For anyone considering training for their puppy and wondering why they should participate, this is for you…
Summer, the black lab I work in the veterinary field and have for all my life, and have always had dogs. I thought I knew all there was to training a dog, after all I had trained two dogs prior to getting my new puppy and have always had a house full of dogs. I was, what is that word I am looking for, mmmmmmm? You guessed it, wrong (ouch that hurt)! I had heard of clicker or positive reinforcement training and couldn’t imagine that it would be a successful way to train, I mean, I KNEW the ONLY way to train was with a choke collar and forceful corrections for unwanted behavior. You are supposed to correct the unwanted behavior right? Again, (ouch) WRONG!!! Here is my experience and it is for anyone that ever thought the way I did about training or anyone that has considered training and not followed through for what ever the reason.
I had three older dogs in my household and was going to introduce a new puppy to the pack. I was a bit concerned as I do have a dog that is very reactive to other dogs (one of the dogs I trained prior to this experience) and so I sought out the suggestions of a trainer. I talked with Karen Lambrecht of Positively Obedient and made the decision to try this positive reinforcement training (still with my doubts that I could learn to make it successful). The introduction went amazingly smoothly so my next move was puppy kindergarten.
Summer, my new puppy, and I signed up for the 5 week course and had a great time. I learned alot of new techniques to train and Summer seemed to be blossoming as well as catching on to some of the training, she was after all only 8 weeks old. I was still a bit unsure of how successful we would be and decided to keep going. I loved the way Karen handled and trained with the class. I loved the interaction with the puppies and their owners and most of all I loved seeing my puppy growing confident, obedient and praised for all the good she was doing, this was so different than causing pain to correct an unwanted behavior. How could this work??? Yes, Summer and I had to practice what we were being taught and it was so worth it!!! Now, as I said Summer was 8 weeks old when we started making her 13 weeks old when we completed the first course. We had a break before starting our second course of training and during that time she had started to grow and reach her teenage stage. I was doing my best to continue with the training and struggling a bit. OK, it is true, I was getting frustrated with my puppy and began thinking I could never be successful with this positive training, she was just not trainable. She was grabbing inappropriate items and then playing catch me if you can (All puppy owners know this game), she had started jumping on people AGAIN (I thought we had this all taken care of, you know, learn it and it is forever) etc… We began our second training course and I realized I had to refocus, not Summer, I had lost my focus and needed to practice and positively enforce what we had learned and were learning.
And so it happened…I awoke one day and began my routine of getting myself and my household ready for another day, something seemed to wrong with Summer. She seemed to be sick, she was not jumping , she was sitting, waiting for me and not pulling me out the door, lying down and being quiet for our ride to work. OH, my goodness what is wrong??? What could she have possibly gotten into this time as I always keep a close eye on her. I will have to have the veterinarian check her out when we get to work (Summer goes to work on a daily basis with me). We arrive at work, Summer walks into the clinic (not pulling) and greets everyone, only today she is not jumping on them, then goes to her room and gets into her kennel. Then it dawned on me, she is not sick, she GOT IT!!!! It was like a light bulb went on in her head and all the training came together for her and she GOT IT!!!! I, honestly thought her to be ill and it was all the training coming together. YEAH, we were going to be successful after all. I have and still am learning a gentler way to train and Summer is growing into a wonderful, beautiful, confident, well socialized and obedient companion. We still have a way to go and I am confident that with the guidance of Pawsitively Obedience, Karen Lambrecht we will be successful. I would strongly urge and recommend anyone that is raising a puppy and/or in need of guidance in changing or stopping unwanted behavior in an older dog to participate in positive training with Karen, it is one of the greatest ways to not only train with but create a greater bond with your dog.
– Joanne and Summer