My #1 advice


I've worked with a lot of dogs and have had the privilege of raising several puppies.  With each puppy I find I have even more to learn about dog training but raising puppies is so much fun!  Especially when I'm out with a service dog in public, people always ask me how they can get their dog to be so well trained.  Often they're impressed by a simple sit on cue although oddly they're even more excited if the dog can shake versus if the dog just retrieved my wallet.  The rare times I don't just smile and nod in return, this is the number one advice I give people seriously looking to improve their training skills.

1.  Don't feed your puppy out of a dish.
Ok, I'm not a morning person so I do let my dogs mindlessly eat their breakfast out of a bowl.  But I am more motivated after the sun rises which is why I always feed my puppy 3 meals a day long after their old enough to not need it.  Using the puppies lunch and dinner to train with forces me to make time for a fun training session.  And when you're having fun training for 5-10min at least twice a day, you quickly need to come up with more things to teach!  The puppies learn problem solving skills through shaping, body awareness through all the tricks, and through it all you have a remarkable bond and a somewhat trained little puppy.

I admit I can't keep up that routine forever.  Laziness sets in but by then the puppy is at least 5 months and I have a hard time thinking of new tricks to train it.  My adult dogs I unfortunately only train now with their dinners less than half of the time unless I'm especially motivated by a new trick I just saw!

2. Play with your puppy
No one can ever limit a list to the number one piece of advice!  And really this is my first piece of advice but it's less tangible.  I mean everyone plays with their puppy or they wouldn't have gotten one right?   Hopefully.  But with each puppy I've raised I am working harder on not just playing with toys with me but also playing with me for the sake of being with me.  Discover what type of petting your puppy likes, how they like to wrestle, and what tricks gets em super excited.

Does anyone else have any great advice?

andrea  – ( November 21, 2012 at 8:59 AM )  

HA ... sitting down to catch up on blogs after just giving Wyn his breakfast while he learned the start of "table" jumping up on ottoman and lying down, beginning sit pretty and practicing zooming to crate -aren't I just feeling good about me!
I alternate who gets to work for meals - not every meal but fairly regularly - they love it and so do I :)
Play is my thing!
Thanks - as always insightful and well written!

Lynnda  – ( November 24, 2012 at 11:11 AM )  

AS one of my former assistants commented while we were planning a workshop on Playing With Your Dog: "It is so hard to get people to take play seriously." Yes, play with your dog including without objects.
I have 3 points for people with new dogs:
1. Potty training is job one. It is a lifetime habit and no one likes you if you pee in their house.
2. Have fun with your dog. Puppies are eating and playing machines so take advantage of that. [Chase The dog or Keep Away is the only game I do not recommend as it can bite you in the butt sometime when the dog gets loose accidently in an unsafe area.]
3. Get the dog out and have positive socialization experiences with nice people and dogs and situations & objects like garbage trucks. Treats: Don't leave home without 'em.
These is my Readers Digest version from years of teaching puppy classes.
Thanks again for your blog.

Lynnda  – ( November 24, 2012 at 12:35 PM )  

And if I have more time with owners I point out that the dog already knows how to eat out of a dish so many meals can come from the hands of family members [for training behaviors]. For families with children under 12, the kids carrying dog food become more relevant to the dog. I particularily like Fast Sits [first for calm kids then for jumpy kids] and Hide & Seek Recalls [in the house at first]. Check out Coleen Pelar's "Living With Kids and Dogs Without Losing your Mind" for other games. Of course, this only works if the dog really likes its dog food.

Laura, Lance, and Vito  – ( November 24, 2012 at 2:46 PM )  

Lots of good stuff Lynnda. I find that your #3 is often sadly missed. Or people just thrust experiences on a puppy in a # over quality type of situation.

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