A PRIMER IN PUPPY OBEDIENCE
As if we were a small wooden canoe navigating a big ocean with nothing but milk bone and a chewed-up leash in hand, puppy obedience has felt like a daunting task. Puppies are indeed adorable, but they’re also a lot of work. We’ve created a list of valid commands that we’ve gleaned from our constant reading and online surfing since we brought Barley home. We don’t know how we can show our gratitude to them for their assistance, and we hope that our stories can be of service to other new puppy parents who are having difficulties.
Sit is the canine equivalent of “please”: “please, please, please.” We repeatedly told Barley that she needed something from us or wanted to do something before it became a habit for her. Is your body itching to get some fresh air? Take a seat and enjoy the show. Do you want some kibble, please? Take a seat. Are you craving some fried pork skin? Yep. Take a seat. To make her sit naturally, hold the treat higher over her head and allow her to crane her neck to look at it.
An obvious one, but one that must be established at the beginning. After much deliberation (puppy dog eyes are natural and can make you feel like a terrorist), we decided that the best time to begin training our puppy was when he started behaving out.
Of course, it’s just as important to tell your puppy that they’re doing a great job by using a particular word. Barley is a big fan of this term. When we tell her “no,” we often neglect to congratulate her for her excellent behavior. However, be sure to reassure your fluffy companion that everything is fine! Many times Barley is a tiny people-pleaser who enjoys being complimented.
Training and treats were necessary to get my dog to respond promptly to my voice when I called. As soon as she hears the treats jingling around in a paper cup, she runs to see what is going on. We clapped our hands, tapped the floor, and lavished affection on her when she tumbled and kersploded into our arms, which was as crucial as making her want to come to us. To discipline Barley, we don’t use the word “come.” Instead, we go to her. The “come” order should not have any negative connotations.
Although more complicated, we’re still working on it. According to our findings, a hand placed in front of Barley’s face reinforced the message. Walk your puppy around in circles, go into another room, go back and forth between rooms, and help your puppy learn self-control.
Unfortunately, my dog lacks self-control when it comes to the down command. She enjoys lying on the floor and stretching out, but she doesn’t quite grasp the concept of doing so on order. We started the process with a treat in hand and a little movement of her front legs to get it started.
My dog is constantly on the lookout for updates on what’s happening, who’s doing what, and where things are. Suddenly, she had the uncontrollable urge to leap to inspect everything in sight: the tables, counters, and even the stove! When it comes to hot pans and kettles of boiling water, this is not just a scary intro to the scene in which a dog steals the Easter Ham/Thanksgiving turkey from the table but also a difficult period. “Off!” is all that is needed to stop her from attempting to climb.
We wish we had used this command more frequently with Jake in hindsight. A dog Jedi mind trick like “Watch me” was something we never even contemplated. Making eye contact with the dog causes them to refocus their attention on you. Those around you rely on you to provide them with direction and indications. We use this to jolt her out of a food- or tennis ball-induced reverie at mealtimes and fetch sessions.
“GO TO YOUR SPOT.”
A few specific “sites” in high-traffic areas of the house have been established for my dog from the beginning. We marked them with some old couch cushions, but even after we got rid of them, she was able to remember where they were. “Go to your spot” should result in your dog calming down in their allocated location. You can use this order when attempting to eat dinner on the couch while also watching the latest episode of Ultimate Survival Alaska, and your dog just isn’t going to cooperate.’ It’s time to wrap things up.
This may be the essential item on the list. There are so many distractions for my dog, such as chicken wing bones in the garbage, birds swooping overhead, and any wayward crackly leaves that cross her path that she needs to be reminded to go. She squats as soon as she hears it, and she does it frequently. Brilliant. Sarah Hodgson has shown us that it is possible to have a dog who eliminates on demand (more or less)! There are various ways to say this command, but the most important thing is that you continue doing it as much as you can during the daytime, whether it’s in a whisper, a coo, or a roar. And in front of people, you don’t even know.
This has come in handy while teaching my dog to fetch. A soaring tennis ball or a puppy’s desire to sip water are inevitable distractions for puppies. They’re brought back to reality with an appeal to “Go get it!”. As soon as she hears this, she understands that we’re trying to let her know that the ball is close by and that she’ll have to put in some extra effort to locate it. Suddenly, she’s flying at you, ball in mouth, smooth legs, and floppy tongue flapping in the wind!
When I first used it on my dog was to calm her in the middle of the night when she initially came to be with us. I’ve only lately started using it to aid with house training. When you successfully housebreak your puppy, you’ll be able to let them sleep through the night without worrying about their developing bladders. The only drawback is that they’ll wake you up around 6:30 or 7 a.m. every morning. It’s a fact of life. This may work well during the week, but not so much on the weekends when you’re looking to relax. Furthermore, she did it on cue and occasionally paused to stretch or drink water without any sense of urgency to go outside. Traitor! This “shhhhhhh” command has been demonstrated to extend a puppy’s slumber for an additional hour and to assist calm an overly agitated puppy who is on the verge of displaying erratic behavior in the crate. To love something is to use it.