Our Top 3 Favourite Training Skills to teach dogs at any age that will make life so much easier!
It's the year 2020. The whole world has been stuck at home during the weirdest year there ever was. If you're anything like us, you've probably been developing bad habits, an unhealthy obsession with Netflix and your goals of exercising every day with the doggos has fallen a little by the wayside and now looks a little more like throwing a plush toy inside at the wall and waiting for anyone with paws to collect it and bring it back to you.
Thankfully, keeping the dogs entertained isn't just about taking them for a walk around the block - by simply keeping their brain's ticking, you're helping to keep them healthy and actively thinking. So here's our 3 Favourite skills to teach your fluffy butt/s that will keep their brain healthy and make your life on the other side of lockdown a breeze!
1. No Jumping
Dogs jump out of excitement, which is all well and good if they're small and you're big, but you'll be wishing you taught them not to jump up on people when you have little humans over for dinner, your landlord comes to check on you or if your little puppy suddenly grows into a 60kg floof.
To teach your doggo not to jump up on people, you will need a fence/gate/pole and a lead. Attach your furry friend to the immovable object and walk away, but remain in sight, like so:
At a distance of at least 5 metres away and using your best high-pitched excited voice, start walking towards your pup, encouraging them to get excited and jump up on you. The very second that floofy pants jumps up on you (or jumps in general, even if you haven't reached them yet), say your 'No' word and quickly turn around to face away from them and walk back to where you started. Do this over and over and over (in our case, 37 times over) until you can get all the way to pupper without them jumping up on you, then reward them with lots of pats, treats and cuddles for being such a smarty pants!
2. Loose lead walking
Ready for a challenge? This one can take more practice than the first skill, so if you give up and just feel like getting your paws on the best no-pull harness, we don't blame you. Or, if you're determined to come out of the other side of lockdown with some tricks up your sleeve, keep reading for our tried-and-tested technique on how to train your fur-baby to walk nicely by your side.
You'll need: the most delicious small treats you can find (we use cheese and chimken) and your best walking accessories.
One hand should be holding the handle of the lead whilst your other hand holds the treat. It's super important that you're holding the lead loosely (and never with both hands) so that doggo feels like they are in charge of where they're walking. Using the treat hand, get doggo's attention and hold it right above their nose as you walk forwards, left, right, in circles - all over! Keep their attention the entire time, like this:
Easier said than done... we know. No matter how old your pup is, he or she is bound to lose interest at some point because you haven't given them the treat yet. They'll likely stop following your reward hand and choose to go somewhere else, usually resulting in them pulling on the lead in any direction. The very second that the lead is tight, say your 'No' word and immediately change direction to go the opposite way that pup is trying to pull:
Changing direction should re-capture their attention (even if you have to change direction a few times that you end up going round in a circle) and once you've got their attention and the lead is loose again whilst you're walking, stop and reward them for the good behaviour they just did. Do this three times in a single training session, and soon enough you'll find that your training sessions are lasting the full time it takes you to walk around the block, without pulling on the lead at all!
3. COME! Easy Recall
Last but certainly not least, nailing recall is one of the most important skills you could master. Dogs will be dogs, and one day you may find yourself in a situation where you need to quickly have doggo race back towards you away from harm, a main road, another dog or small children. Teaching this skill is one of the easiest, but takes the most repetition in stages, so strap in for the semi-long haul.
You'll need: 1x lead. We recommend this adjustable leash.
Always, always, always teach this skill with a lead attached, and do not even think about testing it off-lead until doggo has a 100% perfection rate of coming back to you when called over many practices. If you try this skill off-lead too early and your headstrong pup chooses not to listen to you, all your hard work will need to start back at the beginning as you've suddenly just taught them that they don't need to come back to you when called because they're off-lead and YOU CAN'T MAKE ME, MAMA!
So, with the lead stretched out, wait until your fur-babe is distracted by something or someone away from you, like this:
At a time when you definitely don't have their attention, yell your recall word REALLY LOUDLY and yank on the lead to redirect their attention to you, before shuffling backwards to make them run towards you, but don't keep pulling on the lead. We use different words for each of our pups so that we can recall one separately from another if needed: "HERE" and "CLOSE". You can also use "COME" but make sure not to choose any recall words that sound too similar to any other words in your dog's vocabulary.
The important things to do here are: as you're shuffling backwards (which you're doing to encourage them to urgently run towards you), you want to be making fun, high-pitched, exciting sounds like 'bup bup bup' or 'da da da da' (we'll leave it to you to start practicing how that would sound whilst you're reading this during your Zoom meeting...).
The point of recall is to make it a really fun game for doggo, with a big reward at the end of it (think 5 treats all in one go) or some major pats for doing the bestest thing ever. As you progress, attach another lead to the one you're using and do the same thing from double the distance, then triple, then quadriple. PUPSTYLE Leads all have a metal ring in the handle where you can connect each lead that means you can practice recall from really far away until you're ready to try it off lead!