Tibetan Terriers are great little obedience dogs. Any one that already
owns a Tibetan Terrier can attest to the fact that they are extremely bright and
although they can be stubborn at times, if motivated correctly they can excel in the obedience ring. As a matter of fact, the number 5 dog in the World
Series of Obedience, held in Detroit in 2001 was a Tibetan Terrier.
Most people that have chosen to share their lives and homes with a Tibetan
aren't going to want to compete with their friend but they still want to have
their dog be a good, well mannered companion at home and have the basic knowledge to do that. Fear not. Tibetans can learn as much as you want
to teach them. The methods for teaching a Tibetan may differ from methods used for other dogs though.
When I trained my Sarah for obedience we started out with the old fashioned
method of using a choke chain collar with lots of corrections and her
working for praise alone. She, being the smart dog she was, learned all her commands but hated every minute of it. Her tail was down and she was
clearly not happy. My first time in a match with her she performed adequately enough for us to qualify, but the judge took me aside afterwards and
told me I would have to work on her attitude.
After that I began using positive motivation and rewards other than the old "she
needs to do this because she loves me" for correct behaviors. When
Sarah finished her CD (AKC Companion Dog Title) we heard the comment from a number of people that "she was so happy" and "what a great attitude
she has". I think I was as proud of her attitude as I was her achieving her CD title because it was a lot of work to undo the attitude we started with
and retrain her to think this was fun. And the work was not all on her part but also in my having to rethink the old ways of training and having to
come up with new ways that would make her truly enjoy obedience work. Doing obedience work happily and passionately is just not something you can fake.
Where to Start
Whether you've ever
trained a dog before or not, I would highly recommend starting out with a class.
Puppy kindergartens are a great place to
begin. It gives you someone to ask about all the things your dog is doing at home that you aren't sure are normal things for a puppy to do.
It also gets your puppy some beginning socialization which is critical in your puppies development. It also will give you some frame work for how
to train your dog. If timing or availability doesn't allow for a puppy kindergarten class, basic obedience classes are fine too. Puppy classes
usually take puppies from 8 weeks to 4 months. Basic obedience classes are for dogs at least 4 months old and up. There is no age limit for
admittance to a basic obedience class and the saying that you can't teach an old dog new tricks is not true so even if your dog is 6 years or up if
you decide to enroll your dog in a class you and your dog will benefit.
sign up for a class make sure you question the facility you choose on the method
and philosophy they use in dog training. This
isn't as hard as it may sound. Tibetans respond well to positive motivation. This is the kind of class you need to look for.
asking the question your still not sure what method they use, here are a few
additional questions you can ask to help you determine
Do you use choke collars for the puppies? Do you ever recommend a Gentle Leader collar in your class?
Is there a play time for the puppies at some point in the class? If yes, will my puppy have to play with large dogs too?
Do you use food or toys as rewards?
Do you ever use clickers? If not, what is your opinion of them?
The answers to
the questions should be along the lines of: Choke collars are not
appropriate for most puppies (and certainly not a
Tibetan puppy). They may recommend them for certain dogs in the basic classes. Some dogs that are real pullers on a regular collar
respond well to Gentle Leader collars and are appropriate to use and I prefer them to choke collars for regular use.
Puppies of a
more timid nature may not respond well to play time with larger breed puppies in
puppy class. There should be some play
time interaction in a puppy class but there should also be a way to separate larger and smaller puppies. I have Tibetans that even as pups
play well with bigger dogs but not all do and if forced to play may develop a fear of larger dogs that will carry over into their adult lives.
Positive motivation is based on motivating your dog to do what you want it to in
a positive manner. Luring your dog into a position or into
walking nicely beside you and then rewarding it with a food treat, a ball toss or a minute of play with a favorite toy are all forms of positive
training is a form of training that is one step beyond positive motivation and
if you are lucky enough to live somewhere near
someone teaching clicker training you are very lucky indeed. Take advantage of it!
Clicker Training Tutorial