Karen Bransgrove's Puppy Training Tips



Know your Dog


By now you've spent quite a bit of time in your dogs company and should have a fair idea of its temperament. Do you have a shy dog? Do you have a dominant dog? Do you have ahappy-go-lucky dog? Is your dog afraid of new things or curious?

To be able to train your dog effectively, you need to really KNOW your dog.


Let's suppose you have a very "hyper-active, excitable pup" and you're training it to sit. Remember that it's very important to praise your puppy when it does the right thing during training. You tell your puppy to sit. It sits .... and you praise it using a very excited voice "GOOD DOG!!!! CLEVER PUPPY!!" This puppy will probably leap up at you and be SO excited that you're pleased! Is this what you want? Not really. You'll be wanting that puppy to stay in the sit after you praise it, and wait for your release word. For this type of puppy, it would be better for you to use a "soft and gentle", "goood puppy. goood baby" The puppy will still know that you're pleased, but shouldn't be so tempted to jump up to play with you.


However, if you have a puppy that is so "lay-back" that it`s hard to keep it awake for the training session, <g> that excited voice, could be just what`s needed to keep its interest. The same will apply when your pup does the wrong thing.


If you have a shy puppy, you wouldn't need to use a particularly harsh voice for that puppy to know that it's done the wrong thing. You really wouldn't want the puppy to "cower" or submissively wet, because you used the wrong tone of voice. But a puppy who is confident and going at full speed all the time, may not even realize that you're displeased unless your tone of voice is quite

harsh. This doesn't mean that you have to SHOUT at your pup - their hearing is much more acute than ours!


Watch your puppy and learn how it reacts to things. You will then be able to "tailor" your training methods to suit YOUR dog.

We all want to have a dog who's happy to learn, and enjoys its training sessions - we DON`T want to have our dog "head for the hills" when it knows the training session is about to begin. <sm>


Karen Bransgrove



"Go wild"


Here`s a game that some of you might like to try with your pups.

We often play this game at our Ob Club - it`s lots of fun,

while teaching your pups at the same time.




This is GREAT to incorporate into class homework for families with an energetic pup that jumps up when overexcited. This game teaches dogs to sit politely when told to, even when very wound-up.

Go Wild & Freeze becomes even more fun when children are players in the game, as it teaches the kids a positive way to play with their puppy and manage his behavior.


What to do: First teach Fido to sit for a treat by holding one just above his nose then raising it slightly. As the pup reaches upward for the treat, his rear will go to the floor in a sit. Praise "Good Sit" and give the treat. Next, teach the kids and other players how to get the dog to sit for a treat. Now you're ready to start the game!


Call "Go Wild!" and have everyone jump around, wiggle, wave arms, and make happy sounds. After a few seconds, call "Freeze!" and have everyone stop and stand tall. When the action stops, the player closest to the Fido asks him to sit and gives him a treat when he does. Then start another round. Each time wait a little longer before calling "Freeze"... after a few rounds, Fido will automatically be sitting when the players stop and stand tall.






Training - One Command


Our voice is a very valuable training tool, but we need to make sure that we are using it properly. You will need to use three different "tones" of voice for training your pup. The voice you use to give a command, should be an ordinary conversational

tone (no need to SHOUT! - dogs hearing is much better than ours) If you`re shouting because you`re angry, then you shouldn`t be training your dog at this time! The voice you use to tell your dog that it`s done the wrong thing, needs to be deeper and guttural. Again, don`t shout! If you just use "Ahh!!" it`s impossible to shout. <sm> When you`re dog has done the right thing, your voice needs to take on a lighter, excited tone.


To make sure that you are using the right tone with your dogs, you need to get to know your dog very well. For instance, if you have a timid dog, and you use a VERY harsh tone when the dog does something wrong, you may make it even more timid and "afraid"

of doing the wrong thing. If you have a very excitable dog, and your praise is VERY "up-beat" you are likely to get the dog so excited that it will stop doing the behavior you have just praised! For instance, if you tell your put to "sit" and then

say "good dog!!" in a very "excited" voice, your dog is likely to jump up on you to enjoy the good time you`re having! So even though there are three main "tones" to use, there will need to be adjustments to these tones, to suit YOUR dog.


