Monday, February 07, 2011

Unleashed works for Ruby!

Ruby, Caro's Dog

Brad Pattison- who you might know from his reality show At the End of My Leash couldn’t be coming to the store at a better time-- for me, anyway. Forget about the Ice Dogs festival, I’m talking about the fact that I am the proud new mamma of an adorable puppy!

We got Ruby just before Christmas, and although so far she’s fairly well behaved- I found Brad Pattison’s book Unleashed really helpful.

Brad’s book is full of step by step instructions on how to get your dog to sit, stay, stop and come on command, and eventually go off-leash, as well as a tonne of anecdotal material from his many human and dog clients to explain various training problems and how to rectify them.

Apparently I’m a bit of a soft touch… I’d been trying to train Ruby using treats as an incentive for one thing- which according to Brad is a big no-no, unless you want your dog to turn into (to use his colorful terminology) a crack head! Well, Mamma didn’t raise no crack heads, so since starting the book I’ve replaced treat rewards with a good “chest scrunch”, which is just a friendly squeeze between the front legs. The idea of cupboard love never really sat that well with me, so this feels like a positive development. The other thing I’d been doing wrong, was using baby-talk. This once has been a bit harder to stop. She’s just so cute (as you can see from the picture above), I turn into a babbling idiot around her.

It’s not only that I find it hard to speak in a calm, reasonable voice to her- but that Brad recommends not speaking to your dog at all during an initial 2-week training period! The reasoning behind this is pretty sound, as dogs communicate more through movements and body language than speech. The same way you eventually tune out an annoying barking dog, a dog that receives too many voice commands eventually is just going to start ignoring them. I’ve been trying to bite my tongue, but it hasn’t been easy.

Brad does a really good job of illustrating why you really have to take charge around your dog- for her sake and yours. I’m trying to show Ruby who’s boss, but I’m certainly glad I’m going to get to meet Brad on the 19th to get a few extra pointers. You should drop by the store to meet him too, whether you already own a dog, or you’re thinking about getting one in the near future, his advice is invaluable.

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