Puppy training class week three
By Nicole Mackie
FOR the third week, handlers are again asked to leave puppies out in their cars with someone if they can and to come into the hall without the puppy.
Food and toys are scattered over the floor again (but not as many this time) so the dogs could come into a rewarding, enriched environment. Two water bowls were also placed in the room for any dogs that became thirsty and tables where placed on their sides at some distance away between the puppies' work areas, as a barrier to help them cope and avoid any eye contact between them.
The puppies come in on their leads one at a time again, eating the treats on the floor and exploring the environment. They were a lot more confident this time as it was their third time in the hall. After a few minutes each, the puppies and owners then go to their seats and sit while the puppies chew on kongs or receive a massage from their owners, or both.
While the puppies were occupied with massage or kongs, toys were picked up from the floor and the instructor discussed the aim of the class over the remaining weeks - to get the puppy to walk on a loose lead so as not to end up in a pulling match, and to have a good recall for the dog’s own safety. The instructor will then demonstrate with one of the puppies the beginning of the loose lead walking. This will only be the first stage to be practiced daily in the pups' homes.
Firstly the puppy used for demonstration will be conditioned to a sound which will be used throughout its life. This sound, is rather like one you would make when trying to get a horse to move ... between the teeth and cheek sound, almost like a kiss sound. A kissing sound will do if you cannot make the other sound, as long as it is not a word. The reason for a sound is that you cannot put emotion into a sound.
Pairing the sound and a treat help the dog to make the association that when this sound happens, then he will get a treat. A clicker cannot be used as a substitute for this sound. Many repeats are made until the puppy realises the sound and treat go together. Usually this takes only a couple of minutes for the puppy.
After a few minutes of practice, the puppies were tired and given another rest time with kongs and massage. After all, they are only babies and their concentration is very limited.
If the dogs are relaxed and coping well in the room, a table (barrier) or two can now be taken away so the puppies can see each other. If this upsets any of the puppies and they become stressed by this, the table or another barrier can be placed between them. If any of the puppies are not coping at all, even with barrriers, then he or she can go into one of the other rooms to do the tasks, so that such a puppy can learn to cope in his own time.
While the puppies are relaxing again, the instructor explains about giving the puppies time out, space and escape routes so they don’t feel trapped which can lead to psychological problems. The instructor also explains about calming signals and what to look for when your puppy is not coping. Some of the sympoms to look for if your puppy or dog is not coping in a class situation and should be placed in another room or specialized class, are:
Lunging and jumping
Scratching a lot
Low or high tail
Onset of health issues
After the little talk, the owners where then asked again one at a time to practice the sound and treat pairing for the beginning of loose lead walking. After a couple of minutes practice each they all left, one at a time.