Betty learning to sit

and down

High five!

Betty watching me!

Well this blog is really an exciting one for me to write, I am so excited by Betty and her training at just 11 weeks old!!!! As you won’t be able to guess what she did before I finish writing 🙂 I will just have to tell you :).

Betty went “down” on a word command only when she was 10 feet from me!!! yes she did! If you are not as amazed as me I want to know how come you are so clever:) ? And I will come to you for training!

It was just last Wednesday that she went down in front of me for the first time without my usual hand signal, and I think it only took that long because I have been teaching her sit, down and high-five! Normally I stick to 2 positions until a puppy gets them before introducing more, so she was slower than my other puppies have been to go down without a signal close by, but I think it has paid off! I obviously still have a lot to learn about dog training!

I haven’t ever asked a puppy of this age to go down at a distance from me before but 2 things happened earlier in the day that told me that Betty was cleverer than I was letting her be!

firstly the stuff we were doing in the kitchen and garden were so easy for her, I see it as easy for a puppy when they do the exercise really fast, and she was jet propelled!

But secondly it was when I was play retrieving with her in the garden. We had got into the habit when I threw a toy of her coming and lying behind me when I was sat on the grass, today I thought that is weird how I have let her do that, but like every dog owner I want success for her and I had continued to accept this as good enough, mmmm I thought, she is a Collie and I know her training genes, and she is well-bred for training, I wonder?  The next time she laid behind me with the toy, I didn’t look round, I stayed looking forward and said, daftly I know:) “Where’s Betty, oh Betty puppy, Betty Boop” and she came to the front of me! Well that was it now I knew she was being a Collie!!!! Collies will always try to control the game, herd the person and toy together, and that is what she was doing, albeit in a small way, she was turning me, just as Collies turn sheep! So no more turning from me, I threw the toy a couple more times, both times she went behind and both times I said “where’s Betty” and she came back round even faster, the third time I threw the toy she came straight to me in front! What is great is that not only have I made a big step in her retrieve I know more about Betty now too a lot more!

I must add when I say throwing the toy, I do only throw the toy a few feet from us, it is hot and she is young, I don’t want her exhausted:)

Anyway that is why I was thinking I have to push this little girl a bit more, not in a pressured way but simply ask and see what happens, I did just that. Which is why we came to be walking around the paddock, me with Betty’s dinner in my pocket and having done a few of the normal sits and downs and comes and high fives all as we walked around the paddock, I waited for her to wander away from me a little and said “Betty down” and she did, so having given her 5 bits of food in my excitement:) I continued to wait for her to go a bit further and try again! And, as I said before, she did it!!

No holding us back now, I am going to have to rack my brains for this little one to see what more we can do, while of course keeping these bits going!! 🙂

I must add too that since that first time Betty went down without the hand signal I sense her listening to me more, I could a bit before, but it is like now she has one word she wants to understand more! She is certainly responding appropriately when I say things like “where is it” when playing and similar. She may not know the words completely yet, but she is trying too and the best dog to train is the willing one:)!

I look forward to hearing about the words and signals your dogs understand and/or how they have surprised you:)?

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Betty waits for her turn with the yoghurt pot!

I do like yoghurt 🙂 not that I have one every day, over the years I have always given my older dog the pot when I am done, to lick out. First it was Truly and Teddy would wait for second pickings, when Truly died Teddy got the pot first and when Pie came along he got it second. Now it is Pie’s turn!

Betty has her turn with the pot!

Now that Pie has taught Betty not to jump on him, it seemed a good time to try out the yoghurt pot with Betty, I don’t give my young dogs food when I am eating generally, but I think this is a great way of emphasing the pecking order to Betty, and I love to see if she has accepted the order of life. As you can see in the photo, Betty pretends not to be interested in what Pie is doing, yet lies close enough to know, and the second he walks away from the pot she has it!

There are some days when I find it so easy to see how troublesome behaviour can start, even as a dog trainer I could easily get things wrong, and do!

Last week Betty had her vaccinations, I was a little concerned for a day or two as her tummy was a bit upset and she was a little quieter than normal,  Friday night she woke me just after midnight vomiting and I was sure I would be taking her to the Vet Saturday morning! I had withheld her fourth meal on the friday because her tummy wasn’t right and having spoken to Annie, her breeder, we agreed I was likely over feeding her, I usually do with my puppies, which shows itself with diarrhea!

Come saturday morning, Betty was back on full form, her energy level was back to normal and her appetite enormous, I gave her a very small breakfast to check out how her tummy was and all was fine and back to normal! How quickly little puppy’s can go from ill to okay!

Now it is hard to tell which was the issue the vaccinations or me over feeding, or both! She is the greediest puppy I have had, even more so than Pie, though only just! Having missed a meal she was sure her throat had been cut and she was starving, eating every bit of rubbish in the garden, so now her hunger could lead to her eating something really harmful! On Sunday I took her for a little walk by the lake near me and she soon found some left over crab pincers (I guess the fishermen use crab meat for bait?), now I am sure this couldn’t be great for a puppies tummy, I did my best to distract her with my tit bits but she was not convinced and finally I had to take it off her. I avoid taking anything food like off of my puppies always, unless it is really dangerous, and I must admit crab pincers are a new one on me.The reason I avoid this so much is because of how puppies learn, if you can imagine in the wild a puppy simply learns what is desirable to eat by whether the other animals want it or eat it, and taking anything away for a puppy means in the puppies eyes we are eating it! Therefore the more any of us take undesirable stuff off of our puppies the more they learn to think this very thing is desirable! I have seen this to such extremes that dogs eat the most unnatural and dangerous items.

