Selection & Basic Obedience
I have no esoteric method picking a Cardi puppy for obedience. I know that many people use devices for this or that, yet I maintain that I have not known very many Cardis who could not get a CD. There is a key to Obedience that many people fail to use, and that is why they either give up or fail to do Obedience - that key is PATIENCE. Without patience in working the dog for either breed or obedience, you and your dog will never become a working team. Praising your dog is my second key to training.
You can start basic training when the puppy is about three to four months old, remembering that sheer love can accomplish more than endless wasted training time saying "No!" and "Don't do that!" Teething is a very stressful time for puppies, and should be taken into consideration. If you gain your dog's confidence, s/he will be much easier to train. Your voice is of prime importance. A dog does understand the difference in sound and voice. S/he knows when you mean it. If you limit your commands to a few short words, your dog will learn much faster. Training is no easier on the dog than the trainer. Puppies should not have more than five to ten minutes training at a time. Your patience will usually run out by then anyway.
After the puppy has learned his name, the command "come" is easy. You call his name and "come" and the puppy runs to you. In obedience having your dog on the left side of you, and having the dog walk with you is called "heeling", after a while when your left foot moves so will the dog. The "sit" command is taught by having your dog on the left side, holding the lead short, and saying "sit", as you do so pull up slightly on the lead and push down on the dog's rear with your left hand. This takes a few sessions to learn. After learning to sit you can now teach your dog to "down". With your dog in the sit position at your left side, put your left hand on the training collar under the dog's throat and pull the collar toward the floor. Simultaneously with your right hand sweeping downwards, palm down, give the command, "down". Give this signal in front of your dog's face and not over his head. Over the head can make the dog handshy and very uneasy for life. Saying "stay" with your dog in the sit position, or down, or stand and never using the dog's name will begin to teach him the stay. When you use your dog's name he will react to it. If the dog bolts, return him to the sit (or stand or down) position and repeat the command. This is where patience is of prime importance. If you want to use a hand signal, place your right hand in front of the dog's nose with the palm facing him. Give the command at the same time. In using your hand, be sure that your hand is not moving but steady in front of the dog. This will help to ensure that the dog does not see this as a threat. Cardigans are fast at learning, and praise always helps them to learn that they are pleasing you.
All of this is just basic obedience training. If you are interested in doing this with your Cardi then go to a training class. First go and see how they operate, and then take your dog if you like what you saw. No physical force should be necessary for a Cardigan. I have been training Cardigans since 1952. In our obedience school we have trained 143,000 dogs of various breeds since 1955. My method does work if the owners are patient and willing. All dogs want to have training and to please their owners. Obedience Regulations are available from your Kennel Club.
Published in the CWCCA 1990 Handbook and reproduced with the kind permission of the author.