuck now making the decisions from there on. So where do you start? Well, from the very first day puppy comes into my house house-training starts. Usually the very first moment puppy comes into my house house-training starts. I’m probably going to get into trouble for saying this, but I think one of the worst inventions in the last, I don’t know, 10 or 15 years have been [crosstalk 00:04:30] puppy pads.

Dom:     You’re gonna say puppy pads, aren’t you? Yeah, knew it. I agree.

Sue:       Because they teach your puppy to pee in the house. It’s like a big neon sign that says, “Please pee here.” And I go to see clients, and they haven’t just put one puppy pad down, the puppy has peed everywhere so they’ve gone around and followed him and put puppy pads everywhere the puppy has peed. So-

Dom:     So you’re unwittingly teaching the puppy that it’s okay to pee inside, aren’t you?

Sue:       Yeah, you’re saying to your puppy, “It’s alright to pee in my home.” And actually, what we really want puppy to learn is that the only place I want you to pee is outdoors. Another little mistake that owners make, particularly at this time of year, is they leave the backdoor open thinking puppy will choose outside himself. When you leave the backdoor of your house open puppies think the garden is just an extension of your home, another room. You don’t delimit enough the fact that it’s indoors versus outdoors. So you do need to be taking puppy outside, close the door behind you, and saying, “This is where I need you to pee.”

Dom:     And how would they … So how would … So we don’t want puppy to wee inside, we’re not going to puppy pads, we’re going to be committed to teaching the puppy to pee outside. How do they do that, then, soon as they bring the puppy home? One of the first things he’s do is probably have a pee, isn’t it?

Sue:       It’s probably have a pee. So one of the first things I would do, as soon as I bring … In fact, the first thing I would do when I bring puppy home, is I will bring puppy out to my toileting area. If you’re precious about your garden, cordon off a toileting area, particularly if you have a male, because they will cock their legs on most things in your garden. And if you bring puppy out and he doesn’t pee, then you’re on a stop watch. And you bring puppy back in and I would try again in five minutes. And then I’d try again in 10 minutes. And then I’d try again in 15 minutes. When you get success, yay, you have a puppy with an empty bladder. Then you can relax a little bit. But not for very long. So the advice I give people is put a chart on the wall in your house and everyone in the family knows the last time puppy had a wee and where it was. The books will say bring your puppy out when they’ve woken up, when they’ve eaten, when they’ve been playing. That’s brilliant, but you need to do it more often than that. You really do need to do it more often than that. House training is about making sure your puppy is where you want him to be when he needs a wee or a poo.

Dom:     Yeah, which is where I suppose a crate comes in handy if to not allowing him to pee anywhere where …

Sue:       Yep. So the next thing then on my to-do list, or my puppy priority list, and again, something I start as soon as puppy comes into the house is crate-training. I know [inaudible 00:06:58] Dunbar speaks really nicely about giving freedom before segregation as opposed to segregation before freedom, and obviously you should be segregating your puppy until he knows the rules. And then giving him more, and more, and more freedom. But people tend to do it the other way around. The crate needs to be small enough for puppy to stand up, turn around, and lie down in. But not so big that he can pee at one end and sleep at the other. ‘Cause again, then you’re saying to puppy it’s alright to soil inside. And the bad news is that does mean you have to get up in the middle of the night.

Dom:     Definitely, yeah. Not for too long, yeah.

Sue:       Not for too long, maybe a few weeks, four at night, three weeks. But it is worth doing. It’s particularly worth doing if you like your sleep, like I do, and you don’t want puppy waking you on a Sunday morning going, “I’m awake, please let me out.” The crate is also wonderful for teaching a puppy to settle, as well as being great for house training. We would all love to own dogs who know the difference between get involved, it’s time for us, and I don’t mind you being around, but leave me alone right now. So the crate is the best self-control tool you will ever, ever have in your home.

Dom:     Yeah, I agree. I love them. I didn’t have … the first time I used a crate was with Sidney. But it was just brilliant. It was my clients who told me that they had used crates. And I don’t know, it just teaches them from that young age, doesn’t it, this is your place [crosstalk 00:08:26]

Sue:       This is your space.

