This would screw up my puppy, if… I was a rank amateur. Fortunately, I know what I’m doing and the results will show it. In this video, I’m teaching “Gidget” the 10 week old Belgian Malinois puppy, the place command. In the beginning of this video, you’ll notice that I should have pulled the chair with the bowl of food on it, closer to the place board. It would have made things a lot easier and allowed me to grip the leash shorter. Or I could have used a painters apron (which you can buy at Home Depot) to keep the treats in a front pocket.
I’d like to point out a few things regarding what I’m doing with this puppy, as they are exceptions to what I would normally recommend the average pet owner do with their puppy:
First– I normally recommend that you wait until your puppy is four months old– when you see the adult teeth start to come in– before teaching obedience exercises with a training collar. Until then, you should just be using food to build associations to commands. I don’t typically use food for obedience training– but for puppies (under four months old) I like to keep everything positive because they normally don’t have the maturity to understand what an older dog would.
Here’s an exception to the rule: I am using the remote collar with this puppy, and here’s why: This breed matures extremely fast. And second: I want to point out that I am not doing this to “get a jump” on teaching the exercises. These behaviors are so easy to teach, you can literally teach your dog in under an hour, once your dog is four months. I’m using food with the remote collar so that the puppy’s first introduction to the collar stimulation is a positive one.
I am starting to teach this puppy these exercises because she is an extreme dog that is from an extreme breed– and if I don’t do something to exercise her mind, she’s going to go insane, and I’m gonna go insane. Teaching obedience exercises and restraint are the best way to exercise a young dog’s mind. However– at this age, I will not be taking her for walks, as there is still the risk of parvo.
Note that I am occasionally repeating the command, “Place! Place! Place!” I am doing this because: 1. The puppy is in the learning phase, not the reinforcement or proofing phase (which I explain in more detail in my book, at DogProblems.com). 2. I am using the remote collar, and the correction is not always directional. So, the repeating of the command here gets the puppy to focus on what I want, rather than simply getting reactive.
I’d also like to point out that you should not try this at home if you are not a professional or have years of experience reading dogs. With a puppy under four months of age, it is simply too easy to over-correct (especially with a remote collar) if you don’t already know what you’re doing.
But if you do have experience, this Puppy Training Video Diary will work as PROOF that you can use corrections in the right context and still raise a happy, well-adjusted dog… as the outcome of the later videos in this series will show. Just remember: This dog is being trained as a professional level demo dog, so we’re doing things differently than if it was a happy labrador puppy going to a pet home.