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Flora & Molly

Puppy training with a child

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A while ago now I met a really nice girl, Indy, of about ten years old when she asked me if she could teach Molly some tricks. Sure she could. Molly never really learned any new tricks from her, but they became firm friends. Now Indy has her own BC puppy, Bobby who is 5 months old. We go on walks together.

On our walk today she told me she thought Bobby wasn't a smart dog and probably would never be a dog who could go off leash. I had to disagree. He is very smart, he's just a baby. Plus, he does listen to her mum and can walk nicely beside her. Of course she sees Molly who is 4 years old and is really focused on me and wants Bobby to listen as well as she does, but that took a lot of training and maturing. 

So I said I would help her out a little with Bobby. As I am saving up to study to become a dog trainer, I thought this would be a nice experience for both of us. (this sounds as if she is paying me - she is not :) ) 
I am scouring the internet for fun training games and I thought I would ask here as well for fun ideas. I want to help them bond and help her teach Bobby some basic manners. But most of all, show her how much fun her pup is (and how smart).

Some of the issues she has are:

- he pulls here everywhere
- recall, she is afraid to let him drag a line
- biting when you touch his harness
- digging: when he finds somewhere nice to dig she has a hard time getting him to walk away with her

I am pretty sure these things don't happen or are more easily resolved when her mother is present. When I held the leash he was much more responsive, so I think she just needs some tips/techniques to become his leader/partner instead of only his playmate.

One of the things I want to do is play a recall game where we sit down opposite each other and call the puppy to us, treats and praise and then the other person calls him over. Rinse and repeat. Fun for the pup, fun for the child and really easy to do together. 

I am looking for things we can do with Bobby, but perhaps also something we can do with Molly to show her how dogs learn - and that rewards are really important. 
I hope you can help me come up with loads of fun stuff ;) 
 

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Short on time so I'll just make 2 comments.

1) It might help her to accept the challenges if she understand that in the puppy's , Indy's also a puppy and just as Indy wouldn't recognize other children's authority over her, the puppy doesn't either. It has to be earned. May be helpful to make some comparisons between the puppy being in kindergarten with his learning and experience while Molly's graduated from college. It might give her a framework for understanding the differences as to where they are in their knowledge base. Maybe as her how she' like it if someone said she wasn't very smart because they knew a college graduate (or a teacher) who knew more than she does.

2) a fun way to practice recalls is to have the pup going back and forth between 2 people -- in a secure place of course. You could maybe show her how it's done with Molly, letting Molly drag a leash to see it doesn't need to be scary.

Good luck. It should be fun once Indy starts to get the knack of it.

 

 

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the "toss kibble one direction, then when dog's getting it run the other direction and toss/drop kibble there, lather rinse repeat" type game -- Leslie McDevitt's "ping pong" game -- seems to work really well for kids and they enjoy it and are impressed at how much it gets their dogs paying more-constructive attention to them. So maybe that would be a place to start? Dog could be on long line, or just do it over short distances, or something like that, if dog can't be loose.

Good luck, that is cool you are helping here out,

Pat

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I find analogy to be a great tool in explaining dogs to people, and it is very useful with kids, who can easily relate to experiences that they have had. So the suggestion to compare the puppy's learning stage with kindergarten is a good one. Also comparing to sports or playing a musical instrument, learning to read or  whatever that kid does - so that the kid understands learning something a little bit at a time and building upon what has been learned by adding just one more small thing, not expecting the puppy to know it all right away. That if the kid were learning a new things she'd want the teacher to be patient, and would stop wanting to learn if the teacher were impatient......all that kind of thing.

I especially like that recall game when there are more than two people. The more the merrier, as long as everyone gives treats when the puppy comes to them.

digging.....don't let him get to a place where he can dig, would be one solution. Or, if that is impractical then take the yummiest treat along and distract him with that. Most dogs, even who love to dig, would rather eat the treat and then you have distracted him from the dig.

Leash pulling - you probably know how to teach her to handle that. How are you telling her to handle the biting when she touches his harness?  Have you had a chance to observe the interaction and gain any insight as to why/in what attitude he is doing this?

I like to go through the whole protocol (extremely sped up of course) for how I taught my dog to do something, demonstrating in a minute or two what actually took days or weeks to train, but showing the stages so that the person gets the idea of how to break things down into little steps. Everyone breaks things down into chunks much too large at first. It takes a little practice, I found, to break down the stages of learning into tiny enough increments for the dog to continue having success with each step.

I love helping people with their dogs, myself. It is very rewarding. You will have fun and be a big help to this kid and her dog. :-)

 

 

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Thank you all for the great ideas! I will be using all of them. 

So far we haven't been able to do much as it is constantely raining, but with talking and explaining and using Molly as an example we are on the right track.
We've had some nice successes with Bobby (the pup) dragging the leash. Of course a young pup will get distracted, but I was able to show here those moments are great opportunities to teach him to pay attention to us. So we would call him over and play with him when he was distracted by some nice smells.
He did really really well, better than I expected. One smart pup. 

