Dog Trainers focus on different aspects of canine behaviour. A trainer is more like a teacher or coach. They equip dogs with the tools they need to perform in a variety of situations, from basic obedience to agility and beyond.
Dog training - getting started
Why train your dog?
This is the really fun and most rewarding part of owning a dog! Training your new friend needs to be high on your list of priorities as soon as you have decided to own a new dog.
No dog is too old to learn and training classes are available for every age and ability, pedigrees, crossbreeds and rescue dogs are all welcomed. You will also meet like-minded people and share in a common aim to have well behaved dogs that are a pleasure to own. Puppies can usually begin as soon as they have had their course of vaccinations.
Training is an obligation all dog owners need to fulfil for the community they live in and the welfare of the dog. By going to classes you can meet the ethical and moral responsibilities of dog ownership and promote the benefits that dogs can bring to peoples' lives.
Mouthing is a normal way for our pups and young dogs to experiment with biting, gripping and holding. They should be taught to do so gently and to restrict their bite whilst they have their first teeth. Once their second teeth arrive this should be stopped completely. There are various things we can do to help them with their teething such as suitable chews, rawhide chews, stuffed kongs, stuffed bones, all better than our hands or slippers. They will get bored with these so have a variety to offer and replace existing half chewed chews! From 6 months they will start to test their strength and get their own way, so any contact with teeth and our skin needs to be controlled and stopped.
When they are trying to mouth us, don’t push them away as this could then turn into a game. Don’t hit or smack them; don’t try to grab them, they will learn to avoid you, and don’t play rough and tumble until they have learnt to be gentle, this will just escalate the problem!
Provide him with the chews which we have already touched upon, yell AHHH and show him it hurt by rubbing the nipped area. Divert his attention with a toy, give positive commands such as sit or down, don’t forget to praise him when he does! Command NO boldly and leave your dog, go out of the room or send him out.
Persevere, stay calm and don’t lose patience!
Walking on a loose lead
Whilst in the process of teaching loose lead work, you may find a head collar such as the Gentle Leader, Halti or GenCon worth trying. It is said ‘control the head, control the dog’ – it acts like power steering. It takes time and perseverance for most dogs to get used to wearing one, but once you have achieved this, you will notice a calming effect.
The recall is perhaps one of THE most important exercises and achievements you will carry out! Before you even consider letting your puppy off the lead you must be 100% sure that you have a solid recall.
Here are a few tips to follow when practising your recall.
Don’t worry, be happy! Recall should be a happy and exciting activity. Use a bright, clear voice and look happy! You want your puppy to WANT to come back to you!
Use really good food rewards if your dog likes treats, and play with your dog happily when they get back to you. You are trying to create real DESIRE for your dog to want to come back to you quickly. Remember that coming back to you first is what gets your puppy the reward. You are trying to make that connection – REWARD and FUN!
Move about to be seen! As odd as it may seem, puppies (and some adult dogs) don’t always ‘lock on’ to us by sight when we are a distance away unless we move about. It varies with the breeds, but if you move about or wave your arms around when your dog looks up, you may well increase your chances of them making the connection that you are calling them back.
Run away! You may have heard that if you walk off out of the field, your dog may well panic and head off after you. That’s true enough and as a strategy, passable, but not dog recall training. Once puppy has discovered that coming back to you is fun then try running backwards a few steps so that he has to work a little harder to get to the treats and the fun. You will get a little more speed to your recall that way.
Train recall step by step. Build up the level of distractions that are around when training a dog to come back. Use a long line, make it exciting, use two people and keep calling pup backwards and forwards, play hide and seek, above all have fun doing it!
Using a long line, not a retractable line; that way you have control of pup at all times. Despite all your best efforts, sometimes distractions will inevitable be more exciting than you yourself are, despite your arm waving and running about!
Angry doesn’t work! If you feel yourself getting frustrated or angry, please do your best – hard though it is – to calm down! Even if your dog does come back, it won’t be willingly – which is the real key to dog recall.
Don’t expect too much too soon, and certainly not without some effort and plenty of practise. Recall training can take weeks of ‘little and often’ practice to make it reliable, but with plenty of practice, you will soon see a huge improvement.