This article was published in the AKC Gazette, March 2010 Issue
written by:Helen Gleason, Lutz Fla.
When does training begin? It begins in the whelping box, and the first
teacher is the dam of the litter.
The breeder begins handling puppies at birth, fondling and talking to
them daily. When the pups begin to climb out of the box, the more
assertive and higher drive pups are usually the ones to begin exploring first.
Puppies imitate their parents. When they are permitted to roam, they will
follow their parents anywhere, and they thoroughly trust them.
Following are some tips:
Lead-training of 6-week-old pups can be easily done by using a light-
weight nylon collar and lead that the pup does not even know it is wearing
and letting the pup pull ahead to follow the parent.
*Very low and smaller-scale agility equipment (especially tunnels, which
pups love) can be used to acquaint the youngsters at 8 weeks of age to
prepare them for future competition.
Again, let them follow a parent.
Puppies have no fear at a young age and are anxious to try anything. It is
our job to keep them safe.
*Table-training is a great way to teach the sit and down. Table height
should be about 6 to 12 inches. The table should be a pleasant placeto be.
Grooming on a low table should also take place at an early age.
*Try to interpret situations and contacts from the perspective of the
dog's reactions and abilities.
*Success should come at the end of an act of training. The dog must
understand that at the end, a certain thing will take place. For example,
tracking will lead to the reward of finding his ball. If he is told to sit and
does so, a reward will be given in the form of a pat on the side or a treat.
*Commands should be given only once and in the same tone of voice.
If the dog is told sit and does not, do not repeat the command. Instead,
gently show him what you are looking for by pushing down on his
hindquarters. When he does what you ask, reward him for the act.
*Anticipate the dog's actions. Think ahead of him. Give your command
to not step over a boundary line before he reaches the line.
*Short training sessions at multiple times a day are best for training
*Be sure the dog understands each part of an exercise before moving
on to the next.
*Give the dog time to react to a command. Speak slowly and distinctly.
For example, when training the sit, there is no reason to give the dog's
name first, then the sit command, and then stay. This is too much and
becomes garbled in his mind; simply give the command sit.
*Initially try to locate each activity and command at or near the same
location. For example, say the word brush prior to grooming. Let him see
the brush, and eventually he will run and get it so you can spend quality
time grooming him.
*Have patience. If you feel yourself getting frustrated, stop.
The dog is not a human being. He is probably more successful as a dog
than you are as a human being. His pleading, liquid eyes and his wagging
tail say that he wants to do what you would have him do but that you are
not as intelligent as he is, or else you would tell him in his language what
you wish to say to him.
Hug your kids and your dog today.
-Helen Gleason, Lutz Fla;
"This article first appeared in the March 2010 AKC Gazette and is reprinted with permission. To subscribe, go to akc.org/pubs "