By Curtis Rist
Your Australian Labradoodle pup is playful, smart, eager to follow you, and willing to please—all the elements of an easily trained dog. Here are six things that professional trainers use to prepare their dogs for high-level canine competitions. They’re adapted here for use at home, and will turn your pup into a champion in an astonishingly brief time:
|WATCH. The first step is to get your puppy to look at you when you to train him. Unless you’re sure you have a pup’s attention, it may not do what you ask. Begin by holding a small piece of cheese or a tiny treat near your mouth and say “Puppy, Watch” in a sweet voice. Move the treat back and forth between your mouth, and the pup’s face. The goal is to have the pup gaze at you intently, as you gradually increase the distance between the two of you—from six inches, to several feet. Praise the pup when it gazes at you for a few seconds, and offer it a treat at once. Repeat several times daily, and work to increase the pup’s attention span.|
|SIT. Hold a treat above the pup’s nose so it looks upward (but not so high that it jumps), and at the same time gently tuck the pup’s tail-end beneath it. Do not press down with force on the pup, as this can harm its developing bones. Say “Puppy, Sit,” in a kind but firm voice. When the puppy sits, give it the treat, praise it, and repeat this. The puppy will sit for only an instant at the beginning, but this is enough to begin learning the task.|
|DOWN. Once the pup learns to sit, teach the puppy to lie down. Take a treat and bring it close to the pup’s nose, then move it straight down to the ground, then out and away from the pup. The action will cause the pup to lie down. You may have to gently pull its front legs out and forward in order to do this, or gently lie the puppy on its side, which is fine. Never press down with force on the back of a pup in order to get it to lie down. Reward the pup with a piece of food, praise lavishly when puppy is down.|
COME WHEN CALLED. This is the most important thing a pup can learn, and is very easy to teach at a young age, and gets more difficult to learn as a pup gets older. Get a sports whistle, let the pup wander about 10 feet away from you, then blow the whistle and call the pup’s name. When the pup looks at you, open your arms, call its name again, and blow the whistle again and again as it comes running toward you. Immediately give the pup a treat and praise. This has to be practiced daily when the pup is young in order to fully ingrain this behavior. Repeat this until the puppy comes to the whistle 100 percent of the time, and make sure that while you are training the puppy always gets a treat when he comes to you.
|WALK ON A LEASH. Most training manuals show pups being tugged sharply in order to follow a person on the leash. This is not necessary with a young Australian Labradoodle. Instead, put the young pup to your left, and hold a piece of food just above it’s nose. Say “Puppy, Let’s Go” and begin to walk. The pup will follow along eagerly. After a few paces, give the pup the treat, and start again. Steadily increase the distances from a few feet to a few dozen feet. The pup will very quickly learn to walk without pulling, and will stay very close to your side.|
SOCIALIZE THE PUP. Try to take your pup with you whenever you can, not so much to meet other dogs (which has to be handled very carefully) but to meet other people. Take the pup to the supermarket or the post office, for instance, and stand there while people pet, and have people offer it treats that you provide. The more people the pup is exposed to when young, the more easygoing it will be throughout its life when it meets new people.