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Old 08-21-2006, 02:19 AM
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sourjayne sourjayne is offline
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Default Training puppy: where to start?

I guess this is my first post here, so, hi, I'm Sarah, I live in Seattle, I have a puppy who was born May 7 so he's about 15 weeks old now. His name is Louie and he's a long-haired chihuhaua. He's big for a chihuahua, almost 4 pounds already. I'm glad he'll be a good solid size but still small enough to take everywhere with me. He's very sweet and cuddly and eager to learn, and very smart.

I came to this forum after searching google for forums on dog training, so I hope it's okay for me to ask some training questions here.

We've taken a 4 week puppy kindergarten class, Louie has "sit" on verbal command very well. He can do "down" with a lure but he thinks he's supposed to put his paws on the lure We're working on coming when called, "drop it", "leave it", and I even got him to rollover a couple times just for fun. He also has "go potty" on command, but sometimes that means #1, sometimes it means #2, sometimes both... I've tried separating the two toilet actions to put both on command, but he doesn't seem to get it for some reason.

He's not going to be a competitor in any way, just a companion, but I want him to be well-behaved.

My main goal is to have a dog I can communicate with -- verbally or hand signals -- to say "sit," "drop it," "leave it," "come," "wait," "go to your spot," "stay," "settle," "lie down," "off the couch," etc. I also think it would be fun to have a dog who can "shake," "wave hello," "dance," "rollover," and maybe even find something I ask for and bring it to me, wouldn't it be awesome if he went to my cell phone when it rings and brought it to me? Ha ha.

But I don't want to confuse him or me by working too many things at once. That seems like a big long list to me! How long will things like that take? Can I work on multiple things at once, or should I "check them off the list" one at a time?

I got a clicker the other day, but haven't really gotten into training with it too much. I'm not sure he understands what it's for... I'm not sure I understand it entirely. I'm still reading "Click for Joy" and am thinking about getting another book on clicker training but am not sure which one.

So if you have any advice on any of the issues we're having, or any advice on where to go next, or on a book I should check out, I'm all ears. Thanks everyone!
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Old 08-21-2006, 01:45 PM
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Hi and howdy neighbor. Im down here in Shelton!
15 weeks is young and he has learned quite a bit already. I would keep working on the basics for now and work in one trick at a time. Make sure he has that trick down pat then move on to the next. Doing too many at once may confuse him and having him go through every trick he knows untill he gets the right one.
Also remember thier attention span at this age is short. SO keep the training sessions short as well. I would say no more than 10-15 min.
Im sure there will be other opinions but this is how I train my dogs.....One concept at a time.
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Old 08-21-2006, 03:58 PM
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Welcome. I'm am from the Seattle area too, not now....but before. LOL. My daughter lives in west Seattle (Alki area) and I go visit her often. I'm going there in Sept.

I have a Doberman and two Chihuahuas and my son's dog, a Pit/GSD/Boxer???? mix.

It sounds like you're doing wonderfully with your little dog. Keep going to classes if you can and the most important thing I can think of.....a huge priority for me is socialization....lots of it, not only to all kinds of people, but places, objects, all kinds of grooming things, social visits to the vets...just for a cookie and a little fun visit (5 minutes) once a week or so. I like to work on more than one thing at a time so the dog doesn't get bored with too much repitition. Of course, there's a happy medium so as not to do too many things all at once. But sit, down, stay, come, you seem to have a handle on. Starting with another trick would be fun. As long as the dog is able to focus and is having fun, that's the main thing.

The two best books I have ever read are Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson and Don't Shoot the Dog by Karen Pryor. She literally "wrote the book" on clicker training. She revolutionalized clicker training for dogs after having used the concept with training dolphins. Culture Clash, if I had my way (lol) would be required reading for anyone who wanted to own a dog. I highly recommend it. These experts reeeeeeeeeelly know dogs, their behavior and how they learn.

I commend you on your intellectual curiosity, desire and dedication to do the right thing by your dog. You're doing fantastically already!

My girl Chi is 6yrs. old and about 6 lbs. She's tough as nails. LOL. My boy is actually a mix and is about 13LBs. Gotta love 'em! Great little dogs.
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Old 08-22-2006, 10:12 PM
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Hey, with a trick like bringing me my phone when it rings, how long do you think that will take to teach?
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Old 08-22-2006, 11:40 PM
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Hard to say. It depends on so many factors. If you read those two books though first, you'll know just how to go about it.
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Old 08-22-2006, 11:49 PM
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Hi! Welcome, howdy neighbor! Not really but it sounds funny! LOL

It sounds like your doing an awesome job so far! *gives you a gold star*

Your doing everything above and beyond! So kudos to you!

