Dog Behaviour Advice - Dog Advice Articles
DIY Puppy Training Part 4 starting to train
Before I describe the training used by Kathryn Hollings with her puppy Osito there are just a few more points to consider before we can do the same.
With the modern training of puppies, both the handler and their puppy cannot learn in a normal linier or progressive method because we do not wish to make mistakes. During this short period, we need to know what we are trying to achieve and why we do what we do in order to achieve it. It is a bit like knowing the skills of how to drive correctly before ever having had our first driving lesson. We cannot afford mistakes with puppy training because it then needs a lot of retraining at a much slower pace to correct them.
There is also a very simply law that we all follow that if we are pulled or pushed and do not know why then we resist in the opposite direction.
Another law is that puppies know they need protection and must remain near their leaders in order to survive. Again knowing this we can use in this 4 to 6 week period to the best advantage.
I wrote in the article last week that for puppy owners the best lead to purchase is a retractable but why are these so good for puppy training.
The other week I saw an owner using a retractable lead with his puppy that sat in the middle of the Arenal. The owner had it locked at about 6 feet. The dog had objected to its owner pulling him and so it sat down. The owner was obviously reluctant to pull his puppy but how was he to make him follow him if he did not.
Eventually and resisting the temptation to drag his puppy from its sitting position he released the lock on the retractable and walked off. As the owner walked away, the lead simply extended and once the owner walked about 12 feet from the puppy, it got up without any command and followed. This is because it needs to remain close to its owner for self-protection. As the owner walked away without pulling the puppy realised it was vulnerable and quickly followed. Left behind is not an option for a puppy at this stage.
Puppies are running on old wolf established genetic survival rules so who has ever seen any matriarchal wolf walking puppies using any type of lead. Unless you are going to use leads and collars to inflict pain on your dog using enforcement training then a lead is simply a way of attaching your puppy to you for its safety.
I long thin piece of string would suffice but having to reel it in and out this will make the retractable an ideal solution. Next, we need to find an area that is safe like the Arenal where we can let our puppies’ free range on the retractable in the certain knowledge they will always follow us. Once we are confident enough that they do follow us then you can let them off.
One other point is at eight to twelve weeks most people will tolerate puppies no matter what mischief they can get them selves into where dogs that are over 14 or 16 weeks we see intolerant faces when trying to train them in the same way.
After about 3 weeks of puppy training then it is possible to start to lock the retractable at a normal length and the puppy should be happy to follow the owner. By about 4 weeks, most puppies can then walk happily by the owner’s side using a normal lead without pulling.
One annoying problem is puppies jumping up to people’s faces in their normal method of greeting. Puppies do not understand why when this is normal for them we push them down or away. Why is this?
Similarly we do the same when we push them away when they are nibbling are hands and feet. We do this but the puppies do not stop so why is this?
Every time you return, a puppy as well as older dogs needs to greet you and to lick your face. This originally evolved to encourage the returning older dog to make it regurgitate food.
When puppies try to nibble people’s hands and legs it is their game and we find when puppies are pushed away they return with a vengeance because they think you have joined in instead of trying to stop them.
For correcting the nibbling simply remove your hands or feet to a safe distance and then walk away. In this way, the game stops and the puppy will achieve nothing.
For the jumping up when they wish to greet you then humans should get down to the puppies level and so there is no need to jump up.
If you find your puppy is persistent then try barking loudly at it. Have you seen how an older dog that is not prepared to accept such behaviour will when bitten and annoyed will bark gruffly at the puppies and they back off aware their attentions are unwanted.
Most dogs put up with a lot from puppies but eventually when their bites do begin to hurt from their sharp little teeth at about 11 or 12 weeks then the older dogs do use this deep cough like bark to say clearly that nibbling is no longer acceptable.
One problem is many owners will not try to mimic an older dog’s bark to stop a puppy being naughty simply because they think it is embarrassing. If it works use it and it is only for a little while.
We watched my dog Winston successfully chase Kathryn Hollings Osito away from his eating bowl with one bark yet she could not chase him away from her meal by simply pushing him away. As soon as Kathryn successfully mimicked Winston’s bark Osito backed off and never tried to eat from her plate again.
Using such natural survival rules in our puppy training we have a much needed advantage. It is therefore possible to let our puppies off their leads in areas where it is safe to do so and know the puppy will follow. It has to. A puppy will and must follow you as you walk providing you walk at a pace suitable to your puppy and keep a watchful eye open. We also know that if it does something wrong we can imitate the bark and it will stop almost immediately when nibbling people or wishing to jump up to greet them.
In order to take full advantage of these rules we need to find an area away from cars but filled with people children dogs so the puppy can have loads of different experiences that it is likely to meet later on in life. For me areas like the Arenal here in Javea are ideal and there are many similar places in most towns.
For Kathryn Hollings with 3 weeks of intensive training of Osito she is now wondering what else she can do for his training? One thing she is going to do is to wait outside a school and watch all the children leaving and to approach Osito. Normally children always approach puppies directly yet the normal puppy rule is to back away until it knows there is nothing to fear. With Osito having already met so many people, seeing so many children coming towards him all at once should not worry him now.
Why is this exercise so important? We cannot teach children not to approach dogs this way because it is natural for humans. There are so many tragic cases where children have paid the price by approaching a dog directly this way only to meet instant and savage aggression. It is therefore necessary for us to train our dogs not to fear children no matter how they approach.
Let's be careful out there.