Shelley Widhalm

Archive for the ‘Dog training’ Category

Puppy Kindergarten

In Dog training, Going on walks, Hand feeding on July 25, 2010 at 5:22 pm

I thought training a dog wouldn’t be too hard after growing up with a poodle mix my family and I named Tuffy. My dad trained Tuffy to sit, come and potty outside, but I didn’t watch the training process, so I was unaware of the work it took.

I taught Tuffy to go on walks, at first using a leash to pull him around the block, because he wouldn’t walk on his own. After weeks of this, he began to adore the leash, maybe because it allowed him to see more than the back or front yards. He would come whenever anyone jingled it, even if we were out in the open camping on property my family had owned.

Zoey is a different story. I initially pulled her on our walks to give her the message we were moving forward. She would walk but not in a straight line unless we were heading home. She had to stop for smells and did not want to leave until she was done, and if I interrupted her, she dug in her paws and became a cute pull-toy.

The walks became one of many indications I was inexperienced with dog training, so I signed Zoey up for puppy kindergarten.

On the first day of class, Zoey scooted behind my chair and turned away from the seven or eight other dogs with their owners and looked out a large window at the rest of the pet store. She seemed to not get the commands and wasn’t interested in the treats when she was overwhelmed by the unfamiliarity of the room and the other dogs.

The trainer said to mix in treats with Zoey’s regular food, and then training became fun for Zoey, at least in the comfort of our home. She would sit, roll over, stand on her hind legs, spin and do other tricks for the handful of treats and food in a baggie. She wanted to be fed by hand and began to neglect her food bowl in order to make eating a contact sport.

Graduation day came and if I was the evaluator, I would have given us a C+. We did some of the tricks, but as for walking, we did not move through the store without some pulling. It sure was a drag, but we got our photo with Zoey in a miniature graduation cap.

Dog Training 101

In Alpha dog status, Deaf to the word "no", Dog training, First puppy on July 12, 2010 at 2:46 am

Zoey, my miniature dachshund, is very cute and sweet, as many people who meet her tell me, but she also is a bit naughty and very deaf to the word “no.” This made her a difficult trainee during our battle for alpha dog status. Granted, she was my first dog, and I didn’t know what I was doing, despite buying how-to books on puppies, dogs and dachshunds and putting her through puppy kindergarten.

Potty training is a given difficulty in puppy training. I sat outside with Zoey every couple of hours (when I wasn’t at work) to try to convince her that the outdoors was her toilet bowl, not the carpet or the rugs. I think she figured I was accompanying her in the backyard, so I could watch her chew on the wood on the deck stairs or run around, sniffing for thrills. She got treats (and still does) for a successful potty and, after five or six weeks, caught on to the Pavlov response of peeing for treats.

Potty wasn’t so bad, compared to Zoey’s propensity for chewing furniture, biting at pant legs and body parts for attention, barking like a 100-pound dog at the smallest of noises and wanting to go in and out, in and out all day long, as if the grass were greener on whichever side of the fence she did not dominate.

When she was naughty, she would not stop if I told her “no” and was even more determined to continue. If I ignored her or she wanted my attention now! she would become even more mischievous. She was stubborn, manipulative and wanted her own way.

I considered throwing in the towel, selling her, returning her, taking her to the pound. But I loved her, even so.

I tried everything to get her to behave. I told her “no” so often, my vocabulary became stunted. I ignored her, squirted her with a water gun, clapped and made lots of noise, lightly spanked her behind and put her in time-outs. Nothing seemed to work, except time and waiting for her to learn and to grow up. And I, too, had to learn how to understand her and love her back, even when I felt like the runt of our litter.