Training puppy: where to start?

Discussion in 'Dog Training Forum' started by sourjayne, Aug 21, 2006.

  1. sourjayne

    sourjayne New Member

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    I guess this is my first post here, so, hi, I'm Sarah, I live in Seattle, I have a puppy who was born May 7 so he's about 15 weeks old now. His name is Louie and he's a long-haired chihuhaua. He's big for a chihuahua, almost 4 pounds already. I'm glad he'll be a good solid size but still small enough to take everywhere with me. He's very sweet and cuddly and eager to learn, and very smart. :)

    I came to this forum after searching google for forums on dog training, so I hope it's okay for me to ask some training questions here.

    We've taken a 4 week puppy kindergarten class, Louie has "sit" on verbal command very well. He can do "down" with a lure but he thinks he's supposed to put his paws on the lure :) We're working on coming when called, "drop it", "leave it", and I even got him to rollover a couple times just for fun. He also has "go potty" on command, but sometimes that means #1, sometimes it means #2, sometimes both... I've tried separating the two toilet actions to put both on command, but he doesn't seem to get it for some reason.

    He's not going to be a competitor in any way, just a companion, but I want him to be well-behaved.

    My main goal is to have a dog I can communicate with -- verbally or hand signals -- to say "sit," "drop it," "leave it," "come," "wait," "go to your spot," "stay," "settle," "lie down," "off the couch," etc. I also think it would be fun to have a dog who can "shake," "wave hello," "dance," "rollover," and maybe even find something I ask for and bring it to me, wouldn't it be awesome if he went to my cell phone when it rings and brought it to me? Ha ha.

    But I don't want to confuse him or me by working too many things at once. That seems like a big long list to me! How long will things like that take? Can I work on multiple things at once, or should I "check them off the list" one at a time?

    I got a clicker the other day, but haven't really gotten into training with it too much. I'm not sure he understands what it's for... I'm not sure I understand it entirely. I'm still reading "Click for Joy" and am thinking about getting another book on clicker training but am not sure which one.

    So if you have any advice on any of the issues we're having, or any advice on where to go next, or on a book I should check out, I'm all ears. Thanks everyone!
     
  2. MomOf7

    MomOf7 Evil Kitty taco eater

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    Hi and howdy neighbor. Im down here in Shelton!
    15 weeks is young and he has learned quite a bit already. I would keep working on the basics for now and work in one trick at a time. Make sure he has that trick down pat then move on to the next. Doing too many at once may confuse him and having him go through every trick he knows untill he gets the right one.
    Also remember thier attention span at this age is short. SO keep the training sessions short as well. I would say no more than 10-15 min.
    Im sure there will be other opinions but this is how I train my dogs.....One concept at a time.:D
    Kristine
     
  3. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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    Welcome. I'm am from the Seattle area too, not now....but before. LOL. My daughter lives in west Seattle (Alki area) and I go visit her often. I'm going there in Sept.

    I have a Doberman and two Chihuahuas and my son's dog, a Pit/GSD/Boxer???? mix.

    It sounds like you're doing wonderfully with your little dog. Keep going to classes if you can and the most important thing I can think of.....a huge priority for me is socialization....lots of it, not only to all kinds of people, but places, objects, all kinds of grooming things, social visits to the vets...just for a cookie and a little fun visit (5 minutes) once a week or so. I like to work on more than one thing at a time so the dog doesn't get bored with too much repitition. Of course, there's a happy medium so as not to do too many things all at once. But sit, down, stay, come, you seem to have a handle on. Starting with another trick would be fun. As long as the dog is able to focus and is having fun, that's the main thing.

    The two best books I have ever read are Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson and Don't Shoot the Dog by Karen Pryor. She literally "wrote the book" on clicker training. She revolutionalized clicker training for dogs after having used the concept with training dolphins. Culture Clash, if I had my way (lol) would be required reading for anyone who wanted to own a dog. I highly recommend it. These experts reeeeeeeeeelly know dogs, their behavior and how they learn. :)

    I commend you on your intellectual curiosity, desire and dedication to do the right thing by your dog. You're doing fantastically already!

