Firstly, Welcome to the school. I do hope you and your dog will find your time with us rewarding whilst learning about each other.
Play, handling, socialising and problem prevention all form part of the course, along with basic training. Play is important, as dogs learn through play, and by playing the correct games, you can gain a long way towards gaining control over your dog. Handling is important. How many times in your dog’s life will you or your veterinary surgeon have to handle your dog? It makes sense now to teach your dog to accept this experience. Socialising is vital. A dog must learn how to behave with people, dogs and children amongst other things. Prevention is not only better than a cure; it’s much quicker and easier.
Some aspects of the course may differ from what you have been told or read previously. If you find that this is so, please ask about it. Always question what you hear, and if there is anything which you are not sure about, or which you do not understand, or even agree with, please let me know, and I shall try to explain more fully.
As with many things with dogs, the more you put into their training the more you will get out of it. Every aspect of training cannot be achieved in an 8/10 week course of lessons. It is very much up to you, but the more time we give to our dogs in the early learning stage will be very rewarding…A few minutes training a couple of times during the day is much better that a session of 20 minutes. More importantly, use each opportunity to teach your dog. Do not fall into the trap of thinking that they will only learn when you want to teach them something. They are always learning. A dog that plays with a brush when you are tying to groom them is going to be difficult to examine, when they have a cut on the inside of their leg. Teach the dog what you want now. Do not wait for the wrong behaviours to start and then have to correct them.
Each week it would be preferable if only one person trained your dog at class, but should you wish to alternate with a partner or other member of the family that is acceptable, but do ensure that everyone follow the same commands, and is working in the same way.
During the course, we use a lot of tit-bits. We have tit-bits on sale, the proceeds of which are given to support two dogs at the NCDL. Cheese, a complete food, and commercial treats dogs also like very much, but as we use a lot of titbits, it is best not to feed your dog before a lesson, or before training at home.
In today’s society, dogs have to be better behaved than ever before. At Aquadoggies DTC we promote the importance of RESPONSIBLE OWNERSHIP. How many times have you noticed dog mess on the pavement? Or dogs behaving badly? It is thus more important than ever to promote the good side of dogs.
HOW DOGS LEARN
Dogs vary greatly in temperament and their behaviour, depending on their experiences in life. Whilst very little will alter their basic temperament it is essential that we have control over what they learn. It is best to teach a puppy early in its life. If your dog is not a puppy, it may take a little longer for some to pick up concepts correctly, but if you use the correct rewards and always praise at the right time, then it should not be too difficult.
A dog will always do what is most enjoyable to them. ALWAYS make sure that being with you and doing what YOU want is rewarding for them. Throughout a dog’s life, they will never stop learning so training should never stop. Do not expect their behaviour to stay the same. Integrate training into every situation. Training MUST NOT stop when this course does … it is really just starting.
Dogs can think and their behaviour does follow logical patterns. This thinking and logic is very different from ours. They are not capable of complex thought, and cannot associate events unless they happen very closely together. Be aware of the differences, try to THINK DOG, and see things from their point of view. Chastising a dog sometime after the event is not only pointless, it can be confusing and make problems worse. Similarly, praise must be IMMEDIATE.
Training should be fun.
When you teach anything to your dog, be consistent and teach them the meaning of each word you use. If you teach them to “sit” and then say “sit down” your dog will not know that you mean the same thing. Similarly if “down” means lie down flat
Do not shout “down” when you mean get off the furniture or jumping up. A word such as “off” can be used here. Please ensure that you and all the family are consistent with the commands that you use.
It is very important to play with your dog. This not only releases energy, but also helps you to form a bond with your dog through play. If carried out correctly it can also be a very useful way to teach your dog. When play training in any situation, your dog will be happy to be with you.
First and foremost - ENJOY YOUR DOG.
Don’t over excite your dog, as it will not learn.
The “Rules” must be made by you and not by your dog.
Make it easy for your dog to play correctly and hard for the game to go wrong.
ALWAYS play train on a lead.
Your VOICE is the most important and must do all the work - e.g. “Get it” when using toys and “Leave” when wanting the toy released (All in a happy voice)
TOY: use it as a training aid.
USEFUL TRAINING AIDS
Ball on the end of a rope
DO’s when teaching your dog to “get it” wait a second before throwing the toy up and in front of you. This will encourage the dog to keep looking up at you, and not at the floor.
DON’Ts don’t ever tease your dog by saying, “get it” and then not giving him the toy or titbit. They don’t forget, and the exercise will not be as effective as before.
Always start by playing with your dog in front of you, and gradually work your dog round to your left side.
