Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A is for Attitude, B is for Bark, C is for Come!

Jamie first had to check out the surrounds on his first day at school. He eyed the other school kids a bit warily at first. Most of them were bigger than him - a Rottweiler, a Staffi, a Labrador, a Collie and a Jack Russell terrier. But soon he was joining in the fun, cheer leading from the side lines. Jamie was the only one barking his enjoyment out loud.

Our ThinkingPets trainer, Wendy Wilson always starts the class with "pass the puppy" where the pups learn to be handled by other people. We apply a technique from an innovative new method called Tellington TTouch. You gently stroke the full length of the puppy's body, his legs and paws, massage his ears and touch his muzzle, even his tail. At the first class most of the pups were a bit over excited so it took a while to calm them down (except for the lazy Labrador who just acted daddy-cool).

We use the clicker as well as treats and voice tone to convey meaning to our words. The golden rule is never shout at your dog. Your tone has to be friedly and welcoming or firm and calm. Corporal punishment is an absolute no-no.

First the pups had to learn to make eye contact with us, then to come when called at short then longer distances.

Since the attention span of the average pup (and owner) is not very long there are constant off-the-lead play breaks. But even these are carefully monitored by our puppy school teacher. A puppy must have an equal share of being in a dominant or submissive situation. For some reason most of the dogs liked playing with the Jack Russell (maybe because he thinks he is the biggest kid on the block).

But the most valuable thing we were asked to do as homework was to investigate what our dogs are bred to do. This would give a lot of answers to why our dogs behave the way they do. A beagle was bred to hunt hares, rabbits and foxes. Nowadays they are used in beagling (a hunt on foot using a fake lure) and as sniffer dogs in narcotics. They are recognised for their persistence even when a trail has gone cold.

Tell me about it! When my beagle has his nose to the ground, all his other senses shut down! So recalling your pet becomes a major mission. "You have to be more interesting than what your dog is sniffing" says my teacher.

Easier in theory than in practice!

No comments:

Post a Comment