I'd just wait a bit for the more challenging activites, and make sure you have the basics down. (not that your NOT ahead of the game already! LOL)

So- sits, downs, stays, perhaps some loose leash heeling, leave it/take it is nice and drop it when playing as well.

I'm working with my girl now on bringing drinks. She's almost two! It can be done, it just takes some time and patience.

Take your time, and lay down the basics well! It sounds like your doing an awesome job though! I'm impressed!!
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Old 08-22-2006, 11:58 PM
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I agree with Roxy...basics first. Not only are those in and of themselves so important, but they also, in the long run help the dog learn HOW to learn. So, when it's time for more complicated stuff, they're already sort of use to thinking in that way. But you could teach something simple like shake hands. Also, a good thing to teach is the "give" and "take" game so he learns to give you things without making a fuss about it. Also, "watch me." That one is really important. They need to learn to be attentive to you so they can hear what you're asking them to do. I consider that sort of the foundation for everything else you're going to be doing in the future. (well, actually, I consider the relationship the foundation, but other than that....) LOL.
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Old 08-23-2006, 12:03 AM
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Stuff like "off the couch" and "settle" or calm will just come from everyday activites. Don't FORCE it on your pup, but I'll bet you, if you use those words everyday, combined with body language, I'm sure you'll see them working.

Same with drop it. You don't have to do everything at school, or at a certain period of "training time" at home. A lot of obedience and commands are used and learned through everyday activities.

Ex) Your playing with your puppy. You want the toy so you can throw it. You say "drop it", and take the toy. Not everything has to be taught in that "training setting, or mentality". A lot of good behaviours can be learned from everyday activites!
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Old 08-23-2006, 12:06 AM
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sourjayne sourjayne is offline
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Okay, a more basic question (or two)

Training down: He seems to think down means something like target my hand as it goes down on the ground. I say the verbal cue, and he seems to know what I want: he looks instantly at my hand, and as soon as it begins to move, he pounces on it with his paws. When it's on the ground, he puts his nose on it and puts his body in the down. He can't seem to figure out that he can be in the position I want without my hand there! (goodness he's cute though!) If I say Down but don't do anything, he doesn't do anything either. If I don't have a goody in my hand, he might be fooled into pouncing once, but he doesn't fall for it again. I don't know why it's so hard to teach him this, he got Sit really easily. It was really hard to even get him to go down -- I had to lure him under my legs to get him to lower his body down. Now I'm getting the position but he seems to think there's more to it than just being in the position

Also, I wanted to start teaching Drop it, and was doing pretty well: I'd get him playing with a toy, then put a treat up to his nose and say "drop it" when he dropped the toy to get the treat. Seems easy enough. But it's hard to get repetition -- once he knows treats are around, he doesn't have much interest in playing with a toy! I wait until the next time he's playing, but as soon as he sees me going for the treats, he stops playing (and starts sitting. "See how good I am? I'm Sitting!") I haven't done enough reps yet for him to know the verbal, so I don't know what to do to be able to get a lot of reps.
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Louie was born May 7, 2006. Last weigh-in: 8lbs!
We live in Seattle.
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Old 08-23-2006, 12:20 AM
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sourjayne sourjayne is offline
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Also, how do you teach settle or calm down?

I'm also working "hold still" (for nail clipping, or if I need to put on his collar/harness/whatever.) I was trying to trim his nails and hand fed him each piece of kibble from dinner whenever he was still. I was trying to use the clicker at first, but then I started putting the clippers to his nail and saying "good" when he let me touch the nail without flinching or struggling (I was out of hands to click the clicker too!) I would just say "hold still" and give him a treat and say "good" for a few seconds of stillness.

How long should it take for him to understand what "hold still" means? Is settle similar?

I haven't started "off the couch" training because he's too little to jump off the couch on his own yet. I want to try it with a cushion on the floor or something, but haven't gotten around to it yet. Definitely on the list though.

I have the books you guys recommended on hold at the library, but would love some advice in the meantime I'm overly eager, I guess.
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My dog is Louie, a long-coat chihuahua. [myspace] [dogster] [flickr]
Louie was born May 7, 2006. Last weigh-in: 8lbs!
We live in Seattle.
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