Providing some basic training for your Otterhound will make him a safer and happier pet and a more welcome member of your family. Participating in a local obedience class can be a rewarding experience for both you and your new puppy or adult companion. Local dog clubs, veterinarians, pet supply stores and local newspapers may have information about classes available in your area. Whether you choose to go to a class, or proceed on your own at home, a few basic commands will help your pet become a socially acceptable member of your family. Otterhounds do not respond well to harsh training. They need an encouraging and rewarding atmosphere.
Rather than allowing your Otterhound to develop bad habits, basic training should begin as soon as possible after you bring your pet home. Both young puppies and more mature adults can begin to learn the basics. Patience, persistence and practical knowledge will aid you in training your Otterhound. Training times should be short - no more than five or ten minutes. It is important that you and your dog enjoy the experience.
Rewards and Praise
Enthusiastic praise for a correct behavior is a big key to successfully training your hound. Food rewards are helpful but remember that your Otterhound is a scent hound and will know when you have a treat available and when you don’t! If the only purpose of doing an exercise correctly is to receive a treat, when a treat isn’t available, your Otterhound may choose to hold out. Use both praise and food rewards.
For your puppy’s safety, “No” should be the first word you teach. “No” is your puppy’s signal to stop whatever it is doing immediately.
A lightweight clip on collar is the best choice to start your puppy’s early leash training. Let your puppy get used to the feel of the collar and when he is accustomed to it, clip a leash on and encourage him to follow you. Try a few steps at a time, gradually lengthen the distance. Praise your puppy when he follows, and give him encouragement. The earlier you start, the earlier he will learn this lesson.
Leather or Nylon Buckle or Clip Collars
For puppies and most adults, a leather buckle or nylon clip on collar works well. It is important to adjust the collar correctly so the puppy cannot back out of the collar and pull away from you, running loose without a lead. The picture on the left shows a properly adjusted collar.
Harnesses and Head Halters
While harnesses are becoming popular, they do not give you very much control. The Otterhound is a strong dog. It is best to leash train your dog with a buckle collar, and then with a slip or choke collar (if you have experience with a choke collar). Control is very important for the safety of you and your dog.
There are several head collars on the market today and various disagreements regarding their usage. If you choose to use one, make sure it is of the type that buckles around the neck and acts as a collar should the dog remove his nose from the ‘muzzle’ portion.
Choke collars must ALWAYS be removed when not in use. There is a danger of strangling should the collar get caught on an object. It is best not to use a choke collar on young puppies. A sharp correction can injure their throats.
To place a choke collar on your dog, follow the illustrations. The leash should attach to the live ring, shown on the left. When you give a soft pull on the leash, the live ring will move up toward you, and the dead ring, shown on the left, will tighten. When you lower the lead, the (dead) ring will release. If the collar is on backwards, the dead ring will not release.
Choosing an appropriate training class
Remember to choose a class that you are comfortable with. There are many ways to train your dog. You need to find what will work for you and your Otterhound.
These puppies respond well to praise.
Novice or Beginning Obedience
Puppy Kindergarten is a class which is designed to give basic training for young puppies. Kindergarten will provide a great venue to socialize your puppy and assist you in teaching you puppy basic commands like come, sit and down. Your trainers at Kindergarten will be able to help solve any problems you may be having at home.
Classes are designed for adult dogs and puppies over 6 months of age. Beginning obedience commands include heel, stand, sit, down, stay and come. This class provides your dog with the opportunity to learn skills which will help him to behave well in public, as well as at home. If you have an interest in participating in organized obedience trials, these classes provide a good beginning. Should you then decide to move to more formal obedience training to ready yourselves for obedience competition, you and your dog will be well-prepared.
This Otterhound is ready to begin his training session.
As in all training, there are several ways to do particular exercises. We’ve included two ways here for you to consider.
Have your puppy on lead, and give him the sit command. Press lightly down on the hindquarters. You may need to bring his head gently back and nose up while pressing on his hindquarters. When he sits, praise him enthusiastically.
A second or two of good behavior is a good start. Gradually increase the time. If your Otterhound breaks from the sit, place him back to the sit position and repeat the sit command. When the exercise is finished, your Otterhound may leave the sit position. If you plan to do any formal obedience, use a release command to tell him it’s okay to move from the sit. “Okay” is one example.
Another way is to hold a small treat above your puppy’s nose. Lift the treat up and back. Puppies will often sit to reach for the treat.
Begin with your dog standing next to you on lead.
Press lightly down on the hindquarters, and bring head back and nose up.
When the exercise is finished, give a release command and praise lavishly.
After your Otterhound has a dependable understanding of the “Sit” command, you can begin to teach your hound to “Stay.”
Start with your dog on its leash, give the “sit” command and follow that closely with “Stay”. While you give the “Stay” command, place your right palm toward the nose of the dog. Step directly in front and facing your dog, standing toe to toe. If your dog tries to leave his position, correct the behavior by quickly returning him to his sit position, and again give the “Stay” command. When he has stayed in place, step back beside your dog and give him his release command. Reward him with praise for a job well done!
Begin with just a few seconds and gradually lengthen the time your dog stays, as well as your distance from him. Over time, your dog will learn to stay, even when you are many steps away. Don’t try too much, too soon.
Begin the exercise with your dog on lead, give the sit command.
Follow the sit command closely with ‘Stay’, palm toward the pup’s nose.
Step in front, facing your dog. Return to your dog, release from sit and praise.
Over time, gradually increase the distance from your dog during the sit stay.
Before you teach your puppy to ‘Come!’, he first needs to learn his name. This is one of the most important commands you can teach your puppy. If your puppy sneaks out the door without his leash, you may save his life if he knows the ‘Come” command.
All training exercises should be taught with your puppy on a leash and collar. When teaching your puppy to come, call his name, followed by "Come"! The tone of your voice should be both pleasant and loud enough to hear, not threatening. Do this in a small area where you have your puppy’s undivided attention. Reward him with lavish praise and enthusiasm. Over time, gradually increase the distance your puppy comes to you. Keep your puppy on lead while you do this so you can encourage his progress toward you if need be.
Don’t use the “Come” command to call your Otterhound to discipline a mistake in behavior, such as a housebreaking or chewing incident. If he comes to you and gets in trouble for it, he won’t want to come to you.
Start your pup in a sit, stay.
Step away from your pup.
Call his name, say ‘come!’, step back, encourage him to come to you.
Your pup should sit in front of you. Praise him lavishly.
Your Otterhound should walk properly on a lead. Your walks will be much more enjoyable when you go for a walk, rather than for a “drag”. When you are in a congested area, near doors or stairs, it is much safer for both you and your dog if he heels properly on the lead.
With a puppy, use a clip on or buckle collar. Begin with your dog in the sit position. Call your dog’s name followed by the word ‘Heel.’ Your dog should walk on your left side, with the leash in your left hand, and the excess leash folded into your right hand. A quick short tug on the lead will help keep your dog in the correct position. You must not maintain a steady pull. To do so will choke your dog. Discourage your dog from sniffing the ground with a slight tug on lead and the words, “no sniff”. Use your voice to encourage your dog. When you stop, require your dog to sit. Praise him well.
Begin the exercise with your dog in the sit position on your left.
Call your dog’s name, followed by ‘heel’ and step forward.
Continue walking with your dog at a normal speed.
When you stop, require the dog to sit.
If you are uncomfortable teaching your dog to heel, or if you feel you need to use a choke collar for control, find a training class to learn the correct method.