Week 4 guys, 4 weeks into life as a 3 and what a big week it’s turning out to be!
For those of you who follow Charlie on Instagram you may have seen that Charlie had his first bath this week. Paul has wanted to bath Charlie for a while but I had been putting it off; I didn’t want to lose that ‘puppy smell’. However, with one too many steps in his own poo, it’s safe to say the ‘puppy smell’ was long gone and it was certainly time for a bath!
Tomorrow is another big day for Charlie as it’s his trip to the vets for the second set of his puppy vaccinations; which I’m sure will be followed by an immediate trip to Pets at Home for some new toys and treats to ease the guilt.
I don’t know if Paul and I are CRACKING UP or if we are genuinely onto something here but, this week we’ve come to the conclusion that Charlie…. tries to… HE SPEAKS TO US OK. One example of this being at meal times, we genuinely believe Charlie comes to say thank you after his food. Now every time he bounds over to us after a meal we say “YOU ARE VERY, VERY WELCOME!!!”. Anyone else with us on this or are you all concerned for our psychological state?
I spoke briefly in my last blog “3 Weeks and 2 near death experiences later” about how Charlie has made us super proud by mastering four tricks; sit, stay, paw and lie down. Well this week he’s only gone and got TWO more tricks in the bag; spin and roll over! I know, two biggies (trick game certainly strong). Paul has BIG ambitions for Charlie’s trick future. In true ‘go big or go home’ fashion, Paul wants Charlie to be able to, wait for it, JUMP onto his BACK. If your dreams don’t scare
you your Mum they aren’t big enough.
As always, to be as realistic and honest as possible, this week we’ve also slipped in some areas and let Charlie get into some bad habits. Charlie has got into a bit of bad habit of being a little beg when it comes to trying to score some human food. We will hold our hands up and say this is
largely entirely down to Paul and I letting him try some new (safe) human foods when we are eating; little Lord Charlie is now SHOOK at the revelation that not all food is for him. Also we haven’t really enforced any real discipline to stop or correct this beggy behaviour; my idea of discipline is playfully saying “No DARLINGS dis foods not for you SORRY SWEETHEART” . I overheard Paul attempting some ‘discipline’ yesterday and it sounded like this “No Charlie, DON’T beg… OR steal…. OR lie… OR take drugs“. We suck!
Despite it quite literally being entirely our fault, it doesn’t stop us getting annoyed that there is a panting dog in our face when we are trying to eat a banana. This morning, Paul took matters into his own hands and decided to give Charlie a taste of his own medicine. After giving Charlie his morning Dentastix, I walked in to Paul with his nose to Charlie’s face saying “Give us abit of that then”, “Go on”, “Please”, “Please mate” , “Just a bit”. I’ll let you know how that training tactic works out in due course.
It’s been a big learning week for Paul and I as well. Here are some of week 4’s Google searches:
‘What are dog eye whiskers for?’- This was an unexpected learning experience for Paul who just learnt, at the ripe old age of 27, that human eye brows stop sweat from going in your eyes. A revelation!
‘Why does my dog have hair on his willy and can you cut it?’ – The elephant in the room every time Charlie wants a tummy rub, Paul and I are like “but is it PART of his willy or?”
‘Ashleigh and Pudsey’ – That’s it. That’s the whole search. I was clearly feeling VERY confident after a successful training session.
‘How to teach your dog roll over’.
If you follow Charlie on Instagram you may have voted in the recent poll we put out. When the results came in and I saw 87% of you wanted a tricks blog, I was nervous; serves me right for offering it as an option really.
When it comes to blogging, there is no master plan. I haven’t pre-written or pre-planned anything; it’s just me having ago at documenting what’s going on in the hope someone out there enjoys reading it and can relate.
I couldn’t really visualise what a tricks and training blog would look like. I just knew what I didn’t want and that was a boring ‘step by step’ of how we taught Charlie tricks. We didn’t invent a new way of teaching; we just followed some videos, copied how the professionals do it and adapted it to fit Charlie and us.
A quick Google search will supply you with an array of professionals who will teach you how to teach any trick and explain how to use a clicker or verbal command.
Nevertheless, here’s our account of trick training.