Something else that is very important in training your dog, is to make sure that you only give ONE command. If your pup is over the other side of the room and you decide to tell it to "sit", be prepared to go to the dog, immediately, if it doesn`t sit at your command. If you`re not prepared to make that effort, DON`T tell the dog to sit. Never give your dog a command, that you`re not ready to enforce. If you allow your dog to ignore your commands, then you are teaching your dog that it CAN ignore your commands if it feels like doing so. A top dog always makes sure that its commands are obeyed.


I find in my Puppy Classes, that once handlers have taught their puppy to "sit", and the puppy knows what sit means, the handlers will inadvertently allow the puppy to ignore their command.

What happens is this: The handler tells the puppy to sit. The puppy doesn`t sit. The handler then says (to the class in general or to the Instructor) "He does it at home. He knows the sit." and then they tell the puppy to sit, again. Maybe the pup obeys, maybe it doesn`t. When the handler has given the command and the puppy hasn`t sat, instead of immediately putting the puppy in the sit, the handler is having a conversation! During which time the pup has learned that yes, the command was given, but if he doesn`t obey, nothing happens.


I saw a girl standing observing a class today at Dog Club. She was chatting to someone, and her young dog was pulling on the lead. The girl told the dog to sit, and it totally ignored her. She did nothing, but said to the person she was talking to "This dog is so dumb, it doesn`t even know the sit." I wonder who is going to TEACH that pup to sit???? Certainly not the handler!!!!


As I`ve mentioned in a previous post, dogs don`t understand our language - we have to teach them the action that goes with the "sound" we are making. Just saying the word is not enough!!

I came across something quite interesting regarding the importance of using one command, which you might find helpful. It`s long, (so`s mine! LOL) but makes a very good point.


Here it is:

Never say it Twice twice.

Never Never Say It Say It Twice-Twice


ON GOOD BEHAVIOR - 1994 Gary Wilkes


Q: What do the words "bee", "moo" and "yo" have in common?

A: Say them once and they have a particular meaning, say them twice and they mean something completely different.

While we humans are quite comfortable translating this type of "double talk", it might surprise you to know that dogs also recognize double words, such as "sit-sit", "down-down" and "come-come". Some dogs are even capable of understanding "three-peats" such as "sit-sit-sit" or "stay-stay-STAY!!!" One of the most common training errors is repeating commands. If Fido does

not "sit" at the first command, we automatically say the word again ("sit-sit"). Over a series of repetitions, we inadvertently teach the dog to wait patiently until the second or third command before he is required to respond. While the owner fumes about stubbornness and laziness, the dog's comment would probably be, "Look , boss, the command isn't 'sit', it's 'sit-sit!' I'm just waiting for you to finish the sentence!" The ironic part of this exchange is that both participants are convinced the other is



The primary reason for this confusion is that most people take language for granted. We are so conditioned to respond to humans that we forget that animals do not think of words as we do. They know words as sounds that are connected to particular situations. Our mistake is that we assume that dogs speak "language" and that commands "cause" behaviors to happen. If we are talking to another human and receive no response to a simple request, we automatically repeat the word on the assumption that the person did not hear us. Often this second command is spoken louder than the first, still convinced that the first word was not heard. To test this reasoning, watch the way tourists attempt to communicate with people who do not speak their language. When the first word brings no response, they automatically say it again louder. If increased loudness fails, they will probably try to pronounce the

word in an exaggerated manner and in sometimes add a foreign sounding ending to it, such as turning "car" into "car-o". If a person, or a dog, does not know an association between the word and its meaning, saying it twice or twenty times will make no difference.


