Welcome to week 1 of the Training Challenge! In this blog, you will learn all the ins and outs on teaching your dachshund to wait on command.
Who is ready to start having some fun? You might think that the first thing we would be learning is the “sit” command, but we will actually start with a trick to help to teach your dachshund to focus on you instead of other distractions around them. After all, if you cannot get them to focus, you will not be teaching them much else!
The first thing we will be learning is the food refusal. Not only does this teach your dachshund to focus on you, but it also teaches them that not every piece of food that falls on the floor is theirs for the taking. Imagine if grapes or chocolate fell on the floor. You would not want you dachshund scooping them up and potentially causing themselves harm. The food refusal has great day to day practicality as well.
You want to start with you dachshund sitting (if possible) in what we call “heel position”. This is on the left hand side of you, beside your foot. Not ahead, not behind. You will want to have your leash attached to your dachshund and in hand and be prepared that they will attempt to go for the treat when you put it down. Therefore you don’t want too much slack in the line, but remember you don’t want a tense line either. Keep just enough slack so that your doxie does not feel tension.
Once you are ready you can drop a treat in front of your dachshund. I would suggest tossing the treat a few feet away at first. Remember you want to give them every opportunity to succeed! Your dachshund is likely going to try and go for the treat. This is normal! Your leash will probably tense up as your dachshund tries to get the treat. Remember to only ever apply one second of tension. Do not let them move closer to the treat but keep applying and removing the tension in your leash.
What you are looking for in this exercise is EYE CONTACT from your dachshund. Not chin contact, not knee contact, it must very specifically be eye contact. Doxies are smart and if you train them that looking in your general direction is good enough, they will be so accustomed to this that they will never give you eye contact. Once you get this eye contact you are immediately going to use a release word to let your doxie know it is okay to go and retrieve the treat. My release word is “Okay!”. I always use a happy and consistent tone when I use my release word.
So, ideally the food refusal goes something like this. Your dachshund is sitting in heel position, you toss a treat a few feet away, they look up and give you eye contact, you say “Okay!” and they go a retrieve the treat. Simple right? There is just one problem. The stubborn little guy/girl is not looking anywhere near you! So what can you do to get their eye contact?
There are several things you can do! You can make kissing noises, tickle their ears, or use a toy or another treat to trace a “scent trail” from your doxie’s nose up to your eyes. For the super stubborn ones, the treat scent trail is probably going to be your best bet.
This will probably test your patience, especially if you have a stubborn dachshund. Do not give up! Do not get emotional or frustrated! This is YOUR first test in learning to control your emotions while training and it is a good one. Even if you have to trace a scent trail 20 times before they give you that eye contact, do not give up! They learn quick and it will not take as many tries the next time. If you have 10 minutes to spare a day, you can very easily practice this 10-15 times a day for the next week with your dachshund. (That is my challenge to you all!)
Does your dachshund have this exercise mastered? How can you spice it up? You can start by having them hold the eye contact for 1 second, then 3 seconds before you give your release word. They have got that mastered too? Start throwing in fake release words. It can be anything! Monkey, chocolate, pickles, any random word that pops into your head.
Dinner time is a fantastic time to practice this and also ensures you will be practicing every day. I always have Flash wait for his release word before feeding him breakfast or dinner. It keeps him practicing and keeps him sharp. It also keeps him from climbing all over me in excitement.
Until you are 100% confident your dachshund is not going to go after the food when you toss it, do not practice this exercise without a leash. Every time you let them get their treat without giving you eye contact is just another time they say “well hey, I don’t REALLY have to give mom/dad eye contact all the time, sometimes I can just sneak off and get the treat”. And believe me they will learn that quickly too. Training is about consistency, so you must be 100% consistent that no eye contact, means no treat and no release word!
This is one of my favourite exercises and makes for a great party trick too, but above all teaches you dachshund the crucial focus they need to complete the rest of their training. So go out and get practicing and don’t forget to use the tag #DUTrainingChallenge so we can see your progress! Those who complete the challenge are also eligible for several prizes at the end of it all. Do not forget we are here to help with any problems or issues that may arise so feel free to email email@example.com and we can answer any questions or concerns you may have. Happy training!