Sunday, September 25, 2011

Puppy Love

Can I say how much I love this puppy? He is so much fun, so enthusiastic, and so, so smart!
Brush ME? I don't think so!

Today we went to the park for the first time. I believe socializing is best done in stages, so he has been carried a lot of places but walking is a new experience. So was playing fetch out of the house or backyard, and being off leash practicing recalls. He is one super tired puppy tonight!
Look how long his legs are getting

Best buddies, and tired buddies

I believe in purely positive training, and detest the new-old Dog Whisperer style of training. It may get results I mean if I hit you with a 2X4 while screaming in a foreign language you'd really quickly realize what in the world you were doing wrong. But you wouldn't like me very well - or what to do instead to make you happy. On the other hand, if I give you a treat, a smile, and make a big deal over when you do something right, you're going to love me, and repeat that behavior. Even if it's all in a foreign language. If you want to watch a great dog trainer at work, check out Victoria Stilwell and It's Me or the Dog on Animal Planet. Her methods are amazing, and she truly cares about the relationship between dog and human. Afterall, at it's core that is what training is, improving the relationship and friendship a dog gives you.

It has been so much fun for me, working with a puppy who is so open to things. Ramses is really sensitive, and wouldn't handle corrections well, but he is thriving with the treats, a clicker and plenty of fun. The past 2 weeks we have been working almost exclusively on recalls, the most important thing a puppy can learn. Today at the park, it was all about coming to front and sitting for turkey. This was so exciting for him and he generalized it really quickly.

I start by working in the house with few distractions. When the puppy comes I say good come, and give a treat. Next I call the puppy in an excited voice and back up so he's chasing me, then have him sit and treat. Once he's familiar with the word in the house we move outside. IF the puppy is less than 16 weeks old, I start off lead right away, and start playing chasing games. I call the puppy run the opposite way then treat and praise when they catch up. If they're older than 16 weeks I attach a light line and do the same thing. Why the age?? Most puppies older than 16 weeks are independent enough they may decide to go off on their own. Before 16 weeks they're fairly sure they need to stay by you. In my case, when I have an adult dog with a good recall, he added to the excitement by running to me for the treat too. Eventually we have races, to see who gets to me first to get the bigger treat. The entire point is to make it so much fun, and so exciting to come that doing the opposite isn't nearly as enticing. I NEVER call and leash them up and end the fun, and I NEVER EVER EVER call and correct a puppy or dog. Also never chasing a dog who is running away will keep them from finding out that chase works the opposite way.
Stop with the pictures and let us sleep!

From now on till the snow flies my goal is to get Ramses to a park every day to work on training. In addition to the recall, he needs to learn to generalize sit and down, and we're also working on generalizing retrieves since he has such a strong retrieve. Of course meeting people, dogs, and hearing lots of noises are also really important. And as a plus, he's so tired that he put himself to bed an hour early tonight. A tired puppy is a good puppy :).

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