Thursday, April 23, 2009

More Basic Training for Poppy

I am taking Poppy to puppy kindergarten tonight and we are both looking forward to it. Even though she spends a lot of time playing with my other dogs Sparkle and Lilly it is extremely important for her to play with other puppies too. We have made a few trips to the park by my house and she has met some lovely puppy friends to romp with. After these trips where she is able to blow off some of her massive stores of puppy energy, she is a much better behaved dog at home. If you are going to take your puppy to classes or a dog park it is very important that you keep them up to date on vaccines and preventatives. While we have been waiting for puppy kindergarten to arrive Poppy and I continue to work on our commands. Come and sit are now old hat to her. To teach her to lie down I hold a piece of kibble with the palm of my hand facing the ground and swiftly lower it while saying “down”. As she sinks into a lying down position I immediately reward her and say “good Poppy”. With repetition she will follow the verbal command “down” combined with a downward motion of my hand.

Stay is one command Poppy has picked up very quickly. This is generally one of the more difficult commands for puppies to learn given they have the attention span of an insect. I start by asking her to sit, once she has done that I give the command “stay” and hold one finger up. One could also use a flat hand extended toward the nose but I thought this may confuse her with the sit and down hand commands. While she is sitting and not moving, I take one step away, for one second, maintaining eye contact at all time. If she stays where she is I quickly step towards her, bring the treat right to her nose and say “good stay”. I then ask her to stay for progressively longer periods of time and with more distance between us. If she makes a mistake and runs toward me, I calmly return to the previous time or distance and start over. Theoretically she should remain seated in the same place until I release her, no matter the time or distance.

Heel is the fifth essential basic command and not one I have started teaching Poppy quite yet. This is mostly because when I take all three dogs for a walk, Sparkle and Lilly are not well behaved either and I haven’t figured out how to teach Poppy not to follow the other two. The obvious answer is all three dogs should walk correctly on a leash, without pulling but I don’t think that is going to happen anytime soon.

It is very important that your puppy learn the appropriate way to walk on a leash so they aren’t dragging you around and jumping all over everyone. I will take a moment to express my distaste for pinch collars, those metal, spiked things you see dogs pulling people around on. In my opinion, not only are these cruel but they really don’t work well. If your dog drags you around either visit a trainer or use a Gentle Leader Easy Walk Harness. Unlike the Gentle Leader Head Collar, which requires training for proper use, the harness works well almost instantly.

I will post next week on how puppy kindergarten went as well information on the infectious disease Leptospirosis and why most dogs should be vaccinated for it. Poppy and I will be speaking on proper puppy care at this Sunday’s BowWowPowWow and answering questions at the Friendship Hospital for Animals booth. Visit the event to say hello and learn more great tips on the best way to care for your dog.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for reminding me about the dog walking tools. Just what we need for Cheetah! Can't wait to see Poppy this weekend.