Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Sit Means Sit

Since the last post, we've successfully completed 4 more training classes and "graduated" the class.  I'm trying to recall all the other important training items we've learned and may or may not have successfully taught to our dog(s).  Yes, plural as we've adopted a second the day we took our last class.

So lets recap what we've learned:
1. Never let your dog go out the door first.
2. Teach your dog to come.
3. Walk your dog, don't let it walk you.
To add to those lessons, here are some more things we learned in weeks 2-5:

4.  Teach your dog a "Jackpot" word. 
This lesson is all about having a secret word that you only use on your dog in emergencies such as he runs out in the road after a squirrel or he's about to get hit by a car.  You yell the word, and no matter what, your dog is going to come running back to you.  Different then Come as that is hit or miss with us depending on what's going on around the dog at the time.  The key to this is using the word only in emergencies and always rewarding your dog with something crazy good.
We decided that our word would be Hot Toddy which I had in my head was spelled Tottie which is apparently wrong.  To train Porter (and now Stout too) a couple of times a day for a month straight you yell the word, when the dog comes to you grab it by the collar and yell the word again, then proceed to feed the dog deliciously good meat, cheetos, treats, etc. for 30 seconds straight.  Now the first time you yell the word, you might have to drag it over to where you were standing when you yelled the word, but after about 2 times, your dog will pick it up pretty damn quickly and come bounding over to you.  We started the training yelling this in the house when the dog was playing or sleeping.  Then we graduated to out in the back yard, and next we're hoping to try it out at the dog park.  Let me tell you that the back yard test definitely worked because Porter ran to the fence to bark at a dog walking past and as soon as we said it she bolted over to us practically drooling at the anticipated reward.  We like this one as it's not time consuming and we get a satisfying feeling since it ALWAYS works.
5.  Lecture your dog like you would your child.
If you ever catch your dog doing something bad (wetting in the house, chewing up a shoe, eating your wood trim, etc.) you hold them and stare them in the eye and proceed to lecture them in a calm but firm voice for about 1 minute.  If you don't catch them in the act, but see the evidence that they've done something bad, you walk them over to the place the act occurred and lecture them for a full 15 minutes.  The instructor taught us that this may seem like a long time, but it seems like an eternity to your animal.

After lecturing, make sure and leave the evidence out where you found it (unless it's a puddle of pee in the middle of the room).  The idea is that you should let the shoe, table leg, sock, etc. tempt the dog (and most likely it will) and if it occurs again, lecture them again.  At least if it does happen again it would hopefully be the same, already 1/2 eaten shoe, rather than a brand new one.  This may happen 2 or 3 times, but after that many 15 minute long lectures, your dog should learn its lesson.

6.  Leave it
Teaching your dog to "leave it" can be very valuable, especially if it's something your dog is trying to chase or put in its mouth.  To train this, feed your dog several treats from your hand.  After giving it 4 or 5 pieces, put the next piece in your hand, hold it down for your dog, say leave it, then when your dog goes for it, close your fingers.  If your dog is quicker than your hand, make sure and at least attempt to pull the treat out of its mouth.  If he's not quick enough, never give the "leave it" treat to your dog, throw it away or put it on the counter to feed them later.  Start with a new one, give him a few of those, then try "leave it" again with a different treat.  This also works using your foot.  Put a few treats on the floor, one by one.  Then put a new treat on the floor and say "leave it" and when your dog goes for it, cover it with your foot.  Once you feel your dog will leave this specific treat, put a few more on the floor near it.  If your dog goes for the leave it treat again, cover it with your foot and say leave it.  Once your dog has mastered this with treats or dog food, graduate to bacon or food wrappers.  The idea is that if you drop medication on the floor or your dog tries to lop up some yummy anti freeze then they would leave it for good.

7. Teach your dog to notify you that it wants to go outside.
Our dogs don't bark so this is a challenge for us.  Some people use the bell technique, but if you go to a friends house, they may not have a bell hanging from the door.  So, an easier way is to teach your dog to "speak" when it wants to go outside.  We started this by teach our dog to "speak" in general.  You can do this a couple ways.  If your dog barks while playing or at any other time, say speak.  At some point the idea is the dog will associate the bark with the word speak, then when you say speak it would bark.  We tried another method that seems to be working, but takes 2 people.  Person A yells speak and person B (sitting on the ground next to the dog) barks like a dog.  Continue to do this and at some point your dog will take a queue from person B and bark as well.  When this happens, give the dog praise and a treat.  Once the dog has mastered speak, ask it to speak before it goes outside.  We've mastered speak, but haven't asked the dog to speak to go outside, so not sure how easy this will be.

We learned a few other things in classes 2-5, but these were the most memorable and useful lessons.  Most of the last two classes were simply question and answer time as well to re-visit what we'd learned earlier. 

There's a second training class where you perfect these lessons as well as learn to have more control over your dog when it is off leash.  I pretty much guarantee we won't make it to those. 

Stout (the day we brough him home, 9/24)

Porter and Stout, tuckered out

Stu and Stout (aka Little Man)

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