GENERAL TRAINING TIPS:

tarin_wothout_painAlthough the exercises below are described for puppies - they work just as well for adult dogs


Do not bore your puppy with endless, repetitive training sessions. Keep sessions short and most of all fun! Ideally, yo
u should train around 3 times daily … about 10-15 minutes is quite sufficient.

Build the training into your daily routine. You can even incorporate some of the training sessions into your daily walks. 

Have your puppy ‘work-to-earn’ treats by for example by sitting nicely.

  • Rewards are not restricted to food, praise, attention or play only. In fact, there are many types of rewards and it is worth bearing in mind that a reward is whatever your puppy wants at any given moment … even being allowed to go outside or come inside, etc. may be rewarding if that is what your dog wants. What is more, rewards are relative; what you like may not be what your puppy likes and, in this case, it is your puppy that gets to decide what is rewarding for him! 

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  • Be consistent:
    • With the signals you give to your puppy … do not change your signals as-and-whenever you feel like it and do not use the same signal for two different behaviours/responses. It is difficult enough for your puppy to learn a new ‘language’ as it is, so don’t use the same signals for different behaviours/responses. For example, ‘off’ means “get off the furniture” or person or whatever else your puppy might be on, while ‘down’ means “lie down flat on the ground” and ‘come’, means come and sit right in front of me, it does not mean follow me, etc.
    • With what you allow or do not allow your puppy to do. Whatever he or she learns at this stage will be very difficult to ‘unlearn’ later … for example if you allow your puppy to jump-up at you now, you may find it very difficult to teach him not to jump-up when he’s a grown dog weighing in at, say, 50kg. Conflicting signals can cause a number of behavioural problems and have even been implicated with conditions such (for example) ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) in some children and dogs (Prof. A Amsel, 1962)! It is therefore essential that the entire family agree on what you will and what you will not allow your puppy to do and that you all stick to the agreed rules at all times.
  • Become aware of how you use your body: Puppies learn to read our subtle body movements long before they learn any of the acoustic (verbal) signals associated with a behaviour or action. In fact, your puppy automatically assumes that every change in your posture and/or facial expression has a meaning and even the smallest change in your own posture or facial expression can result in enormous changes in your puppy’s behaviour … this, by the way, is how your puppy knows when you are going out and whether or not she is coming with you, etc., before you have said a word!.
  • Use precise timing when you reward or reprimand your puppy: If you praise, reward or reprimand even 2 seconds after your puppy has done something it is too late because your puppy will not be able to associate the reward/reprimand with whatever it was he did and you will in fact be rewarding/reprimanding another often totally unrelated behaviour i.e. whatever your puppy is doing exactly when you reward/reprimand.
  • Use of lures: Whenever you want your puppy to move or assume a particular position, use your lure rather than pulling on the leash and/or pushing him or her into position.
  • Use the lure slowly, precisely and consistently to guide your puppy, remembering that, at this age, your puppy’s eyes have not developed fully and if you move the lure too fast he’ll not be able to keep track of it.
  • To avoid confusing your puppy it is often a good idea for you to first practice the movements required of you without your puppy, so that you’ll be confident that you know exactly how to do your part of the practice.
  • Train for success: do not make the exercises too hard for your puppy and remember that, at this age, his ability to concentrate is still relatively very poor. 
  • Finally: Puppies and adult dogs do not feel guilt and neither do they associate behaviours they did EARLIER with corrections happening NOW … therefore if you do have to interrupt inappropriate behaviour, please make sure you do so while he is doing whatever it is you do not want him to do and not when he is doing something else – otherwise he will associated the punishment with whatever he happens to be doing at the exact moment when you punish him.

EXERCISES:

Matthews_SL2_SMALLWATCH EXERCISE: 

This exercise is used for c
alming tense situations/potential aggression: e.g. when you meet other puppies / dogs in the park, pass barking dogs behind gates/fences, during visits to the vet, etc.  Just as staring directly at another puppy or dog may be interpreted as a challenge by the other dog / puppy so will looking away … as will happen when your puppy looks at you instead of the other puppy … be interpreted as a calming-signal by the other dog / puppy and thus automatically lower potential aggression in both your own as well as the other puppy.