While repeating commands tends to erode good behavior, there are two other types of repeated words that can seriously effect a dog's learning potential - praise and corrections. Dogs listen for praise to tell them which behaviors bring treats and affection, while scolding identifies those behaviors that should be avoided. Both praise and scolding are dependent upon good timing to be effective. Repeating the words that identify good or

bad behavior does not necessarily give them added emphasis but does slow them down. This makes it difficult for the dog to know which behavior "caused" the praise or scolding. For instance, if Fido likes to jump on Aunt Winnie, the time to say "No!" is

at the instant he starts to jump. If you are in the habit of saying "no-no-NO!" Fido has already done the deed and escaped before you got to the end of your double talk. In this case, Fido heard the first "no" as he started to jump on Winnie. He knows he can ignore this sound because a single "no" has little or no consequence tied to it. It is the all important, and much louder, third "NO!" that he must pay attention to. By the time he hears the third "NO!" he is racing down the hallway and thinking

of darting out the doggie door. All thoughts of jumping and Winnie are long forgotten. Just as scolding must be quick to be precise, long winded praise can be equally inefficient. If Fido decides to sit momentarily for Aunt Winnie and then jumps on her, a

series of "Good-boy-good-boy-good-dog" will capture both  behaviors. Instead of praising just the sit, Fido's owner has mistakenly reinforced the jump as well. Without a fast signal to identify good behavior, the dog will soon be convinced that the entire sequence is appropriate.


Avoiding the problem of "double talk" takes some concentration and observation. The tendency to repeat oneself is so deeply ingrained that most people are unaware that they do it. The quickest way to tell if you suffer from a case of "double talk" is to have a friend listen as you train your dog. Try to work as you always do. You friend may surprise you by distinctly hearing you repeat a command even though you could swear that you only said it once.

If you are fairly caught giving commands twice, don't panic. Merely recognizing the problem is half the battle. First, get a package of doggie treats at the store. Offer a small treat to your dog, so that Fido knows what you are offering. Now give the command "sit," and bite your lip after you say the word. Wait for 30 seconds to allow your dog to realize that you aren't going to say it twice. If the dog sits within the time limit, praise him and give him the treat. If Fido simply stands like a zombie, turn your back and walk away from him. A very shocked Fido is most likely to quickly follow you to get another chance for the treat. Ask him to sit again. Give him another 30 seconds. If he does

it, praise him and give a treat, if not, walk away and try it again. After several attempts at getting the dog to respond to only one command, Fido will not wait for the second one. Once he realizes that you aren't going to repeat yourself, you can give him less and less time to perform the behavior before his failure "causes" you to go away. Soon he will perform the behavior instantly, on the first command.


Reducing praise and scolding to a minimum is an even easier task. Start by developing the habit of saying the word "good" at the instant your dog performs a behavior correctly. After you say "good", wait a second before you start including the normal excited and affectionate praise. By waiting a second you are prepared to withhold the more powerful reinforcers if Fido

switches to an incorrect response. In nature, a dog rarely has a second chance to respond to the sound of a bear or the smell of a rabbit. Your dog is descended from animals that must respond instantly to the slightest hint of danger or safety. To utilize you pet's best attributes, avoid using double-talk for commands or reinforcers. It's really not necessary to say it twice twice.



Karen Bransgrove





Walking without pulling


There`s all sorts of equipment for training and walking our dogs these days.


Here`s just a few:



At our Dog Ob Club, we recommend the "soft" correction collar (made from webbing) unless you have a dog that is pulling a great deal. You can also have a flat leather collar, or a collar made from webbing in nylon or cotton. There are some very nice rolled leather collars too.



These can be quite effective if used correctly..

However, I think it may be unwise for any of you who are novice handlers, to use this collar, unless you can find someone who will show you (in person) the correct way to use it. The correction collar needs to be FITTED correctly (must be the right size)

and should be put on the dog in the correct way. Once it is ON the dog, the dog needs to walk on the correct side of the handler for the correction collar to be effective. When using this collar, the two rings should always be together, UNLESS you are making a correction. In other words the collar is loose on the dogs

neck, EXCEPT for the moment you make that correction.

A correction chain should only be on the dog, when YOU are at the other end of the lead. NEVER leave the correction chain on the dog, if you have to leave it alone.



I haven`t used a prong collar - I don`t know that they`re available in Australia, so can`t comment from personal experience. I`ve only read about them. I believe the idea of prong collars, is that the dog corrects itself - when it pulls, the prongs tighten on the dogs neck and so it eases off. Perhaps one of the other mentors might like to comment on prong collars.



