Teach Puppy His Name
- Say puppy's name. When he looks at you, give food and praise.
- Give a dog its name when it is a baby or when you adopt it from the shelter. Sometimes dogs are left with no name.
- This exercise should take no more than a few sessions.
Teach Dog to Back Off
- The idea is that if you step between the dog and something he wants, he'll back off.
- You don't want to use a verbal command because everyone's command is different, but all people will block something they don't want the dog to get. To block, drop something like a bagel behind you. When the dog goes for it, block him. Block side to side; don't let him push you back so you lose ground. As soon as he hesitates or stops, reward him with a treat and praise. Practice in many locations with lots of distractions.
Teach "Wait" Command
- The stay command teaches a dog emotional control.
- Use the word "wait" instead of "stay." Most dogs think "stay" means nothing because they've heard it so many times and it's never been enforced.
- By using "wait," you won't unintentionally tell your dog to stay and not enforce it.
- By understanding "wait," if the dog wants to chase an animal running across the road, he knows a "wait" command means he can't act on impulse.
- Hold the dog's collar. Use food, which now becomes a distraction, and move it away, saying, "Wait, wait, wait." Repeating the word draws the dog off the "sit" command, while he focuses on the movement of the food. Later, drop the repetition. Graduate to holding the leash loosely for different lengths of time. If you don't, you'll pattern him to only stay for a certain amount of time. Add distance, time, and distractions until the puppy understands commands.
- This is important because dogs -- especially puppies -- get spooked by things; unless you stop the fear, your dog may possess it forever.
- Dogs from shelters may also come with fears.
- Dogs can be afraid of things that are big, make noise, or are unfamiliar.
- A big mistake people make is talking to the dog in a sweet voice when he's afraid, saying, "Good boy," and letting the dog think it's okay to be afraid or that he's being praised.
- Play a game called "Look at This." Walk toward an unfamiliar object and say, "Look at this!" When you're close, give the dog a treat. If the dog is afraid, go back and start again. Never drag. Go back to the "start" point and do it again, giving a treat part-way to object. The goal is for him to be happy and trusting when you say, "Look at this!" Practice with different objects -- such as parked cars and camping tents -- at different times, whenever you see something that might spook him.
Kathy Santo, www.kathysanto.com