Old English Sheepdogs are an intelligent breed and are pleasers by nature – though they also have a bit of the class clown in them. However, because they are a large breed dog – and they become big pretty quickly – good behavior training is important from the moment you pick up your puppy. Here are some of the training tips we learned across the years and recommend to you.
You Must be the Alpha Dog in the House.
Okay, we don’t mean that literally, but you’re the owner, the master, and the boss. On the other hand, your puppy believes otherwise. Until it’s clear “Who’s the mama” or “Who’s the papa” you can expect some pushback over the question of who’s boss. Here are a couple ways to assert your dominance in loving and effective ways.
A. Just in case you missed it in your biology class, your puppy doesn’t speak or understand English. Sure, ultimately they will learn some commands (sit, stay, down, off, leave-it, etc.), but they won’t understand what the word means … they simply associate the word with a behavior that you’re expecting. We know this may seem obvious to you, but we can’t count the number of times we see owners trying to convince their dogs to behave by talking to them using their best baby voice. “Oh Sparky, you know you shouldn’t jump up on Mr. Smyth. Get back on the floor where you belong, you naughty little dog.” And then the owner is somehow surprised that the puppy keeps licking Mr. Smyth’s gravy spattered tie while sitting on his lap at the dinner table. Until your puppy has learned what the basic commands are, your tone and volume of voice will need to do the communicating for you. If the command you’re going to use to keep your puppy from jumping up on people is “Off” (as opposed to down, which may be an invitation to lie down), then when Sparky jumps up on Mr. Smyth, your response should be LOUD, SWIFT, TERSE, and UNHAPPY – “OFF!” As you say the word, pull the puppy from your guest and make it sit or lay or go to its crate. Do NOT suddenly break into “Oh that’s a good boy, papa loves you,” in your most gentle and kind and encouraging voice. You are NOT happy with the puppy, and though the puppy will soon forget what you’re angry about, for the moments during and immediately after the incident maintain your sternness. After a few moments, release your puppy with whatever release command you’re going to use. We use “Okay!” spoken in an “all is forgiven” matter of fact tone of voice.
B. Brush your puppy at least every other day whether it needs it or not. The puppy should sit for most of this, but you’ll need it to stand to get the back legs. When the pup lies down, roll it over onto its back with its head in your lap – they’ll probably hate this at first – and make them stay that way until you’ve brushed their underside. Be sure to roll the puppy over every single time you brush – eventually it will learn to like it, but you will need to be consistent.
C. Make your puppy “give you a kiss.” In other words, lick you on the chin or thereabouts. Some puppies do this naturally, others you’ll need to teach. Blowing gently into the nose from a couple inches away sometimes elicits a kiss.
D. You give the food, you take it away. This one just sounds mean, but not only is it effective, it’s necessary. Dogs are territorial by nature and when they have their food (or their chew-toy) they are unlikely to give it up willingly. At first. We believe it’s unacceptable for a dog to growl, snarl, or nip at a human who approaches their food dish, crate, or toys. To ensure your child never gets snapped at when they wander too close to the food bowl, start the following practice immediately. When you feed your puppy, let them start eating and after a minute or so, take the food away. If they snarl or growl at you, see #1 for how to handle the “NO!” Wait for a few moments … around 10 seconds or so … and return the food bowl. Let them eat a bit and then repeat. Do the same with their favorite toys, bones, your ex-best shoes, and whatever, and in short order the puppy will understand that you can giveth and you can taketh away.
I never thought about it happening…. I always thought the risk of puppy scamming came from the sellers – those who were selling a dog they didn’t actually have but taking your money – or at least your deposit – instead.
Then we encountered “Sin Espinoza”. I think we learned something after our encounter with “Sin” who twice sent us bogus cashier checks for more than we were asking for the puppy … more so we could pay his “vet” when the vet came to pick the puppy up. We were able to have our bank check on the first check only because it was written by the same bank as ours; there were insufficient funds. Then there came the second cashier check, from a different bank, that we had to deposit with a hold … which then thoroughly thrust our personal bank account into a tizzy both before and after the check was found to be insufficient.
