Make no excuses

When it comes to working with any animals but especially dog I cannot accept people who make excuses. What I suggest instead is to learn to analyze the situation and then work on figuring out a solution. You will have far more success and in many cases a lot more fun.

Think about this, the statistics show that Chihuahuas are continually among on of the most popular breeds of dog as companions. The statistics also show that this breed in the past several years has had one lone dog earn only one obedience title. Very poor representation compared to let’s say Labradors, where hundreds of titles are earned relatively speaking. That tells me that people with little dogs make excuses for not training them whereas people with larger breeds tend to take at least some interest in getting, if nothing else, basic training.

I cannot tell you how many times I have heard that small dogs are not easy to train, aren’t as smart as the larger ones, and or are too stubborn or difficult to work with. Excuses. How do I approach these excuses?

I work with the Toys on a table that allows them to see me better and me not to bend over them. The table has a mat for their footing. This works great and makes the early training much easier. Another trick is the Toys like to snuggle on the couch or bed, so I use that spot to get in a few tricks and some signal or other training exercises too. Again the levels are ones they are comfortable being at and that confidence is key in getting them to accept the lessons.

I must say my experience is most Toys are way smarter than people give them credit, but will agree some can be stubborn. I never give up on a stubborn dog. Look at the situation and start to break it down into smaller behaviors. Train the smaller parts of the total exercise first and as the dog gets better at the parts start to link them together. Trainers call this Chaining Behaviors. Example: I want to teach my Toy how to cross her paws on command. I can’t get her to do it, she balks if I touch her paw and try to force it over the other foot and then mark the action and reward. That does not work and the dog is getting resentful of my touching the paw. Stubborn? no, just not understanding what I want.

Try this. I teach the dog to touch my hand with her paw on the command PAW. We perfect this part. Pretty easy and she likes it. Doesn’t hurt, no one holding her paw, no one forcing anything to happen.

Next I get her to do the same thing, but to touch my finger instead. Once this is good, next step is to put my finger near her other leg when she is lying down. Finger is stationary, no movement yet. Perfect this and then final step is the have her touch my finger on command and then when I move my finger, while she is still touching the finger, I move the finger over her other leg, I add the marker word CROSS. This is repeated enough until she starts to cross her paw with the other one when I bring my finger down towards the other leg while she is laying down. I mark that behavior and next thing you know the dog is doing something repeatedly just for the fun of it.

I hope this short training tip has given you some new ideas on how to approach training excuses. Remember a trainer always ends up with the dog they deserve.

Chilbrook Zophia VHM, CGC, TKN TKI TKA @6 months old