A halti is a little bit like the bridle used on a horse (without the mouth piece) and the pressure on the dogs nose when it pulls, corrects the dog. Good for hard pullers, but you would need to be shown how to put it on your dog, and how to use it correctly. Although Haltis and Gentle Leaders stop the dog from pulling when walking on the lead, it doesn`t teach your dog NOT to pull when walked on it`s everyday collar.



A harness can be very comfortable for dog and owner, if you have a dog that is constantly pulling, but it will not teach the dog, not to pull. In fact, the harness can actually encourage some dogs to pull.


Letting your pup get used to the lead, by just attaching it to the pups collar and letting him/her walk around with the lead trailing , is a great way to introduce the lead. Once the pup is used to that, you hold the end of the lead and follow the pup around for a while. Then it`s time for you to take charge! <BG>

When you first take your pup for a walk on the lead, allow it to have the length of the lead, but each time the lead goes tight, say "easy" and then "snap" the lead (at the dogs shoulder height)

If you always say "easy" just a moment before you snap the lead, the pup will soon learn to stop pulling when you say "easy". As soon as the pup stops pulling, even for a moment, say "good puppy".  So that you don`t hurt your pups throat, make sure that your corrections (no matter what type of collar you use) are made at the dogs shoulder height. That makes it almost impossible to pull hard on the front of their neck. If you are in a standing position and jerk the lead back when your mini pulls, it WILL put pressure on the front of their necks. I`ve found with my pup, that when I "snap" the lead, it makes her tags (name tag, micro-chip tag and council tag) clink together - she doesn`t like this

happening right beside her ear, so when I say "easy" she eases back slightly towards me, and then there`s no need for me to "snap". This "snapping" of the lead is not meant to hurt the dog in any way - it`s supposed to be like a sharp tug on someone's sleeve, to get their attention.


Once you have the dogs attention, and it`s eased off, don`t forget to PRAISE! Then they know they have it right! Once you have mastered the art of these corrections, and your pup has

stopped pulling, you can give them less lead so that they are walking beside you, and this is when you can say "heel". The dog should have learned that it can have as much lead as you allow, as long as it NEVER pulls.


Another method we use to stop pups pulling, is to STOP WALKING each time that lead goes taut, and don`t continue until it`s loose! You don`t need to say anything to the dog or even look at it. The dog will often come back to you, to see what`s going on - you can then say "good dog - let`s go!" If the dog pulls on the lead again. Stop! This takes great patience, and your walk can take much longer, but the dog eventually figures out, that if it wants to continue to have this lovely walk, it shouldn`t pull.

Good luck. Remember - Patience, Persistence and Praise will give you a Perfect Puppy!



Karen Bransgrove







Having your puppy come to you when you call, is very important. You just never know when your puppy might get loose and be heading for a dangerous situation, and you need to get it back to you - fast!!


Firstly, you need to make sure that you NEVER call your puppy to you, and then be cross with it or punish it in any way. If your puppy is chewing on a piece of furniture, or digging in your garden, you need to GO TO the pup, and tell them NO!! at the very moment they are performing the naughty act. If you see your puppy doing something naughty (in your opinion - not the pups, <sm>) and you call the pup TO YOU so that you can let it know that you

don`t appreciate that behavior, you will be giving your puppy exactly the WRONG message.


A pups attention span is very short, and the minute you call him, he will have forgotten whatever it was that he was doing, and be on his way to his best pal - YOU! When you are then cross with him, or even worse, punish him in some way, (please don`t ever HIT your pup) he will think he got into trouble for coming to you. Your pup does NOT speak your language, and there`s no point

in telling him that you`re cross because he dug up your daffodils!!


So.....the next time you call your pup to you, do you think he`ll come quickly?? NO! Why would he? He might get into trouble again!

To make sure that your puppy will always come to you quickly whenever you call, you need to make it the most wonderful thing that your pup can ever do. Coming to you must always be a GOOD thing for your pup. Call your puppy in a high-pitched and excited "fun" voice, and when he gets to you, give him a treat and LOTS of praise and petting. Do this five times a day. (For at least 8 years)


Make sure that your puppy is in a safe area when you are practicing the recall, and if he doesn`t come when you call his name, turn your back and walk away. Don`t chase the pup, and don`t call in a "cross" voice. He will soon learn that every time he comes, he`ll get a reward of some sort. (Food, petting or a game with a special toy and you!) Don`t use the word "come" until your pup is coming consistently, and then use the pups name first, and "come" when he`s on his way to you. If you don`t have a "safe" area to practice in, an extension lead is a very good tool to use.

