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HEEL! HOW TO TRAIN A PUPPY

Living in the city, you come across people and their dogs ─ all day, every day. You also come across the ones that you can tell have had NO home trainin’. They’re the ones that are leading their owners, rather than the other way around. And they’re the ones jumping up on your Burberry raincoat that is now muddy, and the owner will have to pay for dry cleaning. Don’t be that owner. (And true confession, I kinda am! Sor-ree.)

Growing up, we had a big dog – half German shepherd, half collie. We taught her to behave and let her run loose in the big fenced-in backyard. So when I got KC, my son, his dog Venus, a big golden retriever, I thought we could do the same thing. A little bit of “good doggie” accompanied by a Milk-Bone or pat on the head, and that was all the training needed. But er, umm, yeah, this dog didn’t play that. She is lovable. She is constantly EXUBERANT!!! And she is needy as all get out. I had an anti-puppy mills advocate explain to me that chances are Venus was taken from her mother way too young. She therefore thought of ME as her mother. That’s why she couldn’t stand me being out of her sight, and the neediness would always be there. Lawdy! I couldn’t handle it.

When my mom retired, I gave Venus up for adoption to her. She promptly renamed her Lucy. To keep the dog from being totally schizophrenic, we call her Lucy Venus, and ten years later, she’s STILL needy and EXUBERANTLY untrained like a three month old puppy.  Al, my husband of 19 months, has been talking about wanting a dog. LAWD, HELP ME!! What if I end up with another Lucy Venus?

So, I investigated some ways to train a puppy that won’t break the bank or my nerves, should I ever decide to go down that puppy dog route again.

Getting your dog to walk by your side:

The American Kennel Club (AKC) says you have to keep it interesting! Keep treats with you to reward your dog for staying near you. You’ve also gotta talk to your dog. That means getting off your cell phone and interacting with your dog during those endless strolls. AKC also says to literally stop walking when your dog charges ahead so that little (or big) Fido knows you ain’t havin’ it.

Getting your dog to stay:

Rover.com has some really nice advice about dog training. They say successful dog training is all about consistency, patience, and successful reinforcement. I raised a child, but I’m still not sure I can handle this! So, to get your dog to Stay!—which can be important for safety and, of course, for when you need to leave the house and they keep sliding up to the door wanting to inch out with you—you need distance, duration, and distraction techniques. You have to set a distance between you and the dog, and keep increasing that distance to get your pooch to understand that they cannot move. Duration refers to how long you hold the dog in the stay position and then you have to introduce some distractions to test your loving companion on how to stay. To make all of this work, you need treats to give as rewards.

Getting your dog to stop barking:

According to The Happy Puppy Site, you need to teach your dog to bark so that the dog has a choice when to bark, rather than barking all the time. Interesting, right? And sorta makes sense. Makes me think of me and my chocolate chip cookie addiction. If I give myself one, perhaps I won’t eat ten! Read more here about knowing which barks won’t work with this method and which barks will.

Now I wish all of you who are thinking about getting a new pup this spring good luck. But me? The next time we get a dog, IF there is a next time, I am going to hire a dog trainer who is credentialed and patience-qualified to get my dog shipshape. This ensures that I will spend an enjoyable time with my furry friend rather than running and hiding from it just to get some “me time”.

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