Puppy Preschool Class Three

Welcome to Week Three

We are almost there! By now we should be seeing some great progress with your puppies sit and we will build on that this week with wait/stay, come/recall, loose leash walking and body language to be aware of with your pup as well as others that you meet at the park.

Wait/Stay

Teaching your puppy to stay is helpful for everyday situations such as waiting at the lights when on a walk and waiting before you enter a door. 

  1. Ask puppy to sit and quietly praise. 

  2. Stand up and hold your palm as a ‘stop’ signal towards them. 

  3. Lean down and reward puppy quietly for staying still 

  4. Start again by standing up in front of your puppy while they are seated. Take one small step away and keep your palm facing them to stay. Step back to the puppy and quietly praise 

  5. Repeat step 4 multiple times and gradually add more steps. As you get further away, walk back to your puppy while they are still seated in order to treat and praise. This rewards the ‘stay’. 

Tips: 

If your puppy is bouncy and excitable, try again when they are calm. If they lose interest and wander off, revisit the exercise another day.

Don’t increase your distance too quickly or your puppy may move. 

Try to stay one step ahead of your puppy by noticing when they are about to launch and quickly try get back to make them sit again. 

Come and Recall

Leading on from stay, we can then teach our puppy ‘come’ as a release.

Come is exceptionally important while off lead at the park when you need them to return to you. 

ALWAYS reward your puppy for returning to you, whether with treats, a toy or quiet praise. 

If your puppy returns and is put straight back on the lead to then leave the park, they may learn that coming back means play time is over. 

Tips: 

  • Be happy and excited in your voice. A puppy will be exceedingly more likely to go towards you when it is positive rather than when you are angry and yelling. 

  • Wave a treat in front of them and release with the cue ‘come’ when they return to you. 

  • If there are two or more people, stand a distance away from each other and take turns to ask puppy to come. 

  • If you are training solo, practice at home by removing yourself from puppy then asking them to come. This can be upgraded to the park when you are confident your puppy isn’t going to get too side tracked (find a quiet park with less distractions). 

  • When your puppy has found a great smell or buddy to play with, bring a treat or a toy to their nose and lead them away from the distractions. Reward them when they follow. 

  • If your puppy is far too excited by the outside world, clap first then call them OR start a chasing game between you and your puppy. When they chase and follow you, add the cue ‘come’. This will make a fun and positive game that will keep your puppy tracking after you.

Loose Leash Walking

Too often, dogs are leading their owners on a walk. 

Pulling and tugging, making it difficult for their owners to walk comfortably will create stress and maybe make you less inclined to go for walks.
This will be detrimental to an excited puppy who needs to let out some energy!

It all depends on you and your dog. If your puppy is going to be a maximum weight of 5kg when fully grown, it may not be an issue to you if they tug. 

If your puppy is going to be a muscly 25kg or over, it will be much safer and beneficial to teach them how to walk properly. 

Start early and set them up to succeed! 

  1. Start at home where distractions are minimal

  2. Have your puppy comfortably fitted with their collar or harness with a lead attached. 

  3. Stand by the side of your puppy and take a few steps.

  4. Stop as soon as the lead becomes taught.

  5. Only continue to walk when the lead is slack.

  6. Praise and treat quietly if you get a few metres in with no tugging, progress to quiet streets and longer walks when they get better. 

If puppy is very excited and bouncy, then leave it until later when they are a bit more relaxed or tired. Alternatively, ask them to sit, look and focus then start again. If you are consistent they will soon learn that the only way to get anywhere is by staying at your side.

There are of course other options for puppies and dogs who pull. A halti and balance harness work similarly to a horse halter, allowing you to lead the direction rather than them. 

Choke chains are NOT recommended as they are a negative reinforcement training tool where pup is ‘choked’ when pulling. This is ineffective, unsafe (can cause an injury) and may make them nervous when going out for walks. 
 

Body Language

Dogs communicate through body language and it is important for us to try and understand what our dogs body cues are telling us in order to remove them from an uncomfortable situation or otherwise. Dog body language can be very subtle to us humans. A slight turn of the head and indirect gaze can send signals that we disregard as nothing. 

Pay attention to what your dog is telling you!  Aggressive behaviour in dogs always has its roots in fear and anxiety. If we ignore the subtle signals then the dog will resort to stronger ones.

Examples or worried or nervous behaviour:

  • Turn of the head

  • Gaze averted showing whites of the eye

  • Lip licking when not hungry 

  • Panting when not hot

  • Yawning when not tired

  • Ears flattened

If none of these signals are recognised, puppy may resort to something a bit stronger like a low growl. This would be deemed inappropriate by us and usually a dog may be reprimanded for growling. 

 As well as saying “I’m nervous”, a growl may also be an indication of pain. 

What happens next time he or she is uncomfortable? If they have learnt that nothing else works, more serious behaviours such as teeth snarling, face snapping or even biting may occur. 

When you recognize body language that indicates your dog is nervous or worried then, try your best to remove them from the situation, and never reprimand them for telling you they are anxious.

What we consider aggression is almost always a fear based response to stress and anxiety.  If a dog has been been previously reprimanded for growling, they could bite without warning in future. 

It is important to learn dog body language so that you can understand your puppy better.  

Tail Wagging

Tail wagging is not always a sign of a happy dog.  Here is a list of tail postures what what they usually mean.

  • Relaxed floppy tail wag is considered a happy wag

  • Tail up with a stiff wag means the dog is alerted and still deciding how they consider the situation (such as when two dogs meet for the first time). It may lower to a loose wag when relaxed

  • Low hanging tail with a slow wag may consider the dog is actively submitting and saying “I am not a threat”. This also goes with a hunched posture or laying on their back with belly exposed.

  • Tail between the legs with no wag says “I’m nervous!”

  • Tail down and tense says “do not approach me”. 

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