The good thing about puppies is they are a blank slate. The bad thing about puppies is that they are a blank slate. And when you’ve got a family that decides to get a puppy that ends up having a lot of energy and very little ability to pay attention dog training starts to take on a sort of desperate edge.
I’ve got the pleasure this week of hosting a young 18 week old Brittany Spaniel puppy at my house. My client decided they had to get away for a week and they asked me if I would keep it and do some pretty extensive training for them. For the past few weeks this puppy has been driving them nuts. Not only is it a hunting breed dog, but it comes from a breeder that breeds for hunting. That means that this puppy is bread to be "birdy" and has more energy than the average puppy. Now, if you live on a ranch and intend to hunt with this dog those are great traits, but if you live on a 1/8th acre lot in a subdivision, well, things can get dicey.
Now, don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a bad puppy by any means, it just means that he’s a challenge especially for his non dog trainer family. The first thing we started doing with him when he arrived was to give him a job. His initial job was to look directly in my face for any of his food he got. This is one of the basic ways we start to teach puppies how to pay the all important attention the need to provide before we can really start training. His second job was to learn the "bed" command which means he goes to a dog bed and stays there until I release him. Now that one was HARD for this puppy. He probably hasn’t ever sat still for more than ten seconds when he’s awake and here I am asking him to stay on a 2×4 foot bed for 20 minutes. Bed command is great in dog training because it teaches the pups some impulse control and location control which they rarely have had to exert before. All in all, these two commands are a very positive way to start learning to pay attention before we venture out into the outdoors where the distraction level goes through the roof.
The pup (whom I’ll call SpotRover from now on) and I will start training on the long line today to get the basics of "come" going and progress to more leash work throughout the week.
Austin Dog Trainer
Fidelio Dog Works