From the Desk of Sharda Baker
This is Sharda again for another Scottish Terrier Dog newsletter.
After you have researched the Scottie breed, set your training schedule and routine and determined your course of action it is important to get started. The basic commands that most people would like the puppy to be able to respond to are:
Once the puppy has mastered these commands and behaviours, you can advance to more difficult commands.
Starting training as early as possible is far more effective than allowing the puppy to learn negative behaviours and then trying to retrain them out of these and into the desired behaviours. Use naturally occurring events to reinforce training.
When the puppy walks towards you on his/her own choice immediately say “come” and then praise and reward the puppy when it arrives.
Only do this if the puppy is headed towards you directly. After being with the puppy for a short time, you can easily determine if it is heading your way. This allows the puppy to pair the word “come” or “sit” with a natural behaviour that the dog wanted to do anyway.
TEACHING YOUR DOG TO COME
This is one of the most important commands for a Scottie puppy to learn. It is important for safety reasons, as well as allowing the puppy more freedom, because once you know that the puppy will come consistently, you can then allow off-leash walks in appropriate and safe locations without having to worry that the puppy may take off on you.
The first step to get the puppy to come is to understand the reasons that a puppy might not want to come. Perhaps they are really enjoying what they are doing, or are engaged in chasing or playing with another pet or family member.
If the puppy is off the leash and having fun it will quickly learn that when it is called to the owner and responds, the owner will put on the leash and take it away from the fun.
If the puppy does not respond it gets to keep on playing, and quickly realizes that being free is infinitely more pleasurable than being on the leash. To avoid this response it is important to keep the puppy on the leash when out of the training area until training is completed.
To teach a Scottie puppy to come, the easiest method is to use food as an incentive. For this to be effective the puppy must be a little hungry, and interested in the bite of kibble or the puppy treat offered.
By choosing healthy treats and sticking to limited feedings throughout the day, the puppy will be interested in the treat but also still getting the correct diet.
Make sure that you have the puppy’s attention in a quiet and distraction free environment. When you first start this activity you will need to be only a few feet from the puppy.
- Call the puppy, which we will name Bingo, by name, saying “Come Bingo” or “Bingo, Come!”.
- Show the treat.
- Immediately reward the puppy when he arrives to you.
- Make sure the puppy enjoys the treat. Pair the treat with petting and lots of praise.
- Continue this training, gradually moving farther back.
- Once the puppy is coming consistently and immediately, gradually start eliminating the treats, and rely on the praise.
The training sessions should be done in short periods, multiple times a day. Try moving throughout the house or yard, and play almost a hide and seek game with the puppy.
If the puppy appears to lack interest, make sure that you are not training right after eating or during times of stress or distractions. Remember to verbally reward the puppy and give lots of attention when the puppy responds.
Once the puppy has the concept start adding distractions. When first training outside or in unfamiliar territory, keep the puppy on a leash and being firm but gentle, focus the puppy’s attention on you.
Use a longer and longer lead until the puppy is responding every time before taking the leash off.
TEACHING YOUR DOG TO SIT
Sitting is a natural behaviour for a Scottie puppy or dog, so take advantage of this.
- Whenever you notice your puppy getting into position to sit, simply say “Sit”. This allows the dog to understand that SIT means “put my bottom down on the ground”. Once the puppy understands this, training is much easier.
- You can also encourage the puppy to sit by using treats.
- Simply get down on the floor with the puppy, and hold the treat over its head, moving it slightly backwards. The puppy will raise its noise to the treat and move the head back, causing it to sit.
- As soon as the back quarters start to lower, say “Sit” and present the treat when the dog’s bottom is on the floor. This happens very quickly, so be prepared.
Keep these training sessions very short. Remember to say “sit” when you notice the dog sitting outside of the training session. Avoid having the dog sit more than 3-5 times in any one session. Mix up the “come” and “sit” commands, so the puppy is kept thinking.
Praise the dog both verbally and with lots of petting when they do the correct behaviour. As the puppy gets better at sitting, gradually fade out the treats and increase the verbal and physical praise.
TEACHING YOUR DOG TO LAY DOWN
The command of “down” can be taught very similarly to the sit command.
- Have the dog sit, and then place the food, in your fingers, on the ground in front of the dog. This will usually encourage the puppy to lie on his stomach.
- If they do not respond to this, or if they stand up, try gently moving the dogs front legs out while giving the command of “down”.
- Immediately reward the dog with food and praise.
- The puppy will want to stand up immediately, and allow this until he gets the idea of laying down on the command. Once he has mastered this, encourage the puppy to stay longer by petting the dog while it is down, as well as holding back the food reward for longer periods of time.
As with the sit command watch for times that the dog is naturally going to lie down and give the command.
TEACHING YOUR DOG TO STAY
After the puppy has successfully learned to sit and lay down, it is important to get them to stay. This is a gradual training, and will not happen overnight, as the puppy will naturally want to go with you, not remain behind.
- Start by having the puppy sit or lay down.
- Give the stay command. Many people pair this command with a hand signal like the “stop” signal that is used in traffic.
- Step back and reward your puppy even for the slightest amount of time spent staying.
- Gradually increase the time and space. Once the puppy gets the idea of what you want they will stay for longer and longer periods of time.
- Do not reward the puppy when they come prior to your request. Avoid punishing the puppy, as you do not want them to become nervous of coming to you.
I hope you learned a lot from today’s Scottish Terrier Dog Newsletter.