Welcome to Part One of a new Training Blog by Rebecca Conole, Wairarapa Coordinator
First things first.
In order to train your hound anything you need his attention and interest.
This is one of the first things I did with my hounds. It is quick and fun plus it gets their brains working. This activity requires the use of a marker word (yip,yes, etc) or a clicker. Every time you say the word (click) you follow up with a treat – even if you stuff up the timing. Your hound will soon realise exactly what that word means – I got it right – payday!
I like to sit on the floor to start, firstly because I’m quite lazy, secondly you don’t usually sit on the floor so this will probably get your hounds attention and thirdly as you progress it is an easier spot to get eye contact with your hound (more on this later).
Start with a yummy treat in your hand and a supply of yummy treats at your other hand out of sight and guarded! Smarty pants hounds will make a beeline for these.
Close your fist. Put it out a little lower than nose level towards your hound. He will investigate your fist with his nose, tongue and possibly gentle teeth or a paw. Eventually he will realise he is not getting the treat. As soon as he leaves your fist alone (moves nose away) click (or marker word) and give him a treat with the other hand. Repeat. Your hound will start making less effort to get the treat from your fist. The first time your hound investigates your fist but doesn’t touch it and/or backs off, ‘click’ and jackpot him with a few treats and praise. He’s thinking!
Once your hound is leaving your treated fist alone consistently, pause before you ‘click’. Odds are he will look at you, he’s asking ‘where is my treat?!’At the moment he looks at you ‘click’ and jackpot him. Then repeat. You are now someone interesting who is training the basics of ‘watch me’ and ‘leave it’ and your hound is using his brain to get what he wants.
Keep sessions short to keep interest up. 5-10 actual treats is a good guide. Some hounds will get through this exercise in one or two sessions. Some will take longer.
If your hound is a speedster mix it up by doing the same activity from the beginning in a different area, room or outside. Changing the environment is a distraction and gives your hound more to think about. They will generally catch on very fast but it is important to start at the beginning to reinforce the training.
If your hound is a slowpoke do more short sessions and jackpot when he gets it right. He is not thick, slowpokes tend to think more than the speedsters and when they get it they really get it.
Happy training and next month we will continue on from the above!