A few months ago, we lost our dog Zelda to an aggressive cancer of the blood.
On the day I put her down, my stepson Karl and stepdaughter Deena came over to help us out. Deena also came with news that Karl’s wife’s sister’s dog had had a litter of ten pups who were going to need homes. She showed us some photos, and Vickie immediately fixed on one, saying, “She is suck a sooky little thing!”
Two weeks later, we adopted a tiny, curious pup whom we called Sookie. Vickie was originally going for Sooky-with-a-Y, but I kind of nabbed the naming when filling out the microchipping form – I reckoned we already had one dog with a Y at the end of his name, and Sooky seemed more like an adjective than a name (and we’ve discovered that she’s not much of a sook at all).
But now I’m in a position that I’ve never really been in before: Having to train a dog.
And I’m a bit at sea.
One thing we want to make sure we do is get Sookie the right amount of exercise, i.e. daily walks. We have a big yard, sure, but that’s not really enough for a dog (even though poor Ziggy’s pretty much been stuck in it for the last little while), and we could use being back in a regular walking routine ourselves.
So I need to train Sookie so that Vickie can control her on a leash while I take the heavier and just-as-excitable Ziggy.
I can’t walk them both myself, thanks to a dangerous dog ordnance the Council placed on Ziggy. Besides, those two monsters would probably be too much for me to safely control.
Walking one dog at a time isn’t really much of an option, because no matter which order I walk them in, the dog left behind always goes spare, which, given that Sookie is a pocket dynamo, bodes ill for the contents of our house.
Where do I start?
We’ve got a couple of books on training. The one I tend to go to is The New Complete Dog Training Manual, by Dr. Bruce Fogle and Patricia Holden White. It’s well laid out and breaks every training routine down into simple steps.
The problem is that every step has a precursor technique or two that we should have in theory already implemented. Some of them require gear we don’t have, like a long line that we can clip to Sookie’s collar (most of it is cheap, it’s just a trick of remembering it when we’re out shopping).
And some of it seems a bit tricky to pull off with another dog in the house, like the basic “come to” training that requires we divvy up Sookie’s daily food intake into reward lots so that we can giver her something when she obeys the “come to” command.
How do we do that whilst still giving Ziggy his regular meals?
On top of all that, given that we’re both working throughout the day (me at the office, Vickie keeping the house and cooking), how do we do stuff with her in the evenings when we’re both a bit buggered?
The greatest problem, it seems is that training isn’t one way – you have to train yourself, too.
Are You Stressing?
What troubles have you had when learning how to train a dog?
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