Pets Puppies are best pupils
Wonderdogs trainer offers up her tips for raising top dogs
YOU can teach an old dog new tricks, but vet and TV presenter Dr Katrina Warren says it’s a lot easier if you start lessons early. “Don’t wait,” she says. “If it’s a puppy, get to it as soon as you bring it home.
“Positive reinforcement with treats or toys when they’re young can make a world of difference when they’re older and it will help avoid a lot of embarrassment when you go out with your dog.”
Dr Warren and her team of six chocolate brown border collies, known as the Wonderdogs, have been travelling the country showing off their fancy tricks and encouraging pet owners to give training a go.
“We have the dogs hugging, which is a crowd favourite, riding skateboards and generally having fun; people are usually most surprised about how well-behaved they are,” she says.
Dr Warren says all dogs can pick up skills although working dogs are far more receptive to commands and training.
“If you have a dog like an afghan, they won’t pay attention to you – it’s in their nature. People call this stubborn, but it’s how they’ve been bred,” she says.
“So many other dogs see training as bonding time, so it’s rewarding for them.”
Dr Warren’s tips for training your dog are simple.
First, she says, avoid distractions in those first few weeks, start in the house or a quiet backyard and move to a dog park when you are ready.
You should also only teach one skill at a time as your pet might get confused.
“You can’t have your dog learning to sit and ride a skateboard in the same day, you need to work towards that,” she says.
Katrina Warren cuddles her Wonderdogs. Picture: Peter Kelly