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I love puppy training. In part, because I love puppies. In part, because I love having a little buddy keeping me company. In part, because it is so very interesting watching them grow ... and learn right before my eyes.

A few thoughts about puppy training

First, it is very easy to establish good ... or bad habits ... in the little ones. Life is much easier if you establish good habits and not bad ones.

Second, I am a big fan of cheddar cheese cut into little squares and Milk Bone Puppy Biscuits (broken in half). I like the cheese for obedience. You can pop a square in puppy's mouth quickly and easily and there are no crumbs to distract puppy. But cheese is a pain, so I like the biscuits for treats around the house or the vehicles.

For the first five weeks of Cha Cha's life, I open the kennel door (in the bedroom, in the office, in my SUV, in my truck, etc.), throw the cookie in the kennel, and say "kennel" whenever I put Cha Cha in the kennel. Before too long, she is jumping into the kennel whenever I open the door to the kennel. To make this trick easy, I keep tupperware containers of cookies wherever I have crates.

Similarly, very early on, I teach Cha Cha to come. When puppies are very young, they do not want to be left alone. You can use this to your advantage in teaching your puppy to come. While puppy is wandering about, run at top speed in the opposite direction. When puppy notices you are running, he will chase you. Turn around, drop to your knees and say "here." When puppy jumps into your arms, drop a cheese square in his mouth. Before long, when you say here, puppy comes running. Once this is down reliably, add long line and distractions to reinforce the command.

Second, I try to throw puppy marks which have elements of difficulty in them. Earlier, I discussed how I throw small marks in cover. In the same way, when I go to the local high school, I throw puppy marks across the track ... to introduce puppy to running across a road or trail. Likewise, I will throw short marks over trees or ditches. The concept is the same ... introduce puppy to various obstacles. Short marks, with a little element of difficulty.

Third, although the dog books often caution against roughhousing with puppy, I make it a point to play rough with my puppies. So, I will beat on them a little with the bumper before throwing it. Or I will roll around in the grass with them. I don't know if it makes any real difference, but field trials require a great deal of physical toughness, so I try not to baby my puppies all the time - although if you have been following these chronicles, you know that I do baby my puppies.

She’s growing. Look at the picture of Stephanie holding her on Saturday and look at a picture of when she first arrived. I don’t know if they grow to fast or not fast enough. Fun times though.
Howard Niemi (Email) - 28 02 05 - 23:08

If you don’t like cheese (which I don’t, and I hate hot dog treats too) – I cut Pupperoni’s into what ever size nibblet I want (very small slivers for in-house obedience work, larger for tossing into the kennel and for “here” work), and they make excellent no-mess, no-distracting-crunch treats. You can also mold them around pills.
Keep up the good work Ted! It helps keep me on track with Sammy-the-punk ;-) I can’t wait to meet Miss Cha-cha this spring or summer.
Tina (Email) - 02 03 05 - 12:07

Hi Ted,

I just “discovered” your Website when checking out the land marks photo. Thanks for taking the time to share the training times and stories about your dogs. My Website is an attempt to do the same thing (on a lesser skill level), but we are always trying to improve.

Regards, Jim
Jim Boyer (Email) (URL) - 19 08 05 - 23:36

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