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  • At home: Make sure your reward is something you puppy actually wants and that she is relatively hungry and simply wait for your puppy to look at you. As she looks in your direction, click or praise and give her the treat.
  • At training/outside: If there are a lot of distractions, e.g. at training, instead of waiting for her to look at you, hold a treat between your thumb and forefinger and let your puppy sniff or even lick it and then slowly bring it up between your eyes. If she does not want to look directly into your eyes (which, as you might remember, actually constitute a challenge) bring the lure up to your left cheek bone or even shoulder. As soon as your puppy looks directly at the treat, say “WATCH” and immediately click or praise and reward her by releasing the treat. If she is not interested in the treat, wriggle it, play hide and seek with it or get a tastier treat (perhaps she’d rather have a game with a favourite toy?) When your puppy readily looks up at you/the lure every time you give the Watch signal, you can gradually, begin to increase the time between the “WATCH” signal and the reward.When your puppy is capable of keeping her attention on you for 15-30 seconds you can begin to introduce distractions. Direct your puppy’s attention onto yourself, e.g. to teach her something or when you want to cross busy road, shopping centre parking lots, etc. 

Notes to the Watch Exercise: although Watch may appear to be a very simple exercise, it can actually be rather difficult to achieve, particular when there are distractions or if your puppy is being aggressive towards another puppy, so do practice it regularly, every day throughout your puppy’s life!

 

SIT EXERCISE:

  • Hold your lure, i.e. the treat, between your thumb and forefinger and let your puppy sniff/lick the lure.
  • Move your hand directly … and very slowly … up and over his nose, in a straight line towards his back. (Four-legged animals cannot look straight upwards without sitting and he should therefore ‘automatically’ sit, provided you do not:
    • Move your hand too fast (otherwise he will lose sight of the treat), and/or
    • Lift the treat too high (otherwise he will jump up to get it).
  • Immediately your puppy sits: say SIT, praise and reward him by releasing the treat.
  • Release the puppy with a FREE signal or repeat the exercise.

DOWN EXERCISE

Begin this exercise with your puppy either standing or sitting)

 

Down (from Sit):

  • Begin this exercise with your puppy sitting.
  • Place a lure between your right hand thumb and forefinger and turn your palm downwards with your hand as flat as possible.
  • Let your puppy sniff or lick the lure.
  • Slowly move your hand down to the ground, directly in front of your puppy.
  • Make sure your puppy is following the lure with her nose and then move slowly it away from her in a straight line along the ground.
  • As soon your puppy lies flat down on the ground, say ‘Down’ – or whichever verbal Down signal you want to use … as long as you remember that it must be the same word every time.
  • Praise and reward your puppy while she is still lying down by releasing the lure you are holding in your hand.
  • Release or continue with other positions, e.g. the Sit or Stand – see Combo.

 

Down (from stand):

The primary difference between this and the previous exercise is that, in this instance, you move your hand towards/underneath, as opposed away from, your puppy.

  • Begin this exercise with your puppy standing.
  • Continue with points 2 to 3 above
  • Now, very slowly lower your hand onto the ground and slightly between your puppy’s front legs, all the while making sure you puppy continues to follow the lure with her nose.
  • When your hand is on the ground, palm down, press it slightly towards your puppy’s nose, underneath her front legs and wait until she lies completely flat on the ground.
  • Continue as in points 5 to 8 above.

 

Notes To The Down Exercise:

  • Consistency: your puppy learns to respond to your visual signals far quicker than to your verbal signals. After all most puppy-to-puppy communication happens visually and puppies therefore innately respond better to visual signals than to verbal ones and it is therefore very important you make sure that you present your hand to your puppy the same way every time you do this – or any other exercise for that matter.
  • If you plan to ever enter obedience competitions with your puppy, I recommend you use the down-from-stand as it encourages backward movement and gives a nice sphinx, fold-back type down.
  • It is very common for puppies to go down on their front legs only and keep their hind in the air. In this case just keep you hand flat on the ground and wait her out. (Sometimes slight pressure toward the puppy encourages it to go down.)
  • Make sure your puppy stays the down position until you release her; if necessary add more rewards between her front legs.

COME EXERCISE (RECALL) 
 

Note: This is probably the single most important exercise you will ever teach your puppy!!!

 

3477_The_Puppy_School_Recall_1_SMALLOne of the most important things to remember when instructing your puppy to come is that coming to you must always be a happy and pleasurable experience for your puppy!

