Training your unruly dog – Part 1

After owning two fantastic Yellow Labs before (Lassen Louie)the 16th month old Labrador we now have, I thought there would be no trouble whatsoever training another dog. Lassen has a whole different set of rules and is such a strong willed, stubborn, and free-spirited dog that he and I butted heads every step of the way! From being embarrassed at dog parks, exhibiting unacceptable traits such as humping, with no shame, every dog from 1 foot to 3 feet in size(where social behaviour is watched by every owner of every well behaved dog in the park),on every walk dragging me to every other dog,and or perosn(even when they are on the other side of a major intersection), trying to escape any possible way from ripping the leash out of my hand to simply pulling his head out of his collar and running like the wind as fast as he could in any random direction!On one of my trips to a Surfing competition, I mistakingly thought that he was ready to be in a social environment with many people and dogs and what a great experience for both of us it would be…and after 3 hours of chasing him(remember he is a champion escape artist), him urinating on someones’ backpack, being caught by news crews on tape as he drug me into the ocean after the surfers,I had to take a second look at his training or lack of his desire to relinquish any control to me! He obviously loved knowing he was stronger than me and accepted the challenge to overpower me at every turn!On numerous occasions he escaped from the backyard, garage or out the front door while my back was turned for only a moment(all it ever takes to lose a dog) and we would search frantically for him, only to find him exploring and finding new “girlfriends” even when he could here us whistling and calling for him! I can’t pin-point when he starting making a real change, but I can tell you my approach and training method and also tell you that “he is now” one of the most well trained dogs at the dog park, not to mention shows off with a multitude of tricks! I used originally a treat, accompanied with one word command and a hand command. Never use a string of commands/words for what you want your dog to do, this will make the training take longer and be confusing to your dog and always use an enormous amount of praise! Eventually, you will eliminate the treat/cookie and use only the one word command and hand command. It now becomes time to train using only hand command (except when your dog needs to come and you may not have visual contact) in which case you might want to accompany with the treat again just to re-enforce the command, but you will not need to always use one!Lassen sits, crawls, lays down, shakes(both paws),comes, stays and holds, spins a circle, balances objects on his nose, plays volleyball, does the best hockey goalee positioning, does find lost balls just from the point of your finger and so many other crazy and fun, but truly amazing tricks! I would venture to say that it is most important to take the time with your dog daily and be consistant with the same word and hand commands, even if more than one person is involved with the training!If you have a dog like Lassen who is eager to please and desires to learn new things whenever possible you will constantly be adding new commands and tricks to their repetoire! Have fun with your dog and he/she will want to make you proud and happy! Valerie Goff

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