Milo's Dog Training

Dog training in Hampshire, Surrey & Berkshire


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Training Mila. Weeks 4-5.

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This is what we were supposed to do according to the plan.

Week 4:

  • Lead skills: people or dogs at a close distance
  • Recall: off the lead, people or dogs at a close distance

Week 5: 

  • Lead skills: near people or dogs
  • Recall: on the lead, near people or dogs

What can I say? At least, we’re trying. We have been enjoying gorgeous summer weather for the last few weeks, however it has often been to hot for the dogs to be out during the day. So we had very few opportunities for training in presence of other dogs or people. We are still very much behind with lead skills, but doing a little bit better with recall.

Socialisation

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Due to the heat I haven’t been able to take Mila out with us as much as I’d like. We managed a few walks together and even went down the high street a couple times. I must say that Mila is doing better than expected in the crowd. She calms down quickly and isn’t trying to kiss every single person on the street – that’s progress. However, she barely responds to us, so we have a long way to go.

Cardigan Welsh Corgi Puppy Schnauzer Dog Playing Training

I fear that Edenbrook Country Park regulars will soon be fleeing the scene as soon as they spot us. When I take Mila for a walk my goal is to meet as many people and dogs as possible, so I constantly follow people and change directions if I spot someone with a dog.

Lead Skills

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My husband reports that he is making progress with Mila: she began to walk by his side for a few moments. However, it seems that this only happens in the evenings. Whenever I take her out during the day, she still finds it incredibly hard to concentrate and control herself. Well, like I said, at least we’re trying.

Recall

Cardigan Welsh Corgi Puppy Schnauzer Dog Playing Training

I’ve been letting her off the lead in the park when I can’t see any dogs or people around. I am very pleased that Mila tends to hang around and doesn’t run off (unless she spots someone). She will come when called and so far I’ve managed to notice dogs and people before she did and to put her on the lead. So I now feel a lot more confident about letting her off the lead.

Overall, I am quite pleased with our progress so far. However, I wanted to say this to my readers who are also struggling with their puppies: I struggle too! I do sometimes question our decision to get another dog (especially when I catch her destroying the sandpit or when she does this very annoying jumping/air snapping/barking routine). I believe that, similar to new mothers, puppy owners sometimes need to hear that it is OK to be frustrated. Raising a puppy is hard work, it requires a lot of energy, a lot of time and a whole lot of patience. But I keep saying to myself that in a few difficult months I (and more importantly – my daughter) will have a loyal companion for years to come. It makes my heart melt when I see Sonya and Mila kissing or playing together (Mila puts up with a lot!). I think I can live with a wrecked sandpit and approximately zero personal time.


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Training Mila. Weeks 1 & 2.

I’ve got to confess: we’re a little behind with some things, but we have made good progress nevertheless. I had some health issues in the past couple of weeks, but I feel better now and should be able to get back on track with Mila’s training.

The Plan

Last time I shared Mila’s training plan, here is what was outlined for weeks 1 and 2.

Week 1:

Week 2: 

  • Lead skills: no people or dogs around
  • Recall: on lead, people or dogs at a distance

Progress

Socialisation

We have been putting in a lot of effort to tame her puppy madness. She used to run around the house barking, nipping and demanding attention in the evenings, for which I don’t blame her – she needs to burn off her energy. So we have been taking her with us everywhere we can. Now, just to make the situation clear, most of the time I’m on my own with Sonya (who is 2.5), so having a puppy with us is not that straight-forward. Anyway, I try my best. We go to our local woods (right next to our house), to the country park and to suitable playgrounds (where I can safely tie Mila’s long lead to the fence, so that she stays outside the playground, but I can keep an eye on her and she can see us). Whenever we’re out in front of our house (we live in a cul-de-sac), we take Mila with us and she can watch Sonya on her scooter or drawing with chalks, which Mila tries to eat all the time. We also took her to meet all our neighbours, when we had a street party last week. Mila was surprisingly calm (after the initial excitement wore off).

