Not my puppy.
March 31, 2020 8:21 AM   Subscribe

I need resources for training someone else’s dog from scratch. My next door neighbor has a puppy. And covid-19. I will be walking the puppy (4 or so months old). Puppy only does toileting outdoors, otherwise has not been trained beyond ‘sit’ and ‘lie down.’ Puppy pulls the leash and wants to jump on people. I would post a photo but it’s not my dog and also he’s pretty distinctive.

I’m currently using my strategy for adult dogs that are trained, which is to just stand still until dog lets the leash slack/comes to heel, and then we start walking again. Trained dogs pick this up extremely quickly and handle walking next to me with occasional treats and lots of praise. This puppy needs to start at the beginning and I’m too overwhelmed with everything to research/figure that out right now.

I’m getting a clicker and a new leash/harness but what I need is:

Online videos you have likes for training a hyper puppy
Suggestions for jackpot treats and ‘regular’ treats

Skills we definitely need:
Recall (eventually I need to be able to let this high energy dog run alone at a dog park, so when another dog enters I need to get him to return to me)
Leave it (omg there is so much tempting stuff on nyc sidewalks)
Heel (this i think will be just a matter of treats and practice in the hall, but I might be very wrong)
Drop it (did I mention all that delicious garbage?)

Other skills we need:
I have no idea. Probably some ‘dog jobs’ like when someone knocks on the door puppy goes to get an item so there’s no jumping and whining at the door.

Bonus: toys or tasks specifically for herding dogs? I have never seen any sheep here in the east village.
posted by bilabial to Pets & Animals (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Can you tell us the breed of the dog?
posted by nkknkk at 8:38 AM on March 31, 2020

Crazy situation you have gotten yourself into!

Positive reinforcement training with treats and a clicker is the way to go. When I was training my dog, I found Zak George's Youtube channel to be great. You can search there for specific skills. For example, here is leave things alone. Or leave everything alone.

One thing I will say about recall - always make the dog coming to you a good thing. If you need to bathe your dog, pick the dog up (if you can). It should always be a happy thing for the dog to come to you.

I have a herding dog. She likes to put all of her toys in a circle in the middle of the living room, so even having a bunch of little things is good. The best toys though are Kongs. Life savers. Will keep her busy for a long time and she loves them.
posted by Lutoslawski at 8:38 AM on March 31, 2020

Response by poster: Mini Aussie.
posted by bilabial at 8:47 AM on March 31, 2020

I've found r/puppy101 be very helpful for training puppy basics. Training a puppy to be well-behaved is quite different from training an adult - there is some overlap but you have to be mindful that their minds aren't mature yet and adjust your expectations accordingly.

For example puppies will need very frequent reinforcement (for walks this means treats every few seconds at first, then slowly decreasing treat frequency only after behaviour is reliable) and absolute consistency (never ever let him pull you forward anywhere he wants to go, it will greatly set you back even if you don't allow it 99% of the time).

A puppy also won't be able to do a strict heel for very long, or even a nice loose-leash walk, so each "formal walk" needs to be short enough that they don't get too frustrated. If it's feasible with the circumstances, taking them out in a quiet park etc and letting them explore on a long leash while you follow behind does wonders.

For videos, I really like kikopup on youtube (she also has a facebook page).
posted by randomnity at 8:52 AM on March 31, 2020

Best answer: If you need to tire him out without too much exertion on your part, try a flirt pole. Great training tool too. Take a short, thin pole (eg bamboo or dowel) about 1 meter long. Tie string to one end. Tie toy or rag to end of string.
Whip toy around so puppy tries to catch it.
Incredible how much exercise this generates for the dog.
For training, get puppy to sit, and only start chasing when you give the command. If he manages to catch it, he must release toy for the game to continue. As he gets better at this you can graduate to him sitting still while the toy is whipped around, only chasing on command.
Don't do this barefoot (he'll step on your feet) and don't do it on concrete or tar as the dog gets so into the chase that he might hurt his feet without realising.
posted by Zumbador at 8:54 AM on March 31, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Oh I missed that you were also taking care of the puppy, not just walking it. A few more tips in that case:

I would highly recommend matwork/place training (e.g. training the puppy to go lie down calmly on its mat when asked or when the door rings), again keeping in mind that training this is a gradual process and needs to be started small.

Mental stimulation (training commands, "foraging" for scattered kibbles, puzzle toys, kongs) works really well to tire them out. A mini aussie would be very well suited to trick training. There are lots of easy ones to start off with - look up "do more with your dog" for more ideas than you ever imagined. Luring with a treat is usually the best way to get started. Herding breeds also often enjoy "herding" a large hard plastic ball or egg-shaped toy around the room.
posted by randomnity at 9:07 AM on March 31, 2020

Best answer: "Click and treat" is what our reactive-dog teacher told us: everything the dog does that is good gets a click and a treat. Keep a handful of treats where you can reach them; we also have a little treat pouch that we wear when we walk our rescue dog.

My wife plowed through a MOUNTAIN of books, and every week suggested a new one to me. (I never caught up.) In general, the notion of "clicker training" is the key, and most of the eople with vidos online have the same core idea: click and treat.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:30 AM on March 31, 2020

Best answer: Another thing our reactive-dog teacher said is that when their head is down to sniff, it sort of overrides their "thinking brain" -- so when their behavior is stuck in loop or ignoring you, drop a few pieces of food on the floor/ground, and they will follow it down. Sniffing around to find each piece, they'll stop thinking so much and maybe come back toward a resting state. As randomnity writes, this scent-hunting is also good stimulation for a dog, like the mental stimulation of playing games.

(Our Used Dog goes nutty when delivery trucks show up, and today we got several deliveries. To preserve the peace I threw individual pieces of dog food down the hallway or on the floor, and he chased each one among the table legs or carpet -- and didn't freak out!)

It's a good trick for a reactive dog that's over stimulated, and may serve you, too.
posted by wenestvedt at 10:28 AM on March 31, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I found Patricia McConnell’s website (including videos) to be very helpful. Here’s her specific page on puppy training up to 5 months.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:38 AM on March 31, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: At that age, I like to distract, distract, distract. If they fixate on another person make a high pitched or "fun" noise and run a few steps- they will immediately switch their focus to you. A sharp "Ha!" exhale will get most any dog's attention immediately. Then once they are focused on me, I give them a little easy command like come on, let's go, come here or look at me or sit and the moment they are attentive they get a treat. Puppies don't have to be calm, just paying attention and having fun. Clicker training is just a more formal way to do this. Also if they are barky or just generally extra getting them to carry a toy on a leash walk occupies 20% or more of their brain and can induce calmness.

The good thing is Aussie's are trainable, the bad thing is that they are unable to exist in time-space without a constant stream of direction.
posted by fshgrl at 11:39 AM on March 31, 2020 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Dog will be joining a friend of the neighbor this evening for ‘a few days.’ I’m marking this resolved. I’ll watch these videos in case the friend can’t handle what they’re getting into and the puppy needs to come stay with us.

Neighbor is nervous that I’ll get sick in the repeated handoffs, which is actually a reasonable concern.

I’m sad for the puppy and otherwise having a metric shit ton of feelings.

Thank you all for being awesome.
posted by bilabial at 12:22 PM on March 31, 2020 [3 favorites]

« Older Looking for artists and art print sites - examples...   |   How to install a new version of OSX on a 2009... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.