The dog trainer came by today. I have to say that I was very impressed with her. She really seemed to know her stuff and Sammy responded very well to her right away. Some of the things that she taught me were:
Don’t allow him to demand to be picked up. When he stands up on me wanting to be picked up I should step into his space. Then, if I want to pick him up I can call him to me and pick him up, but then it is on my terms not his.
She showed me how to get him to sit. Apparently, most of us will say sit to a dog over and over again expecting it to understand English and know what it means, but of course, dogs don’t simply understand without being shown. So she showed how to physically sit him down and once he was in the correct position to tell him good sit so that he will associate that word with what he is doing, likewise for lay down. It made perfect sense. I mean think if you met someone who didn’t speak English and you wanted them to sit on the chair. If you said, “hey dude, sit,” he’d probably just look at you, but if you sat down or sat him down and said sit he would then know that what you were doing or he was then doing was sitting. This seems so simple in retrospect.
We then went for a walk. She put Sammy on a 15-foot heavy cotton leash. He already walks fairly nicely on the leash and he did also on this leash. She allowed him to walk several feet behind us if he chose, which he did, but he didn’t pull on the leash at all and for the most part walked right beside me. We went up into the field and she said to drop the leash and walk on through the field. I thought oh-oh, what he if he takes off, but she said that if he gets to far away to simply step on the leash. Surprise, surprise, he didn’t try to take off at all. In fact, he kept ‘checking’ to make sure we were there, and when we turned and walked back the other direction he came running back to walk with us again. We kept doing this and also worked on the come command. I would hold the leash and let him get to the end of it, it would tighten and he would stop and turn to look at me, at which point I would crouch down and gleefully call him to me…once, only give the command once, and he would come bounding on over to me. I would tell him good come Sammy and give him a rub and release him to walk on. We did this lots of times and he responded appropriately each time. Every time he got a bit ahead he would check on us. Each time we changed direction, when he checked he would come bounding through the snow to walk with us again. I posed the question of shouldn’t he be right at my side though? I was told it depended on the circumstance. We are in the field or off the road on the trail, etc. and the goal is to walk with the pack. When the pack travels, they don’t all stick together like glue but have a certain boundary distance and they check and they stay with the group. This allows the dogs mind to have to work. He has to pay attention to the leader to make sure he stays with the leader, but still gets to sniff and explore, but only within a boundary distance so this way he has stuff he has to think about and be vigilant. Walking directly attached to the leader’s knee has it’s purpose in the show ring and other places as well, since the dog has to really concentrate on minute cues from its human so their brains are working hard glued to their humans, but for a family (pack) stroll if glued to their human there is no mental workout for the dog, kind of like the pony at the fair attached to the poles going round in circles. I’m probably missing stuff here or not explaining it totally right, but I think you get what I mean and it was really awesome the way Sammy totally responded the way he was supposed to. He never tried to take off. He was sooooo enjoying the outing since he was sniffing around and exploring, but within his boundary and he totally kept checking and running back if we went beyond that boundary distance.
She also explained about allowing him up on the furniture. He just goes up as he wants to, but really he should earn that. Nothing in life is for free. So he needs to sit first on the floor and then be invited up since it’s my furniture and I am allowing him on it, not the other way around.
Also, basically you have to think of things as if this was a 140-pound rottie, would I have just allowed a behaviour or would I have disallowed it or corrected it, and I sure wouldn’t let a 140-pound dog jump up on me for ‘uppies’ so why would I allow it from a smaller dog? Just because he’s small and it seems like it’s innocent enough, the meaning behind it from the dog’s perspective is the same whether he is 9 pounds or 90 pounds.
So, now I have lots of homework to do over the next few weeks. I will let you know how it goes. I have not booked any follow-up appointments at the moment, but only because work is slow right and money is tight, but I am very impressed with Karen and would recommend her service to anyone in this area.
Oh, we also talked about crate training and separation anxiety and excitement dribbling.
Overall, money well spent.