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Some things to keep in mind when working puppies:
EXERCISE 1 Their Name Meaning Attention to You in Distractions:
STEP 1: Let the puppy become mildly distracted by something, but also don't have anything out that is beyond their ability for distraction yet (toys for instance might be a bit much, though you will want to work this in eventually) Don't get impatient, this is an important step.
STEP 2: Be sure you are prepared with kibble in your hand BEFORE giving a command.
STEP 3: When it looks like the puppy is off looking away from you say "Puppy's Name. Their name is a way to get their attention if needed. Your hand holding the kibble should be held at your nose close to your eyes at first (as you progress, you start moving the treat to the side of your head, or over your head, ET to wait until the puppy makes eye contact with you).
STEP 4A: If the puppy makes direct eye contact with you, mark that moment immediately by saying [good girl or boy], then the release word, then the food reward.
STEP 4B: If they do not look to you, first try calling their name again after a few seconds. Give them a few seconds in between so you aren't just rapidly firing off their name. You could also try to make a silly noise after you say their name. Usually though, once they know what the deal is with the food reward, it does not take more than three times to get them to look at you.
STEP 5: You can either repeat this exercise from STEP 1.
Repeat for approx 10-15 repetitions. The first week is usually very light on distractions around the puppy while doing this.
EXERCISE 2 Lured Sit: (remember we don't say the command sit at this point until her bum hits the ground and her two front feet are also on the ground)
STEP 1: Take the treat and hold it right up to their nose (do not snatch it away if they jump or keep it far from their nose).
STEP 2: Then you move the treat past their head and over their rump area. Make sure they follows your hand and that you do not move it too quickly.
STEP 3: Once their bum is on the floor and their two front feet are also on the floor, give them the food reward and say "sit".
Repeat for approx 10-15 repetitions each session.
EXERCISE 3 Lured Down:
Puppy should be on six foot lead and training collar. Handler should have kibble readily available.
STEP 1: Handler should get on the ground and bend their leg so their is a place to go under on the puppy's side.
STEP 2: Hand should lure puppy from between legs to crawl under the leg. Start at the treat towards their nose, and then lure them very slowly (don't snatch the treat away) under your leg. You may have to restart this a few times in the beginning.
STEP 3: When puppy gets about half way under the leg, say "good girl or boy" and then give them the food reward. (If the puppy doesn't right away, just lure them with food again and you may be working against the rules which are above at the top of the page.) Go slowly and have patience. NOTE: AS THE PUPPY PROGRESSES, GIVE THEM A LITTLE PRESSURE ON THEIR BACK WITH YOUR LEG WHILE HOLDING THE TREAT TO THEIR NOSE ON THE GROUND BUT NOT SO MUCH IT FRIGHTENS THEM. THIS WILL HAVE THEM PUTTING THEIR BELLY ON THE GROUND. AT FIRST YOU CAN REWARD THEM EVEN IF THEIR HIPS ARE IN THE AIR, BUT EVENTUALLY ONLY REWARD THEM WHEN THE HOLE BODY IS DOWN, BELLY HIPS AND FRONT.
STEP 4: Release them with the release word (usually okay, break, yes or free. Those are some of the ones that I use).
NOTE: You can lower the arch of your leg once she has it, and that will help make her lie down when she goes through.
Repeat for approx 10-15 repetitions each session.
EXERCISE 3 Relax for Examination:
STEP 1: The owner should be in a seated position somewhere comfortable.
STEP 2: Hold the puppy on your lap on their back.
STEP 3: Any time the puppy squirms or struggles, just hold them to your firmly.
STEP 4: When the puppy is calm ONLY (do not do this while mouthing ET, because we are teaching to be calm when being examined) start examining each part of her body (paws, in between toes, ears, belly as if for ticks, legs ***this can also show you any unusual growths or changes***, teeth, ET).
Do this for about a fifteen minutes while watching TV or relaxing in bed each day.
Homework Notes: Basically with puppies it's a little less formal as far as reps go. It is important that they do NOT go flat or get bored. So if that happens, I usually take note at about how much time passed before that happen. Then I shorten the next session. With puppies, I generally do three to four 15 minute sessions spread during the day. Often I do these at feeding times with the puppy, and use their breakfast or lunch as the lures.