It is very important to keep the game fun, and doing this a few times only makes him WANT to play more next time. This will start to get your dog used to the word “Close-Heel!” and get him used to working on your left-hand side. He/she will also start to associate training as FUN. You will also be able to exert your authority over him and dictate where and when he/she can play. DO NOT OVERDO IT!
ALWAYS TRAIN YOUR DOG AS IF IT DOES NOT KNOW THE EXERCISE
ATTENTION: Teach your dog to give you its attention when you say its name. Start off gradually by saying the dog’s name and reward it for looking at you. This can then be extended. It is also useful to give the dog a command such as “watch”, particularly as you may use your dogs name several times a day for different reasons It is therefore, important to follow the dog’s name by a command e.g. Fido “come”…Fido – “sit” … Fido – “off Fido – “watch” etc
“SIT” & “DOWN”. By using the titbit as a lure, it is easy to position a puppy. The titbit can then be used as a reward in the position that you have just requested.
WALKING TO HEEL Make sure that the lead is never tight. If it is, it will encourage your dog to pull. Loosen the lead, and if necessary, give the dog a little check back with the collar then go into a left hand circle to steady the dog.
“NO” or “AH AH” Every puppy must learn that “no” means “Stop what you are doing now” It must be a sharp sounding word which interrupts them. Often “ah, ah” is more effective, especially if there are children in the house, or if they have already learnt to ignore the word “no”. You must remember, however, when telling them what behaviour is wrong, you must also tell them what behaviour is right and reward them for this. E.g. telling your dog off for jumping up is no good unless you teach them that sittingis more rewarding. You MUST be consistent.
MOUTHING It is essential to teach your dog that it is not allowed to place its teeth on your hand, arm, leg. Etc. When it does, tell them “ah, ah” stop the game and ignore them for a few moments. They must learn that games and attention continue, but if your dog puts its teeth onto human skin, clothing, shoelaces etc., the fun stops immediately. Always avoid rough games that encourage mouthing, and try not to let your dog get too excited, as this will have the same effect
Groom your dog at least every other day whatever the breed, paying special attention to your dog’s legs and armpits and behind their ears. Do be careful when handling these areas as they can be tender and also the fur knots easily here.
Make examining your dog part of its normal routine. Look into your dog’s ears, eyes and look at their teeth, as well as their feet. If you build up handling your dog when there is not a problem, should a problem ever occur it will make handling by you or your vet less traumatic.
You should be able to take your dog’s food bowl away from him. DO NOT do this every day.
If you have problems with this then attach your dog to his lead, make him sit before you give your dog the bowl of food, then allow him to eat his meal.
During the time he is eating add a little more of his meal to his plate and then GENTLY pull him away from his dish by the use of the lead – hold the dog away from the bowl. Pick the bowl up, all the time reassuring the dog, place a tasty treat on top (e.g. cheese, titbit etc) and then replace the bowl, and PRAISE your dog and allow him to finish his meal.
NEVER, NEVER threaten the dog, and always give a tasty treat after you remove the bowl.
To ensure that your dog never objects to you approaching its food bowl, teach them that it is rewarding when you approach by adding something tasty to it. e.g., cheese, a little biscuit etc. They must learn that human hands come to give rather than take away. Sit with your dog whilst it eats and put a little food into its bowl, a handful at a time, and teach whilst they are eating and you put your hand down, you are offering something extra tasty. They then learn not to feel threatened when you come near and approach their bowl.
Do make sure, however, that your dog is happy when you put your hand into its food whilst it is eating. Repeat this periodically with different members of the family. If you have any problems with this, such as tensing over its food, or growling, let me know immediately.
Teach your dog to relieve itself on command. When your dog wakes up, or has finished his meal – carry the dog out in the garden – try taking the dog to one particular place, give a command (“Go Bizzies” etc) and if your dog has relieves itself, PRAISE and REWARD.
Your dog will soon learn, especially if you reward with a titbit on each occasion. Avoid putting paper down for the dog to go on, it is far more effective to put your puppy outside every 20/30 minutes with a command and praise. Furthermore, it will stop little accidents on homework and the newspapers left on the floor!!
Chewing, Barking when left, Chasing, Aggression towards other dogs, excitable in the car, etc…
These are quite common problems but it is better dealt with on an individual basis if you are experiencing any of them, either at present or in the future. It may be that the problem has many angles and therefore, a one to one approach would be the most helpful.
Never give a command unless you are able to enforce it. This means that shouting “Come” when your dog is three fields away, chasing after something, will NOT teach it to come back to you. Also, if you give a command more that once you are teaching your dog to ignore you. Tell your dog once and be sure that it obeys.
Never chastise your dog unless you are sure that they know and understand what they have done wrong - why you are telling them off - and that you are sure that this will make them less likely to do it again….. Telling them off after the event will not help – if you do tell your dog off it must be while they are in the act of misbehaving.