    My girl Chi is 6yrs. old and about 6 lbs. She's tough as nails. LOL. My boy is actually a mix and is about 13LBs. Gotta love 'em! Great little dogs.
     
  4. sourjayne

    sourjayne New Member

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    Hey, with a trick like bringing me my phone when it rings, how long do you think that will take to teach?
     
  5. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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    Hard to say. It depends on so many factors. If you read those two books though first, you'll know just how to go about it.
     
  6. Roxy's CD

    Roxy's CD New Member

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    Hi! Welcome, howdy neighbor! Not really but it sounds funny! LOL

    It sounds like your doing an awesome job so far! *gives you a gold star*

    Your doing everything above and beyond! So kudos to you!

    I'd just wait a bit for the more challenging activites, and make sure you have the basics down. (not that your NOT ahead of the game already! LOL)

    So- sits, downs, stays, perhaps some loose leash heeling, leave it/take it is nice and drop it when playing as well.

    I'm working with my girl now on bringing drinks. She's almost two! It can be done, it just takes some time and patience.

    Take your time, and lay down the basics well! It sounds like your doing an awesome job though! I'm impressed!! :D
     
  7. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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    I agree with Roxy...basics first. Not only are those in and of themselves so important, but they also, in the long run help the dog learn HOW to learn. So, when it's time for more complicated stuff, they're already sort of use to thinking in that way. But you could teach something simple like shake hands. Also, a good thing to teach is the "give" and "take" game so he learns to give you things without making a fuss about it. Also, "watch me." That one is really important. They need to learn to be attentive to you so they can hear what you're asking them to do. I consider that sort of the foundation for everything else you're going to be doing in the future. (well, actually, I consider the relationship the foundation, but other than that....) LOL.
     
  8. Roxy's CD

    Roxy's CD New Member

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    Stuff like "off the couch" and "settle" or calm will just come from everyday activites. Don't FORCE it on your pup, but I'll bet you, if you use those words everyday, combined with body language, I'm sure you'll see them working.

    Same with drop it. You don't have to do everything at school, or at a certain period of "training time" at home. A lot of obedience and commands are used and learned through everyday activities.

    Ex) Your playing with your puppy. You want the toy so you can throw it. You say "drop it", and take the toy. Not everything has to be taught in that "training setting, or mentality". A lot of good behaviours can be learned from everyday activites! :)
     
  9. sourjayne

    sourjayne New Member

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    Okay, a more basic question (or two)

    Training down: He seems to think down means something like target my hand as it goes down on the ground. I say the verbal cue, and he seems to know what I want: he looks instantly at my hand, and as soon as it begins to move, he pounces on it with his paws. When it's on the ground, he puts his nose on it and puts his body in the down. He can't seem to figure out that he can be in the position I want without my hand there! :D (goodness he's cute though!) If I say Down but don't do anything, he doesn't do anything either. If I don't have a goody in my hand, he might be fooled into pouncing once, but he doesn't fall for it again. I don't know why it's so hard to teach him this, he got Sit really easily. It was really hard to even get him to go down -- I had to lure him under my legs to get him to lower his body down. Now I'm getting the position but he seems to think there's more to it than just being in the position :)

    Also, I wanted to start teaching Drop it, and was doing pretty well: I'd get him playing with a toy, then put a treat up to his nose and say "drop it" when he dropped the toy to get the treat. Seems easy enough. But it's hard to get repetition -- once he knows treats are around, he doesn't have much interest in playing with a toy! I wait until the next time he's playing, but as soon as he sees me going for the treats, he stops playing (and starts sitting. "See how good I am? I'm Sitting!") I haven't done enough reps yet for him to know the verbal, so I don't know what to do to be able to get a lot of reps.
     
  10. sourjayne

    sourjayne New Member

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    Also, how do you teach settle or calm down?

    I'm also working "hold still" (for nail clipping, or if I need to put on his collar/harness/whatever.) I was trying to trim his nails and hand fed him each piece of kibble from dinner whenever he was still. I was trying to use the clicker at first, but then I started putting the clippers to his nail and saying "good" when he let me touch the nail without flinching or struggling (I was out of hands to click the clicker too!) I would just say "hold still" and give him a treat and say "good" for a few seconds of stillness.