Dom:     You know what, he’s happy there. Like you said, it made crate training so much easier. You know, he can have a Kong in there. They just very quickly learn, similar to the house training. They’ve already quickly learned that this is just a happy place. When I’m in here I chill out, you know?

Sue:       And speaking of making it a happy place, I think a big mistake that owners make when they’ve got their crate, and they think, “Oh, we’ll see how this goes.” Is they bring puppy home on the first day and they lavish attention on the dog for 10 hours. And then they put the puppy in the crate, and everyone goes to bed, and they switch out all the lights. By the time my puppy goes to bed on that first night he’ll have been in his crate maybe 15 or 20 times. And I don’t want puppy to know when he goes in his crate how long he’s gonna be in there for, or whether I’m going to be around, or whether I’m going to leave. I don’t want the crate to be a sign that I’m leaving you now for X period of time, I think that could become a bit of a down-side of … That can become, I think, something puppy doesn’t look forward to as a result. I hate my crate ’cause mom leaves me by myself.

Dom:     No, I think you’re dead right, yeah. That’s fantastic advice. So that’s house-training and crate-training, what about when we’re … Last thing, for the first couple of weeks, what should they be looking to do? Obviously we hear socialisation a lot, and it’s a very misunderstood term. What are your thoughts on socialisation and what people need to do when they’re thinking about taking the puppy outside. Well, I know what they are, but you tell me anyways.

Sue:       I think you need to give puppy a couple of days to settle in. No question about that. Bare in mind that your puppy, if they’re not fully vaccinated, can’t be going into risky places whether other dogs who aren’t vaccinated may have urinated and defecated. But that doesn’t mean you can’t visit people’s houses. A lot of clients have cabin fever by the time they get their puppy out and about. Carry puppy around with you, take him to the shops with you, bring him in the car places, visit other people’s houses. It is okay to meet vaccinated dogs. And it is okay to visit other people’s houses.

Dom:     So what else, then? So what else should people be doing? For example, with the puppy food. You know, puppies, they’re quite hungry, they need to be fed quite often. How should people be approaching that?

Sue:       I think first few weeks you have puppy home, couple of tips on feeding. First of all, don’t use a bowl. Food is a great entertainment factor for a mischievous puppy who has lots of energy to burn. And there is nothing that says your dog can’t be fed six times a day as opposed to three. And if it means spreading the same amount of food into smaller portions, but using environmental enrichment in food to help keep your puppy busy, that’s really worth-while. And they other thing that I would say is get your puppy used to being hand-fed by you.

Dom:     Yeah, that’s great advice about the food. It’s something that I always talk about, as well. Is there’s so many ways to use the food with all the dogs, as well, but especially with puppies. Why is it so important then to hand-feed a puppy often?

Sue:       So again, these first few weeks are about establishing a habit. And the habit that I want my puppy to think is that I am the best thing in the entire universe. And what better way to show puppy the rules of the house by making it worth their while and feeding them for everything they do that I like. If puppy follows me, I feed them. If puppy comes in from the back garden, I feed them. If puppy looks up at me and gives me eye contact, I feed him. You can’t use extra dog treats if you’re using food that much. But there’s nothing in the rules that says you can’t use part of the dog’s daily allowance of food.

Dom:     Yeah, yeah. No, that’s brilliant advice. I would highly recommend anybody getting a puppy, or thinking about getting a puppy even, you make sure you keep this episode handy because the four things that Sue shared with us there they’ll set you off really on the right track with your puppy. We’ll just recap them now. So the first one was house-training. We’re gonna start that straight away with the puppy. Crate-training, I’m a big fan of crates-

Sue:       Me, too. For various reason. Yep, yep.

Dom:     Yeah, definitely. Not in least the house-training. The third one was …

Sue:       The third one was socialisation.

Dom:     Yeah, third one socialisation. [crosstalk 00:12:29]

Sue:       Start early, make sure it’s controlled, make sure puppy’s having a positive social experience, though. Not a scary one and not an overwhelming one.