This is an exercise you can begin as soon as you get your pup, and continue for every day of its life.


It`s a good idea to have one special toy that your dog only gets to play with, when you have been training. It becomes a reward for a job well done, and the dog is never left alone with that toy. It`s YOUR toy, and you allow the dog to play with it, for a little while, when it has worked well. Choose something small, so that you can carry it in your pocket. Once you have taught your pup to "come", make sure that you always make it a good thing for your dog to do. THINK about how you train your dog. If you get to the stage where you can take your dog to a fenced park and let it off lead for a play, and then when it`s time to go home, you call the dog to you, put its lead on, and the fun is over - do you think the dog will still come immediately you call? Maybe not. In a case like this, you could call the dog, have a game with your special toy, and then put the lead on and go home.


Don`t call your dog to you when it`s time for its bath, unless the dog LOVES its bath. <BG> It would be better to go TO the dog, and take it to its bath.. Good luck with this one - it`s a most important lesson to teach your pup. It`s a great feeling to KNOW that your dog will come whenever you call. BUT, always be aware, that there COULD come a time, when your dog will disobey this command, no matter how well trained it is (maybe it will see a

rabbit, or another dog across the road) so be very careful if you decide to let your dog off the lead in an unfenced area.

Please let us know how you get on with this one. Get out the "stop-watches" and see whose pup is the fastest recaller! LOL



Karen Bransgrove





Teaching your pup to Wait


Once you`ve taught your pup to "sit", you can teach it to "wait".

This is a very useful command to teach your dog. You can have your dog wait before it jumps into the car, wait before it comes in or out of the door, wait before it begins eating its meal, wait at the curb when you go walking, etc. etc. You`ll be surprised at how many times this command comes in handy. Sometimes when you open the door of the car, your dog can leap in before you have a chance to say anything. ( Your puppies are probably a bit small to be doing this yet, so you can guard against this behavior happening) If you`ve taken your dog to the park, and it has muddy feet,

maybe you`d like to put a towel on the car seat before the dog gets in - if you have trained your dog to "wait" you`ll be able to do this without any trouble. If not - muddy seats!!


When I take my dogs walking, and am able to let them have a run off lead, I can call "wait!" and they will stand where they are, until I catch up to them. I could call them back to me, but sometimes I don`t want to do that. As I come out of the door with my dogs, and I want to lock the door behind me, I tell the dogs to "wait". They stand quietly while I lock the door and put the key in my pocket. That`s a lot easier than trying to do this with

dogs leaping excitedly because they`re about to go walking!

When you begin to teach "wait", you may need to put the pup in a "sit" and hold its collar. Use your release word when you are ready to allow the dog to "stop waiting". For instance when teaching the pup to "wait" before eating its meal, you can

put the meal down (you may need to be holding the pups collar <sm>), get the pup to "sit" in front of the plate, say "wait" (if the pup pulls towards the plate, say "No! Wait!" and get it back in the sit) and when the pup is sitting nicely without pulling towards the bowl, say your release word! Make sure that the puppy knows, that you will not give that release word, until s/he stops pulling towards the bowl. I don`t ask my dogs to wait very long before eating their meal, but they ALWAYS have to wait until I give the release word.


All these things, teach your dog that you are the BOSS. I`d be interested to hear how this goes for you, and how many different instances you can think of, where your pup can be taught to wait.



Karen Bransgrove





More on Wait


Here`s an addition to my previous post about teaching your dog to "wait". When you`re training your puppy, you need to keep in mind that s/he doesn`t understand our language, but in time (if you are consistent) will come to learn the behavior you want, when you say certain words.


