After Rocco joined me in my home, one of the goals I had was to make sure that I was trained properly in obedience training.
If you scour the internet or watch TV, there's a thousand people who will give you a thousand different ways to train a dog. Everyone has got an opinion on the "right" way to train a dog, and each owner needs to figure out what is best for them and their dog.
What *I* wanted was to learn about positive reinforcement with Rocco. I asked my dog walker, Lauren (who, by the way, is excellent and if you are interested in her services, feel free to email me and I will pass along her contact info) for a reference.
She didn't hesitate and told me to use the trainer that she used on her Siberian Huskies: Joana Watsky, owner of Sit and Stay.
I called Joana, and we talked a lot on the phone. She asked me about my dog, what I was looking to achieve, and how she could help.
I already knew a lot, with thanks to my sisters for their advice, but I wanted to make sure that I was laying the proper foundation to raising a good dog now, and not trying to correct bad behavior later.
Joana explained how she worked with positive reinforcement to train puppies, and that it was never too early to teach owners these methods. Also she would cover grooming, housebreaking (with command words once outside), basic commands (sit, stand, down, "leave it"), command praise and dog psychology - plus any other questions I had.
We made an appointment, and she arrived at my home last night.
Suffice to say, I already knew a lot of what she taught me and it's a great class for a first time owner or someone, like me, who does have dog experience but is looking to fill in the gaps.
I learned a lot, especially about redirecting Rocco's love to chew everything. Often I would catch him chewing on my couch or going to a lamps electrical wire - and of course i'd say "NO". But she taught me that it's not enough to just do that, we have to say "Leave It" and then direct him to something that is positive, like a dog toy he can chew on.
She was also teaching me that while i'm teaching Rocco that i'm the "pack leader" I have to temper my love towards him. It can't just be "affection, affection, affection...then discipline". He has to earn attention through being a good puppy, not just be an owner who showers him with playtime or petting. Not letting him up on furniture or sleeping in my bed (I haven't allowed this since day 1).
There was a lot of other things she covered, including teaching Rocco "sit", "stand", "down". "Down" was a bit tricky, Rocco has a stubborn streak and didn't like "down", but her persistence and training methods did get him into a down position. Commands like "stay" and "come" would be taught at a later date when the puppy is a bit older.
By taking this class I also got 15% off her group obedience class in the future, which I will be attending when Rocco is about 6 months old. If you are like me, and live in or around Hoboken, have a dog and want to learn a few things - I highly recommend taking this class.