In the earlier blogs you have read detailed discourses on how to teach your pup to accept the leash, how to teach him not to make puddles in the house etc. Question comes what next? The time is ripe to initiate the pup for some systematic training lessons.
Being pack animals dogs lives are centered round their pack. Sometimes some pups either feel offended on seeing a creature of other pack-may be a human being or another dog. And sometimes some pups get shit scared of the other creature or noise or traffic. Therefore fist step is to make sure that you have an even tempered pup. Means a pup that is not affected by his surroundings to make get ready for an attack or tuck his tail between his hind legs and scoot. In case you have a pup who is aggressive or shy first you have socialize him to overcome his fears, get him used to smells and sounds other than his household ones; then start on a training schedule.
Coming When Called!
Let us consider for today that your pup is a normal even tempered pup. It is also presumed that your pup is somewhat trained to the command of Stay. By somewhat trained it is meant that your pup has been taught the command during his meals as explained in my earlier blog ‘The Invisible Leash’. From here we move on straight to brass tacks.
For Basic Training the only gadgets required area Choke Collar and a Training Leash. The Training Leash should be a ten feet long nylon tape, with a swivel hook secured at one end and the other end looped to make a handle. The length of the Choke Collar will vary according to the size of the dog. For example, German Shepherds, Doberman, Labrador Retrievers etc need an 18- 20” Choke Chain. Often people presume that use of a choke collar is cruel-it chokes the dog! It is not so. Ever observed puppies play? They catch hold of each other’s necks and give a loud shake, yet nothing happens. The neck muscles of dogs are pretty strong. Hence a mere tug from the choke caller does not hurt him but works as a reminder. For Advance Trainingapart from these two a Wooden Dumb Bell is required. This should be preferably made of lightweight wood, with adjustable bells to fit the width of the muzzle
Some Facts and Presumptions
Dogs are creatures of routine, as their biological clock is very accurate. Therefore, please stick to the time schedule of lessons. They learn by association of ideas. If you call your dog every morning and give him a slap followed by a biscuit, he will look forward to the slap daily. The hearing power of dogs is 80times more than ours. There is no point shouting at him. Whispered commands are enough. Their power of smell is their asset. They can make out the physical condition of all dogs that have left their ‘marks’ on the electric pole outside your house. In case you have a dog he will be able to sniff out a bitch in season within a kilometer radius of your house. Apparently innocent looking dog is able to watch his master’s facial expressions body movements through his powerful side vision. All these powers are help the dog as he learns the commands. It is presumed that your dog is house and leash broken.
Dog training revolves around timely reward and correction. Dogs are creatures of routine hence punctuality is the buzzword. As a routine if you take your dog out on a walk on return from office at 7PM, you will find that he waits for you patiently. In case you delay the walk, he gets impatient and may even cry or bark at you to hurry up. They observe minutest details. As the associations grow they even know the shoes you wear for walking. Dog carries the Hunting and Pack instincts; Guarding and Fighting instincts; Submissive instincts (including instinct of Fear); Sex, Cleanliness and Homing instincts. He makes use of these for his survival in the human society. We make use of these instincts in training the dog.
Training starts from the day the new puppy comes to your house. Your very first caress on his body carries the information that he is in loving hands. To love a dog is good, but to pamper him is bad. To correct a dog for a mistake is good but to punish him is bad. During the training period if required you have to act as if you are angry, without an iota of actual annoyance. You should learn to modulate your voice to reflect happiness and annoyance. Serious training starts when the puppy is four months old. However, it is not impossible to train an older dog, but requires more patience on your part. A young puppy is keen to please his ‘leader’. In an older dog habits are already set. You have to penetrate through them to establish a fresh communication system.
For developing a communication you have to have a command. The word of command may be in any language but it should be short. For example, commanding the dog to come to you instead of saying, ‘Bozo, you dirty dog come here’, if you just say ‘Bozo Come’ carries the message to the dog. Never use the name of the dog for reprimanding. For reprimand have another term, e.g. ‘Bad Boy’ in a gruff tone. Dog is no linguist, he understands only tones. No point using lengthy sentences on him. Apart from verbal commands you must use hand signals to communicate. Calling the dog to ‘Come’ accompanied with a hand signal is useful later on. You can even nod your head while calling him to ‘Come’ or for that matter any other command. Never raise your hand to hit the dog. He should consider your hands as appendages of love and reward.
Remember that once an order is issued it must be obeyed. In case you ignore your own order the dog will start ignoring you faster.Therefore, in case you are off mood, tense or unwell or your dog is in an unusually boisterous mood, postpone the training session to next day. Sometimes it happens that dogs break the training after doing well for few days. In that condition better start from the day one again.
