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The Case of the Naughty PuP
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Mon Mar 22 2010, 09:39PM

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Joined: Sun Feb 28 2010, 10:31PM
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Net Vet Newsletter 5

The Case of the 'Naughty' Pup

Mrs Botha, a 60-year-old widow had been given a puppy by her son in the hope that the pup would cheer her up after the sudden death of her husband. They’d been married for about 40 years and she was still battling to come to terms with her loss. She brought the pup in to see me for his first shots and advice on training.

Her son had christened the pup Buster. He was a brindle mongrel of indeterminate parentage. I could see that his mother might have dreamt of a Labrador, but as for the rest, it was purely guesswork. He had a long curly tail and the Labrador’s dark eyes and yellow colouring, but the moustache and beard could have come from a dozen breeds.

Buster was eight weeks old and very friendly. He tried to jump up and lick my face when I lifted him onto my examination table. At the same time he urinated copiously and continuously. I had to move out of the way very quickly to avoid having urine all over my clothes. He kept up this behaviour throughout my examination. I could see that Mrs Botha was in for a hard time with this pup. I knew her as quite a determined lady who would follow my instructions to the letter, so I was fairly confident that this over-active puppy could be trained. I thought that this would certainly keep her very busy and perhaps ease the pain of her recent loss.

I gave Buster his shots and he yelped a bit but soon settled down and tried to cover my face with his licking tongue again.

The first thing I did was to find a colourful nylon collar and matching lead from our stock in the front shop and fitted the collar around Buster’s neck. He immediately started scratching at the collar, but I reassured Mrs Botha that he would soon get used to it. I then gave her exact instructions on how to train the pup.

She said, “But Doc, I was told that you couldn’t train a pup until he was about six months old!”

I said, “Do you really want Buster to pick up even more bad habits before you start training him? I started training Amber when she was eight weeks old, and within a month she could ‘sit’ ‘stay’ and walk on a lead!”

“I’m going to prescribe an appropriate food for Buster. Feed him three times a day. Use the time before every meal to do some training, using the food as a reward. I’m going to give you written instructions so you can follow them to the letter”.

My Instructions

1.For the first few days, simply get your pup used to the lead. Show the lead to him, and clip it on the collar, but don’t pull on it at all! Immediately after you’ve clipped it on, give him his food and praise him.

2.He will start getting really excited when he sees the lead because he will come to realise that every time the lead gets clipped on he will get his food.

3.Now gently lift the lead up to keep the pup’s head high and push gently on his rump saying “sit” in a firm voice. As soon as he sits, reward him with his food. After a few days he will sit on command expecting to be ‘paid’ with food.

4.The next lesson is the ‘stay’ command. For this, you get the pup to sit first, but don’t reward him with food. With the lead held taut above his head with your left hand, place your open right hand right in front of his face, keep the lead taut and move slowly backwards, saying in a firm voice, “stay!” In the beginning he will try to come to you. Don’t scold or punish him, simply pick him up and place him back in the same spot. As soon as he ‘stays’ for more than a few seconds, go back to him, praise him and give him his food.

Mrs Botha followed my instructions, but three weeks later when she came in for Buster’s second inoculation, there wasn’t much improvement. He would sit for a few seconds on her command and would even stay in one spot for a few seconds on the ‘stay’ command, but the excitement of the new sights and smells in my surgery was too much for him. As soon as he saw me, he bounded up to me, jumped up and urinated all over my trouser leg. Mrs Botha was mortified. I assured her that this happened to me quite frequently.

I could see that this was a challenging situation that called for specialised training. I told her she needed to use an additional set of training instructions using a child’s clicker toy to replace the inappropriate behaviour with a totally new set of acceptable behaviours.

The remarkable success of this method is undeniable. With this method virtually any animal can be trained. If you are interested to learn more, please click here


An untrained large breed adult dog can be a very dangerous animal. It often happens that I have to put a perfectly healthy dog ‘to sleep’ because it has bitten a child or is uncontrollable. In most cases the story could’ve had a totally different and happy ending. If the owners had bothered to ask for advice on how to train their dogs, this would never be necessary.

Since the advent of clicker training, magical results have been achieved.

[ Edited Mon Mar 22 2010, 09:41PM ]
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