We are also working on getting Mila used to being in the car. She is still getting car sick sometimes and just generally hates being the car. So we try and take her for a drive whenever we can, bribing her with cheese in her cage. She seems to be coming to terms with it. She still tries to escape her fate every time I open the boot, but at lease she is calm during the journey. She will need to endure a 12 hour drive to France in a month, so she’d better get used to it.

Foundation Exercises

During weeks 1 and 2 we were working on the basics: getting Mila used to clicker training (also teaching Sonya how to use it properly), working on “touch”, “look at me” and “sit”. The latter is mainly for Sonya’s benefit – it is something she can easily teach Mila. We did a little bit of “eye contact” in the very beginning, but then somehow neglected this exercise.

Recall

We have spent a lot of time on recall using a long training lead. Mila is fairly reliable, when there aren’t any dogs or people in sight. Most of the time, I let her run freely dragging the lead behind her. If we meet a dog with which she can play, I take the lead off.

Lead Skills

This is what we struggle with most. I need to create opportunities for this type of training, we don’t seem to actually walk a lot. Also this is something I can’t do with a toddler around, as it requires me to focus my attention on Mila. We are currently at the point of stopping when she pulls and recalling her attention with a kiss sound (“look at me”). This only works when there are no distractions present, and she still pulls the lead. I have a feeling, lead skills will be a struggle until Mila grows out of being very excited about everything.

Overall, we are making progress, although not as fast as planned and we aren’t following the plan to the dot. It is OK: the plan is there to guide us and to be adjusted as we go. I am not too concerned as I know it will get easier with age.


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Training Mila: The Plan

As I mentioned, we haven’t really started training her until last week. I wasn’t feeling well, we were busy and, let’s be honest, we were lazy about it. Also having a toddler who finds clickers irresistible doesn’t particularly help. A couple of weeks ago we decided that we are going to take Mila on holiday with us in July, so training has suddenly became a matter of urgency. Also she is four months now, so I couldn’t justify any more delays.

To begin with, I came up with a weekly plan to guide and motivate us. I find it easier to follow a plan rather then needing to thing about what should I do next. It also helps me and my husband to stay on the same page. Mila’s training plan is for six weeks (time remaining until our holiday) and it is mainly targeting socialising, lead skills and recall. I find these skills the essentials, which enable owners to relax and enjoy having a dog. I personally don’t want to spend time (at least not at the moment) on teaching her any tricks, downs, waits etc. These are nice to have, but I can do it later.

So here is the plan.

Week 1:

Week 2: 

  • Lead skills: no people or dogs around
  • Recall: on lead, people or dogs at a distance

Week 3:

  • Relaxation mat
  • Lead skills: people or dogs at a distance
  • Recall:
    • off the lead, no people or dogs around
    • on the lead, people or dogs at a close distance

Week 4:

  • Lead skills: people or dogs at a close distance
  • Recall: off the lead, people or dogs at a close distance

Week 5: 

  • Lead skills: near people or dogs
  • Recall: on the lead, near people or dogs

Week 6:

  • Lead skills: in a crowded place
  • Recall: off the lead, near people or dogs

A quick note on what I mean by various distances.

  • “At a distance” – distractions are visible but far enough for the dog to be able to completely ignore them in the beginning of the training process.
  • “At a close distance” – distractions are far enough for the dog to get a little excited, but still being able to keep focused.
  • “Near” – you are able to talk the person without shouting
  • “Crowded” – a busy street, pub, cafe, park, any other public space with people going around their business, cars, pushchairs, dogs etc.


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Three Quick & Easy Changes To Improve Your Dog’s Behaviour

Sometimes, you put up with some really annoying behaviour simply because fixing it it seems like too much to do. You might not know where to start or which method to choose. You might not have the time or the energy to invest. So I have decided to share these three quick and easy changes you can make straight away – no preparation, no learning, no researching. These are small changes with big effects. Now, don’t get me wrong, some issues do require a lot of time and effort, but do start with the small changes and it might just be enough.

