Determining Your Trainer Profile

Love Dog

In This Chapter

  • Using your personal profile to understand your training challenges
  • Getting the scoop on the benefits of obedience classes

Every person has a unique nature and personality; attempting to practice any daily behavior that goes against your personality is probably futile. If you’re crazy about chocolate, a diet of tofu and bean sprouts probably won’t last for more than a day or two (just ask me — I know). You have to find a lifestyle that makes sense for your personal tastes and level of willpower.

Same thing with dog training. If you’re a big sap, and one look at that cute little puppy is enough to drop you to your knees, a strict, regimented, authoritarian training style won’t work for you. You’ll probably end up with a Dachshund in your bed, and you’ll probably spend plenty of money on fancy treats and expensive sweaters, feeling guilty all the while that you’re doing something wrong. But you’re not! You need to train according to your personal style.

Perhaps you love dogs and they’re a big part of your life, but you feel that consistency and good behavior are paramount. You have no trouble making a set of rules and enforcing them. The dog is the dog and you are the master; your Dachshund can whine or bat her big, dark eyes at you all day, but you know that extra treats will make her chubby, and you have no intention of letting her jump on visitors or beg at the table. (You probably also have very wellbehaved children — or you would.)
Part of the challenge of training a dog — especially a Dachshund — is recognizing that your personality and training style will impact your training effectiveness — and your Dachshund’s personality. This chapter helps you determine your individual training style and develop a training strategy that’s tailored to your strengths and weaknesses. You want to help your Dachshund, in your own personal way, to be the best Dachshund she can be. (For info on applying your style to Dachshund training, head to Chapters Teaching Your Dachshund the House Rules and Putting Your Dachshund through Basic Training.)

Forming Your Personal Training Style

An analysis of your relationship with your Dachshund isn’t complete without a little self-examination. For some people, training dogs is easy (perhaps for the owner of the star of Figure 12-1). Others can’t seem to train the most willing and tractable of pets. What is it about human behavior that’s sometimes so contrary to communicating effectively with animal behavior?
Figure 12-1: Are you the kind of trainer who can get a Dachsie to hold this pose? (Photo courtesy of Adam Hare.)

Remember

Different people have different training styles. Play-based training or short drills, food rewards or praises and pats, learning tricks or unlearning bad habits — all are effective and possible as long as the training is consistent, loving, practiced daily, based on positive reinforcement rather than punishment, and fun for both you and your Dachshund. The following sections allow you to determine your training profile and form a training plan that will be effective and long-lasting.

Determining your training profile

You can be better prepared to train your Dachshund if you can identify your personal tendencies beforehand. Answer the following questions to determine your trainer profile. If some of the questions aren’t relevant yet (for example, if you haven’t brought your new puppy home yet), imagine how you think you’d react in the situation and then pick the answer that most closely matches your inclinations. Afterward, head to the following section to put your answers to use:

1. You just brought your new Dachshund puppy home with you, and you’re introducing her to her new Dachshund den (see Chapter The First Day: What to Do and What to Expect). She doesn’t want to go inside. What do you do?

A. Throw in some treats, push her inside gently but firmly, and shut the door. She’ll get used to it.

B. Throw in some treats, offer some encouraging words, and then ignore her. If you aren’t interesting to play with, the treats will seem more attractive and she’ll go inside eventually.

C. Think to yourself, “The crate looks so cold and uninviting. I can’t possibly leave her in there all alone . . . that would be so mean.

2. You and your family are just sitting down to a nice family dinner. Where is your Dachshund?

A. In her crate. She won’t even get a chance to learn how to beg in your house!

B. Lying quietly nearby, on the kitchen floor. You’re determined not to reinforce her begging by giving her table food, but you hate to have her miss out on the family dinnertime, because she is part of the family.

C. Under the table with her front paws on your lap, or staring winsomely at you and watching your fork with an eagle eye. She knows where to get the goods. Hey, is it really fair that you get to eat this good food and she has to be denied?

