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>
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.
"GO WILD & FREEZE"
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
Here it is:
Never say it Twice
Never Never Say It Say
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
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
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
"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.
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
Good luck. Remember -
Patience, Persistence and Praise will give you a Perfect Puppy!
TEACHING YOUR PUPPY
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
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
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
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.
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
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>
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
If anyone has any
problems with this, or if I haven`t make myself clear, please let me know.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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. firstname.lastname@example.org