The end of last year was an exciting time for our family, we added a new puppy to our home! Literally, a few days after Christmas we dove right in and got ourselves a little Border Collie girl. This has been our very first experience having such a young dog and let me tell you it’s been a ride.
We quickly learned that there’s a reason why people make comparisons between infants and puppies. That pretty much sums up a puppy if throw in words like destructive and nippy too. This is an extremely difficult time for newbie dog owners, to say the least.
We knew from the beginning that Border Collies are very active, working dogs. They need a purpose in life or they will destroy whatever they can get their mouths on. To try to tame some of Oreo’s (Yes, the kids named her after the cookie!) energy we love to take her out with us whenever we can.
Now that’s she older she is more interested in looking out the window than chewing on the seatbelt.
One of our favorite places to take her is Tractor Supply. They are pet-friendly so she goes right in with us and helps us shop for her food and supplies and other rural goodies we may need. Every time we visit we always come across other doggie parents and their pups. She, of course, flips on over so the “Pawrents” can give her belly rubs (one of her favorite things ever!) and sniffs her new friends.
It’s a friendly store with such a unique, homey environment. Half the fun of shopping there is we never know what we may come across. This time it was CHICKS! All kinds of baby chicks, ducks, and turkeys.
Oreo’s mind was going a million miles a minute staring at all these cuties.
These shopping trips are always very mentality stimulating for Oreo which is great. Sometimes mental exercise can be just as good as physical exercise. That’s why we also have her participate in puppy kindergarten classes where she learns voice commands.
These classes are such a great source of information for new puppy parents. They’ve helped give us an insight as to why her little puppy mind does what it does. The first thing they had us teach was a bit of a shock to us as newbie puppy trainers but it totally makes sense – the Reward Marker.
Installing the Reward Marker
The reward marker is a short word that lets your puppy know they did something right. Totally makes sense to have a way to let your dog know you are happy with something they did, right?
Choose Your Reward Marker
You want to pick a word that’s easy to say yet not used often. Common reward markers are “bingo, “pop”, “tag”, etc. Whatever it is just make sure you don’t normally say it in everyday conversation and that’s only 1-2 syllables. The reward marker I use for Oreo is “click”.
Grab A LOT of Tasty Food
Training a puppy is mostly about associating. Dogs do not understand what we are saying but eventually, they associate words with actions.
Let’s say you tell Fido to “sit”. He has no idea what you are babbling about but if you tell him to “sit” and when he does you give him a treat, he’s associating that if I put my butt on the ground when they say that “word” I get something yummy.
Dogs are all about what’s in it for them and we can use that to train them. Stocking up on tasty foods is imperative during training!
Head to your local Tractor Supply Co. to get some of the best savings on pet food during the 5th annual Purina® Days event. March 28 to April 2 will be a great time to stock up on all your pet needs, especially if you are in the middle of training.
Don’t forget to check your newspaper for the Tractor Supply Co. Purina Days insert!
I bought Purina® Pro Plan® Savor® Shredded Blend Chicken & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food and several Purina® Pro Plan® Chicken & Rice Wet Dog Food Cans.
Oreo couldn’t wait to dig in!
But…during Purina Days you can:
Buy Pro Plan 24-lb.+, Get 2 13-oz. Cans Free!
It’s a great deal! Plus they are high in protein and easy to gobble down. Oreo has to have wet food mixed in with her kibble otherwise she won’t eat it (picky little stinker!).
SO it’s a great time to stock up! There’s so many more special in-store pricing taking place too – visit your local TSC to check it out!
Do not ask your puppy to do anything. With your puppy on a leash, say your chosen reward maker (“bingo”, “crush”, etc.) and give your puppy a treat. The treat can be Purina® Pro Plan® Savor® or anything your dog really, REALLY loves (chicken, hot dogs, etc.).
Repeat this ten times, twice a day for five days.
For example, I say “bingo” and give a treat, “bingo” – give a treat, “bingo” – give a treat, etc. It shouldn’t take very much time at all.
Proof Your Reward Marker
Still on a leash. On day 5 or 6, test your reward marker by saying it when your puppy is distracted and not looking at you. If your dog looks at you when you say your reward marker, it’s installed. If they do not, repeat the first exercise for a couple more days and try again until they do.
Installing the reward marker is the foundation for all future training. Thanks to doing this Oreo can “sit”, “down”, and “come” on command pretty consistently. She’s still working on “wait” and some other voice commands. It’s definitely a work in progress!
No matter what you do set your puppy up for success and visit your local TSC during Purina Days to stock up on all your pet and rural needs at a great price!