So now I have a very hungry puppy and the added danger of her eating more unhealthy rubbish, though the dogs stomach is designed to cope with extreme bacteria! Having returned Betty to the house, Pie and I went out to the lake with rubbish bags, one over my hand, not just to avoid the bacteria but also to avoid leaving my scent in the area the crab bits have been, (Betty would then associate my scent and the crab bits) to clear this unusual rubbish up! Interestingly Pie was not at all interested in the pincers but then I guess he wasn’t exposed to them as a puppy so does not think of them as food!

The tummy issues caused more problems with Betty’s house training, we had got into a good routine, I knew for the most part when she would need to go and as a result her house training was coming along brilliantly, with the variation in her diet and her upset tummy her toilet routine has gone out the window as a result I am out of sync and we have had more accidents indoors, not Betty’s fault as she was not able to go out side so had little choice!

Now I am doing the best I can to fill her up without overfeeding her and rediscover her toilet times!

Betty eating harmless rubbish! Better known as exploring her options!

Pie trains Betty!

June 15, 2010

Betty trying to convince Pie that she is more interesting than his bone!

I am fascinated watching Pie and Betty, I don’t have them together all the time, they spend a good time apart or I will lose my puppy to Pie! And I need and want a good relationship with both of them! But when they are together I love to watch the interactions, in a little over a week Pie has taught Betty not to jump on him when he is lying down, well for most of the time! She does forget sometimes when she is very excited, how has he taught her you ask? 🙂 He is a lesson in determined persistence, he never loses his temper, the volume goes up sometimes to a bark, but mostly it is a grump noise that deters her! Every time she jumps on him he grumps, it took sixish times for her to get the message (the 6 repeats to train anything applies to this too it seems!), sometimes he backs up the grump with walking away, sometimes he stands up to bark then lies down again. Betty ends up squirming on her back looking as cute as she can to win him over, and submitting to boot! Sometimes, when she is half-hearted in her attempts he simply ignores her. The most I have seen him do under severe provocation is to hold her nose in his mouth, but he can’t be biting as I have not heard Betty squeal once, he hasn’t frightened her once! Pie is a very good puppy trainer! Every day and on every occasion he repeats the same similar procedure, and now he is reaping his reward, he can lie in the kitchen or garden nine times out of ten without being pounced on. Betty tries every angle, playing with his tail is allowed until she hits his tail bone, when the grump comes again!

My old Teddy, the dog that Pie grew up with was more fierce with him, I wonder if that was because Pie was a tougher puppy, but I suspect it was more to do with Teddy being a tougher leader, as was his Mum, Truly, who he grew up with.

I know in the wild the pack leader varies in how bossy and tough they are, it is about personality types, just as in people.

In dog training it is far more productive to be gently persistent, by repeating over and over the exercise or deterring a behaviour the dog will learn and retain training only through these consistent repetitions. Where as if “scare” tactics are used the dog simply freezes, learns nothing and once recovered from the scare will repeat the old behaviour.

Betty is truly learning not to jump on Pie, and I am coming to appreciate Pie in a new way. My dear Teddy, who died last February, was a saint of a dog, and it has been tough for Pie to become top dog in my heart, but he is working his way through just as persistently as he is training Betty!

Betty learns not to jump on Pie!

Let the training begin! Here is the first step of preventing or curing food possession in any dog, any age!

Follow the steps on the clip and repeat every day for  2 weeks, if your dog is already food possessive you may need to continue for a month, it will work, if you have any questions or comments please post them?

Dry food is ideal for this process, wet food can be used, but if you have a food possessive dog please consider changing to a good quality dry food. Contact me if you want more guidance.

Please show tell all the dog owners you know about this simple method of preventing food possession, it will save lives and injury to people!

More information coming on upcoming posts, watch this space!

Arabella's puppy now doing well in the show ring!

Arabella's puppy now doing well in the show ring!

Dogs are pack animals, which is why they live so well with us in our family units, which to them equates to the ‘pack’.  The most successful packs in the wild are those where there are clear rules, boundaries and constraints; every dog knows its job and what it can and can’t do.  Their survival depends upon clear rules and consistency. This in itself offers the dog a sense of security.

To give a dog the best possible start within our ‘pack’, we too need to clearly outline and instigate rules and boundaries.  Without these, our dog begins to display unwanted behaviours such as play-biting, jumping up uninvited, stealing and behaving like a real ‘wild child’!  Often we try to fix the actual problem but the underlying causes remain the same and the behaviour never really disappears.

Here is my list of suggested rules, which would remain in place until the dog is at least 2 years old:

  • Restricting the dog’s area when he or she is left alone
  • Not allowing the dog on furniture
  • Ensuring the dog moves out of our way when required – not us stepping over the dog or around it
  • No one is to play rough or ‘fighting’ games with the dog
  • Do not allow the dog to play fight/play bite with other dogs living in the household
  • No ‘tug of war’ games with the dog
  • No jumping up uninvited
  • No feeding the dog from the table or plates
  • All food and titbits should be ‘worked’ for, for example asking the dog to Sit for his dinner or titbit
  • Not constantly responding to the dog’s demands for attention – they do not require constant entertainment
  • When returning to the dog, ignoring him or her for at least 5 minutes before greeting (displays leadership skills and reduces over-excitement at your return)

Without rules and boundaries, your success in training your dog will be limited and you will not experience the true joy of a well-adjusted, well-mannered dog, which you can be justifiably proud.

If you experience problems in successfully instigating your rules or do not understand why any of the above are suggested, please contact me.