Trainers: Bille Wickre, Mary Anne Bentley, Kim Sargent, and Pam Sikora
This course is intended for dogs 12 weeks to 5 months of age on the first day of class. It is especially designed for dogs in any of the “Bully breeds”: bull dogs, (English or American) American Staffordshire terriers, pit bull terriers, Boston terriers, or others that fall into this category. We encourage you to bring any members of your family who are interested in training your dog, especially children. In this course we strive to develop a well-behaved family member, not a champion in the competitive obedience ring. Our techniques are all positive or reward based. Rewards can be food, toys, petting, or a cheery “good dog.” Because treats get fast responses, we will start using treats as reward. You will slowly move away from treats as you learn new behaviors.
Every week you need: PATIENCE and a sense of humor! Plus a buckle or martingale collar, a 6 foot long dog leash, yummy treats that your dog will work for, a toy or two. If you are using another kind of collar or harness, please remove it when you are in class, or talk to one of us about it. You may want a “bait” or treat bag to keep your treats handy and your pockets less messy. They are available at most pet stores, sometimes at Big Lots and T. J. Maxx, and many on-line sources.
Week 1: Introductions, Foundations for Obedience: Watch, come, and sit.
Books, toys and training aids we love!
Week 2: Review, Down, Walking on Lead, Rally.
Doggie push-ups (Sit, down, stand, repeat)
Week 3: Review, Take It, Give it or Out, Stay, Health and Wellness.
Week 4: Review, Leave It, Tunnel, table and jumps.
Week 5: Go to Your Place. Fun with Agility!
BRING: A towel, rug, dog bed, or blanket that you will use for your dog’s “place.”
Week 6: GRADUATION!!
Yummy treats and games! And a visit from the Humane Society’s famous Aunt Myrtle. We often take graduation photos of the owners and the dogs, so be sure your dog is wearing her prettiest smile.
SIMPLE RULES FOR A WELL-BEHAVED PUPPY:
- A tired puppy is a well-behaved puppy. Be sure your pup is getting plenty of exercise for its body and mind.
- Control the environment. When you can’t be attentive to the puppy, confine it or crate it.
- Train your puppy. Puppies and young dogs will learn better in short sessions, 15 minutes 2 or 3 times a day. Build training into your routine.
- Don’t confuse the puppy. Everyone in the family must be consistent with rules and training strategies.
- Remember to enjoy the puppy.
The most important tools for working with any dog, but bullies in particular, are patience and consistency. Essential to any active breed: regular exercise, consistent training and also training right after some exercise to increase success. Training sessions should be short and frequent, maybe only a couple of minutes, a bit longer if things are going well. Always end on a positive note—ask your puppy to do something it already knows how to do so you can praise it and then end the training session.
Written instruction for exercises we teach in class.
Settle For getting your dog to calm down–first, lots of exercise! Then practice Sue Sternberg’s “settle” exercise. (Do this after the puppy has had some exercise, a potty break, doesn’t need a drink, etc.) Put a dog bed or blankets (anything comfy) and a chew toy (we like elk antlers) near a comfortable chair for you. With your dog on a fairly short leash, sit and position the dog on the bed beside you. Give her the chew toy. Stroke her gently. If she gets up, take away the chew toy and ignore her. When she settles again (anywhere near you and within leash length–you have to be able to reach her to pet her.) stroke her gently again, give back the toy. If the toy seems to make her agitated, don’t use it, simply reward her calm behavior with your gentle touch.
Do this as often as you can, until she starts to realize that when you and she go to that bed or place, she is to settle down. You can try to add a touch command with it, but often the location or presence of the bed is enough. This is also great to do when you travel with her and take her special bed along. You can also spray the bed with DAP or put a DAP diffuser in the area to help her be calm.
Stay Have your dog on a leash and treats handy.
- Put your leashed dog is a sit or down. Keep the leash loose.
- Move your flat hand toward the dog’s face, palm side facing the dog.
- Back away from the dog one step and wait 3 seconds. Do not turn your back on the dog at this time.
- Step back near your dog and praise her. You may give her a treat when you are standing close to her. Release her from the stay.
- Repeat the exercise increasing the distance you back away from the dog, and the duration that you stay away.
- If your dog gets up, put her back in the sit position and start over.
Go to your Place: In this exercise you will send your dog to a place you have designated as his “place.” You may use the crate for this or you may use a different place where the dog will go to and stay when not crated. I use a dog bed for a “place” in my home, but you may use a folded blanket, a rug, a towel or a carpet square. The advantage of these things is that they are portable and when you are visiting or traveling, you will be able to take the dog’s “place,” or at least a reminder of it, with you. You may want to use this command when you are eating or engaged in other activities and need to trust that the dog is not under foot or in the way.
This exercise will rehearse the sit, down and stay prompts from previous weeks.
- Start with your dog sitting near you. Use a treat to lure him to his place.
- When his feet touch the place, treat!
- Get him to sit in the place, tell him “place” and reward and praise. Repeat this exercise until he will follow you to the place and sit on your command.
- Once he will follow to the place and sit reliably, start working on taking him to his place and prompting/luring down. Continue to lure the down as long as you need to.
- Once you have mastered the down in place, start working the stay prompt. Tell your dog to stay, and step away about a foot. Return after about 5 seconds. Remember that dogs’ learning is not generalized so it is like you are starting over with the stay prompt. Repeat the process you used with teaching stay—slowly increasing the distance and duration of the stay.
- Put a treat or a favorite toy in the place, making sure the dog sees them but doesn’t get them! Take the dog a few feet away from it and prompt “Go to your place.” Your dog should go to the place to eat the treat. Praise and toss another treat. Practice this until your dog will go to the place.
Leave It: Put a couple of treats in each hand.
- Allow your dog to sniff one hand ( the “temptation hand). If she licks, scratches, bites or nibbles at your hand, ignore her.
- When she stops the above behavior and turns her eyes toward you, praise her and give a treat from the OTHER hand (the “reward hand”).
- Repeat the exercise, adding the cue “leave it,” when she stops trying to get the treat.