Hi! My name is Nicole Ellis, I’m a celebrity dog trainer CPDT-KA in Los Angeles, CA. I have worked with everything from bears to tigers and now just focus on the pups. My dog Maggie is a Bichon-Poodle from a city shelter in LA. She does production work ranging from tv ads to a John Grisham movie.
We do everything together she skateboards, rides horses, enjoys motorcycle rides and loves going hiking. We volunteer at our local hospitals visiting kids and giving out high-5’s and we are now getting involved in doing scent work trials. And lastly, we just added a new puppy, Rossi, to our family less than a month ago, Maggie is absolutely in love with him. We aren’t sure yet what he will focus on yet… production work, therapy work, hiking adventures or something new entirely but I’m sure he will let us know what he enjoys most, and we can take it from there.
The pups and I are teaming up with Ziwi to share some training tips each month, from our favorite behaviors to how we teach them. And of course, I feed and use Ziwi for both Maggie and Rossi you can see a video about my adventure in finding the right food for them here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qdjHLbf2KTo
Starting at the very beginning, bringing a new dog into your household seems daunting, scary, and thrilling all at the same time.
I often get asked what I train first when a dog enters the home (no matter the age), well I have a few basic commands I start all new dogs with, whether it’s my own pup or a client’s. Since we recently added Rossi to our family I was able to show you some of these behaviors that he has learned, Rossi just turned 3 months old. Like all my training, Rossi was trained with only positive reinforcement methods and he’s eager to learn.
- Sit - Sit is a foundation for many behaviors we teach in our household but it’s also a nice calm automatic behavior. I reward sit a lot in the beginning and my dogs learn that to get something we like a nice calm sit in our house. Whether it’s putting on their leashes for a walk or waiting for their dinner a sit is what produces all the fun and goodies. It’s easy for dogs to learn, I put it the sit behavior on both a hand and verbal cue. This is handy for when the pet can’t hear us so well such as on a busy street or at an event but also it makes it easier to communicate as they get older and hearing or eyesight may go, it’s now something that they have used their whole life with me.
- Stay - Stay is another behavior that I use A LOT. It allows my pet stay out of harms when needed, I can ask for a stay on a walk when a skateboarder is going by to ensure a paw doesn’t get squished or when meeting new friends, so everyone can approach calmly.
- Come - My dogs LOVE when they are told to come over, they RUN with joy. Why? Because I have so heavily praised and rewarded this one. When I’m at a park or on a hike with my dogs if I call them to come I need them come then, what if there is something up ahead I need them to avoid? Or even at a friend’s house and it’s time to leave, I need my dogs to come when called.
- Crate training - I’m a huge fan of crate training and when done properly a dog can love their crate (I often find Maggie sleeping in hers). It’s one of the easiest ways to potty train a new puppy, to keep them from destroying or chewing things when not in your sight, and a great way to avoid or fix separation anxiety. It’s also a nice safe quiet place they can go when they are scared, uncomfortable, not feeling well and just need some alone time (I wish I had a crate sometimes).
- Touch - This is a fun one, I teach my dogs to touch my hand with their nose, it seems silly, but I use it so much! If I need to bring my dogs closer to me it brings them close by, it’s useful when teaching a healing walk, to get them to approach something I want them to get their fear over. It’s also a nice way to get my dogs to learn certain directions, stretch themselves out, and gain body awareness. It’s a behavior I use a lot as my pets get older and we transition to other behaviors as well.
- Name - Lastly, but obviously very important their name. When I call my dogs name, either Maggie or Rossi, that is their cue to watch me, check in, and see what I say or do next - I also inter-switch the words ‘Watch me’ once they have their name down. Some pet owners use the name as a come command, that choice is up to you. It’s a nice thing for when we are out hiking or walking I can make sure they are paying attention still despite all the distractions around us in nature.
And while it’s not a behavior, I do highly suggest investing in dog pet health insurance after adding a pet to your family due to my own personal experience and research. Maggie and Rossi are both insured with Figo pet insurance so if something happens, god forbid, I can make a decision based on their comfort and not upon the costs of veterinary bills (which can be very high).
Nicole Ellis, Maggie & Rossi