3. You give your Dachshund treats

A. During training when she fulfills a request.

B. To reinforce any good behavior.

C. Probably too often, but when she looks at the dog cookie jar with such longing, you can’t resist. You want to make her happy.

4. Housebreaking has been

A. A breeze. You crate-trained your Dachshund, and she learned the ropes in a week. She never had an accident inside.

B. Fairly successful. You’re still working on it, but she’s getting the picture because you take her outside at the same times every single day. She still makes the occasional mistake, but you clean it up right away.

C. Um . . . To be honest, you just aren’t comfortable with the crate because she whines so pitifully in there, and you can’t seem to remember to take her out on a schedule. But that’s okay, because you don’t mind cleaning up the messes all that much.

5. Your training sessions are (or will be)

A. Strictly regimented. You hold them at the same time each day, and you have a planned schedule of what you’ll cover in each session.

B. Daily, but they’re pretty informal and fun.

C. Wait a minute . . . training? Isn’t that sort of authoritarian? But come to think of it, you do ask your Dachshund to sit or stay or do whatever seems fun at the moment.

6. Your goals for your Dachshund are

A. To train her for competition — either in obedience, agility, field trials, or wherever her talents are (see Chapter Advanced Training and Competing for Fun).

B. To have a well-behaved family pet that knows and follows the house rules most of the time.

C. To have a buddy and best friend. You aren’t too concerned about whether she can do tricks. You just want her around for cuddling.

7. Your vet tells you your Dachshund is overweight. What do you do?

A. Immediately restrict her food intake and increase the length of her walks.

B. Cut back on the treats and begin measuring her kibble so that you don’t overestimate. You also become more careful about walking her every day rather than skipping the walks when you don’t feel like it.

C. Buy lower-calorie treats and try to cut back on her food. But, when she acts like she’s starving, you often give in and give her just a little bit more. After all, most people carry a few extra pounds, too. What harm could it do?

8. Your Dachshund barks at everything — passersby on the street, trash blowing in the wind, and even at you when she wants something. How do you handle it?

A. You completely ignore her when she barks or put her in her den when she gets too loud — especially if she’s outside disturbing the neighbors. No one should have to listen to such excessive noise.

B. Recognize that Dachshunds bark but that excessive barking isn’t tolerable. You keep the blinds shut on the front windows and ignore her when she barks at you. You make her come inside if she barks in the yard. Otherwise, you pay attention because she may be alerting you to something.

C. You think to yourself, “Dachshunds bark. What about it?” You don’t mind so much. Besides, if your friends don’t like it, maybe they really aren’t your friends at all!

9. In your home, nighttime consists of

A. Peace and quiet, with your Dachshund curled up in her den, sleeping through the night (after the first few weeks).

B. An occasional trip outside, but mostly your Dachshund sleeps nicely under the covers with you.

C. Broken sleep. Every time your Dachshund makes a noise, you wake up and take her out or give her a toy to chew. You’ve even found yourself playing with her at 3 a.m. because she wants to play. You aren’t getting much sleep, but you feel like your Dachshund needs the attention. You only hope she’ll grow out of this stage and sleep through the night so you can, too.

10. During the day when you’re at work

A. Your Dachshund stays in her den or in an enclosed, pet-proofed area (see Chapter Making Your Home Dachshund-Proof). You either come home for lunch to let her out or hire a pet sitter or dog walker to cover the lunch hour.

B. Your Dachshund stays in the kitchen with a baby gate that keeps her out of the carpeted areas. Sometimes she chews things, but you’re working on that bad habit. You come home for lunch as often as you can. When you don’t, you usually have a mess to clean up.

C. Your Dachshund gets free reign of the house. You feel so guilty for leaving her that you think she deserves to shred the trash and have a few accidents. You can’t blame her.

Warning!

Letting your Dachshund puppy run free in the house when you’re away from home can result in more than just property damage. Your Dachshund can be seriously injured or poisoned if she ingests certain types of trash or other foreign objects or substances. Dachshundproof any room in which your pup will be left unsupervised for any length of time. Better yet, let her snooze in her den when you’re away.

