How do we keep up our dog's confidence while training our puppy?
December 5, 2018 7:23 AM   Subscribe

Nine month-old Chewie was surrendered to a rescue by an inexperienced owner who kept him crated 20+ hours a day and never properly socialized him. He's making GREAT progress in the month we've had him but is still an undertrained puppy. Three year-old Zelda is VERY sensitive to any correction, and has been taking it personally whenever she hears a "No!" or "Uh-uh!," even if it's not directed at her.

We're focused on postively re-directing Chewie's unwanted behaviors, and we're working with a trainer away from Zelda, but sometimes a startling correction is required and then Zelda mopes for the rest of the day. How do we reassure her that she is the goodest of good girls while her little brother is still a work in progress?

(More gratuitous dog pics here.)
posted by ferociouskitty to Pets & Animals (5 answers total)
Cute! We’ve been able to stop saying “no” to our doggie by using basic click training and also Kikopup’s advice . Our dog wants so much to please us and be a good girl since introducing the clicker. I bet it would be a fun and positive experience for both of your dogs.
posted by eulily at 7:40 AM on December 5, 2018 [5 favorites]

+1 to positive reinforcement only, and ignoring or redirecting unwanted behaviour, but you can also reward Zelda every time you correct Chewie. If she’s food-motivated, a bit of high-value treat simultaneous to the correction should help.
posted by outfielder at 8:15 AM on December 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

Could you put Zelda in another room (or outside) during clicker sessions with Chewie? A daily handful of brief (five minutes or less) 1-on-1 clicker intensives will reinforce Chewie's growing awareness of a clear link between your words, his actions, and treats. Once that link is firmly established with Chewie, it should be easier to offer the occasional correction without a lot of fanfare.

Be sure to do clicker training with Zelda, too--even if she's already good (she looks like a very good buddy), it's a fun way to bond and have quality time together. And it will help her trust you more, and build out the ratio of good times to mope times.
posted by witchen at 9:41 AM on December 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

Make training positive not discipline. Reinforce the correct behaviour, & unless it's necessary for safety don't use "no" as a correction. So instead of "NO Chewie don't eat that". It's a happy voice saying "Hey Chewie give me that." . .then "Good boy" and lots of love when he gives it to you.

Instead of "No Chewie don't pee there." It's "Lets go outside Chewie come on let's go" .. . Good boy. Oh you want to come too Zelda? Good girl Zelda. " etc

Use their names a lot even when the other dog isn't around. Use the name first then the command. "Zelda Sit.. . . .good girl." It will take a little while to click, but dogs can figure out who you are addressing if you are consistent.

Also if Zelda does get upset by you correcting Chewie. Don't make a fuss. Immediately give her a command or two you know she can nail, then praise her to the moon & back and you are reinforcing that you think she's a good girl that knows the rules & not that there is something to be worried about.
posted by wwax at 10:54 AM on December 5, 2018 [4 favorites]

I don't have anything to add... just wanted to say -- "Wow! Those eyes!"
Those are good dogs.

And seconding that you make sure Zelda doesn't get the side-eye when correcting Chewie. Turn a bit away from her, so she knows she isn't getting things wrong. Focus just on Chewie.
Then wait a bit and give Zelda some scritches, completely unrelated to what just happened.

The kids are alright. They'll get the hang of it.
posted by TrishaU at 2:20 PM on December 5, 2018

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