Thursday, July 16, 2009

Gate Respect

While there are still people who think you can't teach puppies until they are several months old, they really start to learn from the day they are born. One lesson we are working on is respecting pens and barriers.

Go to an agility trial and you will see many, many dogs waiting patiently inside 24 inch high wire "exercise" pens. Yet when brought out for their turn these same dogs sail over jumps with room to spare. The difference is taught at a very young age. Corey will drape himself over the porch railing while I'm in the yard, but knows the consequences if he should jump out.

As the puppies clamor up the side of the pen they are learning whether climbing is acceptable or not. While it is cute that they want to be with us, and watching them learn to climb is interesting, the long term effect is that they know they CAN and then they WILL climb and escape from everything.

We start by simply tapping their toes, forcing them to pull their paws back in off the fence. Not enough to hurt - but enough so they don't want it to happen again. Within 3 or 4 times they will back off, sit in the middle of the box and think about what just happened. Our next step will be to rattle the pen, causing them to "drop" off as they climb up. The catch here is that no words are spoken or verbal correction given. We want them to think the correction comes from the gate/pen, not from us. I want them to respect the gate even when I'm not around. Doesn't usually take many lessons to get the point across. Wait and I will open the gate, jump on it and it will be uncomfortable. Pups are sure quick learners and these lessons will last their lifetime unless you specifically "untrain" them.

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