Cura and I have been together since 2009. We want to thank all of you who followed the early days as well as those who popped back on occasion during the long hiatus. Training was done, the days passed, and we were settling into our life together.
Fast forward: Cura is slowing down and a new member of the family is in training. On top of that, we are all busy with our new calling . . . Running the Training Department for Paws and Stripes. Join us on our journey!

Monday, November 17, 2014

All aboard!

It takes time and consistency to train a dog.  Even if that dog is the family pet, it is very unlikely that your dog was the perfect, well behaved, angel you expected when you brought him home.  Puppy . . . adolescent . . . adult . . . shelter . . . rescue . . . breeder . . . even if they were fully trained, they needed to learn the new house "rules".

Regardless of how much your dog needs to learn when you bring them home, the key to success is getting everyone who will interact with your pup on the same page.  This requires PLANNING!  You have to figure out:
1) How do you expect your dog to behave?
2) What rules are they to follow (and exactly what does that look like)?

It is not enough to determine that your dog must be "friendly".  After all, behavior your 20 year old cousin sees as friendly might scare grandma half to death (or cause her to fall and break her hip)!  You need to decide what "friendly" LOOKS like so everyone knows when the dog is behaving in a way that deserves praise.  Then, you have to make sure everyone who interacts with your dog rewards acceptable behavior and not unacceptable behavior.

This is a picture of a note one of the Paws and Stripes staff left me after she had taken Treun out for a potty break when I was out of the office for a bit.  Before I go into detail about what a wonderful co-trainer Mandy is when she handles dogs in the office, I need to let you in on a few details.  "Good manners" translates to calm behavior such as sitting to greet, waiting to be leashed, walking calmly by handler's side, and not pulling (Treun is a little bit of a freight train when he is excited).  The big rule is that if dogs are in vest, they are working and must be treated as such (minimal interaction as is necessary to complete the task), out of vest they are fair game!

This is such a good example of a person working within the rules.  Mandy clearly reinforces desired behavior by ensuring that Treun behaves properly and she rewards him without causing him to get over excited.  She also adjusted her behavior by interacting with him more than she would normally because he was out of vest.  She also took the time to write a short "progress report" for me so I was aware of how he did while I was gone.  It is wonderful that everyone in the office loves dogs so much but still remembers that even if they are not the primary "trainer", they still have an important role to play in shaping the dogs that they encounter.  

If you are doing anything that helps to shape a dog's behavior, you are participating in the training process -- remember that when an owner corrects their dog for doing something to you that you don't mind . . . just because you don't mind a pup jumping up on you to say "hi" doesn't mean you should let him -- after all, remember grandma's hip!