Then there was “Albert” who approached us with an interesting story … that contradicted itself in the second email we received from him. Again, he wanted to send us more than what we were asking, this time it was because he’s in the military and would need someone to retrieve the puppy for him.
Sigh. One thing we’ve learned for sure is that we cannot accept cashier checks for puppy deposits – or even full payment (nor will we ever receive more than full payment). From here on out we’ll have to accept only PayPal deposits and either a second PayPal payment or cash to complete the sale of a puppy.
So far, none of our puppies’ new mommy or daddies has complained. If you are reading this and anticipating adding a NanaDog to your family, please let us know if you need help with making a PayPal deposit. This is not only for our safety and that of our puppies, it’s for yours too. After all, we want you to know that we aren’t scammers and we stand behind our Agreement and Guarantee.
Alas, “Stripe”‘s new family has had some terrible turn of events and they are not able to receive him into their home. The last of his brothers went to his new home last week, so he’s been sleeping alone in his huge crate (although he’s done very well being by himself in there!). I took some more pictures today of him with Abbi and Aris and it brings home how absolutely adorable he is – and his personality is just as….
I also found some pictures of Aris when he was that age and the resemblance is remarkable – I almost thought it was “Stripe!” It seems that you can get a pretty good picture of what “Stripe” will look like in a few more months by looking at Aris as a puppy. Below you should find a picture of Aris as a puppy and then the pictures I took today of Abbi, Aris, and “Stripe” laying and playing on our bed this morning will I was packing for a trip out of town.
If you’re at all interested in helping “Stripe” find his new family, please see our Agreement and Health Guarantee on this site. kt-b
This past Saturday “Blackie” got to meet his new mommy and move to Chicago. It was tough to say good-bye but we know she’s spoiling him at least as much as we did (smile). I loved his name, Behr, from the moment she said that’s what she thought she was going to call him – and it was even more fun because our son’s girlfriend has said that’s what his name should be! I noticed a couple of days before meeting her that both Behr and “Stripe” (his new family hasn’t named him yet) have the “bear swagger” we see in some sheepdogs … just like their dad. If you haven’t seen the “swagger,” just watch an Old English Sheepdog and see if s/he might have it. You’ll know it when you see it … and it’s good for a smile or two.
We’re grateful for Behr’s new home and his mommy and extended family. Knowing what a good home he – and all the other NanaDogs have – makes it so much easier to say “good-bye.” It’s a privilege to get to be a surrogate mother for at least a few weeks.
The family for “Patch” did not follow through and he is once again in need of a good home. He is so loving, gentle, and “generous” that he’d make a great therapy dog. And judging by his interactions with our eight year old and two year old grandsons, he’s perfect for a home with children.
You may already know that sheepdogs are the perfect “watch dogs” (I love when they move in close to you, moving their side up against your leg, as though to warn you back from danger), and Patch has this little single-shout “alert” bark when someone comes through one of the doors. He also knows the commands “off,” “sit” and readily goes into his crate … ok, he goes into his crate unless he’s not done playing (smile). And, oh yes, he’s also crate-trained!
He’s had all of his shots to date and is ready to go to his new home. We’re praying for the “right” family to find him to be their “right” puppy. We’d keep him if we didn’t already have two of our own.
Someone mentioned on our Facebook yesterday that they hadn’t seen the puppies in a week and that they had grown sooooooo much. Indeed, I think “Blackie” may end up outweighing his dad (who’s 70-75 pounds), but then again his grandfather weighs 90!
A friend of ours from church, Laney Vanderveer of Images by Laney, came Thursday and took portraits of the puppies. I’ll be adding them momentarily. They get cuter and cuter every day.
And, oh! They now understand “off” and are getting better with “come” and “drop.” They even get in their crate by themselves … okay most of the time, except for when they would rather play than get a treat! – smile.