Lets Talk about General
- The most crucial time in dogs upbringing is between
eight weeks and six months of age when the dogs personality takes
form. During this time, it is important to socialize your
puppy to various people, places and things. It will make the pup
more responsive to training when they are more mature.
Without proper socialization puppies will never reach their full potential.
Puppies isolated from positive people contact prior to 12 weeks of age
are a trainer's nightmare. During
your dog's first six months it is critical that the pup come to know
and love you and that you learn to understand the pup's developing
personality. You will see the pup mature and its ability to
concentrate increase. To
properly expose the pup, take it for walks where it will be introduced
to new scents, people and other animals. Let strangers spoil it. Pup
needs to see the world, not just your backyard.
When to Start Training
- Over-training early is a
temptation owners succumb to in their rush to see
results. Give the pup its first six months to simply be a pup, this will yield
greater rewards in the years that follow. By this I mean
"intensive" training. It is certainly ok to proceed
with crate training, house training, and short sessions of training
with an introduction to sit, down, and come from the time you bring
the pup home. Get him used to the words by repetition.
trainer's job during the pup's first six months is to create a
dog that will be a good student. Keep in mind that the right
time is not the same for all dogs. It is determined by the maturity
level of the particular dog.
will progress more quickly if the pup's
formative months are spent developing boldness and confidence rather
than having to comply with commands.
- A key ingredient in training is to know when the
dog is ready to learn as well as when it's ready to move on.
- After having said that, developing a bold, confident, and happy
personality in your puppy, is not
achieved by waiting for the pup to "get old enough to
train." Play time is in fact training time. A puppy's mind is
a sponge, soaking in every new sight, sound and smell. The dog
learns by doing.
- Do not expect unrealistic
feats from your pup. The puppy will need to learn certain commands from a
safety standpoint and
for acceptable behavior in the house. Early on you will
want to teach the pup "No" and that biting is intolerable.
You can also start teaching "Here" by running away from the
pup saying, "Here, here, here." When the dog gets to
you reward it with an treat or a pat.
- When the
dog is 10 to 12 weeks old, you can begin teaching "Sit",
or "Whoa." Don't make the dog comply for long periods. Your
job at this stage is to shadow the pup what the command means, not
demand that it respond like a pro.
- If you have
pointing breed, you can play "wing on a string," but don't
overdo it. This is a sight game and, if overdone, may encourage
creeping. I play this game only to bring out the pointing instinct in
dogs up to 12 to 14 weeks old.
- Developing retrieving instincts early
is beneficial. Use a rolled up sock, dummy or tennis ball. Start the
pup off retrieving in a corridor so it cannot run away with its prize.
The object you use for these sessions should not be left around for
the dog to chew on; it is a treat.
You Are the Pack Leader
- Dogs are actually descendents of wolves. And while
dogs are obviously more docile and responsive to human command, they
have retained some wolfish characteristics, including sharp eyes and
sense of smell Most importantly, their need to be in a pack.
To your dog, you and everyone else in your household are in his
- A pack includes one leader - someone who bosses
everyone else around and is respected by all the other members.
- Contrary to popular belief, the vast majority of
dogs don't want to be the pack leader; it makes them feel safe to
have someone else in charge. But if your dog sees that you are a
directionless wimp in need of some authority, he'll happily step
into the leader position to whip you into shape. Dogs are all about
hierarchies and as far as they're concerned, somebody's got to
uphold that top dog position in case you guys get attacked by
another pack. It's a dog eat dog world, after all.
- Because of the dog's hereditary pack instinct, it
is important that you establish yourself as the leader in your
relationship with your dog. Always be firm and consistent with
your dog, as this will show him that he can't get away with
everything, even if he really is the cutest thing alive.
- If you fear that you may already be underneath your
dog in rank, don't concede to defeat and continue to let your dog be
boss. While it may seem mean, it's a good idea to show your
dog who's boss by pulling rank on him occasionally. Don't act
scared if your dog growls at you when you ask him to do things -
just snarl back without touching him and stand your ground. Continue
prodding him to obey you until he does.
Giving the Command
- Your dog does not understand the meaning of your
commands, but responds to the tone of each individual word and how
- Keep your commands short , crisp, and clean sounding.
- Choose one syllable commands if at
all possible, for example: Sit, Come, Stay, Down, or
Fetch. All that sweet talk simply confuses the dog.
Again, say the command once.
the dog's name first before each command that way you first get his
or her attention and then give the command eg. Rover, sit or Rover,
come. Through conditioning and repetition you and your dog will work
- All training experiences interlock. Each level of
training must be solid if you're to eventually hunt over a showcase
gundog. Think of your training as building on the dog's
experiences and the commands Pup has learned, and the understanding
that your dog, no matter how intelligent, is no Einstein. Your training,
particularly at the more advanced levels, such as teaching blind
retrieves, will proceed more effectively if you build one command on
top of another, making sure that every command is solid before moving
- Always begin teaching your puppy or
dog the easiest commands possible, such as "Look",
"Sit", etc. Very gradually introduce new and more
- When initially teaching a new
command, such as "Sit", if your dog sits for even just a
second or two, he should be praised, rewarded and released.
Gradually, the duration of time your dog should be taught to remain
in position should be increased.
- Begin teaching a command with you
dog right next to or in front of you. Gradually increase the
distance between you and your dog to 30 feet.
- A "pattern trained" dog
will always expect one specific command to follow another specific
command. This can work for or against you depending on the
circumstances. Make sure to change the order in which commands are
taught between secessions.
- Practice commands at different
times of the day and evening.
