After losing two dogs within two weeks, my clients needed another dog in the house. The silence was deafening. It would be too painful to go with the same breed (Labrador) they just lost, so they chose a breed that's completely different: a Rottweiler.
Sensitive to the breed's reputation, they want to ensure this little guy grows up to be an ambassador for the breed. And they're off to a terrific start! I began working with them this week and this little guy is daring us to keep up with his learning! He eats up any training challenge we put in front of him!
If you've got a puppy, you may want to see what we're working on for this guy. Here's a summary of our efforts thus far (we're only two sessions in):
- Food bowl manners. We want him to look forward to people coming near his food bowl, so I'm having the owners drop his meals into his bowl one handful at a time. The approaching hand means more food is coming. In addition, I'm having them drop in bits of chicken (or other really good goodie) while he's eating. There's no better way to teach a dog to tolerate look forward to hands approaching his bowl!
- Sit for everything. A sitting dog rarely gets into trouble. We're teaching this little guy that if he doesn't know what to do, sitting is always a good choice. If he wants petting, he has to sit first. If he wants his ball, sit first. Dinner, sit first. He's already approaching people and offering a sit because we're teaching him that sitting = attention.
- Come when called. My clients have a big backyard. It's fenced, but they don't want to walk a couple of acres to retrieve him. (For now, pup's on a leash – not allowed to roam at will.) So we're teaching the little guy how much fun it is to come when called. Armed with a clicker and some really yummy food, the owners take turns calling him (Fido, come) in a happy and excited voice. He looks like a cartoon character, his legs swimming as he tries to get some traction! Teaching a puppy to come with so much enthusiasm and eagerness is priceless! We worked in some pretty challenging distractions (me running, squeaking a toy, tossing a tennis ball, petting and loving him) while his owners alternated calling him. He's a quick study. Next time I go back, I've got to up my game a little bit – those distractions aren't challenging anymore…after just one session!
- Self control. He's learning to wait: at the food bowl, doors, for treats, etc. Building in self control at a young age will go a long way to developing a calm, well-adjusted adult dog who listens to your directions. In just 15 minutes, this little guy learned to leave his kibble-filled food bowl and wait until he was released to eat it. Fabulous!
We'll keep adding to his repertoire – he's definitely a sponge and soaking up everything we can give him! Is it any wonder I love my job so much – working with cutie-pie puppies like this (not to mention his fabulous, proactive owners!).
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