What you will need:
Some A LOT of patience
Treats (I recommend at least 1 tons worth)
A clear verbal que for your trick
Acceptance that you are going to sound like a broken record
Bouts of 10 minute sessions (lots and lots of bouts)
In terms of tricks, otherwise known as complete and utter bribery by the way, here’s the order Charlie learnt them in; sit, stay, paw, lie down,
rollover (failed), spin, roll over. There may be a better order to do these in but this was what we did; failure and all. It’s worth noting that every time we start a new trick we think “Oh he’s not going to be able to do this it’s too difficult”.
Charlie mastered ‘sit’ really quickly. Using a treat above his head, as he looked up at the treat his bum went down. SIT. GOOD BOY. TREAT; simples. Paw was another quick one that was just copied and adapted from a YouTube video. Whilst in sitting, I put the treat in my fist and said ‘PAW’. Charlie began by sniffing and licking and eventually he raised his paw to try and get the treat. Every time he lifted his paw to my hand, I would say “GOOD BOY, PAW” and release the treat.
Something I did, that I definitely DID NOT see recommended in a professional YouTube video was, sporadically throughout the day I would tell Charlie “These are PAWS”, “THIS. IS. YOUR. PAW”, “I have HANDS you have…. PAWWWWSSSS”. Might be crazy, might be a genius; who knows, I think it helped!
It’s when you go into the realm of ‘luring’ that things get a little bit more difficult. Luring is quite literally the biggest form of bribery I know. It’s holding a treat between your fingers and allowing your dog to sniff and lick it, so that they follow the treat. You don’t release the treat until they’ve followed the treat through to completion of the trick; we used this method for lie down and spin. To gradually move away from following the treat we found it really important to enunciate the command; Charlie spins from just a casual, throwaway ‘spin’ command now (showing off, not showing off).
‘Roll over’ was the Everest, we thought Charlie would never be able to get. I found most ‘roll over’ YouTube videos either really boring or unrealistic. Obviously, for the purpose of a successful calm video, they are using trained dogs that skillfully follow step by step lures. Try then, replicating that with an excitable pup that is scattering and thrashing around just wanting THAT treat; as you can imagine, very different from the videos.
Thus, we ended up trying a few different techniques; I say ‘techniques’ in the loosest form of the word. One ‘technique’ was Paul literally rolling around back and forth on the floor showing Charlie what a roll was. “Charlie look at me” , “Charlie LOOK I’M ROLLING” , “ROLLING OVER CHARLIE”.
Needless to say this was not effective. What did work for us in the end was a mixture of luring and basically
pushing assisting Charlie over. Charlie would follow the treat (luring) so far before wriggling out of what was an ‘almost roll’. So, to overcome this, we lured him as far as we could with the treat and then initiated a roll by pushing assisting him over onto his back. He quickly learnt to wriggle off his back and onto his front, VOILA a roll! This combination of assistance, treats, praise and a verbal command worked for us. A side note: as much as Charlie likes treats he equally loves the praise, attention and tummy rubs he gets for doing something right.
Once Charlie had mastered roll over, well, THAT WAS IT, he wouldn’t stop rolling and rolling and rolling.
Our tricks are by no means perfect, sometimes Paul and I have barely drawn breath to start a command and Charlie has already done sit, paw, spin, spin, rolloverrolloverrrollover in excitement.
The biggest take-away tips I have to pass on are;
1. DO: short 10 minute blocks of training. Dogs will get bored and you will get frustrated. Things can quickly turn chaotic when you are waving treats around.
2. DON’T: rely on just the use of treats. Use a combination of praise, attention and treats. I think all three are as equally as important for Charlie.
3. DO: know when to give up, it’s not always the right time. Sometimes Charlie is wayyyy to excited to concentrate (usually thanks to his Dad) and sometimes he’s just not interested or he’s distracted by something else (yesterday: a bee he could see through the window).
4. DON’T: worry. Not all training sessions and tricks will be successful. See below:
So new tricks and bad habits would pretty much sums up where me, Paul and the D O double G are at, by week 4 into life as a 3. For those who are wondering what tricks we might try next, I think we will attempt ‘sit pretty’ and maybe some impulse control like balancing a treat on Charlie’s nose. If anyone has any tips on these two, SEND UM OVER! On that note, I’m off to
download a BGT audition pack, I’m off to check Paul and Charlie aren’t attempting ‘jump on my back’, I’m just off!