I was greeted enthusiastically by the most adorable little dog. Six month old Bertie, a Dachshund Jack Russell mix, leapt up at me in joy.
All my usual rules went out of the window. I just had to fuss him.
Novice dog owners, they want to get things right.
Novice dog owners tend to turn to the internet. Anyone who has done this knows the vast range of conflicting advice available. For this reason they may dip into one thing and if it doesn’t ‘work’ quickly, they then try something else.
There is a huge divide between old-fashioned strict training and harsh discipline, and modern force-free training allowing the dog choices and using rewards.
Novice dog owners can’t be convinced, out of the array of advice available, whether they have hit on the best solution. They may lack the conviction needed to keep going and to see it through. The choice also can encourage disputes between the humans as to what is the best approach.
Bertie is somewhat excitable as one would expect and the things he does that worry them are mostly as a result of this. They may be novice dog owners, but they have done a lot of good things.
For a mix of Daschund and Jack Russell Bertie does very little barking. They have a puppy that is house trained. He is extremely gentle with no nipping anymore. They also have a pup that is happy to be left by himself.
Advice tailored to the dog.
The sort of advice I have given them so far includes nutrition. Not only does the right food help him to grow strong and healthy physically, it also affects his mental state. Good quality protein is vital. We know what colourings and e numbers can do to kids’ behaviour, don’t we.
Bertie likes to chase the cat – because of course the cat runs. We looked at a bit of ‘cat and dog’ training. We looked at things to keep Bertie’s jaw busy, to redirect stress and excitement at key times like when visitors arrive. Things like a Kong, filled then frozen.
We looked at games and activities that would satisfy his need for appropriate simulation without leaving him over-aroused. Sprinkling his food over the grass is a great activity.
Finally, I got out my clicker and in no time at all Bertie had learnt to target an outstretched hand on cue.
I had a wonderful two and a half hours with the delightful couple and adorable little dog, and can’t wait to see them again. We can then go further with the clicker training and address anything new that may have cropped up.
Just as with children, with a dog we can never say ‘job done!’