Have treats ready. Put a bowl of treats in every room and get a treat pouch to carry some with you when you go for a walk. This way you will always be ready to reward good behaviour. No need to do “training sessions”, best training opportunities happen as you get on with your normal life.

Make a habit of ignoring rude behaviour. Your dog barks, begs, demands to play – ignore it. Catch yourself before you say “No!”, “Stop it!”or, worse, pick up a toy. Don’t reinforce rudeness.

Add 10 minutes to your usual walk. Tired dogs are good. You can use this extra time to do a bit of training or to change your usual way. Your dog will appreciate some new smells or some extra bonding time with you.

Small changes will add up overtime and you will see that your dog is more content and better behaved. (If you are looking for solutions for specific issues, check out “Training Resources” page or contact me).

 


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Which type of dog lead is the best?

Choosing the right type of lead/leash is as important for dog training as choosing the right type of shoes for running. The wrong type of lead may teach your dog to pull, injure your hands, your dog or other dogs, or even get your dog lost. Leads differ by type, length and material. I will describe the most popular types and the ones I think are useful for a regular dog owner. There are also numerous special use leads, such as the ones used for dog show handling or for canicross, but I won’t cover them as I am not an expert and most people don’t need them.

Types of dog leads

Extending\retractable lead

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Image from flexilead.com

If you have one of these and if your dog pulls on the lead, is reactive/aggressive or just large and bouncy, stop reading and go put in the bin. These leads are OK to use with smaller well-behaved dogs.

Regular lead

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Image from petsathome.com

These can be made from nylon, leather or rope-like material and usually range from 1m to 1.5m (standard 5ft) in length and come in various width. They can be very cheap (thin nylon) or quite expensive (leather with a fancy design). To be honest, I find most of them quite uncomfortable and never use them, but most people do, so it might be worth a try. I only ever use the cheapest thinnest 1m lead, when a dog needs to wear one at home for training or behaviour management purposes.

Adjustable lead (my favourite!)

 

 

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Image from bitiba.co.uk

This type of lead can be adjusted to be a bit shorter or longer and is also useful when you need to secure a dog somewhere (e.g. to a fence or a table). This one pictured is by Hunter and it is my personal favourite. It is just the right length (2 meters longest), made from soft round leather so it doesn’t hurt my hands and lasts years of daily use in all kinds of English weather. I am not being paid bu Hunter or any of the shops that sell it, I just really like it and have been using it for years. It is available from Zooplus and Bitiba.

Training lead 

 

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Image from dogleash.co.uk

 

This is essentially just a very long lead, usually 15 meters long. If you have a puppy, a new rescue dog or a dog that has not yet mastered a recall, you need this one. It will allow you to give your dog a bit more freedom (use it if you are tempted to buy an extending lead). If you’re a bit more confident, you can just drop it on the ground and practice recall.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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How to prepare for a baby when you have a dog

Dogs generally don’t like change, and a new strange family member is the biggest change that could happen to them. Changes in the new mother’s appearance, smell, mood and behaviour, a sudden drop in attention available for the dog, countless visitors, sleepless nights and other disturbances to the usual way of life are all sources of stress for the dog. Any behavioural issues will likely be made worse by the stress, and you can expect new problems emerging. I will share a few practical tips on how to prepare for  your baby’s arrival as a dog owner.

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Words Your Dog Does Not Understand

Cartoon by Gary Larson.

Cartoon by Gary Larson.

This post is prompted by my observations of dog owners and how they communicate with their dogs. As humans we talk, and we talk a lot. Overtime dogs learn to ignore most of our neverending blah-blah-blah. However if you want your dog to pay attention and do what you ask, make sure you don’t repeat these five common mistakes.

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