Switching your Puppy's Obedience Training from On-Lead to Off-Lead Commands ©2007 by Dy Witt
Watching a dog perform his obedience routine with no lead attached to his collar is a thing of beauty! It appears to be magic, the way he anticipates his owner's moves and wants to just BE there, exactly on the money. Here is how to achieve that doggy ballet of movements.
One secret to good obedience training is never to give your dog the chance to disobey. Make sure he understands the command and what you want him to do, and move toward it with baby steps so he always ALWAYS succeeds. Your happy praise at every turn is what he lives for.
When he is at that comfortable stage on lead where he yawns at every new command, this means he is sure of it and relaxed, then it's time to move on to removing his lead. This will cause a little anxiety at first because his lead is his life line and guide to pleasing you. So make sure everything you are about to show him off-lead is something he knows VERY well with the lead attached.
On-lead heeling, turning and stopping is very smooth and controlled. Before starting off, instead of hooking the lead into the ring, slip the entire lead through his collar, not in the ring, and wrap the end around your hand so you can eat it up as you walk, until the lead slides completely out of the dog's collar. He will barely notice this, just keep walking with no change in gait or tone of your voice, act like nothing new is happening.
When you come to a stop and your dog sits predictably at your side like always, pause a moment then PRAISE PRAISE PRAISE! Your dog will look at you funny, as if to say, "What's the big deal? We do this all the time". It's quite funny. That's when you know it has worked the way it should and your dog has made the transition effortlessly.
As you work, keep the dog close at hand, you do not want him to get the idea he can run off. If he makes the slightest off move, take his collar by the live ring and tug. Remember those little tugs that he dislikes so much he learned quickly how to stay in the exact right spot? Remind him that off-lead has the same controls, so you must be vigilant. If he backslides, go back to on-lead. He will learn quickly that he prefers the independence of off-lead work and to get it he must obey your every command.
As to the long line "Come" command, go back to the short line and leave it on the ground so you can grab it if he does not come to you in a timely fashion. Give him no room to think about disobeying. Gradually extend the distance until he is coming to you at a run totally off-lead. He loves this!
With patience and vigilance, your dog will be just as dependable off-lead as he became on-lead. And you both will enjoy it more!
Getting your Puppy's Attention to Cut TrainingTime in Half ©2007 by Dy Witt
One thing that training puppies and raising kids have in common is that if you have their full attention, they will learn the lesson faster and better. Puppies make it easy on you because there is nothing they want more than your happy face pointed in their direction. Here are 5 ways to accomplish this, therefore learning the lesson in half the time:
1.) Use potty time. Puppies love to go outside. Since you are already rewarding him for fast response outside, with loving praise and a happy face, use the excitement to work on another lesson at the same time.
For example, work on his leash breaking. Even if you have a fenced in yard he should be getting at least some of his housebreaking time on a lead. A dog who is always loose in his yard when he goes will not go on-lead in a strange place. He will hold it so long you think he surely will burst. Of course this is not healthy for him, and you never know when you will need to take him out on lead.
As soon as he is finished his potty and received his happy praise, say, "Wanna work?" in such an excited voice he will happily agree. Spend a few minutes with his heeling and sitting work, depending on where you are in his lessons, and give high praise. It does not have to be a full session, just an added minute or two to reinforce the lessons he is currently working on.
2.) Use meal times. At no point in the day do you have your dog's attention stronger than when he is hungry. Do not tease him with his food, ever, or take toooo long to give him his meal, but you can make a fun game out of a few little lessons before he receives his plate.
For example, since he should already be learning to sit calmly off to the side as his food is being prepared, (also when you are fixing your own), work on a short version that will encourage success. Rather than asking him to sit/stay for the whole long time, reward him with little bites as you go. If he sits for 30 seconds, give him a bite with high praise, release him for a moment, and place him again with a fresh command, only repeating the command when the first one ended in success. Never repeat a command if he fails to obey. In this case, quietly with a stern face, place his body back where you first put it with a light nudge to stress the point that "here is where you are supposed to be."
3.) Use the happy time when you let him out of his crate. You do not want to make too large a fuss when releasing him, just open the door and let him out, but of course it makes him happy and focussed on you anyway. Once he is free and you are loving him up, say, "Wanna work?" and do a little 2 minute lesson, like sit, or down. Since he is excited only ask for 5 or 10 seconds at most, then praise praise praise! You must train when it is difficult for the dog to do it or he will only behave when he wants to behave, not when he NEEDS to.
