New Year’s resolutions

I’ve chatted in a previous post about the little things I’m glad we did in terms of preparing Rupert for baby Arthur’s arrival, but there are of course things that I WISH we’d done but didn’t.

Hindsight as they say is a wonderful thing, but there are a couple of Rupert’s training ‘gaps’ that would have been better to think about before Arthur’s arrival rather than after. It’s embarrassing to say some of them really because they are basic dog training skills that we learnt in puppy class but for one reason or another, I didn’t think was a priority to continue at home. But it’s 2019, it’s a new year and I’m optimistic and hopeful that I can fix a few of these things now, better late than never…wish me luck.

  • JUMPING UP– For some bizarre reason we didn’t train Rupert not to jump up when he was a puppy and already I’m regretting it, as having a toddler and a dog that jumps up is not a good combination.

Training tip – When I asked Enfield based dog trainer Kerry Brown how to fix this she suggests; if your dog jumps up at you, simply ignore them until all paws are on the floor and then reward. There is no need to shout at your dog to “get down” as even negative attention can be rewarding for a dog, so ignoring is the strongest technique. When visitors come to the house or you are out on a walk, keep your dog on the lead and ask people to do the same, so ignore until paws are on the floor, then reward. Always remember that dogs learn through being successful.

  • FOOD SNATCHING– This is literally the thing that makes me the most embarrassed of all and really reminds me of the work I need to put in to teaching Rupert that some things are just not acceptable. When I did all the puppy classes we learnt how to teach a dog to “leave it”, and Rupert does know this command, but I should have taken this one more seriously, he will leave toys, dirty nappy bags etc if I tell him to but food…no chance. If we all go for a picnic Frank wouldn’t dare to hoover up Sophia’s dropped food, Rupert on the other hand is straight in there and it’s getting worse. With a snack loving toddler it’s starting to cause a lot of stress by the fact that Rupert constantly tries to snatch food out of Arthur’s hand, and usually succeeds.

So this is my first focus for 2019, teach Rupert to “leave it” in the hope that one day Arthur can have a snack in his hand for more than a second before little pug fills his own tummy.

There are plenty of different techniques on teaching “leave it”, i’m going to start off trying this one:

  • Show your dog you have a treat. Take a treat curled up in your right hand, place it in front of dog nose, say “leave it”, once dog moves away from your hand, open hand and release treat. Repeat repeat repeat, until your dog moves away instantly as soon as command is said. Then move on.
  • Take a treat curled up in your right hand, place it in front of dog nose, say “leave it”, once dog moves away from hand, give treat from the OTHER hand. Repeat, repeat, repeat until your dog moves away instantly and turns head automatically to your left hand. This is all the time showing them that listening to you and ignoring the forbidden food can prove beneficial to them. Then move on.
  • Take a treat and place on the floor, cover with your right hand. Lift up hand, say “leave it”, if dog listens, give treat from other hand. Keep right hand close by to forbidden treat on the floor to cover it back up if they go for it. Repeat, repeat, repeat until dog happily and easily ignores treat sitting on floor in front of them and instead is focused on you.

Then it’s about being consistent, doing this everyday until the command is ingrained in him, then it’s a case of practicing out on walks, with distractions around etc, until I really start to believe and trust in him to “leave it” it all types of situations. It’s a long journey with this one I feel, but I have to start somewhere and now is as good a time as any.

At the end of the day, no dog is perfect, but as a responsible dog owner and as a parent who has other children coming into the home I’ve realised how important these things are to get sorted. I know most new year’s resolutions don’t continue past January but I’m confident we can keep this one going, watch this space…

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