    How long should it take for him to understand what "hold still" means? Is settle similar?

    I haven't started "off the couch" training because he's too little to jump off the couch on his own yet. I want to try it with a cushion on the floor or something, but haven't gotten around to it yet. Definitely on the list though.

    I have the books you guys recommended on hold at the library, but would love some advice in the meantime :) I'm overly eager, I guess.
     
  11. sourjayne

    sourjayne New Member

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    Louie loves tug. If I try to take the toy, he'll start a game of tug. He loves tug so much he'll bring a toy over to my hand and start to pretend I'm trying to take it :D

    I was teaching him how to retrieve, with tug as his reward... it worked pretty well... but I'm not sure how to get him to drop it. When treats are involved he stops wanting to play with toys. He loves food even more than he loves tug :)
     
  12. Roxy's CD

    Roxy's CD New Member

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    With Roxy and Hades, there was no treat involved. I'm a bit of a meanie when it comes to certain things, and personally, I just don't feel, being the alpha, that I should have to "trade" you for anything. :eek:

    Say we were playing tug with the rope. First off with tug, I NEVER let Roxy or Hades "win". They never get the rope by pulling and tugging furiously. And when I say "Enough!" they must drop it immediately. Both of those commands/ ways of playing tug will help ensure that this what can be fairly agressive game does not lead to dominance in everyday situations.

    With the rope for ex. He is tugging. You say "drop it!" or "enough!" (I use drop it for things that they are not allowed to have in their mouth or I don't want them to touch anymore, "Enough!" is used ONLY for playing with toys).

    So, I say "Enough!", and stop pulling back on the toy. He probably won't drop it right away. He may persist by tugging and trying to play. Ignore him. Only say the command once. Don't make eye contact. Pretend he isn't there, but keep a tight grip on the toy! Do NOT let him get it! Eventually, he should let go and sit back and look at you like, "Why aren't you playing anymore mom?", Than you reward with praise, and you can play again.

    The mentality of "Enough!" is very similar to that of "leave it/take it".

    With leave it, you only say the command once, and the dog is forced to figure out how to get the treat on their own. They try to knaw your hand and lick it, and that doesn't work... than when they move away you reward that behaviour. So they learn, that when mom says "leave it", if I move away I get the treat!

    Same with "enough!", when mom says enough, I drop the toy, then we play again!

    Of course later on, "enough!" and "leave it" are used without reward sometimes, maybe just verbal.
     
  13. Roxy's CD

    Roxy's CD New Member

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    OK, sorry you've just got a lot of questions, (not that that's a bad thing! And they're great questions!) so I had to regroup! LOL

    So with down. He is still very young, very young to even be going down at all! So give yourself a pat on the back for that one. :)

    Do it, three times, luring him down. When he goes to paw or sniff your hand for the treat, pull your hand back so he can't. If he stays down, (he'll probably get up to follow your hand) reward him! Only wait a second or two after pulling back!

    If he moves, "eht!" or "ah ah", and put him back in the down position. Wait a second or two and reward.

    Do you know the hand signal for down?

    You put a treat in your hand, raise your hand vertically above your head, than bring it down. On your way down, you put the treat by their nose, so they catch a good whiff, and then slowly bring it down. He should follow your hand to the ground.

    (Seeing as he's so small, I'd probably do this on my knees)

    After he's listening reliably to the command/signal, try just one or the other. Perhaps just the verbal command, than there's no way that he can pounce on your hand for the treat.

    I wouldn't worry about it too much though, he is still *very* young and doing so well it sounds already!

    As for "calm" or "settle". I just use "sshhht". If my guys get over excited about something a quick, in human terms what would be considered rude, "ssssht" always does the trick.

    IMO, how I do "sshht" or "calm", is 99% based on my body language and demeanor. I don't yell, or scream, or spaz out. It's a very calm, confident body language and tone. Very relaxed. (Had to add, disgusted came to mind as well, when re-reading... like I'm disgusted with the behaviour, if that makes any sense at all! :) LOL )

    And for clipping nails, a lot of people get messed up when the dog struggles and they say: "Oh quiet baby! It's ok! Just ssh, calm down, your fine, it's okay baby.." etc. You get my drift.

