Mighty at 8 weeksIn this month’s video clip you will see me training my 10 week old Labrador puppy, Mighty.    Next month, you will see part 2 which will include even more foundation skills I teach my young puppies.  I will break down into segments each skill you see me demo with Mighty and I will explain why I am teaching him these skills.  My plan for future articles is to then show you how I use utilize these early foundation skills for the adult dog’s training through out his competition obedience career.

I start the video demo off with spin and twist.  I teach spin with my right hand and turn his head to the outside to do the spin.  I teach twist with my left hand and again turning his head to the outside.  My hand has a treat in it to encourage the movement from the puppy.  Later, these hand movements will become signals to cue Mighty to spin and twist.  I teach spin and twist so that my puppy becomes aware of his body, and how to use it going to the right and to the left.  It is also a fun game for the puppy to learn, and adult dogs love it as well.  I use it as a stress reliever at competitions,  something my dog can do that does not require precision.

Next you will see me starting to teach Mighty a hand target.  This is an exercise that I shape.  I hold multi-small treats in my right hand, and put my left hand down near the puppies face.  Most puppies will then touch your left hand in curiosity, and I quickly mark that with either a yes, or a click and reward from my right hand.  I still have my left hand out and the puppy touches it again, and I mark the behaviour.  Make sure that you look at your left hand, what you want your puppy to touch, and do not look at your puppies eyes as that will distract him from concentrating on touching your hand.   At each training session, I raise my hand so the puppy now has to exhibit effort to jump up and touch, and I also move my hand around my body in different areas so that they understand when they see my hand come out in a flat position held up, they are to jump up and touch it.  I later put a word to this, “get ready” and cue my dog to jump into heel position to get set up to go work.

Next I am teaching my puppy how to walk thru my legs.  This is a fun game to teach and again another stress reliever when at competitions.  You will see in a future article, how I utilize “thru” for recalls and fronts.

I start teaching thru by encouraging my puppy thru my legs with a treat.  Just start one leg at a time, and then eventually add in a slow walk forward movement while encouraging the puppy thru your legs with a treat.  I use both hands as you will see in the video demo.  I slowly move the treat further up and away from the puppy, until I fade the treat away fully.

After that,  you will see me teaching spin from the side.  Again this is great for body awareness.  Later I will use it in ways such as, spin my dog from the side and all of a sudden go heeling.  Or during heeling, all of a sudden do a spin from the side.  This is one way to add some fun into your heeling and how to be “unpredictable” in your training.

Next I am showing how I start my puppy heeling.  He is learning how to do heads up heeling both forwards and backwards.

Next, I am teaching Mighty how to shake hands.  This is just a fun trick to teach and a nice stress reliever for competition day.

Next I am doing my stand, down, sit sequence.  I start by having the puppy stand quietly and simply look at the treat without fussing , demanding it, and moving around.  I start by having them look at the treat for only a nano-second, and then slowly build up the time as they become successful at just standing and looking.  I quickly reward the puppy and mark the calm standing and looking behaviour, and then I push the treat towards the dog and into his chest to create a fold back down.  I reward, then ask for a “look” without popping up out of the down, then I bring my hand down to the puppies face (with a treat in it) and bring my hand straight up, and ask for a stand, then a stand and “look”, then I encourage the puppy slightly forward into an “up sit”.  If I want to repeat the sequence then I lead the puppy back around infront of me while he is looking up at the treat and walking into position.   This movement simulates heads up heeling.  I never move my position, the puppy is one that moves.

To finish my training session you will see me bringing out Mighty’s prey drive instinct.  I like to make the toy look like something he will want to chase, so I either put a toy on a string and pull it about, or as you see in the demo a toy attached to a long riding crop.  I play tug with Mighty, but when I ask for an “out” release of the toy, he must do so immediately.  Once I get the out, I release him right back to play.  I think one mistake that many people make is every time they ask for a release, they take the toy away and in turn, the puppy or dog becomes toy obsessive and does not want to give it up because the play session will now be over.

I hope you have enjoyed this article on puppy training part one, and I look forward to showing you even more puppy foundation skills in part 2 next month.