Friday, April 21, 2006

For the naughty little ankle biters...

A couple of the puppies are having an issue with their new owners about grabbing at pants legs and biting ankles, so I wanted to offer a couple of solutions. Try the first one and see if it works, if not, then try the second one. Always follow up with the "no" and a down stay. These puppies are almost 4 months old. They have been through one obedience class already. So at this point it's time to put an end to this behavior whether it's play or control.

First: When he goes for your pant legs, take your foot and stomp it really hard and say "no" in a low voice. You need to try to surprise him by giving him a negative reaction when he goes for your leg. Don't be shy about the stomp. It needs to be forceful and right by him. Wait to try it with children until you see how he does with adults doing it.

Second (if the first doesn't work): The other thing is whenever he gets close to you, I want you to try to walk into him. Dogs have a personal space that they don't like invaded. And by biting at your ankles, he is invading your personal space, and in a way, he's trying to control or manipulate you. He probably has figured out that when he grabs at you, you back away or pull away and then he gets what he wants - a little more control over your space which in his eyes means he is controlling you. You see this alot in herding dogs. That's how they move the sheep by taking away their personal space. So your dog is really just thinking of you as livestock. If whenever he comes toward you in the biting mode, you turn directly into him and bowl him over by walking briskly into him, you are taking over his space and taking control of the situation. Once again, don't try this with children until you see how he reacts. I'll tell you, I learned this in a seminar with my aussie who was controlling me in the agility ring by herding me and nipping at my heels, and the first time I got into his space, he bit me. My aussie was 6 years old and was purely trying to control me, so I doubt that will happen with a puppy, but be aware of it. While I want you to be forceful when you walk into him, even pushing him aside with your foot or leg pretty forcefully, just be careful. You are going for an element of surprise more than you are trying to harm him or put yourself in any danger.

Follow up: If there is something you don't like that he does, you need to let him know that. That means using a low voice to say "no". (low pitched voice means he's in trouble, high pitched voice is praise, and in the middle is the voice you give commands like heel, sit , down, etc), and following up with a punishment. For a punishment, I put my dogs in a down stay (which is a submissive position) just like a time out for a child. Even if that means standing on the leash for the 3 or 4 minutes that he is in a down stay. He needs to learn there is a consequence for misbehavior. And you need to do it consistently until he understands that you aren't going to take it.

If you are home, and he is out running around where you can watch him, I'd leave his leash attached to his collar for a few days when you try these methods, so you can step on the leash to stop him from running away when you tell him "no". Once you do it and put him in the down stay, then the next time he'll realize the consequence and most likely he'll want to run off. When you say "no" step on the leash so he doesn't get the opportunity to run. Just be careful if you can't keep an eye on him, that you don't leave the leash on him so he doesn't get tangled.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

More cute shiba pictures...

Here's...hmmm.... Popeye, Bear, Chase... and now officially, TOMO. This poor puppy has more names than he is months old. No wonder he doesn't know his name yet. Anyway, he is absolutely adorable at 3-1/2 months old. Watch for him in the show ring in July!




Monday, April 17, 2006

Teaching Recall (Come)

Let's start off with a game. It's called chase. Except we're going to set the rules for this game - It's puppy chases me. I never chase the puppy.

So start off in a large fenced area. Let the puppy unwind, sniff and do whatever puppies have to do for a few minutes. When the puppy comes to you and begins to pay attention to you instead of the surroundings, pick up a toy, and a handful of treats, and start walking away from your puppy. As you are doing it, in a high-pitched, happy voice, say "come". Show the puppy the toy. If the puppy doesn't come, then increase your speed mvoing away from them and add some high-pitched happy chatter. It may take some time to get the puppy to understand the game at first, so don't give up. As soon as the puppy begins to move your direction, then stop and wait for the puppy to catch up. Celebrate and throw a puppy party when the puppy gets to you. Give them treats, play with them, use a high-pitched voice to praise them. Then repeat the game again. The next time the puppy should catch on faster and begin to come to you faster. The more you practice this, the better the puppy will understand the command.

If at any time, the puppy runs the other way, or begins to ignor you. Just be quiet and move away from them. You are above playing the game in reverse. Remember, you set the rules to this chase game. The further you move away from the puppy, the more insecure it will get and eventually it will come to you. When you see it starting to look for you or pay attention to you again, start the game up again.

Always make this game postive and fun, and pretty soon whenever you say the word "come", the puppy will come to you. Don't say the word "come" in a harsh tone of voice, or get mad or anxious when the puppy doesn't do it. Remember this should be a fun game.

Down the road, you can formalize the word if you want, but for now the word "come" just means you want the puppy to leave where they are and come close to you. You have plenty of time to train the formal obedience commands later on. But for now you are just trying to get a consistent response to the word "come".

Friday, April 07, 2006

A new update!

Kiko's (formally Squeekers) mom sent me a new photo of her. She has the face that can steal your heart!