Dom:     Yeah, so take your time with it. Gradually introduce him to things at a pace that they’re comfortable with. And the last thing we mentioned was hand-feeding. Using the puppy’s food. Your puppy needs feeding quite often anyways. But you don’t need to use a bowl. In fact, you probably shouldn’t use a bowl, you should be either feeding by your hand or maybe shoving it in a Kong at times, maybe, is when they’re in their crates [crosstalk 00:12:56]

Sue:       Absolutely, yeah. Even scattering across the patio is better than putting it in a bowl.

Dom:     So there’s your four puppy pointers, which will get you on the right track with your puppy. I want to thank Sue for her time again today and bringing us to this lovely field.

Sue:       Wonderful, isn’t it?

Dom:     Yeah, it’s been really, really nice. Sue, where can people go to find out … Remind us again where they find out more about you and what you do?

Sue:       So the website is

Dom:     Brilliant. Thank you, Sue.

Sue:       Thanks very much.

Dom:     So, Alex.

Alex:      Yes, Dom?

Dom:     How awesome was that?

Alex:      That was pretty awesome. I enjoyed that, it was really cool. Lots of lessons-

Dom:     Brought back some nice memories, didn’t it?

Alex:      It did, yeah, yeah.

Dom:     Wondering through the fields with Sue. I love Sue McCabe, I think she’s an excellent trainer. I said to her puppy foundation class way back when, five, six years ago. She books up quick, though. You gotta get in there if you wanna get a place. But she really knows her stuff, she’s been on loads of different courses, as well. And is a fantastic dog trainer in her own right. So if you’re lucky enough to live up here in the beautiful north, and you need some help with your dog, then you should definitely get in touch with Sue McCabe. She can help you out.

Alex:      For sure.

Dom:     I think the puppy thing’s important, isn’t it? Because you want to get off on the right foot, don’t you, with a puppy? You know, it’s important.

Alex:      Sure,

Dom:     It’s easy to make mistakes and to find yourself going from, “Ah, cute puppy.” To “Ah, what am I gonna do with this dog?” But I’m sure there’s enough there. And if you want some more important puppy information then you should join the Inner Circle, because in there is the master class with Sue, the full puppy master class, and there’s other resources as well, video resources in there, how to play with your dog, how to teach him tricks, how to enjoy stress-free walks with him. We’ve got master classes from Jane Arden, David Davies, Joe Kelley in there, as well. And yeah, it’s a nice place for … If you’ve bought my book and you’ve enjoyed my book, and you want to learn a bit more, you need a bit more hand-holding, a bit more help, then joining my inner circle is a fantastic way to do that. And you can do that at

Alex:      Excellent.

Dom:     So I’m not sure who’s coming on next week, Alex.

Alex:      Okay, we’ll play it by ear.

Dom:     It’s a mystery. There’ll definitely be someone. We’re not gonna finish this podcast at 41 episodes, it’s a terrible number to finish on.

Alex:      No, definitely.

Dom:     And we’ve got loads more interviews in the can, as well.

Alex:      We do.

Dom:     I even started to get ahead of the game a little bit and I’m contacting more people.

Alex:      Brilliant.

Dom:     To get some more interviews. We’ve been speaking to Grisha and Craig Ogilvie and Fernando Camacho. There’s a few people I’m in discussions with the minute. So we’re just trying to get a day scheduled in and we’ll get all those interviews in, as well. So I’m not sure who it’s gonna be, but I know we have interviews coming up with Kyra Sundance, Kelley Gorman Dunbar, Denise O’ Moore from over in Ireland, Paul Owens, the original dog whisperer, Renee L Dhams. Yeah, so it’s all to come. Plus obviously, mine and your thoughts on the dog training.

Alex:      Excellent banter. Which is what the viewers really want.

Dom:     That’s what they’re really after, you know?  We might even do that next week, who knows.

Alex:      Cool, we’ll see what happens.

Dom:     So anyways, thank for watching this week. I really hope you enjoyed that. If you did … If you do know someone who’s getting a puppy, or you’re a member of a Facebook group, share this resource with them in there, you know? Because this is fantastic free advice that you can implement with your dog straight away and it’ll help you have a better life with them. So thanks very much, Alex. That’s goodbye from me.

Alex:      That’s goodbye from him.

Dom:     And if we don’t see you throughout the week then we’ll see you through the window


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Dom Hodgson