Teaching a Pair of Red Toy Poodles Basic Commands to Boost their Confidence

By: David Codr

Published Date: July 26, 2018

For this Los Angeles dog training session we taught a pair of Red Toy Poodles to sit, lay down, sit up and stand up as well as sharing tips to help new puppy Bailey (Pictured here on the right with his room mate 1 year-old Murphy) with some more serious psychological issues.

Bailey was pretty nervous when I first arrived, walking in circles on the floor over and over. This is a a bad behavior for a dog and heartbreaking to see in a puppy, so Im glad the guardian invited me into her home to help her.

To help Bailey feel more relaxed, I took her for a walk after watching her circle walk over and over. On the walk she was walking tall with her head up, tail up, sniffing around and seemed to be having a good time.

Although she is not a high energy puppy, Bailey is under exercised, so a daily walk (7-15 min) is highly recommended. The sights and sounds of the outside world will do wonders for stimulating this little puppy who was clearly under socialized. Frankly, if the puppy doesn’t get a daily walk for the next month or so, Im concerned that chances to improve her behavior may flatline. I also recommend the guardian look into finding a puppy class that includes socialization like ours do so that she can develop social skills which will help with her overall confidence.

As a dog behavior expert, its always frustrating to see an under socialized pup. While discussing it with the guardian, I learned the breeder said they were going to keep Bailey as a show dog before deciding to send her to this family. The family was pretty surprised as to how different Bailey is from Murphy who is from the same breeder. When I heard the breeder charged the family the same price as the confident and properly socialized Murphy, I recommended she reach out tot he breeder as its crystal clear they did a very poor job of socializing the puppy.

Its clear that Bailey is so in need of additional psychological help that a repeat session or two will be needed. A good compromise would be to ask the breeder to cover the costs of those sessions. If they refuse, Im hoping the guardian will offer a review on google, facebook or with the better business bureau. Those reviews can help other future puppy guardians avoid getting a dog with these issues and hopefully motivate the breeder to properly socialize the pups so no other puppy starts out so fearful and anxious.

If you are not aware of the importance of the critical socialization period or have a puppy right now, please check out this post I did for my most recent puppy Quest.

Also, if you are looking to get a puppy from a breeder, you may want to check out this post that shares tips on picking a good one and the most wonderful thing any breeder can do when having puppies, Puppy Culture. If I was in charge of the world, no one would be allowed to breed a puppy without watching the Puppy Culture videos first.

When Bailey and I got back from the walk, he was noticeably calmer. He was still walking in circles at times, but also paying attention to grooming, checking out my bag and things in the room and getting closer to me when wandering about.

I made sure to stop reaching to pet Bailey any time he turned his head or body away. Many keep reaching until a dog backs away, and even then, some people don’t stop. But if a dog is uncomfortable or unsure about you, touching it won’t help. But by stopping your attempt when the dog turns away, you can help the dog build up trust in you. A great tip when dealing with scared dogs who don’t know you is to ignore them and wait for them to come to you.

I spent much of the session sharing tips on what to do and what not to do. Because the guardian has a physical issue, she isn’t able to walk the dogs. Both dogs need and will benefit from that exercise and stimulation, but its a pressing, urgent urgent for Bailey.

If the guardian’s children can pitch in and take Bailey out for a walk as soon as they get to the house, every time they visit, they can have a profound impact on Bailey building up his confidence.

Another great way to build up confidence is to teach dogs new tricks and commands. Bailey was too anxious to sit so I decided to show the family how to teach him to come on command.

This exercise is going to be the foundation for building up Bailey’s confidence. The more the guardians pet and say the command word with good timing, the quicker he will catch on. Once he does, he is going to get a nice confidence boost which will really help him.

Shortly after we finished the come exercise above, Bailey started to pace in circles again. This is his way of saying he needs direction. This is a great way to practice training or exercises, but without knowing any, I had to get creative.

I noticed that one thing Bailey did was circle back to his guardian each loop. I improvised a way to use what I call passive training to reward him each time he did to enhance his “come” command training and also teach him to stop jumping up for attention.

As I mention in this video, I call this “Light switch on” and “Light switch off.” By engaging and disengaging from the activity with precise timing, the guardian can literally train the dog by petting it.

Next I showed the guardian how to teach the puppies to sit, lay down, sit up and stand up on command.

Because of the guardian’s limitation, its going to be important for friends, family (especially the guardian’s two adult children) to practice these basic training commands as often as possible. It will probably take 8-15 practice sessions to get the dogs to be able to do these basic commands. Saying the command word only within 3 seconds of completing the exercise or action will be an important thing to watch.

I told the guardians I wanted them to focus on everything we covered today for the next two weeks then to call or text me with an update as we will need to set up a follow up session to build on the progress we made in this initial session. This is an important developmental period for Bailey. We made good progress today but the puppy has a long way to go. But with the right approach and consistency, we can work together to help Bailey stop being so anxious and stop pacing in those circles.

We wrapped the session up with a Roadmap to Success video to help the guardian and her family remember all the dog behavior tips I shared with them in this in home dog training session.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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