Also I will generally do about 10 to 15 reps of each exercise. Also I usually use a fifteen minute interval to do no more than two commands, and one sometimes is plenty.
Exercise: Sit on The Dog (do not confuse with the down exercise later on)
Equipment needed: Metal Training Collar (for puppies a flat collar will due but be sure they can't slip their head out if it's too loose), 6' leather lead (for puppies inexpensive lead or clothes line lead), chair for handler to sit on that they aren't too worried about (IE an antique chair would not be a good idea, especially for a dog that might try to chew something other than their toy while you aren't watching, but a good metal folding chair will do), silence which means no verbal commands, praise, or corrections. Also no conversations of any sort with your dog.
Objective and Goals: This exercise starts the leadership portion of dog (or puppy) training in a very non confrontational way. You are defining the space and activity that the dog will inhabit while you are engaged in other activities. It starts the process of showing the dog how to quiet themselves down during certain times of day, and employ self control in distracting situations. You are also getting the dog used to releasing the tension on the collar and relaxing instead of fighting against the collar. This becomes so important as the training lessons continue.
STEP 1: (if using the metal training collar, otherwise go to STEP 2) Put the training collar on correctly when you let your dog out. Hold the collar by the top and bottom ring. Drop the chain through the bottom ring. Place the collar over your left hand. If you have done this correctly, when you tug on the ring that is not holding the chain (live ring), pulling the live ring will allow it to release. Otherwise, it will just tighten on your arm, and that is not what you want. Once the collar is in the correct conformation, position your dog at your left hand side, facing in the same direction that you are. Put your left hand on top of his/her head, then slip the collar off of your wrist and over his/her head instead.
STEP 2: Handler places the flat part of leather leash on the chair seat and under their butt, so that the snap attached to the dog and collar is on their left. The handle of the leash will must come out on the right hand side. The handler holds the other end with handle in his/her right hand to be sure the puppy or dog does not loosen up the distance at all. Remember that the correct handle grip is thumb through handle, and fingers close around and enclose the handle of the leash.
STEP 3: Handler must have something else to do during this exercise so that they do not concentrate on their dog. You may only correct mouthing at the leash or jumping up on you, but nothing else. Let your dog whine, cry, tug at the leash ET to figure out what is required of him. Corrections for leash mouthing or jumping up are simply either pushing them gently but firmly off of you, or removing the leash from their mouth. You DO NOT want to talk to them or make any kind of significant eye contact. Look quickly away and don't acknowledge them if you accidentally meet their eyes.
STEP 4: The timer for the exercise starts when the dog first goes into a down. After that the dog can go up and down, and again the handler can't say anything to correct him. This exercise must be done for the next thirty minutes minimum (in one stretch).
STEP 5: If at 29 minutes and 59 seconds the dog is in not in a down, wait for him to go back down before releasing him. I would introduce a release word at this point such as "break" to indicate the exercise has ended. Example of this would be "Dog's name, break" and you get up as you say break.
Distraction levels: During the first two to three days, you want to work with mild to moderate distraction levels. I usually start inside my house, and I change up rooms and places inside the house. I use opportunities like dinner, blog writing, book reading, television programming, ET to set the dog up for this exercise.
Once the dog has the idea of this, it's time to increase the distraction level. If it's a good time of year, I find a park with other dogs in it on leash. I may have a family member walk through bouncing a ball. A family member could also help by opening and closing doors to the outside. If understanding company comes over, this is an excellent time to do this exercise. Be very creative and especially target those areas that your dog will find challenging to calm down in.
Homework: 1/2 hour at one time every day, minimum. It must be for one half hour at a stretch minimum.
***Common owner mistakes are to pay attention to the dog, not to have the leash short enough, and not to be doing something else to keep them occupied.
This exercise is an excellent beginning to an obedience program, and to teach the dog to chill upon the owner/handler sitting down. Of course, owners/handlers are expected to give proper care which includes, food, attention, and exercise during the day.
Margot Woods developed this beginning to her Bedrock Basics training method.