Dogs are Social Learners
Allelomimetic behavior is an instinctual inclination hardwired in animals to follow and mimic others in their social group. This tendency is useful when you’re training puppies because they are genetically programmed to copy behaviors of older dogs in their pack, including humans. It becomes useful when introducing puppies to potentially scary objects or situations, when teaching a pup new tricks such as sit and down, and when training a recall. If you have a reliable older dog, use them to your advantage! Let them help train the new kid!
Danner and Dean demonstrate this in the video below. Danner loves the vacuum cleaner and actually wants to be vacuumed himself. This comes in handy because it helps me get some of the hair off of him before he sheds it all over my house. Since it’s a convenient thing for me, and Danner loves it, I want all my dogs to enjoy this activity. Even if you don’t want to vacuum your dog, they don’t need to be afraid and anxious when you vacuum the house, so socialization to the vacuum is essential.
Puppies will not only copy other dogs in their “pack” but also the humans. If your puppy is distracted by something or running away in a direction they shouldn’t go, just grab one of their toys and run the opposite direction while talking to them in a pumped up, excited voice. The puppy won’t want to miss out and will run after you. If you don’t have a toy, just run and look like you’re having a blast. If you can grab a stick, grab one and run while tossing it around. There are a lot of options that can distract your pup and entice them to follow you! Be sure not to say the word you will use for recall until they are actually in the middle of running to you. If you say the word when they’re distracted or still running the other direction they will learn to associate “here” or “come” with running away from you. When you have the pup’s attention and they’re chasing after you, say “here” or whatever word you choose for recall, then reward them graciously when they get to you.
These are just a few examples of how you can take advantage of the social learning tendencies of dogs. Don’t stop there. Be creative! There are tons of things you can do with your new pup that include your old friends, and they’ll be doing a lot of the training for you!