When we first got Frankie, our Miniature Schnauzer we were planning on going to puppy training classes. A new group was due to start in a few weeks and set to run for ten weeks.
Yep.. We’ll definitely do that. It would be good to have a well-trained dog and make life much easier going forwards.
Did we do it?
We never quite got around to going and before we knew it Frankie was 13 weeks old and there was no sign of any training from professionals.
So we took it on ourselves.
The best piece of advice we saw anywhere was simple.
“If in doubt, bribe them with treats”
This was my sort of advice as there was no shortage of small cheesy doggy treats.
So every time we walked her, we’d let her off the lead and she’d race off to sniff everything and say hello to other dogs. In truth she was far more inclined to run over and say hello to dog owners first and then say hello to the dog.
We’d then call her name and she’d race back and sit down next to us. As a reward, we gave her a single tiny treat.
Pretty soon these became her total focus. As soon as we saw another dog of any type, she’d race over, say hello and then race back to us and sit down in front of us, waiting for her treat.
She’s now seven years old and the most immaculately natured dog you could hope for. She’s not great around roads, but she loves meeting people and always treats them with a wagging tail. She has patience with puppies who jump all over her and never seems to react badly.
With kids who may be a little nervous around dogs, she will sit with them and allow them to give her one of the same cheesy treats we used to initially train her. She never snaps and will take it so gently, she delights the kids and their parents are beaming with smiles as a small personal hurdle of their little ones is overcome.
When we had a week of just the two of us at home, I decided to try and teach her some simple sign language.
Again treats were the answer to be able to make this a simple lesson she’s never forgotten
So the way it works is I call her name and put my right hand across my chest. She immediately runs back to me, sits down and patiently waits for her treat. It’s a simple party trick, but one that others love to see. A few years on, you don’t even need to have a treat in your hand, she still ALWAYS sits down next to you if you put your hand across your chest. She will even do it for the kids who buzz around her if they do the right arm action.
My latest trick is keeping her walking perfectly to heel when we get near to home. I just hold a treat in my hand and she walks beautifully beside me watching for my hand to open and her treat to emerge.
When we get back to our driveway, she races to the door and sits on the doorstep. As usual, she gets her cheesy reward and another simple lesson in amateur training has worked.
So if you’re worried about training, don’t be
Just get the treat out and bribe them. It may not be the textbook approach, but it works and you end up with a very happy and sociable dog who wants to come back to you, even if other things around them may seem a little more exciting.