Friday, May 1, 2015


These wonderful photos of the Icelandic Sheepdog Lizzie, Vinlands Elisabeth, just came. Isn't she sweet? Lizzie lives with Donna and the Doctor in Alabama. Her nearly identical twin Tully lives in Oregon with Melanie and David. Clicking on photos will enlarge them.

I wonder how many of the puppies from this litter have had or will soon have their second set of inoculations. Soon maybe they will get their rabies and Lepto vaccines. Follow the schedule you and your vet have set up. Most of them probably now weigh about ten pounds

Vinlands Elisabeth with Her Ball

Vinlands Tully Lulu

Peek a Boo with Tully

By now your puppy should know its name and come to you when you call it. That "Come!" could save your puppy's life. If you ever have an issue with a command, let me know and I can give you a few training ideas. Of course there are many excellent dog training books on the market now. It's smart to choose one training method and stick to it.

As descendants of wolves, dogs are pre-programmed to follow their pack's alpha. They watch every move of the alpha dogs and learn from their behaviors. Your puppy will learn from watching you also. We've all had the experience of our dog 'knowing' when we are leaving to go to work or go to the park or to the vet's offices. They watch us carefully and by our dropped clues, know what's about to happen. They have a need to gain acceptance from the pack's leader. Your new puppy will try to seek your approbation because you are its alpha. Use that desire to please you to train your puppy.

I think your puppies should already know several commands like: - "Sit!", "Come!", "Down!", and "Stay!". While you are teaching verbal commands, also try your hand at hand signals. (What hand signal might you use for "Stay!"?) Sometimes your puppy/dog will be too far away to hear your voice or there might be too much noise to hear your voice. At the same time you use voice commands you should also use hand signals. A good stay could save your dog from rushing out into traffic and harming itself.

Do you have a bait bag now? I like the ones with Vecro openings because they are easy to close preventing the accidental release of treats if you bend over to pick something up while you're training. I like to use string cheese or low fat hot dog pieces as treats. The treat should be about the size of a small baby lima bean. Treats should not be kibble - too boring. They should not be crumbly because of the mess they will create. I like human food so I can store a few pieces in my mouth.

I train all of my dogs to look me in the face. It's an easy thing to do because puppies and dogs naturally watch other pack members (like you) for clues about what's about to happen. I'll put a few pieces of hot dog or string cheese in my mouth. (If you're uncomfortable doing that, hold the piece of food up near your mouth.) I use the phrase, "Watch Me!" to get them to look at my face. If the puppy does look at my face, I take the piece of food from inside my mouth (or near my mouth) and lower it to the puppy's face while continuing to say, "Watch Me!" and "Good Watch Me!". Your Icelandic will soon get the idea. Every time the puppy looks up at your face, say, "Good Watch Me!" and reward it immediately with a treat while saying the "Good Watch Me!"

Adorable Lizzie

It's very important to let your puppy know when it's exhibiting the correct behavior. If you tell your puppy to sit (TELL, not ask, not question, TELL), then as it sits, tell it that it has done a good job and done the right thing. Say, "Yes! Good Sit!". You are trying to teach it the word for a particular action. Repeat the word. Tell your pup that it's been good. Reward it instantly with praise and a treat. The reward must be immediate or the puppy will not connect the reward with the behavior. I like to use the word, "Yes!" as soon as it does the trick because it's fast, easy to say, and easy to hear. Try not simply to say, "Good!". Use the word for the behavior. "Good Sit!" "Good Down!", "Good Stay!", "Good Come!", "Good Watch Me!", etc.

When I use the "Yes!" word as part of my reward, I also nod my head slowly up and down for yes. Sometimes your puppy may be too far away to hear you or there may be a lot of ambient noise so they are unable to hear you. When it's pouring rain, if I send my dogs out for bathroom breaks, when they turn their head for my approbation, I say yes but I also nod my head. They know they are doing the right thing by going to the bathroom outside because of the head nod even if they cannot hear me. You will know your puppy is on the way to being house broken if it turns its head and looks at you when it pees or poops for your approval. Give it!!

Your puppy is currently too young to be considered completely housebroken. It may still have accidents. It should be on its way however. When your pup left here, it was beginning to be paper trained. Naturally an eight week old puppy is too young to be house broken but it's not too young to start the training. Puppies are pre-programmed NOT to mess their own den.

Lizzie Practicing Her Breed Ring Walk
Between training sessions, I keep my bait bag in the freezer so the food will always be fresh. Every time I go to the vet's, I take my bait bag. If you do the same, your puppy will soon love going to the vet's. While I'm there waiting, I run through the tricks, new ones and old ones for all of my dogs even thirteen year old Kata. I want their attention on ME not on the other dogs and people. It might seem like fun for your puppy to visit other dogs and people but there are some sick dogs at the vet's. Even if there are only healthy looking dogs when you get there, ill ones have been there recently and still may be in one of the exam rooms. Although some dogs may not look aggressive, they may actually be aggressive. I want my dogs to be focused on me as much as possible no matter where I am.

Say, "Ahhh!".
"My what big teeth you have!"

People often ask how many treats they should use and/or how often they should reward. For now because they are still learning "how" to learn,. use loads of treats, again small treats. Treat every time that your puppy does what you ask it to do. Later on as they get older and they are learning faster, you can reward every other trick or every third trick. However, ALWAYS use your praise words. Always say, "Good Sit!", etc.

Some people like to use clickers. I don't because you may not always have your clicker with you. However, you always have your voice for praise with you. If you really like clicking, and many people do, then you might try clicking using your tongue/mouth instead of the metal clicker. That works almost as well and you always have it. You don't have to carry one extra thing.

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