We have 2 new puppies in the house: a 15 week-old poodle and a 9 week-old golden retriever. Here’s a training session with the golden retriever from this morning where we quickly moved from one exercise to the next. The puppy showed great engagement and focus from start to finish.
Two Person Recalls. Call the puppy back and forth between you and an assistant. I like to add a marker, either a “click” from a clicker or a “yes!” with my voice, to help the puppy learn more quickly, adding verbal praise and/or petting as the puppy eats the treat. I usually mark when the puppy is moving toward me but not yet arrived. In the video below, you’re watching this puppy’s first session of recalls.
Touching a Disc. This puppy has already learned to put a paw on several different objects, but this is her first time on a disc, which is squishy and can be uncomfortable for some dogs. You should not wait for your dog to put a paw on an object; instead, you should mark when they look in the direction of the object a few times, and then for sniffing or touching it with their nose, and then for foot movement toward the object. A nice trick is to reward the puppy in a way where it’s convenient for them to put a paw on the object in order to eat the treat, and then to click the moment the paw is on the object, and then to click a few more times for keeping a paw in contact with the object. Make sure you release the dog to a treat to reset them–I usually pair this with my “get it!” cue.
Tugging. Find a toy your puppy likes and drag it around the ground, away from your puppy. This will entice her to chase the toy. When she grabs the toy, you want to alternate between pulling her forward and letting her pull you forward. I like to move toward the dog so they believe they have actually pulled me over, increasing their confidence and enjoyment of the game. This puppy has had several tugging sessions before, so Sarah also added the challenge of dragging the toy through her leg, as many dogs would rather let go of the toy than maintain their grip.
Try this with your puppy or dog and let me know if you have any problems. Keep your session short, avoid any scolding, reward and praise lavishly!