 

Don’t ever call you puppy to reprimand him, because if you do, he will be far less likely to come next time you call. If you do have to reprimand your puppy, go to him while he is doing whatever it is you don’t want him to do and correct him there and then. 

 

Fun Recall off Leash:

  • Have an assistant or training partner hold your puppy and, if necessary, attach a long line or rope … 5 to 10 meters is sufficient … if there is any likelihood of your puppy running away and injuring himself or being distracted by other puppies, smells, toys, etc. and thereby self-rewarding by carrying on playing, sniffing, etc.
  • Show your puppy you have a really nice treat … or a favourite toy if that’s what he prefers … and let him sniff/lick it.
  • Now, run away from your puppy … about 20 meters or so.
  • Then turn around to face your puppy, get onto your knees to make yourself ‘smaller’ and more inviting / less intimidating and then call out your puppy’s name in a happy, excited tone of voice, followed by your verbal ‘Come’ signal.
  • As soon as you puppy begins to approach or even look at you, praise him enthusiastically and, using the treat, encourage him to come all the way to the front of you … the closer, the better!
  • When he is right in front of you praise and reward him as close to the front of your body as possible. Remember that wherever you reward him during the early training will determine how close he will come to you in future and if he sits too far away it will be difficult for you to attach a leash to his collar or hold onto him if or when you might have to.
  • While you are rewarding him, gently touch his collar … without any grabbing or sudden movements which might startle him This will get him comfortable with you touching his collar and, once again, will make it easier for you to attach a lead / hold onto him if/when necessary.
  • Finally release your puppy by moving backwards and giving him a FREE signal … do remember not to step into his ‘space’, otherwise he will begin to sit further and further away from you.

Recall on leash

  • While practicing the loose leash walking or heel exercises below, every now and then:
  • Get a treat ready.
  • Start to walk backwards while at the same time calling your puppy’s name and then the COME signal, using a happy, excited tone of voice.
  • Use the treat to guide him really close to you (see above)
  • Release as above and carry on walking forward

Notes To The Recall Exercise:

  • To prevent your puppy from selectively ignoring him when you call, it is a good idea to call him frequently and not when you want to end whatever fun he is having, such as for example playing with his buddies in the park or having a good-old sniff at something really interesting.
  • Obviously you will sometimes have to call him when he’s playing or having fun, so to make sure he does not associate your calling with “stopping-the-fun” ,you should recall him frequently when you are out walking or when he is playing, simply to praise or reward him and then letting him get on with whatever he was doing when you called.
  • Don’t bend over your puppy or use the leash to pull him towards you as that will only make him stay further away.
  • Always use your puppy’s name before the Come signals … or other instruction for that matter … so he knows it is him you are talking to and not the sexy Poodle across the road!
  • Hold the lure with both hands. If you have one hand in front of you and another somewhere else if will be confusing for him.

 

LEASH PULLING  vs LOOSE LEASH WALKING):

 

Why do puppies pull on their leashes? The answer to that question is actually straightforward: “Because you follow” but by following your puppy - and thereby allowing him to pull - you will bring about an intensification of the pulling behaviour because you are effectively rewarding the behaviour – by allowing him to get what he wants - and behaviours that are rewarded are highly likely to be repeated!

A puppy’s normal walking pace is faster than ours and it is quite obvious they will reach the end of the leash before we do and unless you teach your puppy to adjust to your pace, he will think that pulling is the ‘normal’ way to walk on a leash.

 

WALKING YOUR PUPPY ON A LOOSE LEASH:

  • Put a collar and a leash on your puppy and hold the leash in your right hand and, if need be, place your left hand loosely,  about half way down the leash. Make sure your shoulders and elbows are relaxed and begin to walk at a calm, measured pace. Use a lure to entice your puppy to follow (if required) but be ready to react if he begins to pull.
  • Immediately, if your puppy pulls and the leash becomes tight, stop and stand absolutely still. Lean slightly towards the opposite direction your puppy is pulling - do not talk or even look at him. You are the leader and the leader decides where and when the pack walks so do not allow him to move forward while the leash is tight.
  • Wait for the leash to become slack – even ever so slightly in the beginning – or for him to look at you and then immediately begin to walk again. You do not have to say anything, it is actually better if you don’t, because then he is forced to pay attention to you while you are walking - which also enhances your status as the leader. You do not have to reward him with a treat either because the reward for a slack leash and/or looking at you is forward movement, which is exactly what he wanted in the first place - otherwise he would not have been pulling on the leash!
  • Be prepared to do this exercise many, many times before your puppy realizes that it is his own pulling that causes you to stop.

