Feb 9, 2010

Training and Bonding with your dog, by Kyra Sundance

rWhat a fun time I had today (as always!) on Wendy's Animal Talk

We covered a lot of topics today, ranging from dog tricks, to bonding, dog sports, and doing "focus" exercises. Following are some tips from my new "51 Puppy Tricks" book. Have fun!

Top 10 Puppy training tips:
1. Use tasty treats
2. Give a treat the instant your puppy does the correct behavior
3. If you can’t give a treat at that instant, click your clicker and follow up with a treat
4. Motivate—use your happy voice
5. Train in short five minute sessions
6. Reward success and ignore the rest
7. Be consistent
9. Be patient—it won’t happen overnight
10. Be a fun person to be around!

Teach Your Dog to "Focus"
When you have your puppy’s eyes, you have his attention. Teaching your puppy to look directly into your eyes not only builds a habit and comfort level for your dog to look into your eyes, but it is also a cue for getting his attention. Shy puppies may be hesitant to look in your eyes, possibly because they feel it is confrontatational. This exercise will be especially helpful for those timid puppies. Sit on the ground, at puppy height, to appear less domineering. Speak gently, and practice daily. Let you puppy make the decision on his own to look into your eyes, do not force the exercise.
  1. Kneel down to puppy height. Hold your clicker in one hand, and in the other hold a treat at your puppy’s eye level.
  2. Slowly draw the treat back toward your eyes, while using a calm, drawn out voice to cue “focus… focus…”
  3. Once he holds eye contact for a second or two, click your clicker and give him the treat. You want your puppy to be successful, so try to click before he loses interest and looks away. As he gets better, you can start to require longer stares before you click.
  4. Now, phase out the treat. Use your pointed finger between your eyes to cue his stare. Click his eye contact and give him a treat.
What to expect: A puppy’s eyesight is not fully developed until he is about 9 months old. Very young puppies will be less able to focus on your eyes. Most puppies can learn to make eye contact within a couple of days.

Make a habit of requiring a moment of calm attention before routine rewards, such as at the front door before taking your puppy on a walk, or at the food dish before chowtime. Wait for your puppy to be still and hold your eye contact for a second or two, and then immediately click and give him his reward. This will teach your dog self control, and that calm attentive behavior is rewarded.

Thanks for listening!
Kyra Sundance
Author of: 101 Dog Tricks, 51 Puppy Tricks, The Dog Tricks & Training Workbook, Best of 101 Dog Tricks DVD

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