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Special cases

Special cases

The exercises in section two are designed to help you train all sorts of dogs at all sorts of ages and stages. But there are a few cases where a slightly different approach is needed, or you might need to make allowances. 

Puppies

Having a new puppy in your life is an exciting experience, and with careful planning and diligent ownership, your puppy should mature into a wonderful companion who will grace your life for many years. Always remember that you are constantly teaching your puppy through your responses and actions. The simple training tips and techniques in the Bronze and Silver sections of the exercises will ensure that your puppy grows into a well-mannered, obedient, sociable adult. The early weeks are important in teaching your puppy how to respond to stimulus, and the environment in which your puppy was raised will have some influence on how he behaves when he first goes out into the big wide world. If he was born in a kennel, he may not have heard everyday household noises before. You do not need to creep about but take into account that the sights, sounds and smells in your home may be a new experience for him. Clicker training and TTouch are excellent ways to help your puppy learn and to adapt to new situations and can be invaluable for helping puppies that may not have had the best of starts in life.

Puppies naturally explore what to them is an exciting new world by scent and taste

If your puppy is doing something you deem to be unacceptable, remember that he is behaving naturally and does not understand that he should not act in this way. Puppies often run into problems because the owner has inadvertently (or deliberately) triggered unwanted responses through lack of understanding and poor education. For example, a puppy that has learned that human hands and feet are fantastic toys to grab and bite is unlikely to stop this behavior automatically. Use the containment exercise (way 11), greeting exercises (ways 6 and 15) and play exercises (many) to prevent these problems from developing or escalating.

Puppy rearing can be challenging and sometimes owners feel as if they are always having to chase round after their puppy saying, ‘NO!’. Veterinarian and behaviorist Dr Ian Dunbar made a lot of sense when he said, ‘There are many “wrong” things that your puppy can do and not that many right things, so why keep it a secret? Teach him how you want him to behave and reward him for doing it!’

NEVER MAKE ASSUMPTIONS

Many dogs seem to think that they are called ‘Oi!’. Others appear totally deaf when their owner says, ‘Come’ but come running when they hear ‘What’s this’ or ‘Sweeties’. (Sarah and Archie think back to their early days together, cough and look sheepish at this point) and sadly it is the dog that is often blamed or punished when his behavior is inappropriate. While a dose of good old common sense will serve you well it is also important to recognize that common sense isn’t always common knowledge.

Puppies are curious and will pick up everything with their mouths

More than one dog

There is a saying: if you have one dog you own a whole dog, if you have two dogs, you own half a dog and if you have three dogs, you do not own any dog. This may be true for people who have not developed a bond or trained their dogs but multi-dog households do not have to present a problem. Two dogs will provide double the entertainment, and if trained will NOT cause double the trouble.

As Chief Executive of the group, it is your responsibility to help your dogs establish the right relationship:

  • Introduce them on neutral territory so that they enter the house together.
  • Purchase baby gates for your kitchen and/or a dog crate in case your over-enthusiastic newbie bugs the collar off your existing Right-hand Hound. This gives you a dog-safe chill-out zone where he can go to give your older friend a break.
  • Start teaching the newcomer the family boundaries from day one and remember to put aside some time to have quality one-to-one sessions with your first dog too so that he does not feel left out.
  • Don’t give your first dog the responsibility of educating or minding the newcomer. This is especially important if your first dog lacks boundaries and is untrained.
  • Make sure your new dog forms his strongest bond with you. Limit unsupervised access to the other dog(s) and wild play during the early days; it is down to you to teach the new member of the team how to behave in an appropriate way. You want him to look to you for direction and see you as the Big Cheese instead of an irrelevant crumbly scrap of Parmesan.
  • Hark back to your school days and remember what the teachers told you about copying another pupils’ work. Copying does not help you learn anything for yourself – if your dog is only following your other hound when you call them back, he will be totally lost (probably literally so) if your other dog is not around.
  • If the existing family dog is unable to control interactions with the newcomer, step in and remove the new dog for a couple of minutes if he behaves inappropriately. This is not to punish the newer dog in any way; it is to diffuse the situation and to prevent your existing dog from learning undesirable behaviors in order to protect himself. If you are consistent in this, your new dog will learn the important art of self-control and will behave appropriately with other dogs and family members.

Multi-dog households do not have to present a problem if the dogs are trained appropriately. All of Sarah’s dogs had previous homes and are all good friends. Orsa is a Maremma, Bud is a Doberman who was stressed and lost his hair, which is now growing back, Archie is a lurcher from Battersea and Ginny is an elderly lady, also from Battersea, who was suff ering from terrible neglect. She is now fi t and well but will never regain a full coat

Cookie and Chilli meet on neutral territory – Marie and Clare walk next to each other at first

They change position so that the dogs are now walking side by side but at a polite and reasonable distance

Clare and Marie keep the leashes loose so that the dogs can greet each other calmly and without being aroused by a tight pull on their collars. Cookie and Chilli are introducing themselves in a very appropriate way

After their sensible introduction, Cookie and Chilli are having a great time playing together

Dogs also need to learn to walk quietly together and to respect each other’s space

Deaf or blind dogs

The majority of dogs start to lose their sight and/or hearing as they age but some may have impaired vision or hearing from birth. Vets used to recommend putting deaf puppies to sleep but fortunately this is not such a common practice these days. Good body awareness is paramount for dogs that are either deaf or blind, so TTouch can be hugely beneficial. Bear in mind that a puppy that was born deaf has no knowledge of anything different. See him as a dog first, and understand his breed type second; the fact that he is deaf should be the last thing to focus on. You will, of course, have to modify some of the training cues, such as recall with a whistle and use of the clicker, but teaching him to watch you by using a cue such as pointing at your eye will help him learn that you want him to focus on you. Hand signals are described in many of the exercises and you can use these to teach him to sit, stand, lie down and so on, and you can mark the desired behaviors with a thumbs-up signal in place of the clicker. You could use a small coloured flag to get his attention and to teach him visual cues (way 9). You can also teach him to recall to a flashlight, which will help you to retrieve him from the garden at night. If he is sleeping, avoid touching him. Hold or place a piece of food by his nose to arouse him from his slumbers without startling him. Some dogs are born with congenital eye problems that may go undetected. They can be the cause of some house-training problems as the dog may be reluctant to go into the garden at night. They can also cause pain, which will reduce your dog’s levels of tolerance. If this is ringing any bells with you, take your dog to the vet for an eye examination. He may need to be referred to a specialist. If your dog is going blind you can use a bodywrap to help him with spatial awareness (way 10). Talk to him and teach him verbal cues with the clicker to turn left, right and so on. Of course, he still has a nose so the Nina Ottosson interactive dog toys (ways 32, 33, 75 and 76) will be great for maintaining his interest.

Colin was born deaf and ended up in rescue. He is incredibly bright and loves to learn new skills. He was fostered by Sarah and he has now matured into a wonderful companion who is much loved in his new home

From 100 Ways to Train the Perfect Dog, Copyright by Sarah Fisher, licensed through ContentOro, Inc and used by arrangement with D & C

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