Last time we talked about: crate training, house breaking, chewing, and traveling. So far, Loki has done remarkable well. At this point, I would officially call him house broken. He still has the odd accident, however they’re typically my fault for not following my own house breaking rules. We installed a vertical dog door from a friend, and now he can go outside on his own whenever he needs to. This was an important step because it has allowed us to leave him out of his crate at night. We still crate him during the day if we will be gone longer then 1-2 hours. A tired, sleeping dog, is far less mischievous than an alert one.
It may surprise some to learn, but not all dogs initially like being on a leash. Some find the restriction strange and will protest by simply sitting in place. Not to worry, your dog will eventually become accustomed to the restraint. Sometimes bringing a treat a long will help with this stubbornness. When starting leash work they will be under your feet constantly, making you trip, or have to stop short. During this, you can make a minor correction by pulling up on the leash and give your correction command (remember voice tones).
Quick Tip: If you are transitioning to a long-line, or your dog exhibits extreme distress from having his leash on, take him to your backyard and simply drop the leash. From the other side of the yard coax him over with some treats so that he is dragging the leash behind him. Do this for several days and he will become accustomed to the longer leash, or your normal leash.
If you were thinking about postponing a camping trip because you have a new pup, don’t. This is a great opportunity to expose your dog to the woods, other people, and potentially some other dogs. If you are lucky, you may stumble upon some wild birds, however this shouldn’t be your goal at this early stage of training. On a recent camping trip I learned that I wasn’t as prepared for the needs of Loki as I thought. You will need to pay close attention to your dog during this trip. Let him investigate, but try to keep him out of trouble. Remember your K9 First-aid Kit.
Quick Tip: I would recommend waiting until your dog is house broken before camping. It could be pretty disappointing if your dog had an accident inside your tent and you wanted to stay longer. An option that can help with this is keeping your dog in his crate at night.
An important part of a dog’s socialization is exposure to other dogs. You don’t want him to be scared or aggressive towards other dogs. Initially, this is best done in a controlled environment. We have a neighbor that has an extremely well-trained German short-haired pointer. I took Loki over to his house and we were able to allow them to play while supervised. Should your dog exhibit any aggression (not playing, but actual aggressiveness) make your correction command. This is something that you will need to eliminate immediately, and should not tolerate. Your dog needs to be able to work around other dogs if you want a successful hunting dog or companion.
The goal of this command is to get your dog to stop exactly where he is, without sitting. This is a great command to stop your dog while in a field, or from entering a dangerous situation. Loki is still pretty young, however there are plenty of opportunities to begin conditioning him to this command. With Loki on leash, as we prepare to leave the house I will give the whoa command, and gently pull up on the leash so that he cannot move forward. Once he stops squirming around and realizes that he cannot go anywhere, I give the come command and let him move again. I follow this will some praise to show him I am pleased with his behavior. I use this when I take him out of his crate, going into the backyard, while on walks, and any other time it can be inserted into what we are already doing.
Quick Tip: Teaching whoa is easier if the dog has NOT been taught to sit.
Hopefully, your dog will start to bring you “things”. When your dog brings you an item get a firm hold of the object and give your drop command while pulling the object out of his mouth. If he doesn’t drop, try gently wrapping his gums into his teeth and squeezing. Once he drops, give him praise and let him go back to what he was doing. He isn’t ready for formal retrieving training, but you should take advantage of his natural retrieving ability.
Quick Tip: Make sure to tell your family members to praise your dog when he brings them things. The last thing you want, is an annoyed family member making a correction to the very skill you eventually want your dog to use.
Loki has done extremely well with his initially training, and transition to our home. Sometimes I need to remind myself that he is still a baby and I need to be patient. It is not a race, conditioning can and will take time. Over the next month, we will continue to work on our daily conditioning. I will do some basic scent exposure, but I need to give Loki a little more time before we dive into more formal retrieving training. When we come back we will learn about dummies, dead birds, and gun conditioning.