I have used your analogies and that has really helped. Plus joking that I'll take Bobby if she doesn't want him... :) 

About the biting: he has bitten me when I touched his harness to untangle the leash. It's a "don't touch me!" bite/gnawing. He only does this when it takes a little while. I waited for him to calm down before releasing him, but I think that won't be a good idea for a child. Probably practising touching his harness and giving him a treat would solve this pretty quickly.

It is really fun to help her, I am learning how to explain things which helps me understand dogs better. Plus I know my Molly through and through so it is interesting to see another dog and how that dog reacts to things. Bobby has a very different character to Molly. 

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7 hours ago, Flora & Molly said:

About the biting: he has bitten me when I touched his harness to untangle the leash. It's a "don't touch me!" bite/gnawing. He only does this when it takes a little while. I waited for him to calm down before releasing him, but I think that won't be a good idea for a child. Probably practising touching his harness and giving him a treat would solve this pretty quickly.

I have found that making a sharp loud high-pitched yelp whenever the pup bites is often the best approach to curbing this. It's immediately understood by the pup that the bite was too much, because they know what that sound means. I yelp, then move away from the dog and ignore for a minute. Repeat as needed. 

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39 minutes ago, D'Elle said:

I have found that making a sharp loud high-pitched yelp whenever the pup bites is often the best approach to curbing this. It's immediately understood by the pup that the bite was too much, because they know what that sound means. I yelp, then move away from the dog and ignore for a minute. Repeat as needed. 

That's fine for play biting, but in this situation with the harness, wouldn't the puppy just be rewarded by getting what he wants, which is for the person to stop messing with his harness?

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In this case, a person shouldn't stop messing with the harness. I would give the yelp and hold onto the harness for a moment, then continue with putting it on or whatever. If this ends up turning into a little battle of repetition, then I'd crate the pup for 5 minutes or 10, and then go at it again.

Another thought I have is this: is there a reason the OP is using a harness? Maybe your dog doesn't like harnesses. Neither of my dogs do, and will fight them every time, whereas with a collar they are perfectly behaved. Maybe you should just use a collar with the leash and the problem will be solved. Might be worth a try.

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It is not my dog so I don't know why they are using a harness. 

I only go on walks with them and try to help Indy a bit in understanding her puppy and training him. The rest is up to Indy's parents :) 

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Oh, oops ---  forgot!  sorry 'bout that!   Guess I should say - maybe suggest to the dog's owner that she try not using a harness?

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:) that's okay.

Apparently the puppy class they went to wanted them to use it. 

I don't know if he is any trouble when putting the harness on (I'm never there to see it), I feel it has to do with clipping on the leash and all the fun stopping. I'm trying hard to explain making things fun for the dog, especially in recall training. But I only ever see Indy and have only talked to her mum twice and very briefly at that. (I have learned to tone my enthusiasm about dogs down a bit around not-obsessed-dog-owners... don't want to scare people off)

We'll see :) baby steps 

(and I guess if he does put up a fight about the harness at home they'll switch to a flat collar eventually :P)

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If you have learned to tone down your dog-obsessed-enthusiasm, you're better than I!  I am one of those "don't get her started" types when it comes to dogs, especially if it is about training.

I am an introvert; not good at conversation with people I don't know. But I can carry on a conversation with just about anyone willing to talk dogs. (As long as the sub-topic isn't conformation).

 

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41 minutes ago, D'Elle said:

If you have learned to tone down your dog-obsessed-enthusiasm, you're better than I!  I am one of those "don't get her started" types when it comes to dogs, especially if it is about training.

I am an introvert; not good at conversation with people I don't know. But I can carry on a conversation with just about anyone willing to talk dogs. (As long as the sub-topic isn't conformation).

Ahhh, D'Elle, a real dog lover also loves to talk dogs with just about anyone. Just today I had a 15 minute conversation with the  manager of the mobile home park where I live. We were talking dogs, of course, and had to inform each other of every quirk our current dogs have, what medications/treatments we've used for what problems, and at least a brief history of past dogs. I'll have a random conversation about dogs with just about anyone. I do have to restrain myself when conformation comes up, but that's been rare. Most of my conversations are of the 'oooh, can I pet your dog?' type.

Ruth & Gibbs, the Star of Each Discussion

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I don't meet many people who want to hear it :) with the exception of some dog owners I meet on walks.

my friends usually make the mistake of asking about Molly and get a lot more information then they thought they would get :P

My family has a running gag where they quote a book to tell me I am rambling too much. They simply say "interest scale".

The quote is from a book where a sister says it to her baby sister of about four years old: "interest scale, always think about the interest scale. How high do you reckon this would be on the interest scale?"

 

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