Taking Charge of Your Dachsie

Love Dog

In This Chapter

  • Understanding your Dachshund’s inborn tendencies
  • Recognizing natural Dachsie skills
  • Discovering the power of Dachshund wiles

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you’ll wonder who’s training whom when you get to the end of a long day of Dachshund disobedience. Training a Dachshund is indeed a challenge, and it helps to keep reminding yourself who’s the boss — as well as how to be the boss. Nobody ever said training a Dachshund was easy — but it certainly isn’t impossible.

Your Dachshund won’t mind being the boss, but he’d really prefer that you do the job — and believe me, your life will be a lot easier if you do. You don’t want to spend your days subject to the capricious nature of this tiny tyrant. You must take charge, and this chapter shows you the reasons.

Knowing Your Dachshund’s Instincts and Traits

The first step toward taking the reins in the dog-human relationship is to know your Dachshund. All Dachshunds have unique qualities and instincts. Knowing them and taking advantage of the characteristics of the breed will help you take and maintain control. (Chapters Is a Dachshund Right for You?Defining the Dashing DachshundThe Long and Short of Dachshund Varieties also give you info so you can get familiar with the Dachshund.)

Tip

Each Dachsie persona in this section is probably a part of your Dachshund’s overall personality. Some traits may sound more like your pet than others. Whichever types seem dominant in your dog, use those tendencies in your training and play sessions.

This is one of the advantages of owning a purebred dog. Although each Dachshund is different in some ways, they’re all basically the same. Each characteristic in this section carries with it certain training challenges. (There are also certain games each Dachshund type enjoys, as well as certain organized competitive dog sports, if you want to pursue those things. Head to Chapter Advanced Training and Competing for Fun for more.)

The hunter/tracker

Dachshunds were bred to hunt, to track scents, and to follow their quarry — with unwavering persistence and courage beyond their size — until the prize is won. What does this mean for your training?

Training challenge: If your Dachshund detects a scent while you’re working, training, playing, or walking together, it will take every ounce of doggie willpower for him not to dash off after it. Most of the time, he won’t be able to resist. Your Dachshund is very likely to run away from you if you don’t keep him on his leash in an open area. It isn’t that he doesn’t like you. He’s just a hunter and tracker by nature, and you can’t easily train out instinct.

Great games: Dachshunds almost always enjoy games that mimic a hunting or tracking situation. Show your Dachsie a small ball, let him sniff it, and then throw it as far as you can (in a safe area). Watch him do his stuff. The tricky part is convincing him to give it back to you, but after he learns that returning the ball to you means another go-around, he’ll probably be more than willing (in his own sweet time, that is).

An edge on the competition: You can use your Dachshund’s tracking ability for advanced training in competitive tracking, field trials, and earth dog or den trials. These organized sports really take advantage of the Dachshund’s natural abilities, and Dachshunds love to have challenging work to do. Seeing a Dachshund in action, using his natural instincts, is truly inspiring. (For more on training your Dachshund for competition and getting involved in competitive dog sports, see Chapter Advanced Training and Competing for Fun.)

The digger

If you have a Dachshund and your backyard fence isn’t buried at least a foot underground, you probably know all about the Dachshund’s penchant for digging. Some Dachshunds dig more than others, but in general, they all love it — after they discover how fun it is. What does this mean for your training?

Training challenge: Your Dachshund can behave in the most maddening ways: digging under your fence and running off, digging up your flower beds and vegetable gardens, and even attempting to dig through your carpeting and furniture. However, you have no excuse not to prepare. You can line the bottom of your fence with bricks or rocks or even pour a foundation under the fence. Grow your garden somewhere else or put a fence around it (dig a foot-deep trench and sink the fence into it). Sound like a lot of work? Sure, but it’s all part of life with a Dachshund.

If your Dachshund insists on digging in a specific area on your carpet or furniture, break out the Bitter Apple or another chewdeterrent spray and take action (consult your vet and follow the package directions). Be vigilant and prevent destructive digging before it gets too destructive. And don’t get mad if your Dachshund digs. You can’t argue with instinct, and he isn’t doing it to make you mad. He just thinks it’s really, really fun. You can relate to that, can’t you?