Be nice to your dog. Dogs learn very quickly when rewarded for the correct behaviour.
Keep control of all games that you play with your dog. Playing is very important, so play with your dog a much as possible, avoiding games that get out of control, such as rough and tumble.
Make sure that your dog knows where it sleeps, but will willingly move from there if you ask it. If they are allowed on the furniture and beds etc., you must teach them to get “off” when they are told.
Do not always give in to your dog’s demands for attention. Sometimes ignore them totally in the house for half an hour or so and do not always stroke them when they come up to you, paw you or whine etc. As far as possible, make them earn your affection – e.g. by coming when you call them, and perhaps sitting.
Games should be earned, or at least initiated by you the majority of the time. Do not play every time your dog drops its toy on your knee. Play as often as YOU want. You decide the rules of the game – when to start, and when to stop. Dogs are pack animals and they will see the family as their pack. It is vital that your dog sees itself at the bottom of the pack. Always remember, A DOG IS NOT A HUMAN! Respect has to be earned through consistency, patience and understanding.
Start with your dog on your left hand side (LHS) and slowly walk in a big LH circle, praising and encouraging the dog all the time. Should your dog pull or surge forward when training turn and face your dog put the titbit at his nose level and call him to you with the command “come” whilst you move slowly backwards. When your dog has come right up in front of you turn in towards your dog, so that you are now both proceeding in the same direction, with the command “Heel/Close “etc, walk a few more paces forward together, then stop and praise.
Should your dog pull/ surge when out walking - again place a titbit at the dog’s nose and then slowly take two paces forward giving the command “heel/close” etc. Increase the distance as appropriate, praise and reward. Have the lead relatively short so as not to allow the dog too much freedom. This is the one area where dogs will “unlearn” what you have taught them very quickly. By now, your dog should be much improved at walking without pulling. Remember if you stop teaching your dog, it will quickly learn to pull again.
Stay By now you should be able to leave your dog and wait a few metres away from it whilst it stays still then return. Make sure that you do not overdo it. It is better for the dog to stay for a few moments and for you to return, praise them in the position and then tell them to move with a release command, rather than leave them for a longer period and for your dog to move from the position before you have told it to do so. We now move onto a more formal type of stay which increases your control over your dog, and that is to teach your dog to stay in one position. Place your dog in the down position and tell it to stay, stand up straight beside your dog, if necessary putting your foot on the dogs lead to prevent it from getting up. Hold your hand, palm face outwards to the dog, as you reinforce your stay command. Gradually as your dog stays in the down position, you may move one step away. DO NOT MOVE AWAY FROM YOUR DOG UNTIL YOU CAN STAND BESIDE YOUR DOG FOR 30 SECONDS. WITHOUT HIM MOVING. Practice the STAYS at different times and in different situations.
Coming when called: Again practise many times on each walk, not only when you want to put your dog back on its lead. Practise in the house and in the garden, and at a friend’s house, everywhere where you want your dog to come back to you. You could arrange with other members of your class to go on a walk together to practice, as the time you put in now will make you and your dog’s life a lot easier. It MUST ALWAYS be an enjoyable experience for your dog to come when called. Most dogs go through a stage in adolescence where they decide it is more interesting to stay away than “come”. Be prepared for this and work doubly hard to make it more pleasant for them to “come” than stay away. Never chastise your dog for coming to you. Remember – Name followed by Command.
“Wait” Teach your dog that this means “wait in the same area do not move away” until you call your dog to you. Therefore, use it when you do not want your dog to drag you through a doorway, when you do not want your dog to leap out of the car until you have put its lead on, or when someone in coming to the door and you want your dog to wait before it greets them. It is less formal that a “stay”, when we actually return to our dog. Teach gradually. Beware as your dog will want to move and ensure that it doesn’t. The reward is in moving. Your dog does not get the reward (of going through the door, getting out of the car etc.) until YOU have told them to move. As you have been shown in class place the dog in the sit position and then with the lead above the dog’s head tell it to “wait” move to the front of the dog and re-command. Then try and walk in a semi-circle in front of your dog finishing in front of it again. Then take a step backwards, call the dog in to you, and PRAISE.
“Okay” If you are going to teach your dog to wait in one place, you must also use your “release” command. This word is used to mean:
“you have finished your stay and, can now move”
“you are now off the lead, now you can run”
“I have now opened the door and walked through it, now and you can come”
“I have opened the car door and am holding your lead, now you can come
In other words, it means “Okay you can move, run etc. It usually follows a command to “stay” or “wait”. With “wait” your dog must not get the reward until YOU have told it to move. With “stay” your dog should always be rewarded before moving.
We hope to see you in our classes!