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We have had our puppy, Olive, for 5 weeks now. On the advice of our Vet, we are keeping her in the house and in our rather small yard until she is through with her vaccinations. We have been using a 10-foot leash outside for everything -- potty, playing, exploring. She has pretty much had free rein on that, but has now developed a habit of eating just about everything she can get her little teeth on. We are working on "leave it" and "drop it," but once she is focused on a particularly desirable morsel, there is little hope of distracting her even with high value treats. I am afraid that these backyard sessions can be a real pain, especially at night, when she can indulge her fondness for clumps of moss undeterred because it is so dark outside that I cannot always see what she is doing and try to distract her. Meanwhile, the time is approaching when we will want to be able to take her on walks, and I'm concerned that because she thinks of a leash as "time to romp and forage" this will be a difficult transition, to say the least. I have read numerous posts that describe puppies joyfully following their owners around the yard receiving delicious treats along the way, and I can see that I have waited too long and allowed bad habits to develop. I would love some advice from someone more experienced as to how to turn this train around. Thanks so much!
 

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Are you training while romping? You can use a leg pat to get her to follow you. Walk away, pat your leg, and keep walking. If she follows you, praise. Change direction and pat your leg again. Praise if she follows. If she doesn't follow, say nothing but continue walking. She will get a tug. As soon as she follows, praise. The leg pat becomes the cue for "I am going this way and so are you." I use it when I don't need a heel, just to get us going.

You can then move on to telling her heel and giving her a treat for coming to your side and sitting. I like to start this indoors so I can lure the dog between me and wall so they are looking ahead. Say, "heel", praise and treat (click praise treat). You can continue the game in the yard. Do the same thing for "leave it". Start it inside and soon you can continue it outside.
 

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I use the "Follow me!" game. As Michigan Girl says, you can start in the house so the pup can be safely off leash. Keep up a very frequent rate of treats at first - think at least one a second - spacing them out a little more as she gets the idea of the game. Make it fun and silly - laugh, sing, bounce up and down, pretend to run away - while using your cue word. Once she understands the principle try outside in the yard, again with very frequent treats. Then add in the leash you intend to use for walking - I like a very lightweight 6' leash for my small dogs. Only use that leash for playing the Follow game - long line means run and play, shorter leash means walking/running with human.
 

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Benjamin Franlkin - Senior Tpoo, Apple Butter - mpoo puppy
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I might also add this suggestion: sometimes put junk out there for her! If you're always worried about what she's finding, put some stuff out there (while she isn't looking) to interest her that she can play with. A big interesting stick, a ball in a bucket, rake a pile of leaves to jump in, put out a mini bale of hay to climb on and pull apart, a mini pop up tunnel or kids' tent, hang a toy on a line from a tree, etc.

You haven't ruined her! :) She will learn just fine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I might also add this suggestion: sometimes put junk out there for her! If you're always worried about what she's finding, put some stuff out there (while she isn't looking) to interest her that she can play with. A big interesting stick, a ball in a bucket, rake a pile of leaves to jump in, put out a mini bale of hay to climb on and pull apart, a mini pop up tunnel or kids' tent, hang a toy on a line from a tree, etc.

You haven't ruined her! :) She will learn just fine.
That is such great advice! Implementing as we speak!
 
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