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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

tips for pups before formal training

Getting your dog used to the collar and leash:
If you adopted or purchased an older dog chances are he is already used to wearing a collar and dragging around a leash. Puppies on the other hand may have had little to no experience with a collar or leash. Make sure the collar is the proper size and check the collar weekly as puppies go through growth spurts. You should have room enough to put two fingers under the pup’s collar. Place the collar on your pup. He may try to get this new intrusion off of his body at first so take his attention off of the collar by giving him a fun play session and some treats. It won’t take long before he forgets the collar is around his neck. Next attach the leash and let him drag it around. Should he try to chew it you can spray it with Grannicks Bitter Apple. (Found in most pet stores) If the pup seems to be overreacting to the leash use something lighter, like a short piece of clothesline rope. By dragging it around, he will will eventually step on it and will start getting used to a little pressure on his neck. Never leave it on when the dog is unattended!
Try playing with him as you did with the collar. Once he is used to the clothesline you can retry the leash.

teaching your pup to stay by your side
If you purchased an older dog he should be able to get the routine of the household down fairly quickly, a puppy however should not get free reign of the house for at least one year. There are too many hazards in the home that your pup will certainly find. If the pup accepts the crate you can put him in there while you are busy. If he is not yet used to the crate take the twenty foot lead you bought for training, tie it around your waist and put the puppy on the other end. This way he must follow you when you are doing your daily chores and at the same time you are actually training him to stay close to you. This also works well for when you are doing outside work, such as gardening.

Socialization:

I cannot express enough how important it is to get your dog well socialized, which means taking him to meet as many different dogs and people as possible. You should also get him used to different inside and outside noises. The earlier you start this, the more likely you will have a well rounded dog. The dog that fears his surroundings from the onset will begin to develop unwanted behaviors later. Such as excessive barking, chewing, or fear aggression. If you want your dog to pass the Canine Good Citizen and the Therapy Dog test they must get used to being in different situations. If your dog is already friendly take him out to a shopping center where he will come in contact with lots of people. Don’t forget your clicker and tasty treats! Ask the strangers that approach you to give your dog a treat. The dog will remember this action thereby letting him know that being around strangers is a good thing. If you should happen to come in contact with other dogs that are friendly, have the owner of the other dog feed your dog a treat as well as this shows your dog that when other dogs are around he gets something good. If at any time during the socialization practices your dog shows fear of something then move farther away until he is comfortable. Don’t push the dog into doing something he is not comfortable with as this memory will surely last. Also, don’t just visit the same shopping center each time but take him to many as different areas have different street sounds.
Get the Most Out of a Training Session:

Each formal training session should not last more than fifteen to twenty minutes three to four times a day for a puppy. For an older dog you can go for a half hour, or as long as the dog shows interest in continuing. Once any agitation or boredom is shown by the dog, or you, stop training immediately and try again later. Your body language and tone of voice will make a difference in how the dog views his training. It should be fun for both of you!
Do not feed, play with, or exercise your dog before a training session. Commands should be consistent and kept to one to two word phrases. Do not confuse him with a bunch of human garble. Try to take a full week to teach the dog only one command. If you try to teach too many commands at once the dog may become confused and take longer to learn them. Does this mean you can’t ask the dog to obey other commands while you are teaching him the one per week? No, you may still teach other commands but more informally, do not punish, or scold if he doesn’t comply completely. Also, just because your dog has learned to sit in the kitchen does not mean he can carry over that behavior in the living room. Teach him his commands in every room of the house before taking him outside to try them. Also train in a quiet place at first, don’t try training when the kids come bouncing through the door after a long day at school or when Aunt Lucy comes for tea.

There is a difference between formal training and informal training. Formal training is when the dog is on the leash and you are giving him commands. Informal training is done throughout the day in play. For instance, when playing fetch with the dog you are teaching him informally and in a fun way to return to you. If you are rough housing with the dog and he bites a little too hard, you yelp, stop the game and walk away, thereby teaching him bite inhibition. By playing a game of ‘Come Here’ between several family members, the dog is learning what come means.
Keep in mind that when training your dog he will only do as much as you expect of him. If he offers you a crooked sit and you accept it by not asking for better, that is what you will most likely get each and every time. It is up to you to decide what you want out of your dog. If you are not training for an obedience contest, but just want the dog to sit when company comes over, a crooked sit is fine.

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