Week 1 Notes

It was great to meet you and your pups last night.  Here are your notes and training videos as discussed.

General Training Overview

The use of food is a high motivator for most dogs. Certain behaviours (most we don’t like) are highly reinforcing for dogs.  It is our job to ensure we teach our dogs what we would like them to do rather than punishing for doing the inappropriate stuff.  When I mention ‘treats’ it can be their normal food.  High value treats should be something your dog loves but doesn’t get on a regular basis.  Using food/treats (along with praise) is an easy way to reinforce the good stuff. When the behaviour is well understood by your dog the food/treats can be reduced and replaced with other exciting stuff (praise, toys, etc.).

Eye contact exercise.

How to teach your dog that voluntary eye contact pays!  Try Step 1with food OR toys 2-3 times a week just to get the behaviour understood by your dog.

Step 1  Hold out (to your side) two handfuls of treats.  Your dog should be facing you.  he will likely “ping-pong” back and forth looking at each hand. Wait until he looks directly at your eyes.  When that happens, say Yes! and reward.  

Step 2)  Have your dog on lead while walking him around your property.  When the lead goes tight, stand still and wait for eye contact.  Don’t say anything to him.  I want him to make the right decision.  When he makes eye contact, say Yes and reward (food, praise or cuddles). Reward can also be to “go sniff”.  

Step 3) Gradually increase distractions so the he has the chance to pull which, means he has the opportunity to make the decision to look back at you.  This is the foundation exercise for good lead walking skills and helps to teach your dog that engagement with YOU is important.

When walking on lead, don’t let him get away with pulling (refer to step 2).  If distractions are too great (like someone walking towards you) then you need to use your “Let’s go” cue and walk away.  

 

Visual cues (videos)

Use consistent visual cues to encourage specific behaviours from your dog.  Dogs are great at seeing movement and it gets their attention. Use this to your benefit!  The flowing videos demonstrate hand movements by luring with food.  Remove the food after a few repetitions so the dog is following the gesture to earn the treat.

Click for Video: Teaching the Sit cue by luring

Click for Video: Teaching the Down cue by luring

Hand Touch (videos)

The purpose of the hand touch is to

Hold a treat in one hand (you may need to hold the treat behind your back) and present the other (empty) hand to your dog.  Hold your hand out low and to the side and don’t move it. Wait until he approaches and sniffs your hand. As soon as he does, say Yes! and give him the treat.  Keep the hand low to discourage jumping up. Adding a few backwards steps as you present the empty hand should encourage your dog to move towards your hand.

Click for Video: Hand Touch

“Let’s go!”  Recall

Come often means “the fun has ended” to your dog so the new cue needs to be fun and exciting.  Sometimes the environment could be just too exciting for your dog.  Or perhaps another dog is approaching, and you don’t want your dog to pull or lunge toward them. “Let’s go” is a handy phrase that means ‘I want you to move with me now’.  Sometimes it means ‘we need to turn around and go the other way’.   Use this phrase often to encourage your dog to follow you whether it is in the house, on the property or somewhere else.

This should be initially taught off lead for your dog to make the right choice.  This should be lots of fun, make some noise (hand clap) if you need to get your dog’s attention. Praise them when they start to follow you.  Practice this often so it becomes a default behaviour for you and your dog. 

When your dog is on and you need to say “Let’s go” you may need to gently pull your dog away from the distraction.  If your dog is happily responding to the “Let’s go” cue off lead, then pulling your dog shouldn’t be seen as a bad thing.  Praise your dog the moment you feel the lead go slack, as that means your dog has chosen to move with you.

“Whatcha got?”

Rather than chasing after your dog when he has grabbed something that he shouldn’t have try this:  Squat down (this body language is inviting and non-threatening) and in a happy/silly voice say “whathcha got?”.  Chances are that your dog will happily run towards you with the item in their mouth.  If they run past you avoid the temptation of reaching out to grab him! This is certainly an easier way to retrieve those valuable items from a doggy disaster.  However, don’t just do this when you want to take something away from your dog.  Do it even when they have a toy, leaf, etc. so that you can take if from your dog and then give it back to them!  If you always remove the item, they are likely to catch onto this trick and continue playing the keep-away game.

You may need to practice this when your dog doesn’t have anything! When your dog approaches you give him praise and cuddles AND get in the habit of gently taking hold of his collar.  Then let him go back to what he was doing or play a game with him.

Biting

It’s normal for puppies to mouth and bite us, however it is something we need to discourage in a clear and kind way.  There is no need to physically punish a pup for this behaviour as they may become frightened of you and it can actually cause a dog to become aggressive.

When your pup bites too hard, say “Ouch!” and remove your hands (to avoid further bites) and stop interacting with your dog.  You may need to redirect them to a toy.  Be aware that you may have been playing too rough or too excitedly with your pup which has gotten them hyper aroused.  When a dog is in that state, they are not able to make good decisions!  Avoid getting this wound up during your next play session.

Jumping

Jumping up often gets attention.  Telling off your pup. Pushing your pup away. Glaring at them.  It’s all acknowledgement to your puppy.   It’s best to simply ignore this behaviour, stand still and do not look at your dog.  DO be aware  of your puppy when he offers four paws on the floor and reward with praise.  Try this simple exercise of  stepping backwards (with your dog facing you)  and encourage your pup to move towards you.  If he approaches and sits (or offer 4 paws on the floor) then reward.  If he jumps up do nothing/say nothing and repeat the exercise. Soon your pup should figure out the jumping gets nothing.  

Sometimes your pup may redirect his enthusiasm to biting your pants or shoelaces.   You can either redirect him to a toy or teach him what you would like him to do instead.     Teach a ‘follow me’ behaviour by laying down a line of treats.   Start with your puppy at your side and place a treat (or   a biscuit) on the floor.   When he goes to eat it that treat take a step away and place another treat on the ground. Keep repeating and gradually take more steps between treat placement.

also introduced a new exercise to help teach your pup not to jump up on you.  Do this ‘Backup and sit” exercise a few times each day.  Show your dog you have a treat in your hand and then back up a few steps.  Your dog should approach and may choose to jump or sit.  If they jump, say nothing and back up another step or two.  When your dog chooses to come to you and sit (or just keep four paws on the floor) then give him the treat.   Pretty soon he’ll stop wasting energy jumping up and realise that sitting is better.  In fact, you’ll likely see that your pup starts to jump and then corrects himself!  This is a thinking dog!