One thing I’ve learned, being a child of the Internet age, is that you do not need to hire people, or have years of experience to learn new skills, or how to do certain tasks.
With YouTube Videos, eHow Guides, Yahoo! Answers, Blogs (like this one), and Forums, it’s very rare that I have come across a problem that I wasn’t able to research and figure out/learn to do on my own.
A couple days ago, our family adopted an 8 month old Black Labrador Retriever (Black Lab) who we’ve named “Josie.” Why Josie? Well, we have 2 cats and my wife thinks it’s absolutely histerical that we now have “Josie and the Pussycats.” Har har. I digress…
I have never trained a dog before. I have had dogs all my life, but I was never the one directly responsible for their training. With the resources available online, I have been learning different techniques for teaching dogs various tricks, and basic obedience.
Having had dogs, I’m convinced that these furry friends not only make great pets for companionship, but they can be an excellent tool for survival, preparedness and homesteading. I could list the reasons here, but it likely won’t be anything you don’t already know, so it would make for a pretty boring read.
Instead I hope to turn this in to a series of posts about our progress training Josie (and learning to be good trainers ourselves) in hopes that some of our lessons learned can help you with your own endeavors.
As it stands right now, Josie must have already had some good initial obedience training. She responds well to “no,” fetches like a champ, and knows the following commands:
- Lay Down
- Drop it
- Go get your toy
Josie is a puller while on the leash, and by puller, I mean she is a freaking ox! I have rope burns on my arm from her leash. So not only do I have the immediate goal of breaking her of that, I’d like to teach her the following commands:
- Leave it (leave it alone)
- Place (go where I’m pointing)
Play dead, and roll over are cute, but I’m not trying to show off all the cool tricks my dog can do, I just want her to be obedient, and have control over her actions, so I likely won’t be putting much effort into teaching her those tricks.
Once I have the four commands above going smoothly, I hope to teach her to forage for small game, but ONLY when told to do so.If I were more of a bird hunter, I would work with her on retrieving downed birds, but I’m not. If you are, these dogs are called “retrievers” for a reason! I also look forward to getting her used to some sort of doggy saddle-bags to use as her own doggy bug-out bag
So with my YouTube degree in hand, here are the tools I’ve purchased to try with Josie, (images link to products on Amazon for you to investigate for yourself):
- Dog Training Clicker
- Treat Bag — I got sick of little bits of treat left in my pocket, and my pants smelling like it. Plus it is easier to retrieve a treat quickly.
- 15 foot leader — This helps me train her to come back to me, and allows me to tie her up to a tree, without giving her only a couple feet of leeway.
- I was worried about her pulling out of her collar, so I also got her a step-in body harness. Not this brand, but similar to the one below:
I’ve watched many videos, read many articles, and even asked for the opinions of the Survivehive followers on Facebook. The best luck I’ve had so far is following the techniques used by Zak George on YouTube. I have to say as a matter of personal opinion “Dog Training Revolution” is a bit over the top, I mean really? Revolution? But regardless, I’ve found that his techniques seem to work the best in my experience.
Here is the video I am following most closely and starting to see some improvement from Josie already:
Now I have no affiliation with the guy, nor am I an expert, so don’t mistake this as some sort of endorsement. I am just a guy telling you what I’ve found that appears to be working for me.
Stick around, and keep an eye out for future posts in this series where I’ll document Josie’s progress learning to be my survival partner, and my progress learning to be a dog trainer. If you want to be sure not to miss the next post, sign up for our newsletter in the orange box on the right. I only send emails out once every two weeks or so, and you can unsubscribe easily at any time.
Thanks for reading, I hope this get’s you thinking about how you can better prepare your dog for disaster through better training. If you have any advice or insight, let me know in the comments below!