Tricks, teaching an old dog new tricks.

I have a wonderful new Tricks class. Young dogs, like sponges, and owners that want to practice and learn and help their dogs to learn all they can.
Preparing for the Tricks class, I thought back to when my dogs were puppies, how much fun it was! So much to teach and willing puppies to try anything for a click and a treat.
But, my dogs are older, we’ve settled into what we do — Agility, NoseWork, Treibball, Obedience. When was the last time I taught my dogs a new trick? It’s been a while.
So, I took out the clicker and some treats. What to Shape?
I started with a couple of things I’d been needing to work on. Backing up. I had taught Tipper to back up until his back foot touched a cushion. I did this with B.H. & Frankie.
What fun! I realized as we played (and it does seem so much more like play than work) that not only was I having fun – But so were my dogs. Wow. Their eyes were sparkling, they started out offering every move they could think of. I had to stay alert. And I had to remind myself, like I remind my students: to be a splitter and not a lumper.  We went on to shaping a chin down on the floor.  I’m already looking forward to our next Clicker session with my 4 yr. old and 11 yr. old
When I was in the Karen Pryor Academy, I had an eleven yr. old dog. Alfie, a rescue, had not had much training. No clicker training. She was nearly deaf… But, she could hear the Clicker. She was so excited when I started playing Click & Treat. She bounced around like a 3 yr. old. She was having a ball. Yes, you can teach an old dog a new trick!
So, my question to you: When was the last time you taught your old dog a new trick with a C/T?
If it has been awhile — try it. Have fun. Your dog will!

Taking the next step

We train in our kitchen.  Lots of treats and praise.  We train in the living room.  Low distractions.  Lots of treats & praise.  We train at the training facility.  Lots of treats.  When to take the next step?

What is the next step?  Whatever the next step.  It needs to be a short step.  There is a saying:  Be a slicer not a lumper.  That goes for adding distractions.  Where do you go?  Park?  The front porch?  The training facility with other dogs, maybe a show n go?

When we train our dogs, we owe them the benefit of moving slowly through distractions so that they can be successful.

Choose the distractions that you believe your dog can handle.  Would you bet me 50.00 dollars that your dog can do 3 obedience behaviors while being 50 feet from another dog?  25 ft. from another dog.  5 feet from another person?

Taking a few minutes to plan your training sessions can help your dog be successful.  And isn’t that what we all want?

Short training sessions = big rewards

When Tipper, my Schipperke, was less than a year old, we took him on a trip.  At every rest stop and night time stops, I took him out on leash with my older Schipperke, Andy.  As we walked, I would say:  Stop.  They would stop, I would walk up to where they were and give them a treat.  Sometimes, instead of a treat, I would just say, ok, let’s go.  We probably did that exercise 5 or 6 times as we walked.  And being a pup, I took Tip out 5 -7 times every day.

One night, I accidently dropped Tip’s leash.  He started for the Expressway, not very far away.  I said – Stop.  And he stopped.  I picked up the leash and said:  let’s go get treats!  It took awhile for my heart beat to slow down, but Tipper did what we had practiced.  Those short training sessions saved Tip’s life.  I hope you can find time to add in short training sessions for your dog.  One or two minutes, 3 – 5 times a day.  See what your dog can learn.

Puppy classes

We offer puppy classes and Obedience classes for all ages. One of my assistants just brought home a puppy. A sponge. That is what a puppy is. A sponge. They soak up everything. 24 hours a day they are learning. There is no down time. You may think you are only training at a certain time each day or in a class once a week…but your puppy is learning all kinds of things and you need to be aware of what you are teaching your puppy whether you mean to be or not!
The best thing you can do for your new pup is find a trainer you like and take classes. Learn everything you can. Your puppy is learning everything he can and your pup wants to learn.

Puppy classes

5 Months old.  Still a puppy.  Today, one of my students said his dog’s call name should be:  Hand full!  Well, all puppies are a hand full.  You have a puppy that is trying so hard to figure out the world.  What works?  What gets him rewarded — what gets the good stuff?  As owners of these little balls of fur, we need to figure out what they consider a reward.  Food?  Toys?  Attention?  Puppies want to learn.  They are interested in everything and anything.  Going down a step or two is a big thing.  Seeing a fire hydrant for the first time – is a big deal!  The umbrella open and closed is a big deal.  Take time to watch your pup.  What makes him happy?  What scares him?  Watch your pup — he is doing his best to tell you what he is thinking.  Enjoy the ride…in no time at all, he will be an adult and sooner than you think — he will be old and you are going to ask yourself where all the time went.