Developing a personalized training plan

After you answer the questions in the preceding section, you can check out where you stand to develop a personalized training plan. Tally your answers to determine whether you have mostly As, Bs, or Cs, and then read the applicable training-strategy discussion that follows. If you have an equal number of any two letters (or close to it), read both training-strategy discussions.

If you answer mostly As

You are (or will be) a highly disciplined, efficient, and consistent pet owner. You’ve probably always been a schedule person, and you encourage discipline and respectful behavior in everyone around you — spouse, children, and pets. For you, a dog is simply another family member that you expect to follow the rules and behave in an acceptable manner. If anyone can bring out the best in a Dachshund, it’s you. Dachshunds crave consistency and want to know the rules.
Take advantage of your tendencies by keeping your Dachshund on a strict schedule, a healthy diet, and regimented training sessions. Systematic training is great, because you get a lot accomplished in the minimum amount of time.

Tip

Consider training your Dachshund for professional competition, if your dog has what it takes (see Chapters Defining the Dashing Dachshund and Advanced Training and Competing for Fun). You certainly do.

Remember

Your one challenge? Remembering to be fun. Consistency and schedules can get tedious if you don’t maintain your sense of humor when others aren’t quite as disciplined as you are. When your Dachshund slips up, gently nudge her back on track. Don’t get angry or irritable when she doesn’t measure up to your high standards. Instead, keep working with her (see Chapter Putting Your Dachshund through Basic Training for troubleshooting tips). She’ll get it, and if she can trust you to be kind and loving in your firmness, she’ll do anything for you.

If you answer mostly Bs

You’re the kind of dog owner most breeders are looking for. You know what your pet needs, and you do your best to give it to her. Sometimes you get busy, get off schedule, and bend the rules. You are human, after all. In general, though, you’re a responsible and loving Dachshund companion who tries hard to teach your pet what it means to behave and have a fulfilling family life.
Your training sessions should be fun and full of play, which Dachshunds love. Your pet will respond quickly to your requests after she learns what you want.

Remember

Your biggest challenge? Keeping a schedule and remembering to train every day. Dogs thrive on consistency and regularity even more than humans do, so a routine is important for your dog — even if you can’t always follow it. You’ll do a great job, however; your Dachshund is lucky to have a pet owner as caring and responsible as you are!

If you answer mostly Cs

You’re probably fully aware that you’re not in charge of your Dachshund. She’s in charge of you. You need to prepare for a life of servitude or change your ways. Don’t be offended. I used to be in this category, and I know change is possible. Difficult, yes, but you don’t have to alter your personality. For the sake of your Dachshund, you just have to summon up some inner strength and take charge. Sure, she’s sweet. Sure, she’s charming. Sure, she’s just about the cutest little thing you’ve ever seen, and you love her to death. All the more reason to do what’s best for her, which means not letting her run the show.
Dogs (like children) will challenge you at every turn, but they want nothing more than to know, without a doubt, what the rules are. They also want to know what to expect on a daily basis. Even if you can’t manage a consistent and regular schedule for yourself (I can’t, either), you can make a list of things you do each and every day for and with your Dachshund (see Chapter The First Day: What to Do and What to Expect):
  • Three meals (measure that kibble, please, or you’ll overestimate)
  • One grooming session
  • One or two walks
  • Two or three short training sessions
Do these things not happen at the same time each day? I know you’re not superman (or superwoman), and that’s okay. Better to do these important chores daily at whatever time works than not at all. You owe it to your pet, because she depends on you for structure. Plenty of love is great, but it isn’t enough to make your Dachshund happy, healthy, and secure.

Remember

Many dogs are surrendered to animal shelters because their owners never bothered to fully housetrain them, and then they got tired of cleaning up after them. The next time you think crate-training or any other housetraining method is cruel, remember that surrendering your Dachshund to an animal shelter is much crueler. Do the kind thing and housetrain your Dachshund with consistency and vigilance (see Chapter Teaching Your Dachshund the House Rules). And remember: Dogs love their dens (or, they learn to love them)!