    If either of my guys struggles to get up while I'm clipping nails (Which is basically never, BUT if someone knocks on the door, or they hear something outside they will) A very firm, "Hades. Stop it. It's fine". That's it. Firm, authoritative voice. No baby talk. No goochie goochie. Very firm. Not angry, or yelling. Stern I guess would be the best word :)

    Hope I helped you out! :D
     
  14. sourjayne

    sourjayne New Member

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    I know, I have a lot of questions! Thanks so much for taking the time to help me! This is some great stuff!

    I guess it's easier to take the toy away from a dog who doesn't actually lift off the ground if you pull the toy up. ;) I will try just hanging on until he finally gives up -- that might work. Thanks!

    Also, I hear ya on the goochie goochie stuff -- I just say "hold still" and hold him and wait until he holds still. If he really struggles, I say "Hey!" and then back to "hold still."

    Also I think it was Doberluv who said make sure I work on "watch me" -- we did work on that in puppy class a little bit, but I use his name as the command. I want his name to cause an automatic "look at me" response. I used Shirley Chong's lesson where she just says the cue, clicks, treats, over and over. (http://www.shirleychong.com/keepers/Lesson6.html)

    It's not quite there yet, but obviously he's still young. He'll pay attention to me when I have treats, but if he knows I don't have anything and he's got something interesting going on, he pretty much ignores me. But she does say to do this something like three times a day for a week :eek: I've done it three or four times in the last three weeks or so :/

    Obviously I can't give him treats all the time -- when one meal consists of about 40 pieces of kibble, a few additional treats add a lot! The best is when I can use parts of his dinner. Thank goodness he's so excited about food that he even gets excited about an individual piece of kibble!

    He's so cute. I love puppies.
     
  15. JHolland

    JHolland New Member

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    Hi Sourjayne

    Hi Sourjayne,

    It sounds like your doing a great job already! Louie's still only a pup so remember to take it easy and get all the basics done really well, also it sounds like he's very bright and eager to please you. Thats the first step to teaching any command or trick.

    Young pups haven't got fully developed brains yet so they have a little trouble 'focusing' so keep it all really fun and quite slow and you can't go wrong. Also thier little doggie brains absorb everything they see and hear and commands like 'off the couch' will become obvious to him after a while - just keep saying it to him and lift him off the couch and onto the floor, and he'll get the jist of it very quickly.

    I've never been into clicker training, i train my dog Olive (small Jack russell terrier) with rewards and play and have had excellent results.

    The pouncing on your hand/fingers thing is almost automatic to a youngster pup like yours. They just see a blur of movement (as their occipital lobes are still developing) and want to catch it. If you persist he will get it, but try to keep your hand movements nice and slow and keep your hand gestures all very distinct from each other. Keeping your hand gesture way out of reach is another good way of avoiding 'the pounce'!

    Hand gestures are excellent prompts for commands (especially with voice commands too), as you've got two triggers for the command you're twice as likely for your pup remember what to do!

    I just point to the ground now and Olive just dives for the 'lie down' position! but it does take a while.

    Also i found that doing the very simple tricks you know he knows, and rewarding when he gets it perfectly right, is always a good training session starter, keep doing the basics every day and he'll start to realize he DOES understand you, he's just got to think about it a little.

    Have you taught him the 'Drop it' command yet? it's very easy and will stop you lifting him off the ground :)

    Here's olive doing some of our fun tricks!

    [​IMG]
    'Roll over' - my favorite! and a nice easy one to teach.

    [​IMG]
    'Spin'

    [​IMG]
    'Beg'

    I think you've done really well so far, just keep it nice and slow paced. It's obvious Louie loves you! and thats the start of a great training relationship! I think you've got a winner!

    Good luck with your future training!

    J and Olive
     
  16. sourjayne

    sourjayne New Member

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    Olive is too cute!
    The lifting him off the ground comment came after I asked how to teach Drop it and Roxy suggested I just take the toy. I explained that I can't just take it without taking him with it :D So I guess I just have to hang on, no tug, and wait for him to let go. Still not too sure on that one...

    Thanks for all the great advice everyone!
     

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