Training is so important that I decided to devote a whole page to it.
• Puppy Training
• Training Tips
• Puppy Training Video
• It’s yer choice – A video designed to teach your puppy self control
• Polite Walking, part 1 – A video that will help to teach loose leash walking using only positive only reinforcement
• Polite Walking, part 2 – con’t from part 1
• Polite Walking, part 3 – con’t from part 2
• Solving counter surfing
• How to train a dog to heel
I am constantly being asked questions about puppy training and I would be a very rich woman if I had a nickel for every time someone asked me, “Can you train my dog for me?” My answer is always the same, simple, “Of course I can, but why would you want me to?” Training a puppy is a bonding experience. It creates trust, respect, loyalty, and a true bond between handler and dog. Why on earth would you want your puppy to have that with someone else? Just attend any dog obedience show and you will know what I am talking about. The dog/handler teams are amazing to watch and they all started out right where you are, at the beginning. You say that you don’t have time. What if I told you that you could train your puppy while watching television during commercials? Most commercials are about 30 seconds long so put your puppy in a sit/stay and when the commercial is over, release them. You say that you want to have fun with your puppy during the times that you are with them. Training can be made fun. If you throw the ball and make the puppy release the ball when they bring it back to you, you have just taught the puppy the release command. Training a puppy isn’t rocket science. In fact, it is pretty simple. Anyone can do it. I once had a mentally challenged boy in my class with a very active Golden Retriever and by the end of class the dog was voted most improved.
To begin with, you might want to decide what training method you want to use. Just remember to be flexible because all methods don’t work on all dogs. Some trainers use positive only methods and others use correction based methods. In my opinion, the best trainers use a little bit of both. There are tons of you-tube videos on dog/puppy training. Watch them to get some ideas on the different methods, then find a good trainer that agrees with the method that you have chosen and enroll in some group training classes. In my experience, I have never met a trainer that I completely agreed with and I have never met a trainer that I didn’t learn something from. I just take what I can use and leave the rest. I do train my dogs at home but I also enroll in classes for the distraction training for my adult dogs, and the socialization for puppies.
How do you find a good trainer? Very important question and it is actually the reason that I am writing this. A good trainer is different things to different people but there are some basics. You might think that a list of credentials a mile long would indicate a good trainer and you would be wrong. Some of the best trainers I know have no formal training, only decades of experience. Someone can sit in a classroom and get certificate after certificate. Without experience, these certifications are useless in my opinion. One of the things that I look for in a trainer is flexibility. If something isn’t working they need to be willing to try different things until they find what works for your dog. The definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and expect different results. If something isn’t working, try something different. One of the red flags that I look for, is a trainer that wants to take the dog to train it. All good trainers know that training starts with the handler. As a trainer, I never train the dogs. I train the handlers to train the dogs. Another red flag is a trainer that tells you that they can train your puppy to be a service dog. Not all puppies were meant to be service dogs. According to canine assistance, and guiding eyes for the blind, puppies are raised by puppy raisers until they are about 18 months old. At that time they are evaluated and it is determined what they will be used for. Not all of the puppies make the cut to be trained as a service dog. I have serious doubts that someone can take any puppy and train it to be a service dog in a couple of weeks although I have heard this claim. There are some unscrupulous people out there just looking to take your money with false credentials and bogus claims. Do your research and find someone that you can trust to help you with your training needs.
Training tips and my own personal philosophies
Have you ever been for a walk and witnessed a dog walking his owner down the street pulling the owners arm off. Or has anyone ever told you, jokingly, that their dog won’t let their husband sit on the couch. These are not cute little quirks that the dog has. These are behavioral problems. If left alone, these little quirks can turn into serious behavioral issues. I truly believe that there are no bad dogs, just uneducated owners. Educate yourself and commit to your dog, and you will have the dog that everyone wants.
The first thing that I want to make clear is that you should NEVER hit your dog. The days of the rolled up newspaper and rubbing the dogs nose in its’ mistakes are over. There are much better and more successful methods available.
Our dogs are trained with some basic commands. I believe that it is better to tell your dog what you want them to do, rather than what you don’t want them to do. How many times have you heard someone yelling and screaming the word NO? We do it to kids too. It seems that everything in the world is off limits to kids and pups. We very rarely use the word no when we are working with our dogs.
The number 1 rule in dog training is to remain calm. If you get frustrated or angry, the dog knows this and will not perform. If you find yourself getting frustrated, take a break, step back, compose yourself, and then start again.
Besides the basic commands like sit, stay, down, come, we also use other words to let our dogs know what we want of them.
Some of our commands are:
1. Leave it – This is one of the most important commands that your dog can learn. We use it whenever the dog is going for something or someone that is off limits. This includes the antifreeze that may have spilled on the garage floor or the brand new baby, just home from the hospital. We hold a treat in front of our dogs and tell them to leave it. They are not allowed to touch the treat until we give the command, “take it”. Because we have so many dogs, we actually won’t let them take it until we give the command and include the name of the dog allowed to take the treat. We would say “take it Abbie”
Take it – Obviously this is the opposite of leave it.
Off – We use this command when the dog is jumping on anything. It could be a person, or the couch. We do not use the down command for this because we have already taught our dogs that down means, “lie down”. I remember one time our dog jumped on the couch and a visitor yelled down. The dog immediately lay down on the couch and was very proud of herself for doing so.
Up – Is used for getting the dog into the car or jumping on the table for grooming
Quiet – When we want our dogs to stop barking.
Back up – When we want more space than the dog is giving us. This is a good command to use when you answer the door. Before we answer the door we make the dogs back up so that they don’t run out the front door, or jump on our guests.
Stop – This command can be used for several things. As a puppy, if the dog is peeing on the floor, you can yell stop. Hopefully this will startle the dog enough to stop peeing and give you time to go to the dog and lead it out side. We say, “go pee outside”. You can say whatever command you decide to use for your dog. Some people say, “go potty outside”. As long as you finish with outside so that they get the idea that when you say outside, they will associate it with going outside.
Outside – We give them the command outside every time we take them out. Eventually when you say outside, they will go to the door.
Kennel – We use this command when we want our dogs to go into their crates. All of our dogs are crate trained. We usually leave the crate doors open and they know which crate is theirs. They usually follow us around the house but if we are watching T.V. in the living room, they will go and lay in their crates.
Out – We use this command when we want our dogs to leave a room. If we are eating in the kitchen, we make them leave the kitchen.
These are just a few of the commands that we use.
As with children, you cannot let your dogs do whatever they want. They too, need to know the rules of the house and it is up to you to teach them. They need to respect you and this will not happen if you resort to violence. Any form of hitting your dog is violence. All of these commands are taught with rewards and positive reinforcements or a touch. We do allow our dogs on the furniture, but only when we invite them. Just remember, it is your house, you make the rules, and it is up to you to enforce them