Stopping your dog from anticipating.

I could have titled this – When your dog gets too smart for his own good.

 

You are training your dog and you notice that he has already moved on to the next trick. Or, you ask him to do something and he does every other trick he knows. Or, he does the last trick he finally learned no matter what command you give him.

 

  1. Cross your arms. Don’t look at dog. This will usually calm the dog down.

 

  1. If at first you thought this behavior was cute, you probably gave the dog positive reinforcement even if you didn’t realize you were doing so: a smile, a laugh, telling him/her it was cute. (I am so guilty of this. Sinatra always learns the tricks first so when Mr. Beans learned Scoot (going through my legs backwards) before Sinatra, I was so thrilled that I overdid the praise. Now he wants to Scoot all the time.) So, be mindful that you aren’t giving positive reinforcement unless the dog does the trick you want.

 

  1. Work on one or two commands only per session. Make sure the dog does only those commands. (This is boring, right? I hear you.)

 

  1. Ask for only one command at once. I am also guilty of this. Sit and Down seem to go so well together, but I can see how saying them one after the other could make the dog do them one after the other all the time. So mix it up.

 

  1. Watch your hand signals. Dogs really cue in on hand signals. I realized how close my hand signals for Scoot and Spin and Go Through were so I changed them up a bit.

 

  1. If the dog does something you don’t want, absolutely no treat. It might be cute that the dog gets your slippers, but if you didn’t ask for them, don’t treat out of guilt.

 

  1. Slow down. Here’s another one I’m guilty of. Once the dog knows a trick, I am anxious to move on. Sinatra is an especially fast learner so I have to give Mr. Beans time to catch up. This means putting Sinatra in a sit position and leaving him there to “watch”. He doesn’t like it, but I do reward him for staying put, so he does it.

 

  1. Dogs are show offs. Sinatra finally learned “You’re under arrest.” He is so impressed with himself that he wants to show off his new trick all the time. I ask him to “Go Around” and he does his new trick. He learned “Go Around” a long time ago so he doesn’t find it a challenge anymore. He’d much rather do his new trick. Again, no positive reinforcement.

 

Here’s a story that will illustrate just how much a command can get into a dog’s head. My husband and I were visiting my mother-in-law. She was buzzing around – as mothers often do when their children visit—and my husband wanted her to sit down and just enjoy our visit. So he said, “Ma, sit down.” And didn’t our dog sit down obediently.

Another example:

We used to clap whenever the dog caught the ball off the wall without having to chase it down. In other words, she was catching it right off the bounce on the wall. One summer we were traveling with her across the country and we stopped at a free outdoor Jazz Festival. Every time the audience clapped, she thought it was for her and she was looking around very perplexed. So, choose your praise signal carefully.

 

WHAT TO EXPECT ON YOUR FIRST VISIT TO A BREEDER

So, you’ve decided that a breed dog is the way to go.  You’ve read all the information on the net and you’ve decided on the breed.  Now you’ve set up a date to meet the breeder who had 5 puppies for sale, but has informed you that she only has the one puppy left.  You’re desperate to get your hands on that last puppy.

Breeders are a special “pardon the pun” breed onto themselves.  You may want to get your new pet home…. or at least out to the car….but hold on…not so fast.

1.  You will likely meet your pet in the breeder’s home.   Puppies are like people.  They fare best if they come from good homes.  You should have checked out the breeder’s credentials so now you can check out the puppy’s home life.  Some of the other puppies may still be there so you may get to see how social your puppy is.  Also, the puppy’s mom will be there.  Is she healthy, jumping around her brood, fleet foot and cheerful?

2.  Ask to see both mom and dad.  The breeder expects it.  Oh,  and the breeder will likely be insulted if you don’t treat the mom like the Belle of the Ball.  “Mom” may be quite scruffy having just been through dog-birth, but you will get in the breeder’s good grace if you give “Mom” lots of compliments.  Like, “I hope Prince looks just like her when he grows up.  She’s so beautiful.” 

3.  Expect to be interrogated.  Don’t be insulted by the questions.  The breeder doesn’t think you’re an ex-con.  He (or she) is  looking for the best home for their puppy.

4.  Don’t worry about the person holding onto the puppy very tightly and glaring at you.  That’s the  Breeder’s daughter and Sparky (her name for Prince) was her favorite. (Oh she is going to cry when you leave but you’re tough —right?)

5.  Expect to sign some papers.  You will get some papers in return.  Don’t say, “But I don’t want to show the puppy, I just want a pet.”  Doesn’t matter.  The breeder is very proud of the puppy’s lineage.

6.  If a dog steals your purse—as one did when I got my puppies—you should find it amusing— you’re in for a lot more of that kind of behavior.  If you don’t find it funny, you may not be ready for puppy ownership.

 

Now it’s your turn:

1.  If the breeder doesn’t provide you with vaccination papers — think that odd, think that very odd.  Ask for them.  Leave if they don’t have them.  And when you do get them, keep them handy and bring them to your vet for all your visits.

2.  Ask the breeder what’s special about this breed.  What should you know about it?  Mentally check the information the breeder gives you against the information you’ve already checked out on your own.

3.  Now that you have the puppy in the car…(Yes, the daughter has stomped up to her bedroom crying)….and your wallet feels lighter.

4.  If you haven’t already stocked up on food and dog poop bags….better do so now.

5.  Enjoy your new puppy.

 

Oh, and expect the breeder to check back with you again and again….send pictures to provide reassurance.  In about a year …or two, the breeder will have learned to trust that you are doing right by Sparky.  I mean Prince, of course.