In Obedience training in Australia, we use the word "wait" to tell the dog to stay where it is, until we give it the next command, which will complete that exercise. (Maybe to come to us, go in the door, get into the car, eat its meal, etc) We use the word "stay" to tell the dog to stay in that position until we release it from that "stay". That IS the complete exercise - staying until

released. So, if you tether your dog, so that you can enter a shop, you will say "stay" and when you come back and release the dog, the "stay" is finished.


In formal training, when we "leave" our dog to do a recall, we say "wait"., and walk away from the dog. The dog learns that it should stay in that position until the next command which in this case, will be "come". If the dog is to take part in a "sit/stay", "down/stay" or "stand/stay" we say "stay" and walk away from our dog. The dog learns that it must stay in that position until we return and give it the release word. That will then be the end of that exercise. We need to give our dogs every chance to understand what we mean by the commands we give. We must not confuse the dog, by using the same word for more than one "wanted behavior". By using these two different commands, the dog will be quite sure of exactly what you want of it, as long as you do the same thing EVERY time.


In Australia, we say "drop" when we want the dog to lie down. We might use "down" when we want the dog to stop jumping on us, or when we want it down off the sofa, but that is not an "official" Obedience command so we could say "pumpkin" if we wanted to. <sm> If we said "down" to have the dog lie down, and "down" to get off the sofa, that would be confusing to the dog. Before you start classes with your pup, it`s very hard for you to know what

words will be used when you get to Obedience classes, so maybe you have already taught your dog a particular behavior which will need to be changed. Here are the words we use: Sit. Drop. Stand. Stay. Wait (as above). Come -(means "come to me immediately, quickly, in a straight line, and sit in front of me") Let`s go!" -(means we will now move forward at walking pace and although you do not have to be right beside me, you must not pull on the lead)

Heel - (means we will now move forward at MY pace, and you will stay close beside my left leg). "Leave it!"- (means "don`t touch that food/other dog/cat/etc)


If different commands are used in your country, maybe someone else will comment on that. Very often, when people are allowing their dogs to run, off lead, they call "come" to their dog while they keep on walking. How is the dog supposed to come to you and sit in front of you, if you are walking forward?? These are the little things that can cause confusion for your dog. So think, before you give that command - what exactly do you want from your dog?

In the above case, I use "C`mon" (emphasis on the "MON")which has a different sound, and just means "come closer to me - you`re getting too far away". 


Hope this is helpful - and not too confusing! <BG>


Karen Bransgrove





Teaching your pup to Sit


Teaching your pup to sit is usually a very easy task, and one of the most useful commands you will ever teach your dog.

These days, positive re-enforcement is the preferred method of teaching dogs. Instead of punishing our dog for doing the wrong thing, we reward the dog for doing the right thing. But first we need to teach them what the "right thing" is.


Try to keep in mind, that your dog does not understand our language, so you will need to make sure that when you tell your dog to "sit", that you have made it very clear what "sit" is.

For instance, I very often find in my Puppy Classes at Ob Club, people who tell their pup to sit, and when the pup lies down, they say "oh, well, that`ll do". Look at this scenario from a dogs point of view. When the handler makes the sound, "sit", sometimes it`s said when the pup is sitting and sometimes when laying on the ground. What does that sound mean? If I was trying to teach you a new language and I said "Blah" and pointed to my head, and then I said "Blah" and pointed to my foot, what would I be teaching you? Surely, that there`s something the same about these two things. By using the same word for the two different things, how will you

know what I mean when I don`t point?


When teaching your pup to sit, take a small treat and hold it between your thumb and forefinger, so that the treat is almost entirely hidden between your fingers. With your pup standing, move your fingers and the treat towards your pup, until they`re almost touching its nose. As the dog smells the treat, move your fingers slowly up towards the top of the pups head, between its ears.

As the puppy follows the scent of the treat with its nose, its  bottom will automatically touch the ground. (This is called shaping) As the bottom hits the ground, say "sit! Yes!!" Give the puppy the treat, and say "Good dog!" If you do this five times, twice each day, for one week, your dog will soon know what "sit" means. You may even find by the end of the second day, that you will be able to say "sit" and the dog will sit without the need to

use the treat to "shape" the sit. Once your pup knows to sit on command, you should still say "Yes! " immediately the pup sits, and then "Good dog", but as the days go by, you should be able to wait a moment or two before giving the treat without the pup getting up. "Yes!" becomes the "bridging" word. It will come to mean (to the dog) - "you have done the right thing, and I will REWARD you for doing that- but not right now" Once the dog understands this, it will stay in that position for a longer time, waiting for the reward to come. (A food treat will not always be the reward - it can be praise, petting or a game. You need to find out what works best with your dog.)