- Start training each new command in
an area free of distractions, such as your home or yard. Once your
dog is responding reliably, gradually increase the distraction
level. Add distractions such as:
- Bouncing a ball
- Throwing a ball/toy
- Squeak a toy
- Walking around your dog
- Have dogs heel around your dog
- If your dog is 5 feet from you and
50 feet from a squirrel, dog, or any other distraction, you have a
greater likelihood of getting your dog to respond to a command than
if your dog is 50 feet from you and 5 feet from a the distraction!
Once your dog is reliable in the face of distant distractions,
gradually, decrease the distance between your dog and any
"objects of attraction".
- Don't expect your dog to
automatically generalize the meaning of a given command in every
environment or context. Once your dog fully understands a command at
home, it is important to re-teach the command in many different
locations. Make sure to practice commands in both rural and urban
- Practice commands on a variety of
surfaces including cement sidewalks, grass lawns, sand, and
- Many dogs have difficulty
responding to commands that are given out of context to normal
training situations. Trying giving known commands:
- As you're walking down the
street with your dog.
- When you're in your local pet
- While inside the dog run with
your dog, both with and without a leash.
- Does your dog really fully
understand a given command? Try giving the command when you're in a
different position than usual. For instance, if you are sure your
dog understands the command "Stand", try issuing the
"Stand" command (from a sit or down). Change your
locations, try issuing the command while you're laying down on the
floor or while you're on a ladder.
- Give a command your dog knows well,
then go out of sight for 3 minutes. Does your dog remain in position
until you return and release him or her?
- Try standing behind your dog,
facing away from him, when giving a command. Use a mirror to watch
your dog. Then Give your dog a "Sit-Stay" command, then go
out of site for 1 minute, then, while still out of your dog's sight
(but within hearing distance), issue a command for your dog to
- When the time does come to begin formal training, two
cardinal rules apply: 1) The dog must understand the command
absolutely, 2) the dog must be corrected at the place of the
infraction soon after it occurred.
- You should NEVER yell at or hit your dog, no
matter how frustrating training can get. Going ballistic only
teaches your dog to be nervous around you and fear you, making it
hard for him to concentrate on what it is you want him to learn.
- A correction is an act you take just as your dog
begins to misbehave. To be properly executed, your dog should be
wearing a properly fitted chain collar and there should be slack in
the leash. With a positive motion snap the leash in a side-ways
direction toward your self and then release the tension on the leash
. This should be a single quick snap and release, if your dog
continues to display poor behavior after a correction, repeat it
with slightly more force.
- NEVER USE VIOLENT TUGS OR SLAPS to administer a
- Timing is everything. Your dog will not relate to a
correction to his disobedience if too much time passes between the
two. You must correct faults immediately within seconds as they
- A dog does not relate a bad behavior
that happened in the
morning to a correction given for that behavior in the afternoon.
- If your dog disobeys you, it may not be a direct
challenge to you as the leader. He may not obey you due to factors
such as illness, hunger, thirst, heat exhaustion, or a nearby female
that is in season. Take a moment to assess if there is some external
factor that is related to his disobedience.
- Don't discipline a dog
for not complying to a command it does not understand. A dog must be corrected at the
place of the infraction at the time of the infraction. If you command
"Sit" at point A and the dog moves to point B, don't
discipline at point B. Bring the pup back to point A and demand that
it sits. If you command "Here" and the dog runs off before
eventually returning, do not discipline the dog. It will think it is
being disciplined for coming back to you. Don't discipline because you
are angry or frustrated.
- Correct in order to teach the dog you are the
pack leader and demand your commands be carried out once they have
been taught. If you lose your cool, end the training session. Dogs are
very aware of body language and if you are agitated, your dog will
short-circuit and become confused. Don't resort to a "quick
fix" by using an electronic collar to punish your dog. A dog must
be conditioned to electronic training.
If you are to use the collar, it is paramount that you
understand that punishment training --giving a command and punishing
for noncompliance without offering the dog incentives to perform
before being punished -- as the sole approach will result in a dog
that responds only when it's afraid of being punished. As soon as the
dog is off the check cord and not wearing the collar it will say,
"To heck with you!" At best you will have a dog that
Rewards and Praise
- Always verbally re-enforce the command when
correcting your dog. Praise and reward your dog only when he or she
has performed a specific task ( sit, down, come etc.) and when he or
she is good, use treats to reward success. As they get older give treats less often and
instead gradually replace them with verbal praise.
- Through repetition and consistency, the dog will learn what is
expected of it. The owner
must expect performance when he gives a command. If he corrects a dog
and then, out of sympathy, coddles and apologizes, he is sending the
wrong message. If he never demands
excellence, it is unrealistic to expect the dog to search in control
and be a good hunting companion in the field.
Ok, How Long of a Training Secession
- Training programs must be comprised of short sessions
rather than drawn-out affairs.
- You strengthen the team relationship every time you
work together, both communicating and learning. If either you or
your dog are stressed or frustrated, take a break and try again
- Most sessions should last no longer than twenty minutes, and
remember to have a play time when done. This also helps keep
training from becoming a stressful situation.
- Consistent performance in response to your commands
should be one of your training goals. This is accomplished through
repetition, as a dog learns by rote, much as you did when learning
- Keep in mind that a dog's attention span is
limited; therefore short, frequent training sessions are far more
effective than longer but fewer lessons.
- Get into the habit of saying
a command only once. Say the command, then make the pup comply. A
well-trained dog performs the first time and will only do this if you
demand excellence. If your dog learns he does not have to obey
"Here" the first time, you may just lose it to a speeding
truck on a back road.
- Even a well trained
obedience dog must have their training re-enforced every six weeks.
So above all have fun, be patient, and practice.