Notes on Loose Leash Walking: 

Loose leash = green light = forward movement / Tight leash = red light = no movement 

The trick with this exercise is to be consistent. Do not ever allow your puppy to pull – if you allow it sometimes and sometimes not, it’ll take him much longer to learn to walk on a loose leash. Use loose leash walking to ensure your puppy gets the required mental stimulation during his daily walks and allow him to sniff and investigate all the interesting smells along the way - as long as he is not pulling on the leash! Actual ‘heeling’ should only be used when you need full control such as when you are crossing a busy road, walking through crowed areas, etc. If you do have to pull your puppy please note that it is far easier to pull a puppy sideways rather than straight backwards, so step slightly towards your right as you step back.

 

HEELING:

TEACH YOUR PUPPY THE HEEL POSITION
:

  • Hold a handful of treats in your right hand and one in your left.
  • Walk away from your puppy so your back is towards him and get his attention by calling out his name using a happy, encouraging tone of voice.
  • At the same time, use the treat in your left hand to lure him to your left side. Although it is initially OK to reach backwards to lure your puppy into the correct position, you should only reward him when he is in the correct position (i.e. next to your left leg and facing the same direction you are going). If he runs past you, simply about-turn to the right and continue ‘luring’ until he approaches you from behind and you are both facing the same direction.
  • As soon as he comes to your left side, say ‘HEEL’, praise and reward him with the treat in your left hand.
  • Now, walk away from him again – turn slightly to your right (to make it easier for him to come to your left side) and at the same time take another treat from your right hand and place it in your left hand.
  • Repeat points 1 to 4 above.
  • Release

During initial practice sessions, you should work in a quiet area, free from distractions. If it is safe to do so, your puppy should be off-leash. (If there is any danger of your puppy running away and harming himself, you can use a long 5-10m puppy-line.)

As soon as your puppy has caught-onto-the-game and reliably comes to your left side when you place your hand in position, you can begin to give say HEEL before luring your puppy. Do not shout … your puppy is not deaf and puppies can hear far better than us … or give the signal in a threatening tone voice … would you want to come towards someone who threatens you? … simply call him and say HEEL in a happy, excited voice.

 

PUPPY (AND BEGINNER DOG) HEELING:

When your puppy has learnt to come to the HEEL position during the above exercise, you can begin to work on actual heeling by delaying the reward while you take first one, then two and later more steps before you give it to your puppy. 

  • Notes
    Keep heel-work very short in the beginning and only gradually increase the number of steps.
  • Remember: puppies are often far more responsive to visual signals than they are to verbal signals so it is a good idea to be consistent with your visual signals by always stepping of with your left foot when you want your puppy to Heel. Conversely, if you want your puppy to stay behind (see STAY exercise) you should step off with you right foot.

 

BITE INHIBITION:

It is impossible to overstress the importance of teaching you puppy how to control his jaws. Having control of his jaws does not mean he will never bite anyone, although it does heighten his bite-threshold considerably, but it does mean that he can control the force of bites, thereby lessening the chances of serious injuries:

 

Method 1:

  • Use a ‘long’, soft treat, such as for example a Vienna sausage, Liver bread, etc. If you use hard treats such as biscuits it encourages your dog to bite harder.
  • Hold the treat in your hand and offer the end of the sausage to your dog.
  • Allow him to lick and nibble at the treat and praise him gently as long as the nibbles remain gentle.
  • If, at any stage the ‘nibbles’ becomes hard, shout “OUCH” loudly … you can really go-overboard, even if the bite did not hurt all that much … and simultaneously remove your hand with the sausage.
  • Turn your back on him, walk away and give him a brief TIME-OUT, after which you can call him to you and make him sit or down.
  • Repeat.

 

Method 2:

  • Hold a treat in your hand and close your fist.
  • Allow your puppy to sniff the hand.
  • If your puppy paws at your hand or tries to bite, ignore him totally
  • As soon at your puppy stops worrying your hand, open your fist and tell him to “take it!” and allow him to take the treat from your hand.

 

Notes to the Bite Exhibition Exercise:
This exercise should only be done by children, under strict supervision by an adult, and only if the puppy does not exhibit any aggressive tendencies.

 


 
 
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