TRAINING: Adventures in Puppy Training (Being a Magician)

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It occurred to me this week while holding a lead in one hand, some chicken in the other, while trying to remember the command I was looking for  and getting George to simply walk in a straight line, that training a puppy is essentially like being a magician.

By ‘magician’, I don’t mean magical – like abracadabra and hey presto George can ride a small tricycle through a flaming hoop, I mean it’s all about distraction and diversion with a bit of smoke and mirrors.

I’m not going to lie – I thought puppy training couldn’t be that hard. I mean look at him for goodness sake – surely, this little teddy-bear looking bundle of fuzz couldn’t give me that much jip? Well, don’t be fooled. This little terrier-terrorist has got a mind all of his own, but we’re getting there bit by bit.

Here’s what I’ve learnt in week-two:

  • Carrots are a god-send. George loves nothing more than to kick around a chunk of carrot, gnawing on it and generally giving it a hard time until it’s all gone. This can distract him for at least 30 minutes. That gives me 30 minutes to do some WORK!
  • My favourite time with George is when he’s just woken up from a sleep. He’s all sort of groggy, slightly unsteady on his legs and his fur is all clumped together in that bed-head sort of way – not unlike me on a Sunday morning.
  • I thought toilet training would be the hardest bit. It’s not. George is very happy to trot outside and do his business. The hardest part so far has been the biting. The GOD FORSAKEN BITING. Hands, feet, socks, jeans, shoes, sofas – you name it – he wants to get his gnashers into it.
  • So far we have achieved – sit, stay, come and heel (sort of).
  • So far we have not achieved – off, stop and NO BITING ME!
  • By day six I was convinced that George has the devil in him and that we may have to bring in an exorcist to rid him of his biting demons. Turns out that a bit of perseverance with training has done the trick and the exorcist is not needed after all.

Have you experienced the joys of puppy training?

What was the hardest part?

Any advice on biting? (apart from wearing steel gloves)

Stay tuned for more adventures next week – and someone send valium (for me).

ST + George x

George wears Yellow Wilmot Sweater from LoveMyDog (and looks bloody marvellous if I do say so myself)

Follow the G Man on Twitter @GeorgeStyleTail and on instagram @GeorgeStyleTails

Sara is the Founder & Editor of StyleTails. A writer, design-lover and long-time animal-hugger, Sara launched StyleTails in 2012 to inspire people live a more beautiful life with their four-legged friends. Along with her canine sidekick George, a rescue Yorkie with a big attitude, Sara regularly commentates on luxury pet product and lifestyle trends and has been featured in Elle Decoration, BBC Radio, and is also an expert contributor to WGSN, the leading design trend forecaster.


  • Reply February 22, 2013

    east end best friend

    This made me laugh! Bless them – they are a bundle of destruction one minute and super lovely the next when they’re this age!

    Re the biting – do you yelp every time he does it to you? Like a high-pitched yelp or ouch…which is what his puppy siblings would do to him if he tried it on them. Roxy used to mouth a lot and for the first few weeks our house was full of us making stupid noises every five seconds…but it was worth it, it worked!

    • Reply February 25, 2013


      Yes, I sound like a lunatic yelping all the time! I think our neighbours think there’s something slightly odd going on our flat. It is working though.

  • Reply February 22, 2013


    Depending on the personality of the puppy, a high pitched yelp can stop them in their tracks. If they are a kind puppy they wont actually want to hurt you. My staffie was great with that.
    Ignoring. Any feedback on a behaviour reinforces it. If the puppy is biting. Completely withdraw attention. When he stops biting make a fuss. Even if your behaviour is negative when he bites that can reinforce a behaviour.
    Diversion. Give him a rope toy instead of your hand/ sock/ sofa. If hes teething freeze the rope, it will help with a sore mouth.

    • Reply February 25, 2013


      Brilliant advice thanks Olivia!

  • Reply March 2, 2013


    Hello – loved this! I actually write a blog about my puppy and the trials and tribulations of obedience classes. My best piece of advice is don’t loose your sense of humour!! And he will stop biting, once he gets his adult teeth, but in the meantime give him a rope bone to gnaw on. Apparently this really helps with the teething!!
    Good luck!

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