I attended the first class of a 4 week course on “how to train you puppy” what a fantastic experience, The course was lead by Rachel Bean who is a Veterinary Nurse specialising in Canine Behaviour Modification and Basic Dog Training. You can read all about Rachel on her website http://www.rachelbean.co.uk/ and facebook page http://tinyurl.com/6jhmr7x
Rachel has over 16 years experience and she is a full member of The Canine and Feline Behavour Association – www.cfba.co.uk. Rachel gave a speech to open the course outlining her vast experience of the subject and made everyone feel welcome immediately. The puppies were barking and some play fighting with each other, there was selection of breeds from Beagles, labradors, German Shepherds plus lots more, I have to say my favourite was the 12 week old beagle named Appollo, just a brilliant name. A mop and bucket had to be carried about as you can imagine, puppies, floor, excitement you get the picture. Rachel went on to tell us that dogs do not mature until the age of 3 so training should be continual during this entire period if you only train them for 6 months your dog will forget, of course a lot of repetition and treat bribery is needed for the start and then she went on explain how you eventually make that bribe into a reward. A dogs brain is like a sponge, and you have to fill that sponge with information,
of course dogs cannot understand the English language, as I’m sure most of us forget this small fact, me for one. Your dog learns the English words by assosiation, for example, when your dog responds to your actions and it is followed by the word ‘Sit’, straight afterwards, it will learn the word ‘Sit’. It’s a bit like trying to communicate with someone in a foreign country who does not understand English, you use actions and follow that up with the word, a bit like asking for a glass of water, you would probably improvise turning the tap and then drinking, followed by the word ‘Water’. The first session was focused on “Sit” and “Lie Down”. I was amazed how all the dogs responded so quickly and to see the shock on some of the owners faces was just a delight, of course I don’t have a puppy but rest assured the minite I got home I was practicing this art with my elderly dog, and it works almost immediately, yes, even with an older dog. OK my dog would sit for treats anyway, but lie down is something we have never tried before and it is going to need repetition to make it stick as she has never been taught this before. The star of the show was Wisp, she is Rachels dog and she is 18 months old, she gave a demonstration of her training, Most people were speechless at this point, the dog would shut the door on command, sit, lie, stand, repeatedly upon command and even talk when asked to. It really was quite a spectacle. Advise was given on what to look out for when buying a dog, what questions to ask the breeder and some of these questions were things that, well to be quite honest, you would never think of asking as they seem so irrelevant, but once the explanation of where certain behaviours come from, well, it all makes perfect sense, it really is a good course and I highly recommend it to anyone with a puppy or even a rescue dog of any age. Rachel is helping me better understand doggie behaviour and has introduced me to some courses in dog walking skills amongst others, so this will be a great opportunity for my business which I am trying to grow. So remember if your interested in the Puppy training class (4 week course) it’s a mere £50 at the Grotton Pavillion in Saddleworth on Wednesday Evenings at 7pm.
Training helps to keep your dog’s mind active and helps you to understand each other. People expect dogs to behave when out walking or when people come into your home, but a dog won’t understand these rules if they haven’t been taught.
You will see people shouting at their dog, I have been guilty of this myself in the past, when it runs off or jumps up, or even has a tiny accident on the carpet, what is really needed is training. You have seen programs like ‘its me or the dog’ and ‘the dog whisperer’, they make it look so easy, well it is – to an extent, time and patience is required. When I take my dog out, I let her off the lead for a run on the field, I am still practising my training techniques here, as we have not quite mastered the art of coming back yet. My dogs philosophy is, if it moves chase it and ignore the silly woman who is throwing chicken flavour treats at me, but practice makes perfect and im sure we will get there in the end.
The best way to train your dog is to make it fun. You can do this by offering rewards when your dog does something positive when you ask. If your Dog behaves in a certain way for example, your dog sits down when you ask and then receives a reward like a ball, or a treat, they will want to behave that way again. If you repeat this exercise several times making sure you reward your dog straight away for their good behaviour and then add the command ‘sit’. Your dog will eventually respond to the command without needing the reward. Practice makes perfect.
Clicker training, as I call it, is another reinforcement, which can be used along with treats, the clicker makes a distinct sound when pressed and its much faster than saying well done or good boy/girl it is more effective than using treats alone. The treat should come immediately after the click, once the dog learns the sound of the click it tells the dog that he has done well and he will receive a reward. Eventually the rewards can be given less and the sheer sound of the click becomes the reward. I have never tried this method with my dog, but I have read a lot of positive accounts regarding clicker training. My horse was clicker trained, the difference is phenomenal, to say the least, when I want to trot, I make a clicking sound with my mouth 2 times and she trots, if I want to canter I make the clicking sound 3 times and she’s off, no leg on required she does it automatically, It makes me look great at shows as you can imagine.
If you need help getting started or some guidelines to follow, try this Basic Command Kit by Mikki. It contains a clicker, a larger Ragger toy a house lead, which helps you train your dog from a distance, a treat pouch and a basic training guide book with step by step instructions and illustrations