It is a test of patience and perseverance because your brain and his brain are working on two different planes. You have to anticipate his next move in advance and if required correct him immediately with a sharp reprimand. Do not forget to reward the dog the moment he stands corrected.
The 15 minutes you spend with the dog while training him should be devoted to him fully. Your concentration and observation of his performance will get faster results. As far as possible during those moments avoid phone calls and should not be disturbed by the other members of the family. The training session should be a pleasant experience for both of you. At the end of the session ‘release’ the dog with an ‘Okay’ and a pat on his chest. He will soon understand the significance of this. At no stage the dog should be bored. Puppies develop a bolt complex after the age of four months, since they realize that they can out run you and love to play ‘catch me if you can’. Therefore, the training leash should remain attached till the dog is convinced that come what may he can not run away from you. The training sessions should be brief. Enclosed Training Progress chart indicates the duration of training.
During the training session small pieces of fried liver or crunchy biscuits or any eatable of his choiceshould be kept handy to be used as a reward. Food as a reward makes your job easy, though sometimes makes the dog a greedy one. There should not be a moment’s hesitation in rewarding or correcting the dog. A command obeyed must be rewarded immediately and for the command ignored, dog must be corrected forthright. Often people follow these instructions to the letter, but they forget to reward the dog after the correction has been successful. For example, he runs away with your socks. You correct him with a sharp NO he drops the sock and looks at you. At that time go to him slowly and praise him for dropping the socks. There is a chance that as you move towards him he may run away with your socks. To avoid that go on repeating NO in deep throated tones and use a hand signal to stop him. Remove the socks from his hold and praise him a lot. As we proceed ahead with commands, you will learn more about the reward and correction.
The ultimate objective of the training is to make your dog work with you as a team. The first step in this direction is that he should come to you when called. As a small puppy curiosity drives him to go to the master or any other member of the family. Combined with your calls and various sounds with which you attract his attention, he comes running to you. As he grows older, he may not come to you every time you call him. After the age of four months, the puppy runs away on being called. There are various reasons for this. One is you might have tied him after calling him and the other is the ‘Bolt complex’. The puppy realizes that he can out run you. The method devised by us after years of observation of ethology (behavior) of dogs is fool proof and time tested. As already mentioned, dog learns by association of ideas. Therefore let the idea of coming to you be associated with pleasure (i.e. a reward) and not a punishment (like tying him).
Word of Command: COME
- Take the dog to a room with less furniture.
- Put on the choke chain round the neck of the dog and attach the training leash.
- With end of the leash under your foot, occupy a chair and you can be at ease with a Newspaper to keep you occupied.
- Let the dog roam around in the room for couple of minutes and then all of a sudden stand up and give tug on the leash with your right hand and while holding the leash, call him in a sweet tone.
- The command COME should be preceded by his name. For example, Bozo…COME. (Please note that there should be a second’s gap between his name and the command.
- Driven by the curiosity about your actions like bolting the room from inside and your sweet tone to call him etc. in all probability he will come to you.
- As soon as he comes to you, pat his forehead gently and praise him with sweet words like ‘Good boy’ and make lot of fuss over him.
- There is a possibility that he ignores your command and remains busy chasing a fly. If so give a louder tug on the leash and again repeat the word of command only. Please do not shout his name. Just a few tugs with command COME are enough to make him move towards you.
- Repeat the procedure twice or thrice in duration of five minutes.
- After 3 days of practice in the room and when you notice that his response is pretty good, change the venue to some other room, courtyard or verandah in the house.
- Gradually shift to your lawn.
- After about ten day’s practice inside the house, you should be able to take him to a park and repeat the procedure.
- Please note that you start from the privacy of the room and gradually shift to locales with distractions.
- In 15 days the dog should be coming to you expressly without any delay or inhibition. In case he breaks the training at any stage, you have to go back to the room and start from day one again.
- The leash should not be removed at this stage. Generally most of the trainers remove the leash after becoming confident that the dog has learnt the command. There is a remote possibility that while obeying your command, he is all the time thinking to run away. Removal of leash will give him the desired opportunity.
- The leash will be used constantly all through the basic course. This makes the dog believe that he can not run away under any circumstances.
- At no stage of training you should loose patience or temper. Always remember that it is a concentrated session of 15 minutes only, your patience and coolness will go a long way in training. Dog can make out even your mental agitation in seconds. Therefore please be calm.
After a daily practice for 15 days in all likelyhood your dog has understood the command COME. He comes to you every time he is asked to.