Attending Obedience Classes (For Your Dachshund and You)

Going to obedience classes when your puppy is about 3 months old creates a firm foundation for future training. It teaches both you and your Dachshund good habits and provides a structure to follow at home. Classes can help you communicate better with your pet, because a trained instructor teaches you how to train your Dachshund. Classes also help you feel more committed to your dog and invested in your dog’s future behavior. Classes are fun and informative, and you get personalized attention to your dog’s unique needs. Plus, your Dachsie learns how to meet and greet other dogs nicely.

Have some class: Avoid dumping at the shelter

According to a study published in 2000 in the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, the pet owners who relinquished dogs to 12 U.S. animal shelters broke down into the following categories:

– 70 percent said their dogs had never been taught basic commands.

– Less than 6 percent said that they took their dogs to obedience class.

– Only 2 percent said they had their dogs trained by professional trainers.

And if you and your Dachshund love it, you can continue on with more advanced classes — possibly even training for professional competition (see Chapter Advanced Training and Competing for Fun).

Remember

No matter how good you think you are at training your Dachshund at home, obedience classes are a great experience for both you and your Dachshund. Every dog should experience them — as long as their owners can find good trainers. A seasoned dog trainer should give you ideas and strategies that hadn’t occurred to you. He or she can help you deal with individual problems or tendencies of your own pet — something no book can do. Also, learning good behavior in a place other than your living room, and in the presence of other dogs, will help your Dachshund see that training applies everywhere, not just at home.

But not all obedience classes are the same. You need to look for a teacher who advocates positive training methods rather than rough methods — such as the use of a choke chain. You certainly should avoid those who use leash jerks for corrections. Rough methods aren’t necessary for training Dachshunds, in the opinion of many contemporary trainers. If used incorrectly or too harshly, they can injure your Dachshund’s back.
To start the process of finding a good trainer, try the following sources:

– Ask your vet to recommend a good local trainer.

– Ask your dog’s breeder, who may know just the right person.

– Ask friends with well-behaved dogs where they learned how to train their pets.

– Contact the Association of Pet Dog Trainers — an organization devoted to better dog training through education, and a great advocator of positive training methods. You can search for an APDT-certified trainer in your area at www.apdt.com (click on Dog Trainer Search) or you can give the organization a call at 1-800-PET-DOGS. Call Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

After getting a referral, visit the instructor to gauge your interest. Ask the instructor running the obedience class to explain his or her personal philosophy of training. (If he or she is too busy to be interviewed, look elsewhere. Would your child’s teacher refuse a parentteacher conference?) What are his or her influences? What methods have proved most effective? Does he or she have any experience training Dachshunds? Also, ask for his or her references and check them. Sometimes, a recommendation or a warning from a previous customer tells you more than a trainer ever could.
If you hear terms like lure-and-reward training, clicker training, or play training, that’s a good sign. But watch out for comments about choke collars, corrections, and discipline. Perhaps your Dachshund may occasionally need a raised voice, a stern look, or a timeout, but in obedience class, the training should be all about rewarding the good stuff. This is how Dachshunds learn best.

Technical Stuff

Lure-and-reward training is a method in which a lure, such as a treat or piece of kibble, is used to physically guide your dog into a position, such as a sit. Clicker training is a method in which a click from a plastic device (called a clicker) is associated with a food treat. Eventually, the click itself becomes rewarding to the dog and is used as a positive reinforcement for desired behavior. Play training is a method in which practice of certain commands is disguised as play.

Remember

Don’t forget your intuition. If a trainer just seems wrong, for whatever reason, keep looking. If you feel good about a trainer and his or her methods make sense to you — they seem humane, kind, and in the best interest of the dogs — feel free to sign up.

Good luck and don’t delay. Start training your Dachshund today!

by Eve Adamson

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