Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Building blocks

Lots of people teach their dog to sit, some to shake a paw and a lay-down command is usually attempted too.
If you really want to make your a dog a well-mannered canine guest in your home, though, you need to accomplish a lot more than just these standards techniques.
Sit, shake and lay down are pretty basic as far as training goes. You work on getting them to do it, they do it, and voila! training is complete.
So much of training, though, is done in layers. One command is merely a building block for another.
Oftentimes, when people ask how I trained my dog to do this or not do that, they get a long and complicated answer. They are usually overwhelmed and unwilling to attempt this themselves.
Suit yourself. But trust me, if you put in the work, you will reap the reward.
For instance, my dog has been taught that ripping up toys is OK, but swallowing the pieces of them is not.
Before we could train him that swallowing was unacceptable, though, we had to train him a drop-it or release command.
Once he was good at that, we tackled the chew, shred and swallow full force.
Unlike a sit command, training this type of behavior is more of a conditioning than a command and it requires the utmost diligence on the human’s part.
Every time Sensi had a toy, we watched him out of the corner of our eye. We’d discreetly be paying attention as he ripped off a piece of the toy.
If he didn’t spit the piece out on the floor, we swooped in.
“Bad dog!” I’d say. “Drop it!”
If he spit the piece out, we also swooped in — this time with treats that we kept close so there wasn’t a delay in our response time.
“Good dog!” we’d coo, giving the treat.
If we couldn’t get him to stop swallowing pieces from a particular toy, it was taken away. After a couple hours, we’d give it back to him and repeat the process.
There are so many very good, very money-related reasons to teach your dog not to chew, shred and swallow.
Read tomorrow to find out why.

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