Merlin was found roaming loose around the city, wearing a collar but without a microchip. Nobody came forward to claim him, so he was adopted by a wonderful family in the area. This couple had an older silver lab who was able to help Merlin get acclimated with his new home. Their older dog, Senna, had been through training, so they decided to do the same with Merlin. This couple was also planning on having kids in the near future. It’s much easier to walk the dog with a stroller if they aren’t trying to drag you down the street!
All dogs benefit from training, but it is especially important for certain breeds. Society has a strong bias against pit bull dogs, even when they are as friendly as Merlin. Making Merlin into a model citizen, with an impressive level of training, has made him a perfect ambassador for his breed. One of the things that made this process go great with Merlin is that his food drive is off the charts!
All dogs need motivation in obedience. That could come from praise, from food, or from toys. I even have a dog who gets reinforced by getting to play with the hose! Merlin happily worked for his meals, and we were able to give him tons of food rewards without having to worry about his waistline. If possible, we would always rather see a dog work for their kibble than for unhealthy treats. You can see how much Merlin enjoys his work and his rewards!
Once we taught Merlin a communication system, we were able to start adding distractions. We start with a familiar area, and new distractions. Once the dog masters that environment, we start to take things on the road. Distractions in a public environment are always more unpredictable, so we want the dog to be prepared before we start taking them places. Merlin’s great temperament and food drive made this an easy transition for him.
The last stage of Merlin’s training was to start incorporating his owners. It does me no good if the dog listens to me, but them doesn’t work well with their owner. We always do at least 3 lessons with each board and train dog. Merlin did one lesson with his people at my facility, one in public, and one back at their house. He did very well for his lessons, and has shown lots of people that a pit bull can be a perfectly mannered canine citizen.
Way to go, Merlin!