. . . . . . for pups
Over the centuries we have domesticated dogs and harnessed their killing instinct in order to work for us gathering stock. But most people are unaware of the responsibility they have undertaken, and the fine line between killer and controlled obedient working partner.
Everything will be so much easier if you understand the do’s and do not’s of training a pup, and this starts from the first day you get it home.
COMMANDS Decide now, some of the commands you are going to use and begin from day one regardless of the pup’s age. Make sure if there are other people caring for the pup that they know what they are, and use them, otherwise it will be totally confused and learn nothing.
Incidentally, I would strongly recommend only rearing one pup at a time. That way it will bond with you, not with another pup, besides, you will do a better job rearing and training only one pup. Have a minimum of 4 months between youngsters - an 8 week old pup and another at 6 months of age.
Begin by naming your pup; then decide on his ‘call to you’ command - ‘Mate .. behind’.
I find ‘clapping’ fantastic – saves the voice-box & pups respond really well “Mate, behind” then 4-6 quick claps and as soon as he starts coming “good boy” in a happy voice.
I find it preferable to let a pup off for a run without the other dogs, that way it will never be far away from you, it is aware of you, and it will be less distracted when you call it; but in saying that, it needs to socialize with other dogs on a fairly regular basis.
In other words, let it out for a run once a day for 10-20 minutes, most times pottering about with you, and a couple of times a week with your other team members.
NO When the pup does something it shouldn’t do, whether it is jumping up, chewing something or scragging the cat, say in a harsh sharp voice “Mate – grrrrr – NO”.
Not “Maaaaate, I don’t want you doing that it’s reeeeally annoying, noooooooo”
“Mate” – gets his attention, you are talking to him – “grrrrr” is the dog language that he understands, meaning stop – and “NO” is a lovely short easy to say word.
All my dogs know that “NO” means – whatever you are doing is wrong, stop!
It is one of the best commands that I have and I use it for anything from - about to roll in something revolting “NO”, to doing the wrong thing when working stock “NO, and then repeating the command that it misunderstood”. It is invaluable and can be taught from day one. Remember - “grrrrr” then “NO”. In a couple of weeks you can drop the grrrr and just say “NO”. Trust me, it works.
GOOD BOY Another pearl of wisdom – “good boy” – use it, but use it sparingly. Only use it when it is being obedient, give it a rub or tit-bit in the very early days so it associates “good boy” with pleasure - you can drop that to just “good boy” once it gets the idea.
I repeat, don’t over-do it, and NEVER EVER use it to con a dog – if a pup won’t come to you do not say “Mate, good boy, behind”. Get his attention – clap, whistle, whatever “Mate, behind” and as soon as he starts to come, obeys, “good boy” and the praise is reward for obedience.
ALWAYS GIVE YOUR PUP SOME FOOD WHEN YOU PUT IT BACK IN ITS PEN – you’re supposed to be feeding it twice a day until it is 4-6 months old anyway. The world is very exciting to a pup and it just makes it easier - if it is going to get something yummy to eat, it will gladly come back to the pen.
Don’t expect a pup that is playing with all the other dogs, to drop everything and rush back to you when you call it – put the other dogs away first.
I can see no point in making things difficult. I want a pup to be happy, playful, well adjusted, love being with me, and respect that I am the ‘pack leader’. This is easy to achieve with patience, understanding and common sense.
RESPECT You do not need brutality to gain respect, and, if you gain it at an early age you will always have it. Sadly I have seen too many pups that have been ruined, often beyond repair, due to the handler’s ignorance.
Let me clarify – ‘love being with me’ is not being ‘spoilt’ – there is a huge difference. I had an uphill battle recently with a dog I was training for someone, he had been horribly spoilt, and lacked respect. My dogs absolutely adore me, but, they are very obedient and do as they are told – you can have both.
The whole dog thing is up to you. To some people a dog is a tool to do a job, no more, and they wouldn’t dream of patting it let alone ‘love it’, and providing it is well treated that’s fine; but others, like me, love their dogs and have a special bond with them.
Some ‘old timers’, and some dog-men of today believe you mustn’t pat a working dog – he won’t be/can’t be good. To set the record straight – CRAP, do what suits you - just don’t ‘spoil’ it.