4.) Use a new toy. Just like with his food and treats, do not withhold a new toy for longer than 2 minutes or so. Get his attention with it by letting him smell and taste it a little, without releasing it to him. The moment you give him complete control over a chewie or toy is a huge reward for him, so make him earn it. Do a few lessons, like a 1 minute down/stay or any other command that you are already working on. Do not introduce new lessons when the puppy is already excited. Use calm time for that.
5.) Use his regular session time. He loves his on-lead work time with you already, so before and after each work session, work on things that arent actually session work but, say, good doggy manners or just understanding English. For example get his ball and teach him your call words, like "Fetch" or "Get it!", whatever you choose, make sure you keep using the same words over and over so he will learn them quickly.
Follow these tips in a consistent loving way and your puppy will learn faster than you ever thought possible, and become the best companion he can ever be.
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Crate Training for your Puppy ©2005 by Dy Witt
Teaching your puppy crate training is the first and best step in his life. It makes all the other steps in his training go so much smoother, much like a solid foundation makes for a superior wall. Establishing you as the Alpha member of his “pack” is one very good reason for starting your puppy in a crate when he is very young.
Another reason for crate training is that dogs love predictability. To know what is going to happen in any given situation makes him happy, and more apt to be the best-behaved dog he can possibly be.
Leave him gradually longer, slowly and carefully.
Q. Why do I want a crate for my puppy?
A. Because they love it is the best reason. They feel very safe and secure in there. Here are some more:
When you leave a puppy alone, he always has some measure of separation anxiety. This leads him to any behavior that brings him comfort, which is chewing, digging, or when it is severe, voiding his bowels.
When placed in a crate, he feels safe because nothing can get to him, nothing can harm him. He will sleep and chew and wait for you to return
When leaving him overnight at the vet, if your dog is not crate trained he will cry the entire time, feeling lost and abandoned. With crate training, he is sure you will return, you always do. Of course the vet’s office is strange and will cause him some anxiety, but nothing like the pure terror he will feel without experience in being locked in.
NOTE: About crate-training, do not make a prison of his crate. Do not use it as punishment. Do not leave him there for more than 2 hours, just time for a long puppy nap and some chew time. After that he will cry. Do not remove him while he is crying. This will make him think he has to cry to get out. No matter what, make sure he is being good when you open the door. He will learn he has to be quiet to get out.
Do not make a fuss when you are letting him out, just quietly open the door and take him out to potty. When he potties, praise him to high heaven! Dogs naturally do not go where they nest, but sometimes it happens. Do not scold, just clean it out with a bland face. He will learn the lesson. If possible, try to clean it while he is outside so he returns to a clean crate
In 25 years of training dogs, I have never seen any one thing more critical for a dog's well-being than good crate training.
Easy Tips to House Breaking your Puppy ©2005 by Dy Witt
If you are lucky enough to get a 7-week-old puppy, there is no excuse for any bad habits to develop over his lifetime. Puppies learn INSTANTLY when they are that young, and if you use the proper training methods, gentle but consistent, he will behave like an angel his whole life through.
The most important training, of course, is housebreaking. Boys are easier than girls because exploring outside is their favorite thing. They just cannot get enough of all the new smells out there!
The main key to housebreaking is watching. Watch your puppy AND the clock. Once every hour is not too often on a day he is active and the weather is good. The younger the pup, the more often he needs to go out, mostly because he is growing so fast. He must drink more water to fuel his metabolism than he does as an adult. Also, since he eats three or four times a day, you know what that means.
Watch him for subtle changes. If he is happily chewing his toy, and gets up suddenly with his nose to the floor, move quickly! He is ready to squat! If he has had a nice nap, get him out of his crate and outside right away. If he has just had a good grooming, it stimulates his circulation and guess what? Time to go out again. And of course after a meal, watch him extra close.
Things to remember:
---Do not punish him for mistakes. They are YOUR fault. Every time you take him out he will go, and praise praise and praise! Happy face, laughter, happy noises! He loves your happy face. When he makes a mistake, your frown and your face turned away from him is all the punishment he needs. He will get the point.
---He is learning English, you must use the same phrases over and over. "Good go potty!" "Hafta go potty?" "Wanna go potty?" He can learn in one afternoon that "go potty" means a jaunt outside and your happy face. Whatever phrase you choose, stick with it.
---I cannot recommend strongly enough getting a crate. They truly help with all phases of his training. They make him more secure, provide him with his very own private space and a place for him to hide his favorite toys and chewies. This is even more important if you have other adult dogs in the house.
Be consistent, always be kind and gentle, and be patient as he learns your language, and your puppy will always look forward to his training sessions. Dogs love to work!
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