Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Dog training and Barbets

The first rule for training is that Barbets are sensitive dogs, if you train your dog so it is fearful of getting it wrong then you will have altered one of the main character traits of the breed, these dogs are happy dogs that are eager to please. Hallie is an outrageous thief and with 6 people living in the house she has far too many opportunities to steal things that she should not have, so this has to be turned into something positive. Firstly no chasing, no shouting, and strangely enough no recall, stay calm and smile.Now every puppy owner should have ready a pot of treats or a trophy toy as a reward, either on their person and in every room in the house for these stressful times.
So now you need to be cunning, depending on where the puppy is will depend on your next move, so as an example Hallie is in the garden with my iphone doing acrobatics, my next move would be to either hang something on the line, clear up dog dirt or put something in the compost (you can pretend these actions as they are not that bright!) and remember at all times that you are very happy and not remotely concerned about your iphone!, nor are you interested in your puppy as you have to totally ignore them. So curiosity will win, as puppies like to be with you and part of everything you do and when the puppy approaches you to join in you may have different Scenarios

Stay calm and smile

1.Iphone left in flowerbed
 Distract your puppy, you have treats so throw them on the floor as you need to get your iphone from the flowerbed unaided and ideally without the puppy seeing or ask your pup to sit and then reward that behaviour or do a silly dance and just play with the puppy as remember at all times that you are happy then casually move back to the house avoiding the iphone route if possible. Then retrieve your iphone
2.Iphone still in her mouth
 Don't try and take the iphone until you can exchange the treat, the best way is to have your hand ready under her mouth and in the other hand make sure she sees the treat, think of toddlers and if needed turn the treat into a low flying air plane. It is all about timing......and it can be tricky.Never ever grab the dog or the item as that will be a short term solution.  Remember at all times how much fun you are having. If this works and the iphone is released to your hand then you reward immediately again and tell the puppy how fantastic she is. If she drops the iphone to the floor or you failed to catch the iphone before it hits the floor  for the treat, do not reward but ask her to do something else like a sit and reward the sit. Think about this......if your children threw your iphone on the floor you would not be happy and certainly you would not reward them, So taking the iphone out of the mouth or the iphone dropping into your hand is only what you reward. But you always need to find something else behaviour wise to reward, no puppy must ever fail....
3.Iphone dropped within reach
 This one is the hardest as you know that with one lunge you have your iphone, but resist as next time your puppy will try it again , as it is a common problem that dogs drop balls, dummys etc just within grabbing reach, it just begins the start of a game. So be cunning, walk backwards, sideways or whatever it takes to distract and move away from the iphone and do as you would as though the iphone is in the flowerbed.

An easy shortcut when your puppy has something that you don't want it to have and you are just leaving the house, stay calm and distract by even picking up the dog lead, most puppies love the thought of a walk so put the lead on, make the puppy sit and then reward ( don't forget to remove the stolen item which was probably dropped in the excitement), then unclip the lead and hang it back is still training as putting on a collar or attaching a lead may not always mean a walk. So adapt situations in the house and garden, and don't ever overwhelm the puppy by rushing training, if you have limited time, reward a sit, if you are home for the day then really all your actions with your puppy are a form of training.

One final word over using commands:

Only when I think that there is an understanding that she mustn't drop what is in her mouth, do I start to use a command, and being rather British I say ''Thank you'' when I take the item from her, then she has the reward.
You may read that a dog is better trained without food rewards, but I think you do what works for your puppy and as they grow up you will find that you reward with food less and less as they read your body signals better, it is teamwork from the start, I am learning from Hallie as much as Hallie is learning from me........ 

This is of course only my view and it is working very well with Hallie, but you do need to be consistent and the results are not overnight all I am doing is allowing her to work out what I want her to do and I am now finding that she will appear with sometimes her favourite ball or even a plastic bag and follow me, and she holds on to her trophy until I ask for it and then she gets her reward. This morning she found a tube of toothpaste, and I watched her playing in the garden from the house, amazing how much pleasure something so simple can bring and how high a tube of toothpaste can go, puppies are puppies and they grow up quickly so sometimes you just can watch them having fun.

A shoe minus insole
Waiting to give me her favourite trophy, an insole!

A tube of toothpaste