Make sure that you set your puppy and yourself up to succeed, have everything ready before you start and have a clear training objective.
Sit: Hold the treat in your fingers as shown. Then place it nearly on the end of your pup’s nose. Slowly move it up and slightly backwards over your pups head, as he/she watches the treat go backwards his/her rear end should naturally go down. When his/her bottom hits the ground, immediately say your reward word, “good boy” or “good girl” or “good pup” and release and feed the treat. Do not forget the contact praise with your hand. When your pup is doing this each time, then use the word sit, when its bottom hits the floor. Remember, only use the command once. If your pup jumps up, wait until he/she has all four paws on the floor before rewarding. When you are confident that your puppy will do this exercise with the treat in front of its mouth, try this standing up straight in front your pup. Make sure it knows that you have a treat in your hand.
Down: Have two treats: Start with your puppy in a sit, and then move the treat perpendicular to the floor from its nose, then very slightly in towards you, in an “L” shaped movement. Do not move the treat away from your puppy otherwise, it will stretch to get it and get out of the sit or down. When your puppy is down and has his/her chest on the floor, treat and praise, then return to the sit to finish this exercise.
Puppy push-ups: Start with a sit, then move in to the down, then back to the sit. This is one repetition, one push up. Once you have achieved one sit-down-sit then continue in to a second one and then a third etc., until you can achieve sit-down-sit to at least six complete repetitions. The end is always a sit. Remember to have 2 bits of food in your fingers, the first one can be used at any time, except for the first sit, then the second bit of food is for the end. When you can easily achieve six continuous repetitions, then put in a delay in between each change of position, so it would be, sit, (count 5) then down (count 5) then sit, (count 5). This will start to make your pup realise that it does not move until you say so.
Holding a lead and walking your puppy correctly: Put your right hand through the loop of your lead. Then position your puppy so that it is sitting or standing next to your left calf/ankle. Grip the loose bit of your lead attached your puppy with your left hand with your thumb up the lead, so that your arm kinks in. There should be almost a straight line between your left hand and your pup’s collar with only a little bit of slack in the lead. When you are ready, say your pups name and command “heel” and step off. Walk briskly and with a huge amount of enthusiasm and positive body language, head and shoulders up. You do not need to keep checking where your pup is, you have a lead for that. Look ahead and walk with confidence. Make your puppy think that there is something very exciting around that next corner. Make sure that your puppy does not walk ahead of you or crosses in front of you. If your pup pulls, stand still. Wait for your pup to look at you, treat and reward and then go again. Keep stopping if necessary. You are trying to teach your pup that if it pulls, you will stop the walk, but it needs to look at you to achieve a reward.
Heel: requires your dog to watch you and walk precisely at your side. This is useful for crossing streets, being within the confines of a building, travelling through crowds or whenever the situation demands strict control and/or safety.
After your dog can walk a straight path without leaving your side, add left and right turns. Ultimately, your dog should learn to reverse direction with about-turns (turning away from your dog) and U-turns (turning into your dog).
Vary your pace! Take long slow steps, break into a trot or make fast turns or circles, so that your dog understands that he must follow your lead. A brisk pace especially helps medium and large dogs stay alert and interested.
Look at me: Put a treat on the end of your pup’s nose and then move it towards yours at the same to time say, Pups name, “look at me”. As soon as he/she has eye contact with you, reward him/her with the treat and praise him/her. Practice this at the point that you can say, “Look at me” or touch your nose as a visual signal and he/she will immediately turn and look at you.
Recall reminder: Please practice this exactly as described and demonstrated in class. By doing this now, you will be giving yourself a real head start to getting your re-call correct from the beginning. All of the aspects of this method are fundamental aspects of this technique.
Re-call. The object of this exercise is to get your pup to come back to you, from where it is and to leave what it is engaged in at that moment.
Bear in mind, you have to be more interesting, exciting and rewarding than what is currently maintaining its interest.
Never, punish your pup for coming back slower than you want or expect. You need to reward and praise each occasion with the same amount of enthusiasm and verve.
Always give your pup a food and praise/contact reward, even if when out walking and your pup just wanders back to you without you telling him/her to, reward anyway and loads of it.
A good trick is to have a treat in your hand and waft it under your pup’s nose just before you let it off the lead. It instills in your puppy the thought that you have something very tasty and rewarding and therefore worthwhile either staying close by for or coming back to. Try this and see the difference that this makes, with and without the treat. Be pleased when/if your puppy stays close to you.
Technique. Food treats for this can be, dried liver, chopped up hot-dog or small bits of cheese, cooked chicken are some that I use. Vary what you use so that it is always a tasty reward for your puppy. It should be attempted only when you are in a safe environment and one that you will absolutely have success. This exercise should be practiced from a distance from which that you are certain your puppy will respond. Be aware of your environment and any distractions that may influence your chances of success.
For example, do not try this if your puppy is racing around with other pups or dogs or you have excessive noise. When training, you are looking to achieve success at all times.
Make sure you have a treat in your hand before you start, then get your pup’s attention by calling its name, then say, “look at me”, make sure your it can hear and see you and when it looks at you say, “good boy/girl” for looking at you.
This is your check phrase, which allows you to establish in your own mind, do I have my pup’s attention? If not, then do not proceed with the rest of the exercise at this moment, instead, go towards your puppy and start again from a closer distance.
When you are happy you have your pup’s attention, say, “come”, clearly and firmly. As soon as your pup starts moving towards you, start going backwards quickly, arms wide open, this is a visual signal and welcoming gesture. Keep praising your pup all the time it is coming to you, remember, coming back to you is the most fantastic thing that it will ever do, so give it loads and loads of praise, “yes, good boy/girl”, be excited.
Keep verbally rewarding your puppy until it is about 8 feet away, then get down to its level, move your hands in front of you and use the food to lure your puppy in close to you so you don’t stretch or grab, reach under its chin, take hold of the collar. When you have control, give the food reward and at least 30 seconds of gentle voice and contact praise.
If your pup runs past you, reverse the direction you were going in and start going backwards again, remind your pup, “come” and continue the exercise as above until your pup comes to you.
When you are confident that your puppy will respond each time:
- Stop using the check phrase, “look at me”.
- As your puppy gets to about 8 feet from you, move your hands to the middle of your body, with the hand with the treat against your chest, out of your puppy’s reach. This movement will effectively “scoop” your puppy’s head up and in doing so it will probably sit in front of you without a word of command being used. However, you can use the sit command at this stage if you prefer.
An additional exercise. Let your puppy know that you have a really nice treat before you let him/her off, put it under his/her nose and then un-clip its lead then move backwards, facing your puppy, praising him/her all the time, when he/she gets to you, use the food to lure your puppy in close to you, so you don’t stretch or grab, reach under his/her chin, take hold of its collar. When you have control, give the food reward and at least 30 seconds of gentle voice and contact praise. Doing this will encourage your puppy to pay attention to you from the moment you let him/her off the lead.
Use of a whistle. The whistle can never lie to your puppy, if you blow it, you must give a food treat and praise for the response. It should only be used initially when giving your puppy its main meals, prepare his/her food and as you place the bowl on to the floor, blow the whistle 3 times, short blasts. This will start to build up the association of the sound of the whistle meaning “ah food”. Occasionally during the day, when you are close to your puppy and you have his/her absolute attention and a treat in your hand, blow the whistle, peep, peep, peep and immediately give the treat, this will help to reinforce the main meal times. Do not rush to implement this when out on walk, it takes patience. By rushing this process you risk losing the benefits of the whistle. I suggest you use an Acme gun dog whistle, (suitable for your breed of puppy) available from many online and high street pet shops.