January 8th!...Jake and Maggie's 7 month birthday today and we woke up to freezing rain and snow! But it's not stopping us from getting our training in.
Jake chewing the corner of our rug in the entry way. He keeps "forgetting" that this is a NO NO! See how well he listens to me :-(
Jake Domitrovich 7 months old
Maggie Domitrovich 7 months old
Thomas and I are weathering the storm of having two Labrador puppies at one time. The pups have learned so much already. It is our responsibility to teach them everything and stay on top of things but at 7 months old, they can easily slip back into “forgetting” what they’ve been taught.
Everyone told us that puppies sleep all the time and getting two at once would be easier. I’m here to tell you that, in our case, this has NOT been true! It is only now that they are sleeping alot more with shorter bursts of energy. Up until now, they ran through the house at top speeds for several hours at a time, crashed for 10 minutes and would be back at it again. Jake and Maggie are partners in crime and are attached at the hip. They often focus on eachother rather than what we are trying to teach them. Although we are constantly repeating commands and we make learning fun, it’s important for us to separate them periodically so that they pay attention to our commands rather than to eachother. Training for us has been more difficult to do with two at once. But we wouldn't have it any other way and the fact that we could keep them together makes me happy. Plus, they have eachother and keep eachother company. I'm now starting to see that when one gets in trouble, the other pays attention. It just takes time and patience.
Now is the time to keep training positive, repetitive, introduce new commands, and situations into your dog’s life. Good behavior needs to be rewarded and negative behavior needs to be corrected all in a positive manner. For example, Jake and Maggie love when I take out the garbage and love when I change the kitchen garbage bags. They come running when they hear the sound of the bags, stand on each side of the garbage can and wait until I tie up the old and replace with the new. Then they follow me to the door to stand and watch me throw the bags in the garbage can. I reward this behavior as long as they are not trying to eat the garbage. This allows me to show them boundaries and to show them how to stay at the door and not dart outside when the door is open. They also love when I unload the dishwasher. They HAD a bad habit of licking the clean dishes which I definitely had to correct. One night I told Jake “NO” so many times that Thomas actually started laughing. I sounded like a broken record but I remained calm and consistent and eventually he got it. Then their favorite treat was given with “good boy”!! “good girl”!! Now they come running and patiently wait while each dish is put a way.
I get “Pupdates” from the American Kennel Club and found an article on rewarding good behavior with positive reinforcement very interesting.
The correct behavior was “marked” as soon as it happened and it was rewarded with a treat as the “marker”. The pups learned to associate the marker with the reward. You can use many forms of rewards from high quality treats such as premium soft treats or a lower quality treats such as their kibble. I am using dehydrated chicken as their treats along with baby carrots and even Cheerios when I’m out of carrots. I’ve also used their dog food by Purina as a substitution. I just ordered from Chewy.com today Old Mother Hubbard’s Bitz Assorted Baked Treats for their training when we go outside. I like to switch their training and rewards up to eliminate boredom but I keep the sizes of the treats small so that they don’t become over weight. I’m also careful because I don’t want Jake and Maggie to suffer from loose stools because I’m giving them different treats all of the time.
According to the AKC article, here is a breakdown of what most dogs would define as their hierarchy of rewards: