Don't Put It Off!
There is nothing like a great, in-person, 6-week dog training class. But if all the good classes are full, please don't put off training! Pups are ready and eager to learn right from the get-go. (4-week-old pups quickly learn to sit; 4-month-old pups easily learn touch, spin, down, wait, leave it, and even heel.) The earlier you get into the swing of working together, the more amazed you'll be at the transformation in your relationship.
Second step: Watch a few videos! Sometimes it helps to see things to understand them, so I started making short videos to reinforce what I teach in my classes. I have a regular supply of adorable students at my house, either foster pups or Camp Callahan boarders, so I it's simple to film what real training from scratch looks like.
Here are the key components of successful positive training:
* yummy food rewards in tiny bites
* great timing on your feedback to pup
* happy, stress-free energy from you
* patience and a sense of humor
The more you train, the better you'll get at it. The better you get at it, the faster your pup will learn. (Hint: If pup isn't getting it, look at how you're teaching. Back up, break it down, and put it at the level where pup can succeed.)
Get ready to be surprised at:
* how tuned into you your dog becomes
* how a lot of previously annoying behaviors magically diminish the more you train
* how beautifully tired out your pup is when you add the mental stimulation of training into the daily schedule
My fantasy is that you'll get hooked on dog training once you finally jump in and realize how fun it can be.
I miss my in-person training classes, held at the beautiful EMMAVet office. One of these days we'll get back to that . . .
If you can't get started in a great in-person class right now, get started at home! These 1-to-3-minute videos will give you a sense of what everyday training can look like with with regular dogs in a real house. (Meaning: not always perfect, but happy and filled with bonding.) Give it a try! Remember to leave your worries behind, and be present. Keep it short and fun. Quit on a high note.
Sit, Spin & Touch
It's so easy to blow it when you call your dog. "Come" is the cue that may save your puppy's life. Watch this to see how to get it right.
I practice a super happy recall with my foster litters. (One of these pups, now 6 months old, was not coming when called, so his mom played this video loudly on her phone and he came running out of the woods!)
Why Positive Training
Sit & Touch
Beloved foster alum Captain knows down, but forgot it for a minute. Watch him remember, and learn why it's important not to rush your training.
Use "touch" to teach your pup to go through your legs.
Here's my Puppy Class 2 practicing "stay" with distractions. (This was pre-COVID when I was holding classes at the gorgeous EMMAVet at Belle View.)
Be prepared to be the most fun game in town when you take your pup out for a walk. Here's puppy Leo learning that if he sticks close with me it'll pay off.
Do You Give A Treat Every Time?
When you're teaching a new behavior, pup gets a treat for every success! But as those behaviors become absolutely solid, it's time to move to an "intermittent" reward schedule. Here's camper Mango, enthusiastically training with intermittent rewards.
Linking Behaviors Together
Here is my Puppy Class 2 doing our little obstacle course designed to set them up for success at their next vet appointment.
Typical Daily Session
Don't turn training into a huge thing that you end up not having time to do! Sometimes I just do a minute or two, like this, if that's all I have. Here's Mojo in our backyard -- where there are sometimes distractions, which is a good thing once the behaviors you're working on are pretty solid.
Here's 5-month-old Scout at Camp Callahan, again demonstrating the kind of one-minute training session which, if you can do it every day, will transform your relationship with your dog! Note that I'm using a clicker, but you can also just use a sound like the word "YESSSS!!!" as the instantaneous marker that tells your pup exactly when he's got it right.
Play With Your Food
Are you pouring your dog a bowl of kibble that he snarfs up in two seconds? Consider using that kibble to train, or play. Here's Captain playing a simple but effective game the Sexier Than A Squirrel folks teach.