Tip

If your Dachshund loves to dig but you can’t afford to pour a foundation under your fence, all is not lost. Line the base of your fence with cinderblocks to make digging more of a challenge, and then create a diversion. Build a sandbox in your yard as your Dachsie’s very own digging playground, and train him to dig there by moving him to the box whenever he’s in digging mode. Praise any digging attempts he makes in the box. You can even bury dog treats in the sand, just to inspire him. In extreme cases, your Dachshund may not be able to go in the backyard unsupervised, but a little extra vigilance is a small price to pay to keep your Dachshund safe.

Great games: If you decide to build a sandbox just for Dachsie digging, you can play a game to help train him to use it. Show your Dachshund a toy. Let him sniff it and get him excited about it. Then go outside with him, bury the toy in the sandbox while he watches, and cover it up. Now ask your Dachshund to “find the toy!” Fun for all.

An edge on the competition: Dachshunds are born for den and earth dog trials. If your Dachshund really likes to burrow under things (and what Dachshund doesn’t?), you probably have a natural. Earth dog and den trials don’t take much training. They’re events that utilize a dog’s natural instinct and aren’t for exhibiting special skills developed by training (although the bury-the-toy-in-the-sandbox game probably will help to hone your Dachshund’s natural instinct).

The athlete

Dachshunds may have delicate backs and may not appear particularly buff, but many are superior athletes (see Figure 11-1 for an example). Dachshunds are built to work, not to sit around looking pretty. Even Minis are designed to follow quarry into small dens. No lap dogs in Dachshund land (although they do love your lap). What does the Dachshund’s natural athletic ability mean to your training?
Figure 11-1: This Dachsie looks like a natural athlete, no?

Training challenge: Dachshunds like to move, exercise, and use their natural athletic ability, so if you’re a sedentary person, you’ll have to work to make sure that your Dachshund gets enough exercise. A Dachshund that doesn’t get enough exercise is almost certain to cause trouble; he’s got to get out all that energy somehow.

This natural athlete is game for training; he’ll love active sessions with practice disguised as doggy sports. He’ll also think you’re really fun to hang around with.

Warning!

Athletic as they are, Dachshunds probably shouldn’t engage in certain activities too often. If a sport or activity involves running around sharp corners at high speed, shaking the neck (like in a boisterous game of tug of war), jumping down from high places, or racing up and down steep stairs, discourage your Dachshund from getting too rowdy. You want to keep his back in good shape.

Great games: Dachshunds love to play. They’re excellent runners, and some really enjoy jumping up to catch a ball (or grab your dinner off that low counter). Let your Dachshund refine his natural athletic abilities by playing active games. Throw a Frisbee and let him chase it. Set up an obstacle course and let him maneuver through it to find a favorite toy, ball, or food treat. And don’t forget the all-important walk (see Chapter Putting Your Dachshund through Basic Trainingfor training tips). Your Dachshund loves to be on the move, and when your daily exercise is over, he’ll be more than happy to relax, kick back, and allow you to pet him to sleep.

An edge on the competition: Don’t be fooled into thinking that your Dachshund can’t compete in athletic activities, such as obedience and agility competitions, and in areas of competition reserved for Dachshunds, such as field and den trials. Dachshunds have achieved the highest obedience titles, which takes tremendous athletic ability. And although Dachshunds aren’t typically thought of as the most agile breed, they can and do participate in agility competition as well — if jumps are adjusted for height. Your local dog club may have other events your Dachshund can participate in. If you think organized athletics would be fun, and your Dachshund enjoys that kind of thing, go for it.

The actor within

Your Dachsie is a real clown and is happiest when all eyes are on him. You may wonder whether anyone will pay attention to you again, because since you brought home your Dachshund, he’s been the star of the household, and he likes it that way, thank you very much. You may even be tempted to call your little Dachshund a diva. What does this mean for your training?

– Training challenge: If you don’t make training sessions fun, and if they aren’t all about your Dachshund, forget it. What does a born performer want with tedium? With sharing the spotlight? Nothing. Take advantage of your Dachshund’s showy side and make a big deal out of good behavior. The best way to discourage bad behavior is to completely ignore it. Your performer wants to be center stage and hates being ignored even more than being yelled at, so take advantage of this trait.