 Now is the time to introduce your "Release Word". This word will mean "you don`t have to keep doing what I just told you to do". Most people use either "Free" or "OK". So...you tell your dog to sit. Immediately the dog sits, you say "Yes!" Then "Good dog". Wait for whatever length of time is appropriate to the level

your pup has reached, then use your release word. That means your dog can now stand up if it wishes - the exercise is finished. NOW you can give the reward and LOTS of praise!! When you get to this stage, it`s time to start withdrawing the food treats. Maybe only give a treat every second time, then every third time, until

eventually, you say "Yes" then "Good dog", and after giving the release word, give lots of praise and petting instead of a treat. Praise becomes the reward, instead of food. Or, you might like to play a little game with your dog as a reward - if you wish to do this, choose a small toy, that you can carry with you, and only bring out for these occasions. Food must be gradually withdrawn once the dog knows what you mean by your command, but it must be replaced by lavish praise. If you keep using food, you can end up with a dog who will not obey UNLESS you have food to give.

But, make sure that you don`t withdraw the food reward before the dog is obeying the sit command every time.


When you come to teach a NEW command, you can use food again in the same way. One of the things you have to be careful of when using food as a reward (apart from when you`re actually "shaping" a behavior), is that you don`t use food as a bribe instead of a reward. Here`s an example of the difference. If you hold a treat in your hand so that your dog can see it, and then ask it to sit, drop, come - that is a bribe. "I have a treat here, and if you do what I ask, you can have it") If you have some treats in your pocket, ask your dog to sit, drop or come and then give the treat when it obeys - that is a reward. There`s a fine line between a bribe and a reward, but when you think it out, it becomes quite obvious.


If anyone has any problems with this, or if I haven`t make myself clear, please let me know.


Happy training!







Shaping the Drop or Down


When "shaping" the drop with your puppy, first

have the pup sit.

Then, with a treat concealed between your fingers,

place your fingers at the pups nose, then straight

down to the pups feet, and then away from the pup

for about 8 inches. (You are making an L shape)

(The reason you first take your fingers straight

down to the pups feet, is so that it remains on

that spot and doesn`t start to walk forward to

follow the treat)

As the pup begins to go down to follow the treat,

you can say "drop" and "Yeess!!" immediately s/he

hits the ground, and treat and praise.

When the pup is completely down, place the treat

on the floor in between the pups paws. Don`t feed

that treat direct from your fingers. It may be

necessary to place your hand on the pups shoulders

with a gentle downward pressure, to get it all the

way down, but only do this if it is really necessary.

By putting the treat on the floor, it keeps the pups

head down, eating from the floor. Once your pup

gets the idea of "drop", you can stand up while the

pup eats the treat, and then place another treat

between its paws while the pup is still down.

You can give up to 3 treats at a time - with you

standing up completely between treats - which means

that the pup will be staying down for a little longer

each time.

If the pup gets up before you can put the next treat

between its paws, go back to the beginning. Timing

is everything! <g>

It`s very handy to get your pup used to a "release" word

right at the beginning of its training.

The release word will come to mean to your pup, that it

must keep doing whatever you last commanded it to do,

until you release it.

Good release words are "free" and "OK!" but you could

say "pumpkin" or any other word that you won`t be using

in the general training of your dog. Once you start to

use a release word, you MUST be consistent, as with any

other exercise, so that the dog comes to know what

this word means.

So when you first put your puppy in a "sit", don`t expect

it to stay there very long in the beginning - it`s a baby

with a short attention span. You can say "sit" then count

1+2+3+ then "free". If the pup moves before you say

"free" , say "NO! Sit" and go back to the beginning and

have the dog "sit". As the puppy becomes a little more

stable, you can maybe count to 10+ before using the

release word.

It doesn`t matter if the dog stays in position after you

give the release word, but it DOES matter if it moves

before you give the word.

