Sybil's owner shares how she trained her at home.
Sybil is very inquisitive, loves everything from people to animals and is a gentle soul who can be quite sensitive. It was relatively straightforward training her, particularly with the great incentive of Wagg treats!
We have had two flat coats before, so I know that they take a little longer (than other gun dog breeds) to train. “Lockdown” gave me the perfect opportunity and lots of time to spend training Sybil at home.
I found that using the Wagg training treats was perfect for basic training, and the sausage treats for “high reward” - coming back, rather than chasing a hare, for example.
I used a clicker to help train Sybil - the idea being that you “click & reward” when she shows “good behaviour”. The clicker has the same tone, unlike your voice so it is much more consistent when training a puppy. Another useful tip I learnt - when your dog is walking nicely by your side, remember to praise them. It is very easy to correct them but sometimes we forget to praise them, particularly when not “training” - just going for a walk.
The whistle must mean “high reward” for your dog. I got Sybil used to a whistle at home (I use ACME 211.5) and ONLY when something fantastic is about to happen - food time! You could use the whistle when you are about to go out for a walk - anything your dog loves so that they associate it with the whistle. Always reward lavishly when training to the whistle - you need your dog to love the whistle and want to come back to you. Perhaps save her very favourite treats for rewarding to the whistle - Sybil's are the peanut butter and banana cookie treats.
Hide and Seek
A great game to play and Sybil loves it! When you are walking (in a safe area where there are lots of trees) and your dog looks the other way - HIDE. Hopefully your dog will look up, panic, and then rush about trying to find you - high reward Wagg treat when she does. If your dog doesn’t realise that you have hidden, you can call or whistle from behind the tree. Experiment - it’s great fun!
Tips and tricks for beginners
Getting Sybil to Sit
I got Sybil used to following my hand (&. Clicker) rather than my voice initially. When Sybil would sit I would hold up my hand “Mr Policeman” stylie. This meant that from a distance, Sybil would know, if I held up my hand - she should sit. Ultimately you go from “click & reward”, “hand” “voice” (SSSST) to “whistle” - all training done, using Wagg treats.Potty training
I used a nickel-plated lightweight falconry bell - very useful! Every time she woke up, I could hear the bell so I knew to take her straight out to the garden. When out in the garden and your puppy goes for a wee you should put a name to it “wee wees” or “hurry up” etc. The good thing about this is that when you really need them to hurry up and go to the loo, all you have to do is say “wee wees” and they will know what it means!
Cage (crate) training
I used a cage for Sybil so that she had a “safe place” to go to. Never use the cage as a punishment. Your dog should always want to go to her cage - you can use treats to help get used to it. I fed Sybil in her cage so that she associated it with good things. I would get a handful of her Harringtons kibbles - throw one into the cage, she would then come out, have to sit before I would throw the next one. She soon got the hang of it! At the end, I would leave a little pile of kibbles inside her cage.
I use a Fabric portable car carrier - not too heavy, collapse down and they often have pockets on the top to keep bits and bobs. if you go to see a friend, then your puppy will always have a “safe place” to go to if you need to calm a situation.
Sybil wasn’t sure about water so I started with a paddling pool in the garden. At first, she would only put her front two paws in, then she would try and leap over the whole paddling pool which was very amusing! However, with a little help from my two dachshunds Ernest and Lettie, showing her the way and that it wasn’t too scary we got her in. The next step was to get her to sit in the water - this took a little longer (patience needed with a flatcoat) - she would only sit on the edge of the pool but using her Wagg training treats she eventually learnt to love the water. Now, I struggle to keep her out (always carry a towel in the car)!