Today we will approach a puppy nemesis. The stairs. Know when to stand your ground. . .and when to soften. Stairs sometimes can break your heart. To your puppy it is a challenge they must face on their own. The proud parent must step back and let them do it know matter how much they cry. You are there for encouragement, safety, and that big hug of praise when they finally make it through. Be strong.
“Like Me” Concept Training
I am sure you have heard the saying people tend to look like their dog? Is it because the people are imitating their pets, or is the dog imitating its owner? It is the later. Science has discovered that dogs are so observant that they actually learn by watching us perform our daily tasks. Anticipation of the preceding step causes the association of an action. That is how the dog knows the second you open the refrigerator to open that package of cheese. People make the mistake when they want to teach there dog to sit at a distance, they stand in front of the dog and backup. The dog never gets it. BUT if you walk towards the dog, repeating sit , sit, sit, the dog will anticipate your command and will be able to comply much faster.
We teach the puppies a concept we call “like me” which means to copy what we have done. We first start with objects as it is easier for them to visualize and see the concept we are trying to teach. Just like individual people learning, some puppies pick up very quickly, others take time, and some really never get it enough to demonstrate the imitation.
We have found that the puppies need to “process” what you ask, and sometimes they physically need you to show them. For example in our Cognition & Fitness Kit, we have a call bell, tumbler, and a touch light. We can actually take there paw and show them physically how to ring the bell, or to touch the light. The tumbler is a bit harder as they have to understand the concept to better process. You will want to start with simple items for them to learn, otherwise they will become frustrated and shut down.
We had a complex behavior that we taught an 8 week old puppy where they were to put a set of keys from one container to another. We even added the fact of teaching the color of the container. Patience with concept training is the key. They will get it, but all process in different ways. Some puppies will be happy and get very excited to do it. Others, will need to walk away, think, walk back towards you and even walk away again. If we have puppies that do that we just demonstrate again. Never tell the puppy they did it wrong. We also do not dwell on it, as sometimes it may take three days of demonstration. Be creative with what you try to teach. Remember to go slow, learn to really watch your dogs reaction. They will give simple clues. They may often approach the item the same way, paw at it, sit in front of it, turn their back on it, various ways they act while they “think”. Patience is the key. The euphoria moment will come. It really feels cool.