We are just starting the new term at my puppy classes, and I am once again thrilled to have such a great set of classes lined up.
All puppy classes should teach useful skills for a family pet, not simply walking round in circles. With that in mind, I thought I would share with you some of the important teaching we put in place. Here are two top tips for getting your puppy into gear!
Be efficient: Ask for a ‘sit’ or ‘down’ every time your dog wants you to do something. This can be anything from a bit of fuss, to having the lead put on, to having a dinner or a crust of toast (shh, don’t feed from the table)! Dog training should not be about separate effort. Your classes need to teach you what to do every moment you spend with your dog. This can be organized time, but it is better to just develop an efficient expectation of ‘sit’ meaning ‘please’. That way, your dog will learn to sit as a way of asking, rather than jumping up or stealing.
Make yourself the most interesting creature – ever!
Countless owners with recall problems have allowed their dogs to spend more time having fun chasing rabbits, other dogs, or toys, without considering that the most important person in your dog’s life should be you. It is never a nice feeling to think that you arrive in second place in your dog’s heart when compared to a pile of rabbit poo. Allow brief play sessions with other dogs, then call your dog back for a better, longer play session with you. Likewise, call your dog away from a running bunny to chase a toy you are throwing about. And finally, a piece of chicken or ham in your hand can be far more attractive than the as yet unsavoured promise of a rabbit pellet. You do have to teach these things, and they will not happen overnight, but they are well worth the effort to put you firmly in the No. 1 position. Training is repetition of the right thing. Practice makes permanent. Make sure you know exactly what it is your dog is learning! Good luck and have fun!
Karen Wild is an APBC registered behaviourist and qualified dog trainer with 20 years experience. She is also an ABTC clinical animal behaviourist. Her practice ‘Pawprint’ offers behaviour referrals for vet practices and puppy classes in the local area. Karen is a training and behaviour contributor for Dogs Today magazine and author of ‘What your Dog Wants’. To find out more visit www.karenwild.co.uk or call 01778 560465.