|Posted on September 9, 2012 at 10:55 PM|
When I tell people that I am taking puppy classes with Halle, I often hear, “Don’t you already know how to train a dog?” The answer is “Yes!” I do know how to train a dog, however, there is so much value learning different training methods and getting feedback from trainers that I respect. Most importantly, classes expose Halle to sights and sounds outside of our home. She gets to meet new people, new puppies and new venues each week.
How many of you say how great your puppy or dog is at home, but complain how embarrassing he is in public? I’ve learned that the more locations I train my puppy, the more she will generalize the behaviors she’s learning. I see it every time I take her some place new or over stimulating. She looks at me as if to say, "Sit? What's sit?"
I take my training inspiration from Dr. Seuss’s classic “Green Eggs and Ham”. In the book, Sam I Am asks his friend where will he eat green eggs and ham...
In a house?
With a mouse?
In a box?
With a fox?
On a boat?
With a goat?
The list goes on and on. If I take that same idea and apply it to my puppy, I might ask Halle something like this:
Can you sit here?
Can you sit there?
Can you sit anywhere?
Can you sit in the house?
Can sit by a mouse?
Can you down near a fox?
Can you down inside a box?
Would you come by a dog?
Would you come by a hog?
Would you? Could you?
Here or there?
Would you? Could you anywhere?
I have a wonderful 12+ year old golden, Tucker. In his healthier days, I would take Tucker to the first day of a new class and demonstrate to my students what a good listener Tucker is. My question to the class would be, “Would you like to have a dog like this?” I would hear a resounding and enthusiastic “Yes!” I would tell the class, “Tucker is 11 years old and I’ve been training him for 11 years.” I trained my boy in a lot of different places and I made it fun! Tucker was excited to get out and strut his stuff. Being in a new place was a cue to Tucker that fun, food and a very happy mom were in store for him. When I asked him the question, "Can you sit here?" he would answer with "I can sit anywhere!"
Remember, your loving and adoring little puppy will soon be a teenager with hormones, an attitude, and teeth to back them up. So prepare for those teenage angsts and continue training your puppy beyond one day a week in puppy class. Puppies need to learn to have impulse control and obedience outside your home environment. Use the "Green Eggs and Ham" training method and get your puppy out and about training in different places.
Many people don’t know that puppies have a second fear period at 6-8 months of age. That’s why it’s so important that puppies continue to have positive exposure to novel sights, sounds and people during this period. Between the ages of one to three years, dogs reach social maturity. This is a dog’s “teenage” period. Imagine a teenager with no formal education and no clear boundaries. This is why I recommend continuing formal training with your puppy beyond the first puppy class, which generally ends at 4 months of age.
Halle is enrolled in a puppy manners class and a Star Puppy class. We will soon be starting K9 Nose Work. All of this upfront work will help Halle learn that she can work here; she can work there; she can work anywhere.
Sniff on! Train on!
Susie & Halle
Certified Professional Dog Trainer-KA #2102473
National Association of Canine Scent Work Associate Nose Work Instructor
Canine Life and Social Skills Instructor #650449
Canine Life and Social Skills Evaluator #E750153
AKC Canine Good Citizenship Evaluator #51179
TAGteach Primary Certification
Licensed "Be a Tree" PresenterMember of Association of Pet Dog Trainers #76263
Member of the Pet Professional Guild