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post #1 of 34 (permalink) Old 08-13-2013, 08:34 PM Thread Starter
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What do you think is the most important...

...thing to train at first? A couple friends and I had a group socializing session today, and we got talking about what first to teach a new dog/puppy. We all agreed, of course, that training should start right away and be constant.

However, we all had different ideas for what we should teach first. A few of them said recall, another one said leash manners and heeling, and another said stay.

What do you guys think?

Also, sorry if this is in the wrong spot!
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post #2 of 34 (permalink) Old 08-13-2013, 08:40 PM
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Recall! IMO, this trumps all, because it can save your dog's life.
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post #3 of 34 (permalink) Old 08-13-2013, 08:43 PM
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While I think most teach sit, which is pretty easy,, RECALL is definitely the most important command of all..

good trick for teaching since you have some friends to help...two of you,,sit aways apart,,each with treats, call the puppy back and forth, back and forth, always treat and have a party))

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post #4 of 34 (permalink) Old 08-13-2013, 09:44 PM
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My vote also goes to the RECALL!!!

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post #5 of 34 (permalink) Old 08-13-2013, 10:05 PM
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If socialization is a form of 'training', I always pick that first! A well-rounded shepherd is a good citizen, a great foundation, and a happy pet.

IMO, the first thing to do is load your Training Gun; clicker or marker association! The first command I teach my pups is "touch" (touching their nose to my palm when presented with a flat hand and/or a verbal command); it functions as a focus tool and an unofficial recall, plus it's fun and easy.

In the end, it doesn't so much matter WHAT you train... the important part is that the dog learns how to learn. The process of how to process instruction and translate it into a retrievable command is learned and improved over time. It takes more time to learn the first command than the second, and by the twentieth it's a piece of cake.

Good on ya for going to a socialization class! Great start.


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post #6 of 34 (permalink) Old 08-13-2013, 10:13 PM
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For me the first thing to teach is focus, without focus everything becomes very difficult.

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post #7 of 34 (permalink) Old 08-13-2013, 10:19 PM
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You can work on more than one thing at a time so a recall is important but focus exercises are such a basic foundation. Also like free-shaping exercises to instigate thinking.


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post #8 of 34 (permalink) Old 08-13-2013, 10:31 PM
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I think that recall is important, but I don't think you will get that without some kind of focus. I also think leave it is a very strong command, it can be a life saver for dogs that like to pick stuff up and eat it. I kinda roll the focus and recall into one, because both are needed..they kinda feed off each other. My male GSD has had no formal training as of yet, but he's got pretty good recall, that is probably because I'm always yelling for him because who knows what he's getting into

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post #9 of 34 (permalink) Old 08-13-2013, 10:43 PM
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We still do restrained recalls on the older dogs to speed them up on 'go outs' and 'to the handler' exercises. Recalls are IMO the most important thing, but don't over do them. We do focus work, perch work(rear end awareness) and positions.

End the session with a restrained recall or two and put the pup up in a crate for some processing time. That crate time is just as important as the training session when a dog is learning something. Goes for the tracking phase as well.

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post #10 of 34 (permalink) Old 08-13-2013, 11:39 PM
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A lot of people have already given great advice!

I am assuming you have a puppy. I have very little puppy experience. The dogs I have fostered or adopted have typically been between the ages of 7 months to 6 years – although I have fostered 6 week old orphans and 9+ year old seniors too.

With that said, I believe the single most important thing you need to work on before anything else is positive engagement with the dog (no matter the age). As others have said, building focus is an important piece of that, but make it fun… be the most positive and interesting thing in your dog’s life… learn what motivates and encourages your dog. In so doing, you will find that your dog will also start to learn what motivates you... lol!

Once you have established a positive relationship with the dog, the rest comes a lot easier. So, in my opinion, the focus of early training should be on building a foundation of mutual understanding and trust.
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