If your puppy is one of those who just stays in position,

you can turn away after giving the release word, and it

will probably then move. Then praise!

If this is not clear, please let me know, and I`ll try

to explain it better.


Karen Bransgrove





Mixed Messages


I`ve been thinking of how we can give our dogs "mixed messages" and then wonder why they don`t do what we expect of them.

The Recall is one of those exercises where this happens quite often. When we teach our dogs the recall at Ob. classes, we put the dog in a "sit", tell it to "wait" and walk away from it.

We turn and stand still, facing the dog, and when ready, call the dog to us with the command "come" - their name MAY be said a moment before the "come" command, as long as there`s a definite gap between the two words, so that the dog is coming to "come" and not its name. The dog is then expected to come straight to us, quickly, and sit in front of us (close to our legs). We will then tell the dog to "heel" or "finish" at which stage the dog is to go around the back of us, and sit at our left side. Exercise finished! That is the official recall.


And these are the things that the dog is taught to do, when it is given the "come" command. When we take our dogs out walking off lead, and they get a bit far away from us, should we call "come"? Not unless we are standing still so that the dog can come and sit in front of us, as taught! So often, we call "come" as we are walking along! We`ve gone to all the trouble of teaching our dog exactly what we want them to do when we say "come" and then WE do something completely different! Not fair! Remember, we try to have ONE word which means ONE thing, when training our dogs. (They don`t know our language until we teach them to connect a word

with an action)


Having been guilty of doing this in the past (until someone made me THINK about what I was doing) I now make sure that when I say "come", I am turned towards my dog, standing still and waiting for the dog to come and sit in front of me.


If my dogs are off lead and I want them to just come in my direction, or come a little closer, I usually say "C`mon!" and their name, but I keep moving. They now know that this means, come back closer to me, but it isn`t that "formal recall".

The reason I use C`mon is because, to the dogs, it SOUNDS different to "come", but to me, it`s the same word. (That helps a poor forgetful person to remember the command. LOL) The sound of "come" has an "UH" sound, while the C`mon, has an "ON" sound.

See? Very subtle, but enough for the dogs to hear the difference. I also say their name, AFTER I say C`mon, not before.


So, if you`re able to allow your dogs to run free, try not to give "mixed messages" when you call it to you. <sm>






All of the training tips were written by  Karen Bransgrove of Victoria. Australia.  She is one of our Hoflin Mini Schnauzer List moderators and also the moderator for the Mini Schnauzer Puppy group on Yahoo which is located at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MSPuppies .

Karen's puppy training theories and experience:

I'm very focused on breeding healthy puppies with good temperaments so we make sure that they are socialized with other dogs, our cat and plenty of people.  They hear the vacuum cleaner, the dishwasher, radio and TV and, in general, get used to all the sounds of a "home".  They are always handled gently but firmly, and get used to having their nails trimmed and being groomed.  By the time they go to their new homes, they are usually very close to being toilet trained, and will come quickly and enthusiastically when called.

I have been an Obedience Instructor now, for quite a few years at a large Dog Club, but for the past six years I have specialized in the training of Puppies.  At our Obedience Club, we have a four-week Puppy Preschool for puppies who have had only one vaccination  (this is always held in a "safe" environment).  And then, when the pups are fully vaccinated, they can come into our Puppy Classes which are held at the Club grounds.  These classes are held over eight weeks; and by then the puppies are about six months old, and ready for more "formal" Obedience. We have found that these pups who are beginning their training and socializing at an early age, are much more settled and ready to learn when it's time for them to begin their "formal" training. We use positive re-enforcement methods and put great emphasis on praising the puppies for what they get right, rather than chastising them for what they do wrong.

I have only been a member of the Hoflin Miniature Schnauzer List for about eight months, and I am greatly honored to have been asked to be a part of the Puppy Groups.    I see this as an "extension" of the work I do as a Puppy Obedience Instructor.  I look forward to sharing the experience I've gained in raising  puppies with lots of new puppy owners.  

Please contact me directly if you are the proud new owner of a new puppy and wish to be included in the "New Puppy" email groups. brandy1@hotkey.net.au