Steve Haynes, owns and operates Austin's Fidelio Dog Works. Dog training isn't just a job for Steve – it's his life's work. More than anything, he wants every dog lover's relationship with their four-legged friend to be as fun and fulfilling as his own.
In his articles Steve will share with you wisdom, advise and insights about dogs, people ans what makes them work...and pplay well together. Steve can always be reached throuh his website at: http://www.fideliodogs.com/dogtrainer.html.
We hope your enjoy Steve's articles.
I had a client recently that got a new puppy. Not an unusual occurrence in what I do, but the situation around this dog was VERY unusual. The puppy is going to live in New York City starting in June. Normally this wouldn’t be unusual either except that the goals were for this puppy to be "trained" by the time it left Austin. This client is unusual in that they can take all the time and muster all the resources necessary to accomplish training to a high level really quickly. So the question was first, "Where do we start?"
Puppies don’t innately know how to pay attention to us. Sometimes they look like they do, but in most cases we have to train them to pay attention to us the way we want. That’s where we start with puppies, teaching them to pay attention when we say their name. With young pups, I love using a clicker. It takes time and attention but it’s one of the fastest ways to teach young pups provided you lay the appropriate groundwork. With clickers you have to teach the pup that the noise means something. Most people think the clicker is sort of like a remote control for a television. Unfortunately it's not, and it take a LOT more work than that.
Generally we teach the pup that when they hear the clicker something good is going to happen. We start this by doing what we call “loading the clicker”. As soon as we get the puppy home we start feeding it meals by sitting on the floor and clicking the clicker and then giving the pup a piece of food. I do this over and over and over until we’ve gone through about 1,000 (yep, you read that right, one thousand) repetitions. Once you go through that with a pup they are pretty conditioned to the clicker and only then can you can start the real work.
Train the name with the clicker. At this point I’ll start saying the pups name and if/when it turns it’s head in my direction I’ll "click" and reward the pup. Pretty soon the pup will start responding to their name and at least turning in your direction. The next step is to get the pup to actually "look" right at me when I say it’s name. This is a slight alteration to what we were doing first but to a puppy it's quite a bit different. To do this, you begin to shape the initial behavior and hold off with the "click" and reward until the pup looks right at your face. Getting a pup to look right at you is a basic building block of training but it’s one that most people just do not spend enough time with.
Train a turn around to the name with a clicker. Once you teach the pup to "look" at you when you say it’s name this next step is pretty simple. When you call a dog you generally want to give it another command as well and it helps if you can get the dog to turn all the way around and look at you when you say its name. At this point in the training I’ll start moving around the house and yard with the pup and whenever it starts to take off away from me I’ll call it and “click” when it turns toward me and reward that behavior.
So if you’re getting a puppy, you could do much worse than starting out by teaching the pup to look at you. It’s a skill that is out of favor a bit in dog training but it’s a requirement in my opinion and needs to be practiced quite a bit early on so the pup learns that you’re not just a chew toy for their entertainment.
So, back to the beginning of this post, what happened with that puppy? The puppy has now been in the home for one month and by using the clicker and LOTS of repetition, we have all of the basic commands done, sit, down, come, heel, go to your bed, stay, and a couple of others, but the real kicker is that the puppy is riding a skateboard already. All of this can be done this quickly if you just teach the pup to pay attention to you first.
|Just For Pets Austin | 3742 Far West Blvd, Ste 104, Austin, TX 78737 | (512) 342-2220|