Over the years, many people have asked me what I train first with a new puppy or dog.
First, I feel it is important to build a relationship and rapport with the new pup. To do this, I play games, such as COOKIE TOSS game and tug. Although I do some other behaviors, such as cookie sits, downs, spins, and twirls, my main focus is giving my puppy the desire to work. I call building this, the “I want to” behavior.
These games also teach the my puppy “how to”. How to run out, how to return to me, etc. Furthermore during these games I can teach my puppy the speed in which I want to see these skills performed. The desire to want to be with me, do the games that I want, and the speed I want is what I call “drive”. Although I do introduce other behaviors, those behaviors are used to break up our play sessions. The pup learns Play=work=play. I am building the value of training/working in my puppy.
Building the desire (I want) to work/train is the first foundational skill that I teach. It builds value and purpose for working with me. With the drive (speed) and desire (I want) the puppy has the foundational skills to become a dog that enjoys and looks forward to working with me.
What is the first thing you focus on with your new puppy/dog?
Do you consider the speed, intensity or enthusiasm when playing/training?