Nells Blog ... The Puppy Diaries4th March 2017
Leaving your puppy for the first time and clicker training
"This blog marks the first time I had to leave Nell whilst Heather and I went to a 3 day conference (WOOF 2017). I left her at home with my Hubby and I was a little apprehensive as Paul is not used to puppies. I don't know why I was concerned they got on so well and they definitely have a special bond that has grown. I am pleased to report that there were no accidents during my time away and Nell has now been dry for 2 weeks".
When you are leaving your puppy makes sure you set them up to be relaxed and comfortable. Make sure you have left them for short period beforehand and that their routine will still remain the same. Get some new toys and some Kongs to give to your care person to use whilst you are away. If your dog is staying away from home take a blanket that smells of home for the first few times and make sure you visit with them on a few occasions beforehand.
"The conference saw me have a renewed enthusiasm for all things training seeing all the marvellous things that trainers are achieving with not only dogs but huge zoo mammals, such Gorillas Giraffes and big cats. I've worked hard on Nell's training and using a clicker at all times as it proves to be the most effective and efficient way of training. Nell has a reliable sit and her recall is not bad. She is off lead on walks and I have reduced the 5 metre long line to 1.5 metres. I intend to lose that very soon".
Clicker training is a fantastic tool to add to your puppy training tool kit. The clicker acts as a marker so instead of you having to let the puppy know that they have done a good job verbally you use the clicker to mark the exact behaviour in the moment before giving them the reward. The fantastic things about clickers are that the sound is consistent, there are no variations like with tone of voice so easier for the puppy to understand. The first thing you need to do when staring with a clicker is to create a connection between the sound and the reward. So you will need to spend some time clicking the clicker and offering a reward.
"I have been concentrating on getting Nell to stand on a target; I'm using a piece of vet bed - fluffy rug. I put it on the floor and every time a foot or two went onto the mat I clicked, and gave Nell a treat. After 10 minutes she was putting all of her feet on the mat. It's not 100% but I am always surprised how quickly magic happens and the behaviour changes".
Mat training is a great behaviour for every dog to know, you could use this to get them to hold a position at the vets but you can also generalise this behaviour and use distance to get a good distance down and you could incorporate this to platform training at a later date, giving the added extra of teaching proprioception and foot placements. I also use mats (vet bed) for when I am going to the pub and taking the dog with me or having a picnic at the park.
Nell is growing fast however the amount of food she wants has reduced and she seems to have plateaued and walks away from food in her food bowl regularly.
Nell still has several naps during the day, and favours sleeping under the table. She is travelling much better in the van (still haven't tried the car) only one bout of sickness in the past 2 weeks.