Monday, April 13, 2009

How to talk to my dog

We have a new puppy, and we very much want him to be well socialized with all our friends, especially those who live right around the Big Yard where he plays. One way to accomplish this is for all of us who boss the puppy around to do so with consistent words and actions. So if you ever see Satchmo, try to keep these commands in mind. (And it's okay to use a firm voice!)

General guidelines:

1. Say it once, then enforce it. Don't teach him he doesn't have to listen until you say it a bunch of times.

2. If you're not going to enforce the command, skip it. Better he gets away with something than that anyone lets him get away with something. (This is true for kids, too, by the way.)

3. Let him know when he's done well. A steady stream of stern commands will turn into white noise pretty fast, so give him lots of support when he listens!

The commands:

1. Off!: Use when the dog is jumping up or climbing on you or something you don't want him to jump or climb on. Do not use the word "down" in this situation; "down" means "lie down." Enforce by gently but firmly pushing him off.

2. Leave it!: Use when he's about to get into something you don't want him near. This command is preventive maintenance. If he's already got your shoe in his mouth, it's too late for "leave it." Reinforce by saying "good boy" or something if he looks up. If he looks back down, it's okay to repeat the command. Once he picks it up, we're on to the next one.

3. Drop it!: Use when he's already got your shoe in his mouth. :-) Enforce by opening his jaws, not by pulling it. Pulling it = tug of war = play time. If you're not comfortable with this enforcement, that's okay; just come get one of us and we'll take care of it. Do not use the command "out" (which we favored at first); we now use "out" to mean "outside."

4. No biting!: Satchmo is entirely non-aggressive, so don't be scared by this one. It's just to tell him to stop puppy nipping, especially your sleeve, pant leg, etc. Enforce this by closing his mouth gently but firmly with your hand, making stern eye contact, and repeating the command. Do not swat. If you prefer, another method of enforcement would be to stop playing with him. Push him away and then ignore him for a while.

Of course there are other commands we use, but these should get you started. Questions? Leave them in the comments. Thanks for being a friend to the pup.


Beth said...

OK, but what if I want to call him to me? Like, "Hey, Satchmo, come and visit me and bring your owners (all 3 of 'em)!"??

Ken Tryon said...

Is this, perhaps, just the least bit anal retentive? I understand the importance of training a dog, especially a large one, but will visitors be required to finish a training course before they may enter the house? Will there be a handy summary posted by all entrances? Will Satchmo wear his instruction in a handy glassine pouch on a doggy vest? Important considerations, if you ask me.

Travis Prinzi said...

Actually, I think this is an excellent idea. A follow-up post on visitors not freaking the dog out by running to him when they visit, and making sure they visit with all the adults in the house before acknowledging the dog, and that sort of thing, would also be good.

What a great little puppy!

Heidi said...

Satchmo definitely has that SharPei face, what a cutie!

Lisa said...

Thanks for the clarification. I was confusing Leave It and Drop It.

What's the command for "Leave Ella Alone Or You're Going to Get a Bloody Nose"?