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Back To Dog Training Basics

Sometimes in the rush to get the "good dog" commands like sit, down, stay, and walking on the leash, we sort of glaze over some of the very, very basic commands that become critical in later stages. First things first! Does your dog play the Name Game? I assume he knows his name, but does it give him any information? Does he react? Do ANYthing when you say his name? Or does he just look around to see what he's done wrong or where the food is? I like my dogs to look at me when I say their name. I want it to be a preliminary attention getter. When I say "Cheval" he needs to look at me and wait for what follows, be it a command or a scratching behind the ears. Partially I do this so I can differentiate between my houseful of dogs.

I can ask Cheval to sit and Destiny to down, make Stitch go away and call Roley to me, and have each dog do as they are told. Partially I do it so if we are in a crisis or upsetting situation, I can say the name and get the dogs attention back to me so I can be the leader it is my responsibility to be in those times. So, let's begin the name game. I use a clicker some times, and a voice marker other times. If I say click, all I am really saying is use some method of letting the dog know RIGHT THAT INSTANT that what they did is exactly right.

You can say "Yes!" or click a pen, or click a clicker, or any other sort of marker you want to use. All you need to begin the name game is your dog, probably on a leash, your clicker (or voice) and some treats. It's very simple.

Say the dogs name ONCE. "Cheval." Then wait.

As soon as the dog looks at you, click, treat, and praise. Wait for the dog to look away again, and repeat. And repeat and repeat. Pretty soon the dog will pick up that you want his attention when you say his name, and then you can begin being choosier and choosier about clicking only the IMMEDIATE attention. Then, of course, because we don't want treat/clicker dependent obedience, start clicking and treating every other immediate response, then every third, then every fifth, then doing it randomly.

Be sure you don't try to do all this in one day. Just add it into your already existing training routines. The first go-round in which you begin to build the association of name = look at me will really probably only take 3 to 5 minutes, and should all be done at once. The strengthening, lengthening, and speeding up should be improved over time, just like everything else you ask your dog to do.

Hans Lynch is a life long dog lover and the owner of Lucy's Dog House has a great selection of dog toys, and a wide variety of great products for you and your dog.

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