TRAINING YOUR PUPPY
Don't wait until after inoculations to start training: begin on day 1! And the key word is FUN. Always use positive reinforcements: praise, encouragement and treats. And don't knock bribery--it works! Do all this, and you'll be amazed how much your puppy's learnt by her first outing!
The easy one. Press down gently on your puppy's back, give the command, hold and praise. Once she's got the idea, use the flat-hand signal (as below) and the the word SIT.
An immensely useful control-exercise. Once mastered, this gradually builds into a DOWN STAY. (See below.)
THE DOG THAT WON'T COME BACK!
HOW NOT TO DO IT!!! PLEASE WATCH CLASSIC VIDEO ABOVE AND CRINGE.
How many owners have I met who never let their dogs run free, simply because they don't know how to get them back? It's the Number One problem at training-classes, and solving it probably makes more difference than any other--because what's the point of walking a dog that you can't let off the lead?
I'll say right off that there's no easy answer: running away is curable, but like any form of training, it does take time.
Think first of all from your dog's viewpoint: what's in it for her? Does she head for the horizon, or dance around just out of reach? Does she chase anything in particular? Does she refuse to stop playing, is she impervious to bribes, whistles, shrieks of rage? It's a rare dog that goes for no apparent reason--more likely there's some interesting diversion on the horizon. So how do you compete?
If she's an unknown quantity, don't risk it. Take her to a good training-class, go back to basics, teach her the Recall (on-lead to start with) making it fun and with plenty of rewards--fuss or food, whichever gets her attention. In the meantime, try an extender for a short time--(their only useful function.)
If she's going through a phase--and quite a few do--beat her at her own game. Think puppy, run away backwards, shouting and clapping. Buy a dog-whistle for the novelty-value, and use it. Produce a toy, a biscuit, a piece of cheese, anything she can't resist. Be creative, be inventive, make yourself more desirable than anything else around! Having said that, always give your dog time to play, and your task will be that much easier.
WALKING IN HARMONY
Being on-lead is an artificial situation, and one of the prices dogs pay for their association with Man. Our laws demand it, as does safety...but who told the dog?
There's nothing worse than the dog that pulls...frustrating for dog and owner, and a nightmare on walks. But don't despair, you can learn lead-technique, just like anything else! If you can't get to a good training-class, go instead to your petshop. Consider your dog, and then look at your equipment. Small dogs can pull just as badly as large ones, so choose an appropriate lead...and remember, a soft leather one is always the kinder option on your hands!!
There's a bewildering array of equipment out there, and it's easy to waste time and money, so do get expert advice on what's right for you and your dog. Sometimes, with a very strong dog intent on pulling for Yorkshire (and it's just as likely to be a small one as a large breed!) it's necessary to use a Halti, or head-collar. Again, ask an expert who can show you how it works!
With the dog at your left, use the lead across your body, between hip and knee, leading with your right hand and checking with the left. It's the command: HEEL!...keeping the dog close to you. It takes practice to get the technique right, but keep at it because both of you will have more enjoyable walks.
Mastering heelwork calls for concentration, pays off in many places and situations, and needn't be boring. Vary the pace from S-L-O-W, to normal, to SUPERFASSSTTTT! Below is a typical class in action.
Joining a training-class is more than obeying commands: it's about socialization, give-and-take, and confidence-building. It's a controlled situation, where the young learn respect for their elders, and the mature, to unbend a little! Our club does run puppy-classes as well as intermediate and advanced, but each dog works at his/her own pace.
Basic obedience teaches correct lead-technique, heelwork, and exercises such as the Sit, the Down, the Sit-Stay, the Down-Stay, the Stand, the Recall, and the Retrieve. Any good class should also include an element of fun, so that the dogs learn to concentrate, but never have the chance to get bored. Another important exercise involves 'weaving' between dogs, so teaching discrimination between work and play.
Remember that most dogs have never before encountered so many of their own kind en masse! The nervous or aggressive can take a little time to adjust, but it's amazing how quickly they find their own level, and learn to anticipate their 'night out.' Good training should also be reward-based, whether this be through praise or treats--anyone seeking physical chastisement should be firmly corrected!
Our club welcomes all dogs, a great many of which are Rescued, and particularly those with problems. We don't mind barkers, howlers, growlers, lungers--nobody's excluded, because training's what we're there for. We can talk non-stop Dog with the best of them! And anyone's welcome to come along and check us out; so before you enrol at a class, go along and make sure it meets your criteria.
....AND WE AT HDOC CAN TALK DOG ALL NIGHT!!!
Possibly the most important exercise of all. This one confirms your staus, requiring your dog to come to you (never the other way round!) This is achieved in several stages:
SIT AND WAIT
(NICE HAPPY VOICE.)
AND SIT! GOOD BOY!
STRAIGHT AND CLOSE.....
THE LONG WAIT...
THE DOG THAT JUMPS UP!
And believe me, they all do it! But it can be a pain if you're loaded up with shopping or wearing your best clothes.So what can you do about it?
First of all, think about it from your dog's perspective. Of course, she's pleased to see you when you get back from wherever. So she jumps at you. And what do you do? Reward her with a gratifying amount of attention, shouting, flapping your arms and jumping around with her! Good game, and one that gets repeated every single time! So think about what messages you're sending out, if you want to curtail this behaviour.
So, put the shopping down, fold your arms, and step back. If your dog persists, raise your knee so that it meets his chest (without knocking the breath out of him!)...and say, firmly, 'Feet!' or 'OFF!' Keep on doing it, until he gets the message. A useful lesson in good manners that will pay dividends!
One of the most important daily rituals you can perform is that of grooming. Not only does it accustom your dog to being handled whilst enabling you to check for bites, sores, lumps, bumps or other abnormalities, it also places you in a position of dominance, firmly establishing you as the pack-leader. Standing over your dog establishes your leadership, as does firm but confident grooming of that all-important neck and shoulder 'kill-zone.' It goes without saying that you should be able to clean your dog's teeth, administer eye or ear drops and give medicine without problems, and the sooner you start, the better. The dog that is frequently handled is also much less likely to bite the vet or show-judge!