This is the first of many updates to come on how the dog training efforts are going. I set out on this journey with the desire to learn something that benefits my family and that they can be involved in. While it would be beneficial to all of us to improve the dogs behaviour, the truth is that much like with parenting, consistency is key. If parents are not on the same page, this can become very evident in the child’s behaviour. If parents work together to implement and reinforce expectations, the child is typically more responsive. Many say children thrive on clear boundaries and consistent expectations. I tend to believe this and feel this same methodology can be applied to dog training. If we work together, we are more likely to see the long term benefits of the time we put in.
In looking for good online sources of information, I began by searching Instagram and Twitter. From there I identified some accounts that seemed worth following because of the number of people following them and the type of content being posted. What I was most interested in was trainers putting out short instructional videos. I find that with following many things in each place, I am not getting a steady stream of content without searching for it though. I created a Wakelet to organize this information in hopes of having a place where the only thing I see is pet training related content. I don’t find myself going back to this as much as I should be though or adding everything I find. I have been making a conscious effort to store helpful articles here for quick reference though.
After my exploration of TikTok and the realization that it has such a potential for learning when the content is focussed, I gave in and got an account. The purpose of this was specifically to see if I could gather the information I need to train my dogs in one virtual location. I was and still am really sold on the idea of short informational videos. This week I dedicated about 5-10 minutes a night to specifically checking out dog training content on my TikTok account.
At this point, I am finding quite a bit of helpful content from a few particular sources. I have started looking back at who I followed on Instagram and Twitter to see if these people or organizations have TikTok accounts in order to increase the number of sources I have to draw from. I have started to like videos that I find particularly helpful in order to make it easier to find them again. I have also followed and unfollowed a few people that I found to lack meaningful content or have a personal approach that I did not appreciate.
I have been finding quite a bit from these particular sources. While I don’t always love the ‘in your face’ approach of @southenddogtraining1, I have found some of the instructional videos very helpful. It was this particular video that inspired me to look further into the use of the clicker in training. I am also finding useful content and helpful tips from @leaderofthepacklv. After seeing the first video on the clicker from @southenddogtraining1, I then found one from @leaderofthepacklv which convinced me to get one. Check it out here.
This week, we decided to start back at what I would call the basics. We need to get our dogs to be more attentive to us and what we want from them. Of course this means lots of reinforcement (food) and making training part of our daily ‘fun’ routine. One thing I picked up from the videos I have watched so far is the idea that dog walking should begin with training in the house proceeding to the yard and then the real deal. This is not something I ever considered before. In fact, I used to think my youngest was teasing them when she would leash them up in the house. Well, she was actually on the right track!
This week we began with a focus on learning to heel, walk and sit in the house. This included a bunch of treats of course. We also made sure to start by separating the pups for this. Our first day of in house training focused on walking a few steps and then sitting while on leash. Any time they would move ahead of me, I did a a hundred and eighty degree turn and continued the other way. This method is meant to get them back to walking by your side or just behind you (heeling). Everytime I would stop and they stopped, sat and looked up at me, they got a little treat.
Our second day focused more on heeling using the methods pictured here from @southenddotraining1. Knowing treats were coming during this time, I found they both tried hard to follow along with what we were doing. The biggest challenge was keeping them from jumping and trying to take off our hands to get the treat. If you go too quickly, they are likely to run, while if you go too slowly, they either start trying to take it or lose interest fast.
So far, I think we are off to a great start. I am looking forward to exploring more with the clicker, continuing leash training and moving it outside. I am feeling like we are learning some good habits that will carry over to our dogs. This week I could already see that they were likely to listen and sit more quickly when excited then they were a week ago. Don’t get me wrong, they are still crazy, but it’s a start! Puppy steps!!