Dog Training During a Pandemic (Pet Story of the Week – Eevee)

If you are among the families that decided to get a dog during the global pandemic then this post is just for you. I’ll be talking about how online training is such a great idea and was our saving grace having a puppy during times when going out is risky.

Eevee just completed her first 10 weeks of education at Lucid Dog Training. Due to scheduling conflicts, it seems like it took twice as long. I can’t believe we started in mid February and we are finishing at the end of May. She has come so far from being a puppy who didn’t know any commands and didn’t listen or know what to do. She caught “sit” right away but now has plenty of commands and behaviors to practice and perform in her young teen-hood. Our trainer, Katie is a very nice human and well versed in dog training and puppy behavior and management. Through every concern, block and triumph she was there encouraging me and giving me tips on what to do in which scenario. Super helpful and invaluable! They also provide text support if you need on the spot tips or conflict resolution before your next session. I used that more than I thought I would.

A very crucial part of training as I have learned is CONSISTENCY. Once they are past the imprinting stage- it takes a longer and more repetitive time to knock out commands to commit to memory. Their learning becomes circular, or looks like a mountain with inclines and valleys. So they have achievements and then lose that same thing the next day or week until it is constantly cemented into their memory with the correct reward behavior.

Through consistency though and growth and reward system they learn “hey I wanna do that- I get a treat.” Or “hey when I am patient, my owner is proud of me”. The opposite of this is a self rewarding behavior that is UNdesired like chewing the carpet or something else negative. Unless stopped, redirected or avoided altogether- they will keep doing the action that makes them think “I like what I’m doing, I like to chew carpet, it tastes or feels good in my mouth so I’m going to keep doing it…” We had this issue, we redirected and covered the carpet spot and avoided the area/separated action with kennel when necessary. Also keeping a closer eye on said “untrustworthy” dog is another tactic that Katie shared with me; keeping her on tether so she has no choice of freedom on her own.

We were lucky enough through our littermates to find a great trainer, Lucid Dog Training; who was also working with families virtually through Covid. We started off with many simple to do acts like “puppy tennis.” This is essentially getting the dog to come to you by showing a reward system and gaining trust. We used a high pitched happy BOPPY voice that gets her attention. Another one is a patience game for those impulsive puppies – hold a treat in your hand open palm. If the dog goes for it, close your hand, once accomplished lower your hand until the dog can wait and not take the treat until released. It’s a great exercise to build on over time when your old gets a bit older and gains more and more patience. If they regress a bit- step down to the past action and repeat to build back up to the more advanced command with more distraction and more difficulty.

There are many handy tools you may call upon when your puppy is in training like gentle leaders, a variety and/or matching toys, a treat pouch for constant rewarding, bones like Benebone, and regular exercise. While we use these often they’ve been very effective at holding the consistency and level of play needed for a new puppy.

The trick to training and making it work, is to practice exercises in daily routine so that the need to “perform” becomes normal. And it’s consistently rewarding such tasks on a daily basis – even a few minutes a day is enough. I also learned it’s beneficial to treat when making “good choices” or doing good behaviors and unexpectedly getting treated and YES for it. Treat soon enough that it’s attached to the desired behavior.

Eevee is now growing and maturing, she’s more easy to calm, self soothing much more often, and doing more of what’s expected of her. I’m continuing with random praising to hopefully solidify in her mind the good behaviors I want to see more of. She s a precious dog with her moments but we are both thrilled we have her in our family. And her grandparents adore her too!

I’d like to send you to my welcome home Eevee post where we talk about our whole journey getting a new dog in a pandemic with many adorable pictures spread throughout. Thank you for reading along and joining me in my new series here on the blog- for more information you can go here and see the requirements and contact me with any questions. Happy Wednesday and have a great summer!

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