Great games: If it pleases your little performer (and it probably will), teach him some really flashy tricks that are sure to elicit oohs, aahs, giggles, and applause from spectators. Tricks are sure to become a favorite part of your scene-stealing Dachsie’s repertoire. Chapter Putting Your Dachshund through Basic Training has all the details.

An edge on the competition: Consider looking into a fun competitive activity called canine freestyle or canine musical freestyle. This competition involves a choreographed routine that includes both you and your Dachshund. Any dog can compete, but Dachshunds love to show off; if yours is good at obedience but you both like the idea of something flashier, freestyle may be right up your alley. Even if you’re a little shy, your Dachshund can do most of the fancy footwork. For more on canine freestyle events, see Chapter Advanced Training and Competing for Fun.

Oh, Those Dachshund Wiles . . .

If you get a Dachshund, you’re dealing with a hunter, a tracker, a digger, an athlete, and an actor destined for whatever stage you’ll give him. The combination results in a unique set of what I like to call “Dachshund wiles.”
Dachshund wiles are hard to define, yet exceedingly powerful. They make up the force that mysteriously compels you to hand over half of your hot dog to your devious little darling, even when you’re still hungry. They keep you from answering the phone when your Dachshund is curled on your lap. They keep you from staying angry at your Dachshund for more than five seconds. And they somehow propel you, each and every night, to the very edge of your bed, reserving most of the space on your king-sized mattress for your 8-pound Miniature Dachshund.
A force to be reckoned with, indeed. And certainly a force to consider when training your Dachshund. What can you do in the face of such power? If you learn how your Dachshund uses his wiles, you’ll learn how to put some of your own wiles into play.

How Dachsies manipulate

Dogs need certain things, like food, shelter, warmth, and companionship. They also desire certain things, like more food, more warmth, and a whole lotta companionship. Dogs don’t like other things, like hunger, standing out in the rain, or being ignored. They’re social animals, domesticated to enjoy the good life — and oh, how they love suppertime.
It only makes sense, then, that your Dachshund will do whatever he can to get more of what he wants and less of what he doesn’t want. Any creature does this (even you). Some are simply more effective in their techniques than others. Your Dachshund will soon learn — all on his own — what behaviors encourage you to hand over the goods (treats, kind words, snuggles) and what behaviors cause you to go off the deep end or purposefully ignore him.
Are you a pushover? Your Dachshund will soon discover whether a cute expression accompanied by a slightly cocked head will melt your heart and cause you to toss another gourmet dog cookie in his direction. If you’re not careful, he’ll come to learn that barking, nipping, whining, or jumping results in treats and attention. (To a Dachshund, even negative attention like yelling is better than being ignored.)

Remember

Always remember to reward the good behavior, not the bad. In other words, turn the tables on your clever little pet. If he recognizes that begging only gets him ignored, but that lying quietly in the corner during dinner leads to you serving her dinner, then congratulations. You have the upper hand. When you make him realize that bad behavior results in nothing, and that good behavior — a well-behaved greeting when you arrive home, with an eager wagging tail but no jumping, for example — gets him plenty of praise, stroking, and kisses, you’ll be manipulating him in the best way.

Warning!

After your Dachshund is well-trained, you’ll be able to bend the rules now and then. However, if you make it a habit to enforce rules only when you have the energy, you may as well forget the rules altogether. Your Dachshund won’t understand inconsistent enforcement. He won’t know how you’ll react when he does something, so he won’t even try to anticipate. He’ll just do what he wants to do.

Why you must be in charge

If you don’t decide from day one to be in charge of your Dachshund’s behavior, he’ll take you for a ride. You’ll be a slave to his whims, his bad habits, and his begging, barking, chewing, housebreaking mishaps, and other behaviors that you never dreamed you’d have to endure. Remember back in those days when you used to say, “When I have a dog, he’ll never do that”?
Raising a Dachshund is hard work. It takes vigilance, consistency, and a refusal on your part to give in. Of course, being consistent and firm, and steeling against those Dachshund wiles, is easier for some than for others. You’ll be a step ahead of the game if you first figure out your personal training style, including your strengths and — more importantly — your weaknesses. Check out Chapter Determining Your Trainer Profile to determine your personal training profile, and remember: Stay strong. Be consistent. You are in charge!
by Eve Adamson

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