There is nothing worse than walking down the street and having a stranger’s dog bark at you, or growl, or bound up towards you and ignore pleas from their owner. Especially if you have young children or are nervous around dogs. We have been lucky that C has encountered some friendly dogs so far but we know friends who have had bad experiences which have made their children very nervous around animals. We think it’s part of being a responsible dog owner to have control of your dog when out in public. Not only that but we want to be confident that our toddler, and others who we spend time with, are safe around our puppy. A dog needs a recognised pack leader and, as J was the driving force behind having a dog, he is going to be in charge. So, therefore, he needs to be the person doing the training. As usual, he did extensive research and asked around to find the best local trainer and we ended up going for one recommended by numerous sources. Last week, when Jessie was just 9 weeks old she went for an assessment/introductory session. For anyone who hasn’t already met her, this is Jessie.
She’s a golden Labrador retriever and has a lovely temperament. Labradors are known for their intelligence and ease to train (one of the reasons why we wanted to get one). The trainer we went to said she would be easy to train and seems very amenable (but she probably says that to everyone). She will do a four week course (the first four Saturdays in September I think, once she has had all her vaccinations) and then after that she should have all the basics grasped. We will of course have to keep up with the training at home, even puppies have homework. The trainer already showed us some stratgies to start at home which I’ll go into more below. We’re also looking at doing gun dog training with her in case J ever wants to shoot with her (it will also mean she is super trained).
So some of the key suggestions for training:
- The puppy should not walk ahead of you, she should ideally either be by your side or behind you. Slightly in front is ok if necessary but she shouldn’t be too far ahead.
- Use the puppies normal food as treats and give them lots of treats to reinforce good behaviour.
- When she has gone to the toilet in the correct place say ‘be quick’ (goodness only knows why) and offer several treats
- Praise after, not during, the good behaviour.
- Start lead training as soon as possible to get them used to it
- Focus on praise of positive behaviour rather than admonishing the bad
I hope this is useful to someone, once Jessie has started her proper puppy classes, I’ll do a more comprehensive training post.