Do you want some simple dog training tips that you can try at home? Well, you’ve come to the right place!
Welcome to part two of our three-part interview with dog trainer Sophie Dunne and her sweet Shih Tzu cross Archie.
The pair from the @bigboyarchie_ Instagram account are here to share some dog training secrets with you.
Sophie is on a mission with Archie to help canine parents with dog training tips and natural dog health advice.
And more than 12,000 followers on Instagram have joined them on their journey.
Sophie has spent the last 8 years honing her dog training skills and has now launched a new website and YouTube channel to help dog owners everywhere access dog training and health tips.
Her hope is that giving people access to correct training techniques will save dogs with behavioural issues from being abandoned or put to sleep.
Last week we heard all about Archie’s puppy behavioural problems and how Sophie tackled them.
This week, Sophie breaks down the different types of dog training, and shares with us a few simple tricks you can try at home.
*Please note images of Archie and Sophie are not mine, but are kindly shared by and copyright of @bigboyarchie_ 2020.
Dog training tips
Q) What are the different types of dog training?
I could write an essay on this! Keeping it concise, I would say there are two main sides of dog training: positive and balanced. However, bear in mind there are also more types, which each encompass slightly different ideas. Most trainers will use what they consider the best of each to form their own training.
Positive trainers try to be as ‘force free’ as possible, and use positive reinforcement. This means using treats and reinforcing the behaviours you do like.
Balanced trainers are balanced in their ideas, typically using positive reinforcement, positive punishment, negative punishment and negative reinforcement, but not in a complete balance – some may use 90% positive reinforcement.
Q) What are your top 5 home dog training tips for readers with nervous dogs or dogs who have behavioural problems?
I would focus on confidence building and relationship building. These are the easiest for someone to do at home, and the things that will make the most difference.
It always helps to target the root cause of the problem – so this is a general guide and individual dogs are different.
1. Get your dog to focus and check in on you more.
Start to teach them eye contact/focus in a no distraction environment and begin to build up, so they are focusing on you much more wherever you are. This can really help with many dogs, including those with reactivity issues.
2. Try to boost your dog’s confidence.
Start with getting your dog to stand on new surfaces or objects. This can be in or outside of the home; just make sure to take it at your dog’s pace.
3. Add more structure into your dog’s day.
This doesn’t mean adding routine, it just means making sure that your dog has boundaries that they are aware of. And be consistent with them. For dogs with behavioural issues that come from a lack of boundaries, I recommend making sure they are not allowed on your bed at any time.
4. Hand feed your dog.
By doing this with your dog’s meals, you give yourself an extra training opportunity throughout the day (which is especially good for dogs on a diet) and you also boost your relationship. Dogs actually enjoy working for their food, and a lot of people are surprised at this. Hand feed your dog’s meal as if it was a training treat.
5. Get your dog to look at you before they get environmental rewards throughout the day.
For example, get them to look at you before they get their food, before they are let off the lead, or before you let them out into the garden. This has a very big impact on your relationship and, therefore, behaviour.
Top tips for nervous dogs on photoshoots
As a Frankfurt dog photographer, I always advise dog parents about easy ways to keep their canines calm during a dog photoshoot.
Safety and security for both the dog and its owner are paramount to me on a shoot. Sophie very kindly shared some helpful advice about this too.
Q) What tips would you give an owner with a nervous dog who wants to take part in a dog photoshoot?
- Make sure your dog is comfortable at all times, and don’t push them.
- Take it at their pace.
- Have plenty of treats on hand and get them used to the photographer and camera beforehand (this could involve having a stroll with the photographer and getting the dog used to them before the shoot, rather than them immediately petting the dog).
- If your dog is nervous around cameras/equipment, avoid close-ups.
- Make sure you take your dog to a neutral environment that they feel most comfortable in.
Channelling dog training advice
After years of training, Sophie is sharing her knowledge with other dog owners on her own website and YouTube channel.
Q) What was the inspiration behind the website and YouTube channel?
I really just want to help as many people as possible! I’m aiming to create a large resource with as much natural dog health and dog training and behaviour information as I can.
It’s a one-stop-shop – I would have found something like this very helpful when I first got Archie, and I know a lot of other people will find it invaluable too.
We want to help more people and their dogs live happy lives together. Good information could stop a dog from being abandoned, or worse, being put down.
Q) You’ve also launched your own training courses and challenges – who would benefit from these?
I’ve just begun offering courses, guides and challenges. I’m releasing a course later this month that will really help people with nervous dogs. I’ll give your readers a hint… it’s got something to do with a UK event held in November!
At this time we offer two courses and one challenge.
Our 7-Day Confidence Booster Challenge has been extremely popular and is aimed at any dog, especially nervous dogs – this is a solid training base for owners.
Our Natural Flea, Tick & Worm Prevention and Removal Course is fantastic for anyone who wants to prevent parasites naturally, or protect their dog between vet medications.
We also have an Elimination Diet Guide with symptom tracker, which is perfect for anyone who has a dog with mysterious digestive issues, allergies or even symptoms such as itchy skin.
And it’s not just dog training tips that Sophie specialises in – she also advocates healthy eating for dogs via a raw diet. More details on that to follow.
NEXT WEEK: Don’t miss Sophie’s invaluable advice about why choosing the right diet is so important for your dog.
You might also like last week’s blog, in which we learned all about Sophie and Archie’s training journey.
If Sophie and Archie have inspired you, and you’d love to learn more, you can also follow Archie’s progress on their Instagram page.
Autumn dog photo sessions
Now is the perfect time of year to book the paw-fect dog photoshoot. I’m offering autumn dog photo sessions for people in the Frankfurt area throughout October.
Take advantage of the fabulous foliage and autumn light in the beautiful surroundings of Bad Homburg’s Kurpark. A 45-minute session costs just €60.
I can’t wait to meet you and your dog!