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Dog daze: Doggy do's and don'ts

PUBLISHED: 17:42 30 July 2010 | UPDATED: 17:38 20 February 2013

Dog daze: Doggy do's and don'ts

Dog daze: Doggy do's and don'ts

Don't put off training a new puppy. It's important to establish the principles of obedience early on, says our dog expert Sophia Taylor

Dont put off training a new puppy. Its important to establish the principles of obedience early on, says our dog expert Sophia Taylor

So your puppy is settling in and youre just waiting for him or her to have the vaccinations so you can go out for walks. STOP ! There is plenty you can be doing at home in the meantime.
Getting the puppy used to household noises like hairdryers, vacuum cleaner, lawn mower, washing machine and even the radio along with everyday sounds outside in the garden or your neighbours motorbike !
Some puppies are not at all bothered by new sounds but some are and the best advice I can give in brief, as a whole book could be written on this subject alone, is to ignore any anxiousness or nervousness shown by your puppy. By fussing the puppy, picking it up to give a cuddle or simply saying dont worry Fido, it wont hurt you will only reward the behaviour and make matters worse to the point of creating a nervous adult dog.
Be very matter of fact and carry on about your business. By showing you are relaxed around the noise, you are showing your leadership, which will encourage your puppy to grow in to a confident, relaxed adult.
You can start very basic training in the home and garden. Simple commands like sit, down, stand, come and above all your puppys name can be taught along with familiarisation with collar and lead by putting on a soft puppy collar when you are at home with a lead trailing behind. On no account leave a collar or lead on your puppy when you are not watching it, as it only takes a second to get caught up on something.
When you are not able to watch the pups movements or when you need to go out, remove the collar and the lead.
You may practise lead walking in the home and garden by allowing the puppy to follow your hand with a treat in it and holding the lead loosely. Avoid pulling the lead as you need the puppy to make a positive association with it.
If you havent already done so, book your puppy in for training classes so he or she gets used to meeting other dogs in a controlled environment and, as owners, you will learn the importance of socialising and training your puppy correctly.
Many veterinary practices hold a five week puppy socialisation group, which offers an opportunity for owners to take their puppies out to meet other puppies of similar age before completing all their vaccinations.
For classes in your area, either go on-line or ask your vet for details, as they have a pretty good idea who is who in the area and just because the school may be on your doorstep, doesnt mean it is going to be the right place for you and your puppy. Horses for courses!
Once you have found a dog school you like the sound of, give them a call and ask if you can pop along and watch before committing to the course.
At On the Scent we invite owners to take part for a small fee before committing to the ten week course.
So you have joined the dog training school of your choice. What should you expect to learn in the early stages?
It will vary slightly at each establishment, but over all expect to learn the following exercises.
Name recognition, the look, sit, down, come to commands and whistle, heel and side work, staying in one place and walking on the lead.
Yes, you may have already started this training at home and at the vet socialisation group, however, the puppy needs bringing on and nurturing, with obedience training among the distractions of other dogs, sounds and smells. Most puppies do all the training exercises at home, but when out in the big wide world, it is a different situation entirely as everything is new and very exciting.
Also, with the best will in the world, a puppy is not trained in five or ten weeks.
We suggest to owners that regardless of whether they stay with us or not, it is a good idea to keep their puppy in a training school environment until their dog is at least two years of age, so that when the dog reaches the naughty stage, the owners have the support of their instructor and the other class members who may also be going through similar problems. For example, not coming back when called, when for months the dog has been brilliant, but now it has decided to go selectively deaf!
Many owners actually enjoy progressing with their dogs training and choose not to leave and instead go on to do gundog training, agility, tracking training, scent work, fly ball or heel work to music.
Whatever you decide to do, have fun with your dog and try to keep your dog mentally stimulated throughout its life, not just when its a youngster, as many dogs over the age of ten years still enjoy doing mentally stimulating exercises like find the toy or learning new tricks providing health allows.
To refute the old adage, you definitely can teach an old dog new tricks. Have fun!

Contact Sophia at www.onthescent.com

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